How to Make Cardboard Hard Like Wood

Cardboards are generally used for packaging several materials, but it greater usabilities rather than just a packaging material. Cardboard boxes can be used for several DIY projects, and that’s what makes them special. They are sustainable, and with some simple techniques, you can make them as hard as wood. This means you can make almost anything you want when you have to get your cardboards partially or appropriately hard like wood.

How to Make Cardboard Hard Like Wood 1

It will allow you to make some lightweight furniture in a cost-effective way. Whether or not there are several other aspects for which you are gonna need them turned hard as wood, and I am not going to waste any time discussing the possibilities. So, leave all those things, and let’s see how to make cardboard hard like wood.

How to Make Cardboard Hard Like Wood 1

Before I learned about the usage of cardboard, I always thought they were useless material or could only be used for packaging purposes. So, whenever I moved from one place to another or bought some new items, I gathered the cardboard and sold them at a certain period of time.

But once I thought, why not use them rather than just throwing them out or selling them out? I also searched like you and gathered some wonderful ideas about using these items. For this article, I have chosen to show you how to make cardboard hard like wood.

Summary: Cardboard can be made to feel like wood by using a few simple techniques. First, cover the cardboard in a thin layer of wax or oil. This will make the cardboard harder and more resistant to scratches. Next, use a sharp object to scratch the surface of the cardboard. This will create small holes that water can easily enter and cause the cardboard to become as hard as wood.

Things You Will Need

PVA glue:

PVA glue is essential to make cardboard hard as wood. It will help to bond the layers of cardboard together and create a strong structure.


You can use any type of cardboard, whether it is thin or thick. It all depends on the project you are planning to create.


Water is essential for this process, as it helps to create a chemical reaction with the glue and cardboard layers.


A paintbrush will be used to apply the PVA glue and water mixture onto the cardboard.


The sandpaper will help to smooth out any rough edges or surfaces on the cardboard once it has hardened.

Optional Materials:

Wax or Oil:

As mentioned before, a thin layer of wax or oil can be applied to the cardboard before the PVA glue mixture. This will make the cardboard harder and more resistant to scratches.

Acrylic Paint:

If you want to add some color to your project, you can use acrylic paint on top of the hardened cardboard. This will also make it more durable and waterproof.

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Grafix Medium Weight Chipboard Sheets, 12-Inch by 12-Inch, Natural
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Cricut Heavy Chipboard, Brown, Pack of 5
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Corrugated Cardboard ,Kraft Brown,
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Corrugated Pads
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50 sheets

12 Steps on  How to Make Cardboard Hard Like Wood:

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace

Before you start the process, make sure you have a clean and flat workspace. Cover it with some old newspapers or a plastic sheet to avoid any mess. The cardboard needs to dry completely, so make sure you have enough space for it to lay flat. You can also use a large piece of cardboard as your workspace. If you are using wax or oil, make sure to have a separate container for it. But if you are using acrylic paint, keep it nearby.

Step 2: Cut the Cardboard into Strips

If your project requires a specific shape or size, cut the cardboard into strips accordingly. This will make it easier to work with and apply the PVA glue mixture. It will also help create a stronger structure for your project. The strips can be any size, but make sure they are not too thin or thick. You can use a ruler and utility knife to make precise cuts. You can also use a cardboard cutter for this step.

Step 3: Prepare the PVA Glue Mixture

To make the cardboard hard like wood, mix equal parts of water and PVA glue in a container. It is best to use warm water as it will help to dissolve the glue faster. Mix well until you have a smooth consistency without any lumps. The ratio can be adjusted depending on the thickness of your cardboard and how hard you want it to become.

Step 4: Apply Wax or Oil (Optional)

Use PVA Glue

If you are looking for a water-resistant surface, apply a thin layer of wax or oil on the cardboard strips. Make sure to cover both sides evenly. This step is optional but will make the cardboard harder and more resistant to scratches. You can use a rag or paintbrush to apply the wax or oil. It is best to do this step outside or in a well-ventilated area.

