diy project: cardboard faux logs


I have always adored a fireplace in the living room. Nothing beats the warm (in more ways than one) feeling that it brings. We have a great fireplace in our cozy little house, but we also have a little girl. As much as I would love to have a glowing fire in our fireplace and a hot cup of cider and a good book to go with it, a fire just doesn’t work with our lifestyle at the moment. So in the meantime, to achieve that cozy feeling, I made cardboard logs to hold the fire’s place.

Made of rolled corrugated cardboard, these logs are coated with plaster to add texture and a clean birch look. The cut ends are reminiscent of the rings in big, hefty logs, and the handmade appeal brings a special, fireless warmth that a pile of wooden logs can’t produce. So put away your axe, get out your scissors and fill your fireplace with handmade warmth! – Brenna (paper + ink)

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

Materials

  • 12″ wide single-faced corrugated cardboard (aka “corrugated wrap”)
  • masking tape
  • scissors
  • X-Acto knife or mat knife
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • plaster of Paris
  • small bucket

Instructions

1. With the ridged side out, roll the cardboard up as tight as you can into cylinders of varying sizes. Cut along the ridges with the scissors. My cylinders ranged anywhere from 5″ to 8″.

2. Hot glue the end of the cardboard roll to the body of the log.

3. Make a couple more cylinders, only 1″ to 2″ this time, and glue closed.

4. With the scissors or the X-Acto knife, cut the small cylinders at an angle, about 2″ to 4″ up, then at the next 2″ to 4″ measurement, cut the cylinder straight across. Repeat. These short pieces will make the branches that stick out from the log.

5. Hot glue the short branches to the main body of the log, with the angled side on the log. Use the masking tape to secure until the hot glue cools.

6. To apply the plaster to the logs, first remove all the tape on the outside of the log. You can use your hands to mix the plaster; just remember to remove your jewelry.

7. Play with mixing the plaster until you get a thin paste. The directions say to mix one part of water with two parts of plaster. I started with this ratio and added more plaster to obtain a thin paste similar to the consistency of runny oatmeal.

8. With your fingers, spread the plaster on the log with the direction of the ribs of the cardboard. Cover the sides of the log only, not the ends. You can add as much or as little texture as you like with the plaster.

9. Let the plaster set at least a couple of hours.

10. Arrange the logs in the fireplace, grab a mug of hot cider and a good book, and feel the warmth :)

  1. Janice Alex says:

    I just love this idea who knew that you could make something so great out of ribs of cardboard. Keep them coming….

  2. I have not a single fireplace but these are just beautiful. And genius!

  3. Blair says:

    this would be great as 3-d art and a good way for people
    who want the look of a fireplace without the hassle.. I think I
    might use this idea to do that!

  4. Justine says:

    awesome. simply awesome.

  5. Love this idea. It looks awesome and do-able at the same time.

  6. Michel says:

    I’ve been looking for an idea for my fireplace and I believe I’ve found it. Thanks!

  7. Nicole says:

    Gorgeous. Best DIY I’ve seen in a long time and perfect for my house as well.

    How much corrugated wrap did it take to make this many (7-8?) logs?

  8. Mary Sue says:

    Great idea! I would do the logs a bit better though, so that they don’t resemble industrial paper rolls, though. Maybe adding some texture would work?
    The pile of wood in the fireplace is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. This is a truly unique take on the subject.

  9. Ivis says:

    Yes but where do you get real aspen/birch logs in North Carolina?
    Love, love, love this idea for my nonworking fireplace. Plus, it will lighten up the dark hole! Thanks for this great project!

  10. Eve Geisler says:

    An amazing project, I am always interested in Tree items.

  11. Heather says:

    Really excited to see you and this project on Martha Stewart this week!!!

  12. Carrie Mistretta says:

    Watched this on Martha Sreward show! you did varry good! will be trying this varry soon!

  13. Dee hatch says:

    This is a great idea for an empty fireplace, which I have. Thanks

  14. Kate says:

    This is so fun…for a glow I would arrange a string of lights around the logs.

  15. kate says:

    This is so KEWL and smart! I think I might use this idea to try to make a coffee table…

  16. lucy mcnemar says:

    i donn’t like the logs i just love them so very much thank you so very much for shareing them with us . keep up the good wooks . love and prayers lucy mcnemar

  17. Cub leader says:

    This is an awesome idea, I’m going to use this for my Cub Scouts to make their own log for their Arrow of Light crossover ceremony, I’m going to have them paint them afterwards, to look like darker wood and add the AOL symbol, like it’s engraved. We will then stack them around a fake fire pot to look like a real camp fire. Thanks so much!

  18. Mich says:

    great tutorial but DO NOT use your hands to mix plaster of paris.
    Plaster of paris releases heat as it hardens and there have been instances in England of a girl losing 8 of her fingers from heat burns after she submerged her hands into plaster of paris and it set around them, reaching temperatures of 60’c (140’f)

  19. Derek says:

    Or you could just follow this two step process:

    1. Buy some logs.

    2. Paint them white.

  20. Darren Moser says:

    Beautiful use of cardboard.
    May I please use your last image of the cardboard log stack in my cardboard blog? I am working on a backlog of posts and want to make an icon to jump to these posts and alert people to new ones. The image is ccl_detail.jpg

  21. audrey wilmot says:

    I wanted to know where to get the a cardboard
    2. how much cardboard to make this many logs????
    3. i would like to add a little lighting that flickers can you help guide me please
    4. annd i like your log placement can you make a little drawing to say this goes here that goes there
    thank you
    hope you answer soon with holidays coming i want to get this made

  22. Lily The Crafting Bargain Hunter says:

    This is super gorgeous! Christmas is in a few months (I know, I know, It’s September and I’m already getting ready!) and I’m doing DIY’s to decorate the house: I’m making a folded newspaper Christmas tree, decorations, a fireplace out of some material I’ve had in my house for years! It’s not as bendable as cardboard, it crumbles away if you try to bend it but I think it would look great as a vintage word print fireplace and those logs sure would compliment it! Thanks!

  23. Beb says:

    Hi, I needed to create a fake log for a school project. I really like your idea a lot and would like to know if I can paint the log brown after plastering?

    Thank u

  24. koli says:

    Very nice thought. There are much nicer than working with corrugated cardboard.

  25. Mandakell says:

    So cool looking! Just ordered my corrugated roll from Amazon.ca…hope mine turn out as great as these!

  26. Phil says:

    These look great. I need some fake logs for a camp fire for a stage play and these will do the trick. However, I’ll probably paint mine a different colour, or add some small dark lines to make it look even more like Silver Birch.

  27. hMh says:

    Looks good! U can also add layers of tissue paper and drag I to wet plaster for “bark” as we did at arts and crafts camp 25 yrs ago! U just lay thin sheets into semi set plaster and mold to shape. A set design trick for theatre… Please tell me you’re not failing to use your fireplace just because you have a child ! when it’s only been in the last 75 years or so that children haven’t been around fireplaces as a “normal” part of home…lol. There are ways to avoid the dangers…great solution for city dwellers w non working FPs!

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