How to build a cardboard model plane

Updated February 21, 2017

Aeroplane modelling is a popular activity among youths. While many are more familiar with modelling in the form of paper aeroplanes, using cardboard sheets instead of sheets of paper allows for more complex designs which fly better in exchange for the extra work in construction. Building a plane out of cardboard takes a little practice to perfect; however, with a little effort even a beginner can create a satisfying end product.

Draw a body piece on a cardboard sheet and cut it out using the crafting knife. To scale your body, draw a rectangle 5 cm (2 inches) tall and 20 cm (eight inches) long. Add a horizontal line 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) below the top of the rectangle, and three horizontal lines, 2.5 cm (1 inch), 3.8 cm (1 and 1/2 inches) and 17.8 cm (7 inches) from the back of the plane, respectively. The bottom of the plane remains flat, while the top (the top of the rectangle before the first line) dips down to the horizontal line between the first and second lines, and then drops from the horizontal line to the centre of the front edge of the plane, between the third line and the front edge.

Trace the body piece and cut out an exact copy, then tape the two pieces together to make your plane extra stable.

Cut out a pair of wings. To scale the wings, draw a rectangle that is 5 cm (2 inches) tall and 20 cm (8 inches) wide, and a vertical line down the centre of the wings 10 cm (4 inches) from each edge. Draw an additional line from each edge, 13 cm (1/2 inch) from the top of the rectangle, to the top of the centre line. The tapered side will be the front of the wings, while the flat side will be the back of the wings.

Cut a tail for the plane. The tail will have a similar shape to the wings, but the rectangle will only be 5 cm (2 inches) wide and 2.5 cm (1 inch) tall, and the lines will start 0.6 cm (1/4 inch) from the top of the rectangle.

Cut notches for the wings and the tail. For the wings, cut a slit in the body piece with the utility knife that starts 5 cm (2 inches) from the front of the plane and is centred along the height of the plane. The slit should be as tall as your cardboard sheets are thick. For the tail, cut a 2.5 cm (1 inch) long slit, centred vertically, starting from the very back of the plane.

Tape the wings and tail in place. Insert them into the slits cut in step 5, then secure them with four pieces of tape each, with a piece on top of the wing or tail and a piece below the wing or tail on both sides of the body.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard sheets
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Crafting knife
  • Tape
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