How to Make Cardboard Logs

Mia McShane

The idea of making "firewood" out of recyclable materials is intriguing to any person who is interested in living in a more environmentally conscious and thrifty manner. Logs made of paper material that is pressed into briquettes or rolled into logs burn as efficiently as wood.

Old cardboard is a sturdy material that can be used for all sorts of crafts.


Make a cutting template from a piece of the cardboard. Lay a piece of cardboard on a flat outdoor surface large enough to work on. This will be your cutting pad so you are not cutting directly on the floor. Make the logs far enough in an advance so they are completely dry before use. Three months beforehand is optimum. Once you get the hang of rolling cardboard logs, you can add other recyclable materials like white paper and newspaper into the log as you roll it. However, do not use paper from magazines, as it is toxic. The tighter you roll your logs, the longer they will take to dry. The looser you roll them, the shorter the drying process. Tighter logs burn longer, while looser logs burn faster. Hydraulic hand presses squeeze paper products into briquettes that can be used in logs.


When cutting, make sure your fingers and legs are not in a position to get sliced should the blade slip.

Wear work gloves when using a utility knife.

Stay focused and cut in a sustained manner to reduce the likelihood of an accident.

Briquettes and logs can be made out of common household waste products such as newspaper, paper, and cardboard.

Prepare the Cardboard

  1. Cut down any boxes with the utility knife so that all the cardboard is in flat pieces.

  2. Cut the cardboard into pieces, all with varying lengths and 14-inch widths. Spread all of the cardboard lengths out in a single layer on the floor surface.

  3. Fill the watering can with water. Then pour the water on the cardboard so that it is wet enough to be pliable, but not completely soaked.

Constructing the Logs

  1. Pre-cut some lengths of the twine; start with fifteen 18-inch pieces, which will be enough for five logs.

  2. Stack all of the cardboard lengths next to your work cutting area. Pick one from the stack, and beginning at one of the 14 inch ends, fold the edge over about one inch. Begin to tightly roll the cardboard width wise toward the other end.

  3. Have the second person help you keep the roll tight as you go. When you are almost to the end of the first length of cardboard, have your helper lay the end of the next length of cardboard on top of the end of the first one by overlapping about five inches.

  4. Have your helper hold the overlapped portion down until you have continued rolling the log onto the new length of cardboard.

  5. Continue rolling until the log is the size you desire. The finished log should look similar to a large, very thick paper towel tube.

  6. Hold the log in place with your hand and knee, and have your helper slip one length of the twine under the log at one end. The helper needs to tie a knot as tightly as possible.

  7. Repeat this process on the other end of the log. Tie a third knot in the middle of the log.

  8. Plan on drying your logs in a warm dry area for an average of 3 months. This time will vary more or less depending on your climate, and it is conceivable that they may dry in less time. Try one, and see how it burns.

  9. Use these logs as if they are wood. If they do not seem to burn well, then dry a little longer.