Cardboard CD Rack




How to create a cheap, eco-friendly CD rack, that'll even suit your interior decoration.

I needed a temporary CD rack for six months, and since I didn't want to spend money on something I would throw away, I decided to build it on my own. Luck struck when I found 5-6 undamaged, large cardboard boxes that had contained doors in the back yard. I salvaged them and a couple of days later my CD storage concerns were history, my walled untouched and the trees still hug me back.

This is a weekend project due to glue drying time.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: What You Need

Tools: Stanley knife with spare blades, glue spatula, tape measure, pen, powerdrill, screwdriver. Optional: metal ruler, saw, pasting brush.

Materials: large cardboard pieces, glue (I used wood glue), screws, 2 wide, straight strong-ties.

10-12 hours over two days.
Please note that all measurements in this build are metric.

Step 2: Preparations

1: find out how large you want your rack and sketch it up. Begin by measuring how much shelf you need. Add two milimeters to the height of your CD's to every shelf.
(I included a pdf and a Google Sketchup model of my build)

2: protect your floor if needed. You're going to work with glue that might get really stuck.

3: cut the cardboard roughly to size.

Step 3: Cut a Template and Copy

1: Cut a cardboard piece into a accurate template.
2:Then, using the template, cut as many identical cardboard pieces as you can.

If you haven't got enough large cardboard pieces for the entire thickness of the rack, don't worry. We'll get around to that later.

Step 4: Glue It Up!

Starting from the center of the rack, glue pieces on alternate sides of the center.
Switching sides is very important, because the moist of the glue causes the cardboard to bend. If you begin at on side and work your way through, your rack will end up banana-shaped!

1: When you glue, begin by applying your glue onto the cardboard. Then, using a glue spatula (your best friend on this build), spread the glue until it covers all of the cardboard. The CD's will wear and tear the top and bottom of the shelves, so be thorough at these edges.

2: Apply the next cardboard layer and press it

3: turn the rack over and repeat until you've reached the desired thickness of the rack. I made mine 5.5 cm (2.3 inches)

You may need to make some layers from several pieces of cardboard, if you haven't got enough large pieces. This is pretty easy, just remember not to put the connection on one layer directly on top of another connection.

Step 5: Dry Overnight

Apply pressure to the rack, for instance by putting something heavy on it. A table upside down will do the trick. Allow it to dry overnight.

Step 6: Trim the Edges

Now, trim the edges and check that your CD's will insert smoothly. Be careful not to trim too much. the outer edges can be trimmed with a regular saw.

Step 7: Create Wall Mounts

Bend your strong-ties into wall mounts, drill holes in your wall and screw in the mounts. It's a good idea to choose rather wide strong-tie, becaues the width will ease the weight on the somewhat frail cardboard. I guess my rack weighs 15 kilogrammes fully loaded.

I chose to hang the rack 5 centimeters from the wall, so my mounts has two 45 degree angles instead of a single 90 degree.

Step 8: Check and Fit

Now, try to mount the rack, fill it with CD's and check if it all fits. Your may need to cut grooves for the mounts, and you may need to trim here and there due to the weight of the CD's.

Step 9: Design the Front

I decided to put some old wallpaper on the front. First, I glued a single layer larger than the rack to the front. After drying, I pasted the wallpaper on it and cut the sides out like an elaborate frame.

Step 10: You're Done!

Hang the rack, fill it up, sit back and pray it won't fall down.

At some point, I might trim a section for oversized CD covers. But first: coffee!

Epilog Challenge

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • Instrument Contest

      Instrument Contest
    • Make it Glow Contest

      Make it Glow Contest
    • STEM Contest

      STEM Contest

    9 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I wish I had found this a few months ago. I just recycled about a metric ton of cardboard after moving. Opportunity missed.


    8 years ago on Step 8

    Hi, I was thinking that every other or every third layer, you could put a thin piece that only went halfway up or so, you could cause the rack to tip back just a little, forestalling a possible tipping of the cd's if someone slams a door.
    It would have to be gradual, of course, but minor planning would do it. Gail


    8 years ago on Step 10

    lovely unit! Impressed... how did you hang such a heavy thing up? You say your walls were intact; and I can only see one nail or something at the top.
    very creative

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 10

    That was a challenge, actually. I wanted to avoid putting too much strain on a small area of cardboard, so I hung it using two wide angle brackets under the top beam. The beaty of cardboard as a material is that I could easily cut slots in the top beam in order to hide the brackets.
    I have had no durability issues due to the weight of the CD's. The shelves very getting a bit frayed, though.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 10

    well, we all get a bit tatty after a while, don't we?!
    it's still very unique and beautiful.- I keep looking at it wishing I could make one myself! Have a very small cottage (TINY!) and need to put cheap shelves up along the stairs wall, not disturbing the landlord's decor but so i could fit a lot of shlevs as wide as paperbacks and no more. Anyway...great idea.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I knew I rescued that huge cardboard bed-frame box for something! And here I was planning to make a life-size cardboard cutout of Robot.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    very nice, cheap (pretty much free) and looks pretty sturdy. does it matter which way you cut the cardboard with the corrugation on the inside and all

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Pretty much free, yes. The most expensive item was the $12 can of glue, but I had gotten that for free as well. The structural integrity is of course sturdiest if you place the cardboard layers with the corrugations in alternate directions. In the case of my build, I believe it's not immensely important considering the thickness and the small weight requirements. It may become an issue on a larger shelf, but my advise would be to increase the width of the outer frame according to scale. The rack is most vulnerable at the insides of the upper corners, so some sort of strengthening there may be adequate.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Yey, cardboard is good. A great medium. Well written, and very simple. Shows how good a use all that wasted card is.