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How to build a cardboard robot

Updated February 21, 2017

Building a cardboard robot is a fun craft project for children. It can be easily done with old boxes and a few household items. As much detail as desired can be added once the basic robot is complete. It's perfect for after Christmas due to the numerous empty cardboard gift boxes and decorations available. The following are rough plans to build a basic 42-inch-tall cardboard robot. Measurements are given as an example, but other sizes may be used, depending on the supplies on hand.

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  1. Make the robot body. Find an empty cardboard box (approximately 18 inches square). It can be any clean, dry box. Draw five 3-inch-diameter circles with a drawing compass on the outside of the box--one on top for the neck, two on the bottom for the legs and one on either side for the arms. The neck hole should be at the centre of the top side of the box. The leg holes need to be equidistant from the outside edges of the bottom of the box to ensure support for the entire robot. The two arms holes should about a third down from the top of the box and directly across from one another (see the green square in the diagram). Cut out the circles with scissors and/or a utility knife. Smooth the inside edges of the holes by cutting off any uneven pieces of cardboard.

  2. Make the robot limbs. Find one empty cardboard wrapping paper tube (approximately 30 inches long, 3 inches wide) or any cardboard tube about that size. Cut the tube into five 6-inch lengths with scissors and/or a utility knife--two for the legs, two for the arms and one for the neck. Smooth the edges by cutting off any uneven pieces.

  3. Make the limb-to-body connector pieces. Cut a piece(s) of cardboard into eight 6-inch square pieces. Glue one square to one end of each of the limbs and allow to dry. Tape around the seam between the tube and connector for extra support. Open the box, apply glue to each connector square on the tube side, and push the tube through the holes in the box from the inside until the square is against the box. Press the square firmly against the box until they adhere to one another. Tape the connector to the inside of the box for extra support. Tape each limb to the outside of the box as well. Close the box and tape it closed; this is the back of the robot (the red lines and blue rectangles in the diagram).

  4. Complete the limbs. Glue and tape the rest of the connectors to the loose ends of the arms and neck. Cut two 9-inch wide, 16-inch-long rectangles from another piece of cardboard and glue and tape them to the bottom of the leg tubes to form the robot feet. More substantial feet may be added, but be sure the robot is balanced or it will easily tip over. Wait until the glue is completely dry. Glue and tape the arm connectors to two empty mini boxes of cereal, which are the robot hands (The yellow rectangles in the diagram). Glue the top of the neck connector to the empty large box of cereal (approximately 12 inches high), which is the robot head (the orange rectangle in the diagram).

  5. Paint the whole robot silver. Decorate it as desired with different-shaped pieces of cardboard, metallic objects or different coloured paints. The possibilities are endless.

  6. Tip

    This makes a great project for a group of children to do together.


    Adult supervision is recommended due to the use of sharp tools and glue required.

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Things You'll Need

  • One empty box
  • One empty wrapping paper tube
  • Cardboard (a few square feet)
  • One empty large box of cereal
  • Two empty mini boxes of cereal
  • Scissors and/or utility knife
  • Drawing compass
  • Ruler
  • Glue
  • Silver duct tape
  • Silver paint
  • Firm cutting surface

About the Author

John Gugie has been a freelance writer for a decade. His work is diverse, from editorials and research papers to entertainment, humor and more. He holds a degree in finance from Moravian College of Pennsylvania. He writes for several sites including Associated Content, Helium and Examiner.

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