Cardboard Shoji Screen - Room Partition




This is a great inexpensive way of making a Shoji Screen room divider with cardboard, especially for those college students out there on a budget!

I made no new purchases and only made use of whatever items I had on hand. You can modify the dimensions or materials to suit your needs.

Step 1: Materials

This is a scaled-down version of a full-size screen because of the limited amount of cardboard that I had on hand. If I had larger and more pieces of cardboard, I would have made this taller and with 3 panels. Ideally, this screen should be twice its size in height (72" x 18") and with 3 panels instead of 2.

Materials I used to make a 2-panel, 36" x 18" Shoji screen:

4 pieces of cardboard (36" x 18"), the thicker the better. These pieces were all taken from a single moving box that I had. Cut carefully and make your edges as clean as possible. You can find free cardboard on Craigslist, if you live in the U.S. People that have recently moved or have bought furniture will usually be eager to get rid of their excess cardboard boxes and will list them for free.

12 pieces of onion-skin paper (8.5" x 11"). These can be purchased at any office supply store. You can substitute onion paper with rice paper, vellum, or any other semi-transparent paper. The semi-transparency will filter light and give it a nice glow.

3 Cable ties/Zip ties

Other items: ruler, fat color markers, pen/pencil, clear tape, box cutter, glue. I would've used Gorilla Glue, if I had any. ;-)

Step 2: Paper Layout

Lay out your paper on a flat surface and carefully tape 6 pieces together. There's no need to seal the entire edges with tape, just enough to hold them together. Do the same with the other 6 pieces and then connect the two with a couple of small pieces of tape. You will be separating these 2 halves later.

Step 3: The Artist in Me

Now let the creative side of you take over! Start drawing whatever pleases you on all 12 pieces of paper. I used my markers to draw bamboo. Yes, it's bamboo! Sorry, I'm no artist!

I did not extend my drawing to the very edges of the paper, because this will covered by the borders of the cardboard.

Step 4: Using My Left Cerebral Hemisphere

Mark a 2" border for the top and sides of one of the cardboard panels. Make sure you only make these marks on the printed side. You don't want to mark up the clean side of the cardboard.

I made the bottom border about 6" from the bottom. If you're making your screen taller, you will need to make the bottom border larger (higher) so that the screen will hold its rigidity. For instance, if you're making a 72" x 18" screen, make the bottom border at least 20" high.

Next separate your drawing, and place 1 half on top of one of your cardboards and start making marks so that you will know where to cover the seams of the paper. You will want to make your "seam" borders (where each paper is connected) about 1" wide, and make sure that these borders cover your paper seams.

Once you've made all your marks, lay your drawing on top again to make sure that all the seams are covered. You should be able to see all your lines through the transparency of the paper.

Step 5: Clean Cut

Cut out your windows with a box cutter.

I find it easier to cut cardboard on top of my carpet rather than on tile. If you need to, use a ruler to guide your box cutter. Use your first cut-out as a template for the rest of the cardboards. Again, make sure you are not making any marks on the clean side.

Step 6: Gorilla Glue

Now lay one half of your drawing on top of a panel, making sure the borders cover up the paper seams. Now carefully glue the drawing onto your cardboard panel. Take another cardboard panel and glue this on top of the paper, so that the paper is sandwiched between the 2 cardboard panels. Make sure you are not applying the glue to your unmarked sides.

Do this with the rest of your panels.

Step 7: Done!

Lay your completed panels side-by-side, and right side up, and cut slits near the edges for the cable ties. I placed the cable ties close to the bottom and top edges of the screen to keep the entire screen from flopping around. Use more ties for your larger screen. Your cable ties should be tied loosely to allow you to adjust the angle of the screens effortlessly.

Your very own cardboard Shoji Screen is now completed! I placed my Shoji screen in front of my fishtank to capture the light effect in the background. This project took me around 2 hours to complete.

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable, and I would appreciate any feedback and votes. Thanks!

Runner Up in the
Gorilla Glue Cardboard Contest



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    40 Discussions

    June CeasarS

    4 years ago on Introduction

    putang ina ang panget naman neto tang ina ka magbate ka na lang ulul


    4 years ago

    I really like this a lot. Making it yourself gives you the ability to customize it the way you want it to look vs buying one that looks like everyone elses. Someone suggested you could paint the wrong (ugly) side. I don't know if it makes a difference but you can buy paint specifically for cardboard but I don't know what other colors it comes in beside brown. Regular paint might bubble or wrinkle the top layer of the cardboard unless maybe if you could use it as your base coat/primer. I knew it was bamboo before you ever said it was. I'm definitely going to make this. Great job!


    5 years ago on Step 7

    Looks wonderful! So it's easy to add on a third piece? How do you attach the cable ties?


    6 years ago on Step 7

    Pls don't apologize for your 'bamboo drawing'...I think it looks absolutely fantastic! Your idea is amazing too, I'm definitely going to attempt my own shoji screen


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This has just made it into my "To-Do" bookmarks folder. Wonderful 'ible, and thank you!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    this is beautiful! Thanks for sharing your hard work and great talent!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I've been thinking of doing this for forever! i have sparkly tissue (the kind for gifts not the achoo kind) this will really help! domo arigato gozaimasu


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great indestructable .You rock.must try this ***** Oh, love your artwork **

    Just arrived on this site and this project is one to keep me here! I loved these screens but could not bring myself to pay the price! It is lovely! And by the way, I knew it was bamboo! Thank you for your contribution to this awesome site!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    You could string some white Christmas lights on the backside for some backlighting.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Refrigerator boxes are EASY to get, just call an appliance store, and ask them if you can get one. I painted one white, with a roller. Easy, awesome, and just used free white latex paint - which you can likely find on some craigslist type site. Dollar store rollers.


    8 years ago on Step 1

    You could spray paint the cardboard a shiny black before you assemble and no one would be able to tell it was cardboard.


    9 years ago on Step 3

    this is a great idea! and your drawing is great.


    9 years ago on Step 1

    How would one go about laminating cardboard? Could you take it to a copy store, or to Staples or Office Max?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

    I believe LordMekk is referring to using an adhesive to join two pieces of cardboard for strength. 

    A spray adhesive, rubber cement, or a similar adhesive should do the trick.  Avoid water-based glues for something like this because it can weaken and curl the cardboard. 

    If you paint the cardboard a gloss black, I bet it would be very hard to tell it is cardboard.  This is a great instructable!


    9 years ago on Introduction

     I was thinking it would be nice to be covered or painted,decoupage maybe architectural pieces in the corners?(made from air dry clay and mold),maybe leather hinges from scrap leather? I love this idea!I thinking that it might make a nice window screen just have to make it to fit my window since I have a three sided window with seated area and cannot put curtains in it. Thank you for a great instructable!!!