Can Your Cardboard Boxes Do This?

Things You Can Make With Cardboard

One can build durable houses, boats, bicycles, automobiles and much more, using cardboard. The cheap and common material can be reinforced, waterproofed, and cleverly shaped to make it durable beyond your wildest expectations.

Cardboard Boats

World’s First Cardboard Houseboat
Kevin McCloud on the Thames


How to build the cardboard houseboat:

If you build your cardboard boats properly, they will provide good service on the water long beyond the time most of your friends would expect them to sink. Another example of a durable cardboard boat:

The cardboard kayak above looks impressive out on the water, and has proven surprisingly durable. The builder developed his own techniques during construction, and utilised newspaper and spar varnish to provide a waterproof finish. The inside is painted with a waterproof paint suitable for use on ordinary basement blocks.

Sturdy Cardboard Houses

The cardboard tiny-house above is offered for sale commercially either as a kit or assembled, and was designed to last a century.

But do it yourselfers have proven capable of designing and building cardboard houses without commercial help. An example:

… Dan Clancy of Martinez, California. Clancy—an instructor at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California—got the idea for a pasteboard mini-palace while conducting his popular environmental-biology course, Conservation Lifestyles, in the spring of 1974.

“One day While feeding my rabbits some lettuce that I’d scrounged from the back door of a supermarket,” says Dan, “I noticed that the box given to me by the produce man didn’t fall apart in the rain like ordinary cardboard does. So I thought to myself, ‘Why not build a cabin out of this stuff right here on our little homestead?”‘

… “Standard” framing techniques were used on the Cardboard Cabin … except that, since the structure weighs so little, 2 X 3’s (instead of 2 X 4’s) were used throughout. Also, for the same reason, all wall studs and roof rafters were spaced two feet apart instead of the more usual 18 inches. Window openings are framed in with packing crate 1 X 4’s and the windows themselves are hinged on strips cut from an old tire. __ Cardboard House

Wooden framing was used in the construction, but scaled down significantly due to the light weight of the cardboard sheathing.

Emergency shelters made of cardboard and bamboo were used extensively after the Kobe earthquake in Japan, and although meant only for short-term use, many were still inhabited after ten years. Multiple designers have worked on designs for strong and durable cardboard homeless shelters, and some continue to improve the designs.

Cardboard Bicycle

In 2008, Phil Bridge created a cardboard bicycle as part of a three-year degree course in Product Design at Sheffield Hallam University. It was intended to discourage theft, supports a rider up to 169 pounds (77 kg), and is constructed from a structural cardboard called Hexacomb. It is waterproof, but is only expected to survive six months of constant use. The drivetrain and brakes are metal, as on a conventional bike, and it rolls on standard pneumatic tires. __ http://www.thebikecollective.com/worlds-first-cardboard-bike/

A different cardboard bike design was built more robustly to carry even heavier riders:

Weighing around nine kilograms (20 pounds), the cardboard bike is on the light side for an adult-sized bike, which generally weigh somewhere in the region of 14 kg (30 lbs), and it can withstand exposure to water and humidity, while supporting a rider who weighs up to 220 kg (485 lbs). It requires no servicing or adjustment, and the solid tires are made from reused car tires, with a car timing belt serving as a chain. __ http://newatlas.com/cardboard-bike/24573/

Cardboard Furniture

What started as a senior project in Mechanical Engineering has now become a living workshop devoted to cardboard design. You name it and Zach the cardboard man can build it—cardboard sofas, cardboard chaise lounges, cardboard shelves and, yes, even cardboard iPhone docks. I caught up with Zach and talked to him about the motivation behind his wonderfully named brainchild, transience, and classical music. __ https://www.splicetoday.com/consume/advanced-cardboard-carpentry

Zach has done Ikea one better, and may stand on the verge of a new furniture revolution. Stay tuned.

Cardboard (and Plywood) Car

The panels of the body are made from a plywood-cardboard-plywood composite, with the outer layers obtained from a sustainable source, qualifying them for certification by the British Forestry Commission.

The body is designed to for flat-pack shipping and assembly, allowing for more efficient shipping, which no doubted contributed to the team’s winning of the prize. __ http://newatlas.com/flat-pack-cardboard-plywood-car/23328/

Working Toward a Full Scale Cardboard Airplane


The “Cardboard Condor” above is far from full scale and can not carry a human pilot. But all great goals take time to be realised. Read more about the project.

Beyond the cardboard airplane, the cardboard helicopter swoops across the imagination. And can a cardboard spaceship be far behind? The limits to human achievement exist within the human cranium and can be held only partially in check by the corrupt and clanky large human institutions of today.

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One Response to Can Your Cardboard Boxes Do This?

  1. bob sykes says:

    This should be done with new cardboard without any admixture of recycled material. New cardboard has long fibers that strengthen the material, but recycling typically breaks down the fibers producing weaker structures. This is best seen in modern brown paper bags, which are very much weaker than the shopping bags of 20 to 30 years ago.

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