Introduction: Simple Compact Cardboard Organizer

I'm going to show you how to create a simple, inexpensive compact cardboard organizer.

Materials you need:

  • A small / medium cardboard box (FREE from any business recycling cardboard boxes)
  • Box cutter
  • Masking tape
  • Spray Paint / Airbrush (optional)
  • X-Acto foam board cutter

*NOTE: A few images have been edited to protect the business's information.

Step 1: Cutting Part 1

Cutting the box in half:

  • Locate the area of the box where it has been taped up. Use the box cutter and cut the tape so the box can lay flat.
  • Using the box cutter, cut all the flaps except for the two longer ones. Once you're done, the portion where all the flaps have been cut will be your top and the portion with the two long flaps will be your bottom. If done correctly, you should have a total of six smaller boards.
  • Using a ruler, measure the midway point of the shorter face of the box and then draw a line.
  • Use the box cutter and carefully cut along the line. Repeat that on the other side.
  • The box should now be cut in half and you should have two similar pieces.

Cutting the dividers:

  • Take one of the shorter flaps from before and draw a line down the middle.
  • Use the box cutter and cut it in half.

Preparing to add the dividers:

  • Using the halved box, take the newly created smaller flaps and place it in a suitable location to you. I've shown two different locations in the pictures but I've found only one suitable.
  • Rest it on top of the halved box's bottom flap and trace a line using a pencil.
  • Use a ruler to draw a line all the way through.
  • Use the box cutter and score over the line. Apply only small pressure since you don't want to cut the cardboard all the way through.
  • Using the X-Acto Foam Cutter, bring the blades out just a little. Again, you don't want to cut the board all the way through. Align one of the dual blades to the scored line you've just made with the box cutter.
  • Bring the X-Acto Foam cutter all the way down. You should see two lines now.
  • NOTE: In the picture,I've applied too much pressure when I used the foam cutter. Don't worry! If you mistakenly cut all the way through, use masking tape and cover up the sliced area.
  • Use the box cutter's blade and lift the strip of cardboard high enough you can peel it with your fingers. Then peel off the strip of cardboard.
  • Retract the foam cutter's blades back to the original position, insert it in the strip and use the middle portion to scrape out any excess cardboard.
  • NOTE: In the picture, I've made a line with the foam cutter too far up. I corrected this by using masking tape.

Step 2: Cutting Part 2

Preparing to add dividers (cont):

  • Take one of the flaps you cut in half and place a strip of masking tape on one side (please note in my instructable, the flap is a square. It can be rectangular depending on the size of the box).
  • Fold the strip of masking tape backwards while grabbing on the flap.
  • Insert the flap to the backside of the box where the groove was cut.
  • Smooth out the tape so it adheres to the backside.
  • Cut another strip of tape, align it with the strip that's already adhered to the backside and place the strip (while folded back) along the side of the groove.
  • Bring the backside up along with the divider attached and align the bottom portion so that the divider fits into the bottom groove.
  • Smooth out the tape along the bottom of the divider.
  • Turn the box to the other side of the divider. Cut two strips of tape and tape up the bottom and back sides of the divider so the divider will be more stable.

Adding the second divider:

  • Take the other half of the flap, measure the desired location and repeat the steps again.
  • NOTE: When you reach the step in trace the cut with the foam cutter, use the opposite side of the foam cutter blade. Example:
    • Since the foam cutter has two blades, I used the right side of the blade as the guide to cut the strip on the backside of the box. (Please look at the pictures.)
    • When I flipped the box around and was ready to cut the strip for the bottom portion of the box, I used the left side of the blade as the guide.

Step 3: Painting (Optional)

For those who want to save time and skip the painting, just follow the steps on how to attach the front panel and ignore the removal of all the labels / packing tape.

For this paint job, I've used an air brush.

Painting the inside:

  • Grab one of the longer flaps that you've cut off from the main box and carefully peel off the packing tape from the flap and set it aside.
  • Peel the remaining packing tape from the box. In the picture, one of the packing tape strips is blocked by the masking tape. Use a razor blade and carefully trace along the edges of the masking tape. This will help you peel the packing tape off more easily.
  • You can leave the labels on. But notice the paint not sticking on that section of the label, you can peel the labels off.
  • Paint everything inside of the box INCLUDING the masking tape. Be careful, painting the masking tape takes longer to dry so you may smear the paint.

Adding the front panel:

  • Using the long flap with no packing tape and paint one side.
  • Lay the box on its back where the dividers are facing upwards.
  • Place the front panel flap with the paint FACING INWARDS on top of the dividers and align it accordingly.
  • Once aligned, tape the bottom of the box to the front panel.
  • Cut four strips of tape and secure the dividers to the front panel.
  • Tape one side of the front panel.
  • Bring the adjacent side flap of the box and tape the front panel to that flap. There may be a gap. But you can cover that up with a strip of tape. That will secure the side flap to the bottom.
  • Tape the side flap to the bottom and you have one side completed.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Painting the remaining areas:

  • Once you have all the sides and dividers taped up and secured in place, start painting anything in the inside that wasn't painted before. This includes the strips of tape holding the side flaps to the bottom and the strips of tape holding the dividers to the front panel.
  • Paint the back and front areas. Grab the sides and lay the box on its top side exposing the bottom. Paint the sides and then the bottom.

Congratulations! You've finished the Cardboard Compact Organizer. This design allows any college student to put his pens / pencils, cellphone WITH charger, iPad charger, and his / her keys to the room.

The best part of this project is that you've used only HALF of a FULL SIZE box. If you don't like the locations of the dividers, you can use the measure the dividers on the other half accordingly and create a SECOND Cardboard Compact Organizer.

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