Make Life Easier With Cardboard Boxes

Shield doors and furniture Use cardboard shields to protect doors and furniture from stains when you polish doorknobs and furniture

Shield doors and furniture
Use cardboard shields to protect doors and furniture from stains when you polish doorknobs and furniture pulls. Cut out the appropriate-sized shield and slide it over the items you are going to polish. This works best when you make shields that slip over the neck of knobs or knoblike pulls. But you can also make shields for hinges and U-shaped pulls.

Make dustcovers
Keep dust and dirt out of a small appliance, power tool, or keyboard. Cut the flaps off a cardboard box that fits over the item, decorate it or cover it with self-adhesive decorative paper, and use it as a dustcover.

Make an office in-box
Making an in-box (or out-box) for your office desk is easy. Simply cut the top and one large panel off a cereal box; then slice the narrow sides at an angle. Wrap with self-adhesive decorative paper.

Make place mats
Cut several 12 x 18-inch (30 x 45-centimeter) pieces of cardboard and cover them with colorful adhesive shelf paper or other decoration.

Protect glassware or lightbulbs
A good way to safely store fine crystal glassware is to put it in an empty wine or liquor carton with partitions. You can also use it for storing lightbulbs, but be sure to sort the bulbs by wattage so that it’s easy to find the right one when you need a replacement.

Make a magazine holder
Store your magazines in holders made from empty detergent boxes. Remove the top, then cut the box at an angle, from the top of one side to the bottom third of the other. Cover the holders with self-adhesive decorative paper.

Poster and artwork holder
A clean liquor carton with its dividers intact is a great place to store rolled-up posters, drawings on paper, and canvases. Just insert the items upright between the partitions.

Store Christmas ornaments
When you take down your Christmas tree, wrap each ornament in newspaper or tissue paper and store it in an empty liquor box with partitions. Each of the carton’s segments can hold several of the wrapped holiday tree ornaments.

Create an impromptu sled
Use a large cardboard box to pull a small child (or a load of firewood) over the snow.

Garage for toy vehicles
Turn an empty large appliance box on its side and let the kids use it as a “garage” for their wheeled vehicles. They can also use a smaller box as a garage for miniature cars, trucks, and buses.

Make a puppet theater
Stand a large cardboard box on end. Cut a big hole in the back for puppeteers to crouch in and a smaller one high up in the front for the stage. Decorate with markers or glue on pieces of fabric for curtains.

Organize kids’ sporting goods
Keep a decorated empty wine or liquor carton with partitions, and with the top cut off, in your child’s room and use it for easy storage of tennis rackets, baseball bats, fishing poles, and such.

Make a play castle
Turn a large appliance cardboard box into a medieval castle. Cut off the top flaps and make battlements by cutting notches along the top. To make a notch, use a utility knife to make a cut on either side of the section you want to remove, then fold the cut section for-ward and cut along the fold. To make a drawbridge, cut a large fold-down opening on one side that is attached at the bottom. Connect the top of the drawbridge to the sidewalls with ropes on either side, punching holes for the rope and knot-ting the rope on the other side. Use duct tape to reinforce the holes. Also cut out narrow window slits in the walls. Let the kids draw stones and bricks on the walls.

Store tall garden tools
Turn three empty liquor cartons into a sectioned storage bin for your long-handled garden tools. Put a topless box on the floor with the dividers left in. Then cut the tops and bottoms off two similar boxes and stack them so the dividers match up. Use duct tape to attach the boxes to each other. Use the bin to store hoes, rakes, and other long-handled garden tools.

Protect work surfaces
Keep work surfaces from being damaged. Flatten a large box or cut a large flat piece from a box and use it to protect your counter-top, work-bench, table, or desk from ink, paint, glue, or nicks from knives and scissors. Just replace it when it becomes messed up.

Protect your fingers
Ouch! You just hammered your finger instead of the tiny nail you were trying to drive. To keep this from happening again, stick the little nail through a small piece of thin cardboard before you do your hammering. Hold the cardboard by an edge, position the nail, and pound it home. When you’re done, use your bruise-free fingers to tear away the cardboard.

Keep upholstery tacks straight
Reupholstering a chair or sofa? Here’s a neat way to get a row of upholstery tacks perfectly straight and evenly spaced. Mark the spacing along the edge of a light weight cardboard strip and press the tacks into it. After driving all of the tacks most of the way in, tug on the strip to pull the edge free before driving in the rest of the way.

Make a drip pan
Prevent an oil leak from soiling your garage floor or driveway. Make a drip pan by placing a few sheets of corrugated cardboard in a cookie sheet and placing the pan under your car’s drip. For better absorption, sprinkle some cat litter, sawdust, or oatmeal into the pan on top of the cardboard. Replace with fresh cardboard as needed.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest