How to Make a 3D Merry Go Round

Written by amanda flocke
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How to Make a 3D Merry Go Round
Make a spinning merry-go-round model. (carousel image by bright from

Merry-go-round, carousel, roundabout or whirligig; no matter what you call it, this staple of amusement parks and carnivals delights children of all ages. Capture some of the whimsical magic by making your own 3D merry-go-round model.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 1/8-inch thick corrugated cardboard
  • Craft knife
  • 10-inch compass
  • Water-based wood glue
  • Masking tape
  • U.S. penny
  • 7 flat washers, 1/4 SAE
  • 13 1/4-inch piece of dowel, 1/4 inch in diameter
  • Pencil sharpener
  • High temperature hot glue gun with glue sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Protractor
  • Ruler
  • Sharpened pencil
  • 8 plastic drinking straws with elbows
  • Scissors
  • Heavy paper
  • Office stapler with staples
  • Wood bead with 1/4-inch hole
  • Poster paint
  • Rhinestones
  • Glitter

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  1. 1

    Make the lower base of the merry-go-round by cutting four circles with 20-inch diameters out of the 1/8-inch thick corrugated cardboard. Make a 5/8-inch hole in the centre of three of the circles. Glue a U.S. penny face down in the centre of the uncut circle. Stack and glue the circles with holes on top of the uncut circle. Cover the edges of the cardboard with masking tape.

  2. 2

    Stack and glue seven 1/4 SAE flat washers together. Once the glue dries, insert the washer stack into the 5/8-inch hole in the cardboard stack from step 1.

  3. 3

    Create the upper base by cutting two more 20-inch diameter circles from the 1/8-inch thick corrugated cardboard. Cover the edges with masking tape.

  4. 4

    Sharpen one end of a 13 1/4–inch length of 1/4-inch diameter dowel stock with a pencil sharpener. Make a light mark 3/8 inch from the unsharpened side of the dowel. Puncture the centre of the upper base with the sharp end of the dowel and push the base down to the mark at the unsharpened end. Insert this into the washer stack of the lower base. Adjust the upper base’s placement on the dowel so that there is about 1/8 inch between the bases. Secure the dowel by applying a bead of hot glue where it meets the upper base.

  5. 5

    Cut out eight 4 by 8-inch rectangles from the corrugated cardboard. Arrange the pieces in a line with their 8-inch sides touching. Use masking tape to connect the edges. With the tape seams on the inside, join and tape the two unattached edges to form an octagonal prism. Cover the outside edges with masking tape. Attach this structure to the centre of the upper base with hot glue.

  6. 6

    Cut another cardboard circle with a 20-inch diameter for your merry-go-round’s ceiling. Draw a 10-inch line from the centre to the edge of the circle. With the centre as a starting point, use a protractor to draw another 10-inch radius 45 degrees from your first line. Repeat this process seven more times. Sketch a 16-inch diameter circle over your eight equally spaced radii. Use a sharpened pencil to punch holes in the cardboard where the scribed circle and radii meet.

  7. 7

    Make the poles of your merry go round by cutting four 1/2-inch slits on the long side of an elbow straw. Fold the cut plastic away from the straw. Insert the straw through one of the holes in your merry-go-round’s ceiling. Secure the cut strips with masking tape, and bend the elbow of the straw. Repeat this procedure seven more times.

  8. 8

    With the straws toward the upper base of the merry-go-round, puncture the centre of the cardboard ceiling with the sharpened dowel. Secure it to the octagonal prism with hot glue.

  9. 9

    Create the merry-go-round roof by cutting a circle with a 22-inch diameter out of heavy paper. Fold the circle in eighths and then unfold the paper. Scribe a 1 1/2 -inch diameter circle in the centre. Slice each fold from the small circle to the paper’s edge with a craft knife. Staple all adjacent edges together. Make sure that the staples are parallel to the edges.

  10. 10

    With the stapled side down, impale the roof on the sharpened dowel. Attach the rounded edges of the roof to the cardboard ceiling with hot glue. Fasten a wooden bead with a 1/4–inch hole in it to the top of the dowel with wood glue. Let it dry for 45 minutes.

  11. 11

    Insert the unsharpened end of the dowel into the lower base of your merry-go-round. Turn the wooden bead to make sure that the carousal spins correctly. If it wobbles, remove the lower base and wrap masking tape around the dull end of the dowel. If it does not spin freely, shave some wood off the dowel with the craft knife.

  12. 12

    Draw and cut out 16 carousel horses on 4 by 4-inch squares of heavy paper. Glue two horses together over the bent part of each straw. Make sure that the horses are all facing the same direction.

  13. 13

    Decorate your merry-go-round with poster paint, rhinestones and glitter.

Tips and warnings

  • Turn your merry-go-round model into a night light by coating its edges with glow-in-the-dark paint.
  • Many suppliers do not classify cardboard by thickness. If you encounter any confusion when purchasing your board, ask for “B flute” corrugated, which measures exactly 1/8-inch thick.
  • Use caution when using the craft knife and the hot glue gun.
  • Supervise children under 10 years of age when making this project.

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