A Quick Method for Peeling Cardboard




About: Some people can work on one project at a time. Not me.

In the life of a maker, there are many times when our craft requires that we figure out something unexpected. I encountered such a thing on a recent project when I realized that the grooved interior of a corrugated paper box was just what I needed to finish out the item.

Whether you're using it to hand make a birthday card, or like me, using it to add some texture to a prop, this technique is a quick and low-mess solution to removing that pesky top layer of cardboard.

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Step 1: Flatten Out the Box

First, you'll want to begin by finding a box that meets your needs and flattening it out. While it might seem that the fold lines in the box would mess up the pattern along the fold, my experience shows that those folds will become insignificant.

Step 2: Let's Get This Wet

Once the box is flattened, it's time to wet that top paper layer that you're wanting to remove. While some people have suggested submerging the entire box into water, I discovered that using a wet sponge to saturate that top layer of paper is much less messy and keeps the rest of the box much more dry. As a result, your final dry time will go much more quickly.

Step 3: Let's Peel This Box

Wait a few minutes to allow the water to begin to soften the bond between that top layer of cardboard and corrugation, then use one of the side tines of a dinner fork to plow down the valleys of the corrugation in a place or two. As you do this, you're looking for a nice piece you can grab ahold of and start peeling back the top layer.

Using this technique, you should find that some of the peels should travel a greater distance.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

As you go, some areas will be more troublesome than others. Continue using your fork to slide down the ruts in the corrugation and under the top layer of paper, lifting them off.

I was pleased that after a few short minutes, I was able to prepare a large area of cardboard.

While this certainly isn't an everyday project, I hope that others will find this technique useful, and if you have a particular use of peeled cardboard, I'd love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks!



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    10 Discussions


    4 months ago

    We're using peeled cardboard to make tree trunks for our 2019 VBS "In the Wild". This method will definitely make the job easier! Thanks a lot!

    1 reply

    Question 1 year ago

    Do you thing that it goes faster if the water is hot?

    1 answer

    Answer 1 year ago

    Not sure, actually. My guess is that the temperature doesn't make a huge difference. I think the main thing is giving the cardboard a few minutes to begin to separate.


    1 year ago

    To be honest, I just clicked on this one to see WHY anyone would need to peel cardboard. :)

    Thanks for posting!

    4 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    @allangee an example of use : to simulate a corrugated metal roof on a scale model house.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Ha! Yeah, it’s a little weird for sure, but I was in need of simulating the texture for a project I was working on. Should be posting that huge new build in the next few days. Pretty excited about it. :D


    1 year ago

    Nice, I love seeing stuff like this Kyle.

    I may not have a need for it at the moment, but it's going into long-term memory for future use. Thank you for taking the time to share this technique! :)