How to make a play robot out of cardboard boxes

Written by todd bowerman
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How to make a play robot out of cardboard boxes
A jewellery box can make a great robot head. (box image by Bartlomiej Nowak from

Building a cardboard robot is a fun way to make use of some of those empty boxes you have lying around the house. Crafting a robot toy is great fun for kids and adults alike, and can be completed in under an hour in most cases. You can build a simple robot using things you already have, mixed with a little creativity and fun.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Shoebox
  • Duct tape (the shiny kind)
  • Superglue
  • 2 empty toilet paper tubes
  • Scissors
  • 3 small cardboard boxes (such as a ring or jewellery box)
  • Pencil
  • Felt-tipped permanent marker

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  1. 1

    Wrap the duct tape around the shoebox, starting at the bottom. As you spiral around the box with the tape, move the tape up with each consecutive layer to completely cover the box with tape. When this is completed, do the same for the smaller boxes and the toilet paper tubes. Make sure that no cardboard is visible–the duct tape is what gives the robot a metallic look.

  2. 2

    Lay the shoebox on its side longways. Take one of the toilet paper tubes and place it on the side of the box where you would like one of the robot’s arms, then trace around the circular opening using the pencil. You should have a circle marked on the side of your robot.

  3. 3

    Flip the shoebox to the opposite side and trace another circle where you would like the robot’s other arm to stick out. Be sure to make it even with the first circle you traced, or your robot may end up looking a little odd.

  4. 4

    Carefully cut out the circles on each side of the shoebox using your scissors. When finished, you should be able to insert the cardboard toilet paper tubes into the armholes with minimal fuss.

  5. 5

    Glue one of the smaller boxes to the top of the shoebox where you want the robot’s head to go using your super glue. It's best to glue this box on its side to help provide your robot with a larger face.

  6. 6

    Attach the remaining two small boxes to the bottom of your shoebox using the superglue. These will be your robot’s feet, and will work best if they are wide and short.

  7. 7

    Draw extra details onto your robot using the permanent marker. Be sure to give him eyes, a mouth and some buttons.

Tips and warnings

  • Try adding wheels, calculator buttons, an antenna and other accessories to make your robot unique.
  • Children should always be supervised when using scissors.

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