Step 5: Apply the PVA Glue Mixture

Using a paintbrush, apply the PVA glue mixture onto one side of the cardboard strips. Make sure to cover it evenly and completely without any gaps or spaces. You can also use your hands to evenly distribute the mixture if needed. The glue needs to be applied generously. But make sure not to soak the cardboard completely as it will take longer to dry. But if you are using thin cardboard, it is best to soak it completely.

Step 6: Layer the Cardboard Strips

After applying the PVA glue mixture, start stacking the cardboard strips, one on top of the other. Make sure to alternate the direction of each strip to create a strong structure. Press down gently to remove any air bubbles and ensure that all strips are bonded together with the glue mixture. If you want a thicker and harder surface, add more layers of cardboard. It is recommended to use at least three layers for a durable structure.

Step 7: Repeat Steps 5-6

Repeat the process of applying the glue mixture and layering the cardboard strips until you have reached your desired thickness. Make sure to end with a layer of glue on top. Otherwise, the cardboard may not harden properly. Otherwise, the cardboard may not harden properly. It is important to keep the cardboard strips flat and aligned during this process. You can also use weights or heavy objects to keep them in place. It is also recommended to have a layer of cardboard at the bottom to prevent any glue from sticking to your workspace.

Step 8: Let it Dry

Place the cardboard structure on a flat surface and let it dry completely. This process may take anywhere from 12-24 hours, depending on the thickness of your project. Make sure to flip it over after some time to allow both sides to dry evenly. If you are using a single layer of cardboard, it will take less time to dry. However, for multiple layers, it is recommended to let it dry overnight. Although, you can speed up the process by using a fan or hairdryer on a low setting. However, avoid using high heat as it may cause the cardboard to warp.

Step 9: Sand the Edges (Optional)

Once the cardboard has dried completely, use sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges or surfaces. This step is optional and can be skipped if you prefer a more rustic look for your project. But sanding will make the surface even and easier to paint or decorate. You can also use a sanding block for this step. The cardboard should now feel harder and more solid, like wood. You can test it by pressing your finger on the surface. It should not dent easily. The wax or oil will also make the sanding process smoother.

Step 10: Decorate (Optional)

If you want to add some color or design to your project, now is the time to do so. You can use acrylic paint on top of the hardened cardboard. This will also make it more durable and waterproof. Make sure to let the paint dry completely before moving on to the next step. A layer of varnish or sealant on top is recommended for added protection. The cardboard should now feel and look like wood. But with the added benefit of being lightweight and easy to cut into different shapes.

Step 11: Cut and Shape as Needed

Once the paint has dried, you can cut and shape the cardboard structure as needed for your project. Whether it’s for a sculpture, furniture piece, or decorative item, you can use a utility knife or other cutting tools to make precise cuts. The cardboard should now be hard and sturdy like wood, making it easier to work with. You can also use sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges after cutting. The possibilities are endless with your newfound wooden-like cardboard. You can use it for various DIY projects and even as a substitute for wood in some cases.

Step 12: Enjoy Your Hardened Cardboard Project

Congratulations! You have successfully made cardboard hard like wood. You can now use your project for various purposes, knowing that it is durable and long-lasting. Whether you are creating a prototype or a final product, this technique is a great way to make use of recyclable materials and create sturdy structures.  So go ahead and enjoy your unique and eco-friendly creation.  For more creative ideas, you can also try experimenting with different types of cardboard or adding other materials such as fabric or metal, for a mixed media effect. The possibilities are endless! Have fun and happy crafting!

Use Many Layers of Cardboard

Following these steps will ensure that your project turns out strong, durable, and ready to use. This technique is not only budget-friendly but also environmentally friendly as it reduces waste and promotes sustainability. So next time you have some cardboard lying around, don’t throw it away just yet. Give this method a try and see the amazing results for yourself!  Happy crafting!

