Simple Cardboard Joinery Shelf in a Milk Crate




Introduction: Simple Cardboard Joinery Shelf in a Milk Crate

About: My passion for making has blossomed and expanded since its inception. The ability to realize my imagination and work as a part of a group is the most empowering and satisfying thing I’ve done, and I’ve made...

This is a quick and dirty thing I thought of when I found some milk crates and wanted to use them for more than one thing, but that seemed to require splitting their interior space in half.  They're just about the right size for two shoes (of my size, anyway), and I had some cardboard, so I put 'em together and came out with someone usable and kinda cool :).  Here's how.

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: Materials, Sizing and Marking

For tools this one's simple.  You'll need:
  • Marker
  • Knife
  • Cutting surface
  • Cardboard
  • Milk crate
Image 1
Now, first just cut off a chunk of cardboard a bit longer than your shelf needs to be. I ended up needing two layers to keep it strong enough.  You could even get fancy at the end and tape 'em together for a more cohesive shelf.  You probably noticed mine isn't exaclt perfect, but it does the job :).

Image 2
Next, lay it down in front of your milk crate and mark about a 1/2 inch out from either edge of the box, to give your fingers some support room.  Mark it on one or both pieces and get 'em onto your cutting surface.

Image 3
Square upyour marks (from the manufactured side, not the side you cut off the box, as that's probably not perfectly straight unless you were more careful than I was).

Image 4
Cut 'em off!  You can use the marks you made, or use the first piece as a guide for the second so they end up the same length.  Next: joinery...

Step 2: Joinery: Marking & Cutting

Alright, take one of your pieces and hold it against the milk crate about halfway up, or a little higher.  Different crates have different patterns in their sides, so your joints might look different than mine, but the concept is the same.  You're finding where the cardboard will stick through the crate and where you need to cut away so it'll fit inside.  Check out image 2 for the marks.

Next, put it in front of the crate like before you cut it and only mark in how deep the cut-aways will have to go.  Then get back up onto your surface...

Square up your depth line and extend the joint marks to it.  Making sure you're cutting away the areas you want to get rid of, cut 'em off!  (If you're not sure how this all fits together, double-checking is never a bad idea).  It's easier to cut one layer at a time, and just mark from the top one where to cut the bottom one.

Once you've done one side, just flip the top layer over counter-clockwise to mirror those cuts onto the other end of the bottom layer.  See image 7 for clarification.  Once you're done with that layer, make the same cuts to the other end of the original top piece and you're good!  Lots of flipping but even if you mess it up, you're using the same piece as reference the whole time, so as long as your first piece is right, chances of messing it up are pretty minimal.

Done!  Nice.  Next: fitting...

Step 3: Fit and Finish

Alright, so holding your two pieces with their fingers in their slots, try wedging the layers up so the other end fits into place as well.  I had to turn mine on its side and just bash the end up into its slots.  Once it fit, it was pretty sturdy, and only bent because I didn't cut deep enough on one of the layers.  As long as you don't bend it much during this phase, it'll fit and stay durable pretty well, as long as it doesn't get heavy use.  There you go!  Done.

As an added tip, I made 2 of these, covered the tops with cardboard to make it a smooth surface, and stacked those Ikea shelving units on top of them.  Shoes under clothes and closet space reclaimed!  Mission accomplished :).

Any questions, comments or if clarification's needed, lemme know in the comments.  Happy organizin'.

Furniture Challenge

Participated in the
Furniture Challenge

ShopBot Challenge

Participated in the
ShopBot Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • Toys and Games Challenge

      Toys and Games Challenge
    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • Silly Hats Speed Challenge

      Silly Hats Speed Challenge

    5 Discussions

    please a flash or light would enable me to see this. Not trying to ne negative but it it is way too dark


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The photos are light enough for me to see what's going on, but sorry, my phone doesn't take the best photos and I have no camera at the moment, so I do my best.


    8 years ago on Step 3

    Great Idea. If your "shelf" seems a little too bendy, a couple layers of papier mache would toughen it up.