Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Home-Made Cardboard Craft Kit

Last of the 2015 handmade Christmas gifts - a cardboard craft kit for Jenna, to make this bed:

This was just cardboard in a cereal box (which I turned inside out so I could draw a picture on the front).

See? Literally pieces of cardboard.

This was the video Jenna watched of the bunk bed and became desirous of making. Instead of gluing endless bits of cereal boxes into individual stacks, however, I cut each stack as a single piece of corrugated cardboard. Far fewer pieces overall, and it cut the prep time to a fraction of what it would've been.

The ladder might've been somewhat fiddly for a 9-year-old (you'll understand if you watch the video), especially with all those parallel rungs needing to be simultaneously hot-glued, so I pre-assembled that for Jenna.

I labeled some of the pieces

and drew glue application lines on others:

Inside the box, I put a Michael's gift card for acrylic paint.

Jenna was quite thrilled when she tore the wrapper off this gift and realized what it was. And I was thrilled that my children squeal in glee to receive random scraps of cardboard as gifts. It makes me dare to think I have trained them well.

She got started on it as soon as we had a free afternoon.

As the video indicated, the actual assembly took minutes.

But we spread it out over three days so we could paint the hard-to-reach areas mid-assembly. We also filled the holes between the flutes rather than covering the edges with paper, as suggested in the video, which would've taken far too long. I used wood filler because that's what we had at home.

When the filler dried, Jenna sanded the edges with sandpaper.

Here is the assembled bunk bed:

And here it is after Jenna painted it.

She painted the ladder prior to gluing it onto the bunk, incidentally. That way, she didn't have to fiddly-paint each individual corner and rung while worrying she'd smear brown on white (or vice versa).

Then - finally - we furnished it.


  1. Brilliant! Love, love, love the idea of prepping all the fiddly bits and letting them do the building. 100%

  2. I love all of your ultra crafty endeavours but the cardboard ones have a special place in my heart!!
    You girls are simply amazing!

  3. How fun! Jenna did a beautiful job of assembling and painting... and furnishing!

  4. Cardboard is how I found your blog! My builders are in college and high school now, but it's learning a process that has stuck with them (painting the ladder first - your heart must be bursting!). I keep looking for photos of our work to share, but apparently we just wore them out. I guess we don't take photos of the things we assume will always be here.

    So fine! I will be smiling all day! Thanks!

  5. This is brilliant! I started college in the college of architecture, and there were quite a few projects involving corrugated cardboard. Usually we assembled using straight pins and your fingers were raw for days after completing a model. Finally, you must create a cardboard chair that would support the weight of a human! GAH! Now I'm going to dream that I'm back in school and missed the entire semester but have a final!

  6. Squeee!! I want to make one! And then I want to make one out of lumber for the kids' room!!

  7. So clever!!! Maybe I can make one of these with my girls for their dolls - Lily especially loves doll furniture.

  8. Ah. Mazing. It may have been "just cardboard" but even as a kid I would have been thrilled with such a gift. So incredibly thoughtful, and you clearly put time and love into it! I'm definitely going to remember this one down the road with my own daughter.


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