Introduction: Multi-layer Cardboard Box

I have always been interested in unusual boxes. I have several wooden boxes that I have acquired over the years. Now I wanted to try designing my own. This is a prototype for a wooden box I want to make. I have found that it is easiest for me to work out most of the kinks of a project if I start with cardboard first.

Step 1: Materials:

  • Cardboard--I had a few sheets of double thickness corrugated cardboard.
  • Scissors,sturdy craft knife, or rotary cutter--whatever you find that cuts your cardboard. The double thickness corrugated cardboard can be cut easily with a rotary cutter.
  • Ruler/Straight edge--I like to use my cutting mat and quilting ruler since they are both marked with a grid and the transparent ruler makes it easy to see what I am doing.
  • Hot glue--strong enough to hold the cardboard with a short dry time. I get impatient waiting for glue to dry.


  • Covering material--I wanted to be able to use the prototype so I covered the edges of the final box with paper tape. I almost chose to cover the box in some leftover wallpaper.

Step 2: Outer Box

The size of the outer box is partially determined by your choice of materials. If you want to make a larger box, I recommend using something more sturdy than cardboard--maybe a thin wood or even sheet metal.

I wanted an 8 inch cube. I started by cutting 6 8-inch squares. Some of these will be trimmed down later. I cut a 7th piece that was 8 3/4 inch square for the lid.

Step 3: Lower Level of the Box

The lower level of the box is 5 inches deep. Two of the sides of this level are formed from the outside of the box so I only needed to cut 2 pieces that were 8 by 5 inches. The top level of the box is 2 1/2 inches deep so I cut 2 pieces 2 1/2 by 8 inches.

Once I had all the pieces, I needed to trim off the edges. How much you trim depends on the thickness of your building material. My double thick corrugated cardboard is just over a quarter inch thick.

If you do not have a caliper, this can be challenging to measure. One method of measuring thin materials with some degree of accuracy starts by stacking several layers of the material. Measure the thickness of the stack. Divide this number by the number of layers in the stack.

I wanted there to be enough wiggle space that the box opened an shut easily so I trimmed 3/8 of an inch off 2 sides of both 'bottom' boards.

The 2 remaining sides of the lower level measure 5 by 7 5/8 and 5 by 7 3/8. This accounts for the thickness of the cardboard.

Run a bead of hot glue along the edge of one side board. Hold it in place until the glue sets. Glue the bottom of the box in place the same way. Then attach the 2 short pieces together. Glue the short sides to the bottom of the board.

Step 4: Upper Level of the Box

Join the 2 remaining outer walls to each other.

The inner walls of the upper box are cut 2 1/2 by 7 3/8 and 2 1/2 by 7 5/8 inches.

Without gluing them, line up the 4 outer walls. Place the remaining box bottom (smaller than the outer walls) in place. With a pencil, trace the edge on the 2 outer walls. This will give you the placement for the upper box. While you have this still set up, check and make sure that the short walls will fit without sticking out the top of the box.

Apply a bead of glue along pencil mark. Adhere the box bottom in place. Glue the 2 remaining sides of the upper box.

Step 5: Covering the Edges

Cut strips of the paper tape. Wet the tape and wrap the edge of the cardboard.

I recommend a wet sponge for this. There are a lot of edges and the gum on the tape does not taste all that great. You may not notice it right away, but after a few strips...

Step 6: Hinge and Stop

Use 2 strips of the paper tape (one inside, one outside) to make the hinge on the side of the back of the box. Start with the 2 boxes stacked they way they will be when the box is closed. Apply one strip of paper tape spanning the gap between the 2 pieces. Open the box and apply a second strip across this same location. Be sure that you leave the small gap between the pieces of cardboard. The second strip of tape will adhere directly to the first strip. This gap allows the box to open and close properly.

Glue an object to the front corner of the upper box--on the under side of the box. (I used a green cube--it will not be visible most of the time, so it really does not matter what you use.) You will have to reach inside the lower box to do this. The purpose of this piece is to act as a stop so that the box will only open so far. This will help support the upper box when it is full.

Step 7: Box Top and Hinge

The lid on the box rests on top of the side walls. Since it is cut larger than the bottom, there is little chance of it falling into the box. Wrap the edges with strips of paper tape.

Use 2 strips of the paper tape to make a hinge along the back edge of the box.

Glue a small object to the front edge of the top. I used a cube--because I had one. You could use a small toy or a drawer pull.

Box Contest 2017

Participated in the
Box Contest 2017