build something out of cardboard? Here’s an overview of the many different ways you can connect and join cardboard!
We have received a lot of positive feedback about our decision to include a cardboard category on this site as an affordable building material to use as an alternative to wood. (thanks!)
We’re really excited to bring you all sorts of fun project ideas in the very near future, but first, we need to cover the basics of working with cardboard if you’re new to using this material to build things.
While cardboard can’t replace wood for certain things (like outdoor furniture or kitchen cabinets, for example), it does provide a lot of new possibilities for smaller projects, especially since cardboard is so easy to get for free. .
So, to continue our series on cardboard work, in today’s post, I want to talk about the different ways you can connect and join pieces of cardboard.
Cardboard woodworking techniques aren’t too different from woodworking techniques, but there are some great products and options available that make it easy to build just about anything you can imagine out of cardboard.
1. cardboard connectors
Cardboard connectors are small pieces of plastic with slots that the cardboard pieces can easily slide into. They come in a variety of different shapes, whether it’s a simple L-shape for corners or even T-shapes for connecting 3 pieces of cardboard.
Cardboard connectors aren’t particularly strong, so you don’t want to use them for anything you’re planning on supporting some kind of weight on, but they really do give you all kinds of freedom for making cardboard sculptures and for building things like models. . . They’re an awesome supply for crafting spaces!
This set of 60 clips from 3duxdesign may seem small, but looks can be deceiving and there are so many possibilities with them! would you use them to build a fort? probably not, most likely using tongue and groove joints which we will cover later in this post.
but they are great for making cardboard models and quickly prototyping projects you want to make with wood.
2. makedo scru bras
You can’t use metal screws with cardboard, but these bracket clips work just like screws when connecting pieces of cardboard.
again, these are not exceptionally strong; definitely wouldn’t use them for furniture or anything like that. however, they are definitely a great thing to have in your creative toolbox, especially if you have students or kids interested in building things.
See also: Airtame 2 set up and installation
To attach the scru connectors to the cardboard, you will need a specially designed scru tool called the scru-driver. Sold separately from most scru packs, although some variations may include a mini tool. Be sure to read product descriptions carefully!
3. grooved joints
Slot joints are quick and easy to make. You often don’t need glue when using slot joints for pieces to stay together, but you will probably want glue if you want your joints to be permanent.
Slot joints work by cutting equal slots in two different pieces of cardboard. these pieces will then slide against each other, forming the joint.
Sometimes it can be tricky to make all the slots the same size when you cut them. as we wrote in our post with tips on how to cut cardboard – use a ruler and pencil to mark where to cut!
4. folded flange joints
If you want to join your cardboard without using any hardware, folded tab joints are very easy to make by simply making a few cuts in the cardboard pieces and then folding the pieces to create tabs.
You can glue these folded tabs to the piece of cardboard you want to connect them to, or you can even cut slits to create a space for the tabs to pass through; we call them tab and groove joints and we will explain the following!
the cardboard isn’t particularly strong and the folded tab joints aren’t designed to hold a significant amount of weight either, though they sure are great for making drawer dividers and that sort of thing!
If you want to use folded tab joints for extra strength, it’s generally best to work on multiple layers of cardboard; therefore, after creating a seam, you will create another seam with tabs to overlap or glue onto additional cardboard. on the tabs.
5. tongue and groove joints
Tongue and groove joints are when tongues and grooves are used together to join two pieces of cardboard. Instead of inserting two slots to line up with each other, simply cut the tabs to fit into the slots.
This is a great way to add additional elements to whatever you’re building, especially when making sculptures and cardboard models.
To make a tongue-and-groove joint, cut the edges of a piece of cardboard to form a tongue. On the other piece of cardboard, you’ll want to make a slit with your cardboard cutter.
just insert the tab into the slot! you’ll want to use glue to hold the tab securely in place in the slot, and you can always trim the tab if it sticks too far out of the slot after the glue dries.
6. flange flange joints
flange tab joints are what you’ll definitely want to use when trying to connect cardboard tubes, like tissue paper rolls, to a flat piece of cardboard.
To make a flange tongue joint, simply make several small cuts around the base of a pipe, then bend the pieces to create a flange.
once you’ve cut and folded those tabs to form the flange, it’s as simple as applying a little glue.
again, these types of joints as is are not designed to support or carry a significant amount of weight. To add extra strength and stability to the piece, you’ll need to cut a circle out of cardboard to glue on top of the bridle tabs.
7. brad bras
tack fasteners are commonly used in scrapbooking and document binding, but they’re also great to use with cardboard, especially if you want to create pieces that can be easily moved together.
You can get them at almost any office supply store or in the stationery section of most retailers. i am very happy with the quality of acco brand bras and they are available in several different sizes.
In general, we don’t recommend tape for joining cardboard pieces because, well…it’s sticky and not as strong. it’s really hard to get it where you want it without also ripping pieces of cardboard if you try to reposition it.
I may be able to use tape with some success, but I’m not good with tape, so I avoid it when I can. however there are some types where you may want to use duct tape and that is when you are prototyping + designing something out of wood.
Carpentry board prototypes don’t need any kind of long-term stability; they are usually just built to give you an idea of what something will look like or what size pieces of wood you might need. tape makes it quick and easy to prototype your projects in no time.
9. hot glue
Like tape, I’m not the biggest fan of hot glue. It gets the job done quickly, but it’s not always the strongest method of holding the pieces together, as hot glue can break down over time.
Hot glue is also one of those things you wouldn’t want kids under 13 to use, as a glue gun gets very hot. even older children and teenagers should be supervised while using glue with an adult in the same room.
Still, it’s worth mentioning hot glue as an option because it’s so cheap and readily available. The benefit of hot glue is that it dries very quickly, so you only need to hold the cardboard in place for a short time while you wait for the hot glue to dry.
There are many ways to join cardboard, but we’ve found that these work best for just about any type of project you’re building. do you have any methods for joining two pieces of cardboard that we may have overlooked? tell us about them in the comments below!