How to Build a Model Elevator

Written by contributing writer
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How to Build a Model Elevator
This is the cereal box elevator with the front panel open. (The photo was taken by the author)

Building a model elevator is a great way to have fun with your children and to educate them at the same time. This may seem like an expensive undertaking, but this is not the case. You can make your own model elevator from inexpensive items found around the house.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Cardboard cereal box
  • Scissors
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Baby food jar
  • Hot glue gun
  • Twine (or dental floss)
  • Aluminium foil, decorative paper and craft glue (optional)

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  1. 1

    Cut a cereal box in a line three inches in from one side, going parallel to the side of the box, all the way around (except the back panel). This will make the elevator shaft.

  2. 2

    Leave a flap on the back panel to serve as the front of the elevator shaft. Cut holes in the flap to make the elevator doorways; bend the flap so that it can cover the front. Glue the top of the box closed, if needed.

  3. 3

    Cut the remaining scraps from the cereal box to make an elevator car. Make this box three inches tall and slightly smaller, side to side and front to back, than the elevator shaft.

  4. 4

    Twist the coat hanger back and forth with the pliers until a 7-inch piece breaks off. Break off a 3-inch section and an 8-inch section from the remaining coat hanger.

  5. 5

    Press a baby food jar lid onto a sheet of cardboard to make eight round impressions. Cut out the resulting circles. Glue these circles together to form a wide cardboard wheel. Poke the coat hanger through the centre of this wheel.

  6. 6

    Make two more cardboard circles 1/8-inch wider than the jar lid. Poke holes in the centre of these two new wheels with the coat hanger. Glue these on either side of the thick wheel from step 3. Keep the holes lined up.

  7. 7

    Poke a hole, using the coat hanger, on either side of the elevator shaft, 2 inches from the top and 2 inches in from the back of the shaft. Bend a 90-degree angle in the 8-inch wire, 1 inch from the end. Make a 90-degree angle facing the opposite way.

  8. 8

    Slip the coat hanger through a hole in the side of the cereal box. Slip on the cardboard wheel and then slip the hanger out the other hole in the elevator shaft.

  9. 9

    Use a dab of glue to keep the hanger from going back through the hole, but do not get the glue on the box. Do the same thing on the other side of the box on the hanger. Move the cardboard wheel toward the middle of the axle. Make a glue bead on either side, but, again, do not glue the cardboard.

  10. 10

    Bend the 3-inch section of hanger to make it straight and flat with a sharp bump in the middle. Glue the two flat sides on top of the elevator car so that the bump sticks straight up.

  11. 11

    Measure the distance between the top of the pulley and the top of the elevator car. Multiply this distance times three. Cut a piece of twine this length.

  12. 12

    Glue one end of the twine to the top of the elevator car. Run the twine up around the cardboard wheel (pulley) and down through the bump in the wire on the elevator car. Run the twine back up to the axle, gluing it directly onto the hanger wire.

  13. 13

    Run the elevator by using the crank to raise and lower the elevator car once the glue is cool.

Tips and warnings

  • Balance your elevator car and make it as square as possible for best results. Aluminium foil will give the interior of your elevator a more authentic metallic look, if the foil is smoothed and glued on with craft glue. Decorative paper can better hide the fact that you used a cereal box. If the elevator car gets stuck, clear away any extra glue off the sides that may be gripping the shaft. Balance the elevator car by adding weight to the bottom if it has trouble descending. Add sliding doors, made from aluminium-foil-coated cardboard to your elevator.
  • Scissors, metal ends of the clothes hangers and other objects will be sharp. The hot glue and glue gun as well as anything that is in contact with hot things will be hot and glue can ooze out the edges.

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