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost of this project depends on the materials you have at hand. If you have all the necessary materials, you can get them for free! But if you need to buy them, the total cost may vary depending on your location and the quality of materials purchased. However, it is a cost-effective way to create sturdy structures compared to using traditional materials like wood or metal. So, not only are you saving money, but you are also reducing your carbon footprint by using recyclable materials. It’s a win-win situation!

You can also get creative with your materials and use different types of cardboard, such as corrugated or thick packaging cardboard, for a unique effect. You can even incorporate patterned or colored cardboard for added visual interest.

Take Polyester Resin and Mix It

Additional Tips:

  • If you want to make your cardboard even harder, you can repeat the process of layering and adding more glue mixture. Just remember to let it dry completely in between layers.
  • You can also experiment with different types of glue or even create your own homemade adhesive using flour and water.
  • For a smoother finish, you can use a damp cloth to wipe off any excess glue before it dries.
  • If you want your project to be waterproof, you can also add a layer of waterproof sealant after the paint has dried. This will make it suitable for outdoor use as well.
  • Don’t limit yourself to just cardboard! You can try this technique with other types of paper or even fabric for different textures and effects.
  • Safety is important when using cutting tools and other materials. Make sure to wear protective gear and use caution while handling sharp objects.  Always supervise children during this process.
  • Don’t forget to have fun and be creative with your project! The beauty of DIY is that you can make it your own and add personal touches to make it unique.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to recycle or repurpose your project when you no longer need it. This will continue the cycle of sustainability and reduce waste in our environment. 
  • Continue exploring and experimenting with cardboard and other recyclable materials to create more amazing projects! 
Applying the Resin

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can Cardboard With Dirt on It Be Recycled?

A: Yes, cardboard with small amounts of dirt or food residue can still be recycled. However, it is best to remove as much of the dirt as possible before recycling to avoid contamination. The same goes for ink or paint on cardboard, try to remove it before recycling. You can also reuse cardboard for various projects instead of throwing it away.

Q: How Can I Make My Cardboard Project More Durable?

A: To make your cardboard project more durable, you can use thicker or multiple layers of cardboard and apply a generous amount of the PVA glue mixture. You can also add wax or oil to create a water-resistant surface. Additionally, using a sealant or varnish on top of the paint can provide extra protection.  If you are planning to use your project outdoors, consider adding weather-resistant materials such as waterproof fabric or metal.

Q: Can I Use Other Types of Glue Besides PVA?

A: While PVA glue is most commonly used for making cardboard hard like wood, you can also try other types of glue such as wood glue or epoxy. However, make sure to test a small area first before committing to the entire project as different glues may react differently with cardboard and have varying drying times.

Q: How Long Does It Take for Cardboard to Harden?

A: The time it takes for cardboard to harden depends on various factors such as the thickness of your project, the type of glue used, and environmental conditions. On average, it can take anywhere from 12-24 hours for the cardboard to harden completely. It is best to let it dry overnight to ensure that all layers are bonded together firmly.

Q: Is This Method Safe for Children?

A: While this method does involve using a utility knife and PVA glue, which can be hazardous if not used properly, it is safe for children to do with adult supervision. It is also a great way to teach kids about recycling and creativity. However, make sure to use caution when using cutting tools and supervise them at all times.  If you have younger children, consider using safety scissors instead of a knife.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, the above process is going to be way more helpful for you, and you won’t have to ask anyone how to make cardboard hard like wood. If you are still confused or have something more enhanced, let me know through the comment section. You may also read it now. The final thought is to encourage you to try and build your own cardboard suit of armor and proudly wear it on any special occasion. This project will not only help you get creative but also give you a sense of accomplishment. So, go ahead and have fun with it!

You can check it out to Make Cardboard Look Like Wood

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Jennifer Branett
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