Paper Furniture




Introduction: Paper Furniture

This Instructable will show you how to turn a couple of old sunday papers into a lasting piece of furniture that you can use! Supplies are extremely common, cheap and easy to use: tape, string, paper. Knowledge of lashing is required, there are many instructables that can teach you how to do this better than I could, specifically you must know the square lashing and double floor lashing. I recommend using newspapers since they are long and wide enough to make a decent sized stand, also they are (much) easier to roll up than standard printer paper. However if you prefer to use larger, smaller, or thicker paper it's up to you, each will have its own characteristics good and bad. I document how to make a simple stand that is about a 1ft cube, it's completely possible to make full sized furniture if you'd like, however you should remember that you are working with paper and once a paper section is damaged, it is very difficult to make up for the strength that was lost. My design has its limits, I know full well that this particular cube can be strengthened further, making a much more sturdy frame, so please go ahead and improve on my design!

Step 1: Supplies

You probably have these already, and if you don't have them on hand, most stores will have these altogether for under $5.


Paper -I like newspaper the most, printer/construction paper is "stronger" but smaller and harder to roll tightly

String -I use low grade dollar-store cotton string. Ideal qualities would be little to no stretch, easy to tie, "grippy" to the newspaper.

Tape -Basic clear or scotch tape, from the dispenser, you will not need anything especially wide. This is used to keep the paper sticks tightly wound, also can be used to strengthen joints.

Scissors -For cutting the paper and string


Athletic Tape -This can be used to wrap around the ends and joints of the paper sticks before you tie (lash) them. The idea is that this will make it easier for the cotton string to hold on and not slip on the smooth newspaper. ^String slippage is the primary reason this design is not as strong as it could be.

Step 2: Rolling the Sticks

This is the most important part, without strong paper sticks you won't have strong joints and therefore won't have strong paper furniture. My design has an approximate weight maximum of 10lbs, once too much weight is applied the legs will begin to buckle and twist clockwise, lowering the "table top", adding cross sections in-between the load bearing legs increases the stand's stability greatly. I will detail the cross section in a later step.

To roll a good paper stick, begin with one corner on a flat surface and start to roll as tightly as possible. Place a heavy weight (or your foot) just past the mid-line. The weight keeps the paper taught, when you roll up to your weight remove it and continue to roll tightly with your hands on the flat surface or held up. Seal the tightness of your newly made paper stick with a tiny bit of clear tape. Make as many as you need! I used 74 in total.

Step 3: Cutting the Sticks

I'm sure you noticed that the paper stick you just rolled has two super weak ends and a strong middle section. Cut the ends of the stick off, only keeping the stronger section. Length is up to you, longer will be a bit weaker. Recycle the end scraps!

Step 4: Building the Columns

Four single sticks won't keep up 10lbs of weight, we need to combine some sticks in order to make a "column" that will hold the weight. I took four sticks and used more clear tape to hold them together as one column, taped at each end and the middle of the four sticks (second picture). Once your column is rolled, you may want to cover the ends with one layer of athletic tape, this will give the cotton string something to grip onto. If you don't have any athletic tape don't worry, the design pictured doesn't use any and still bears weight very well.

Step 5: Lashing Joints

This is where less common skills will be used, you will have to know or learn to make a square lashing. If you don't know it by now simply search for it in Instructables. I don't suggest trying to learn the square lashing on paper sticks, they are a bit tricky since they are smooth and have a bit of give when wrapped tightly. learn first on some wooden sticks or dowels, practice will take about 10 minutes before you can nail it down. Do your square lashing wherever you please, but stay about 1.25 inches away from the very edge of your "column", the very ends have more give and can be crushed by a solid and tight lashing (which you will have to do).

Make 2 identical cross pieces as picture above. Then make 2 more with the horizontal column (row?) higher or lower than the first two that were made, refer to next step for help and picture.

Step 6: Piecing Together the Frame

Now that you have your parts you can piece together the frame. You can either make two sets of 2 cross pieces, or start with a single cross piece and continue to build the frame directly onto it. Please refer to the picture since explaining this is difficult.

Feel free to add the "X" stick pairs at this point. These keep the legs from twisting independently. There is probably a professional lashing for this instance, however I simply tied them to the legs by wrapping around as to what felt right. As you can see in the picture, I only used 3 of the "X" stick pairs, adding a fourth pair would increase stability further, however I wanted easy access to the space underneath an the 3 pairs holds well.

Step 7: Finishing Up the Table

The "table" part of this paper stand is simply a lot of singular paper sticks held together with a double floor lashing on the two highest horizontal bars. I highly recommend watching a video on how to do this, it's not the easiest thing to understand even in pictures. The Eagle and Boy Scouts will have plenty of quality videos on various lashings, which are invaluable in prototyping mechanical pieces and frames in my opinion.

Now what can you make out of newspaper?

You can get old newspapers from many locations, I made a simple 1ft cube. What can you make with these same materials? cot? dresser? house*? Show me in the comments!

Some people may suggest filling the hollow portion of the paper stick with epoxy, feel free to try, however I personally don't feel that is really "made" out of paper, just using the paper as a mold.

*If you make a newspaper house and hurt yourself in doing so I'm not responsible for it!

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    6 years ago on Introduction

    great work

    is it hard and stiff for something heavy to go on?

    Trash To Treasure
    Trash To Treasure

    Reply 6 years ago

    It all depends on how tightly you wind the paper and lash the string. Don't try making a step stool out of it, but yes you should be able to place about 8-10lbs on it for this design.


    7 years ago

    I used the idea to make this


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, this is brilliant! Nice photography too - film is still good - digital is not the only way, just another way.

    Uncle Kudzu
    Uncle Kudzu

    7 years ago on Introduction

    That's pretty cool! I'm clumsy with knots, but this makes me want to learn to lash.

    Hey, what made you want to photograph it with film?

    Trash To Treasure
    Trash To Treasure

    Reply 7 years ago

    I shot it with film because I don't have the kind of money for a decent digital SLR camera right now. My 1975 Minolta takes just as good pictures for $50

    This is so cool! You should think about entering this into our First Time Authors Challenge! Welcome to instructables!