How to Make a Pendant Lamp out of an Old Cardboard Box

Cat in a box

I can haz box: Finally, a good use for all of those old cardboard boxes you’ve got lying around. Well, a better use anyway. (oskay via Flickr)

The folks at Poppytalk have come up with an ingenious way for you to reuse your corrugated cardboard boxes to make a pendant light, or at least contributor Chelsea has. So whether you live in Columbia, Manassas or Glen Burnie, any apartment renter can benefit from this bright creation.

If you’re a crafty person by nature, you may have at least some of the following needed supplies lying around:

  • a good-sized piece of corrugated cardboard (the site suggests 25 inches wide and as tall as you’d like your light)
  • a yard stick
  • spray paint
  • a box cutter
  • a glue gun
  • a pendant light cord

(And for the curious, corrugated cardboard is the kind of cardboard that has fluting in between the actual liners of the cardboard, like the kind used for packaged items sent by mail. Not to get even more technical, but this site says we should just call it corrugated solo, without the cardboard.)

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To start, spray paint one side of your piece of cardboard and let it dry (I’m assuming the color white like they have on the site. This is one of those entries where you’re pretty much gonna have to look at the site, sorry).

Next, mark it at five-inch intervals with a box cutter (on the wide side), but make sure you only cut the top side of the corrugated cardboard, not the painted side. Then, using your yard stick, make the cuts all the way down the cardboard, but again, only on the unpainted side of the cardboard. If this sounds a little confusing, again, check out the site for pictures.

After cutting, you should be able to bend the box into a pentagon (and no, you don’t have to listen to satanic metal in order to do this right … AC/DC or even Janet Jackson will do just fine, if you’re, ah, feeling nasty).

Now lay the cardboard flat, and using your box cutter and the yardstick as a guide, cut the entire board into lengthwise strips. (Again, look at the site for visuals of this process.)

Once your strips are cut, glue them together at each end (with the white on the inside) so you’ll have multiple pentagonal strips of cardboard. These will serve as your lampshade.

Now, take two pentagons and stack one on top of the other, so that when you look directly down on them you’ll see a decagon (10-sided shape … again, look at the site). When you get the right placement, glue them together. Rinse and repeat for as many pentagons as you have.

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When you’re done, measure and cut a solid pentagon, cut a hole in the center just big enough for your light cord/bulb to fit snugly (start with a small hole first, you can always fine-tune later), and glue it on top of your pentagons.

One final note. Poppytalk doesn’t make light of a could-be fire hazard (other than a couple of their astute readers), so I will. Make sure you get a cool blub (LED) and not a normal, everyday cheap light bulb. They can be pretty expensive, but they last many, many times longer than incandescent bulbs and use less energy (the previous link says they’ll save you $300 during their lifetime). And saving a few bucks is worth the peace of mind.

So now you have yourself a nice little pendant light that you can hang in your new apartment. I’m starting to feel a little less than manly writing some of this: time to go out and box a few rounds or wrestle an alligator.

Just ignore my insecurities and enjoy your new light.

Scott D

Scott D

Scott is a local writer and has been with the Apartment Showcase blog since its inception in 2010.

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