Picture of Build a 6'-0
I'm sure we've all seen those small wooden 3D dinosaur models. I had a few that I loved as a kid, but they all shared a common flaw. They were much too small!! As a father I set about to rectify that problem for my son. In the following steps I'll provide all the information you'll need to make your very own 6 foot tall T-Rex model!

(Please vote for me in the DADCANDO contest!!)

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Step 1: Tools & Materials

Picture of Tools & Materials

2) 4'x8' sheets of Oak Plywood (*see notes below)
Templates printed on 24"x36" sheets (from attached PDF on Step 2)
Wood Stain & Finish (optional but recommended)
Felt with adhesive backing


Jigsaw blades - 12tpi (teeth per inch) skinny blades
Drill with 1/4" bit
Sander w/ various grits
Router w/ 1/4" roundover bit

*NOTE: My T-Rex was sized and built using 1/2" thick plywood. Upon completion I realized that the legs, tail, and spine are a bit too flimsy. I'm going to recut just these pieces using 3/4" plywood. I would recommend using 3/4" thick for this project if you only want to buy two sheets of plywood, but keep in mind there is a weight advantage by using 1/2" for all the other pieces. I went with oak because it has a nicer grain and accepts stain better than pine. If you choose to go with pine, you'll need to use wood conditioner before applying any stain.

Step 2: Templates

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Take the attached PDF and print the template sheets on 24"x36" paper You'll need to splice a few of the pieces together as they are too large to fit on a single sheet.
Plywood has a good face and a bad face. Lay your sheets good face down and arrange the templates as shown on the attached Guide PDF. Visualize where your T-Rex will be and from which angle it will be most visible. Some of your pieces may have to be flipped so that the "bad side" is not visible on the final model. Trace all of the piece onto the plywood. Pieces marked as "R/L" will need both a right and left piece traced. Be sure to include the "cloud" around 3 of the notches on piece 8.
T-Rex Templates.pdf(1728x2592) 89 KB
T-Rex Guide.pdf(612x792) 117 KB

Step 3: Cut Pieces

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Begin cutting out all of the pieces using the jig saw. DO NOT cut out the notches at this time! There's a lot of linear feet to cut, so this step will take some time.

A few Tips:

I found that if I drilled a 1/4" hole at the base of a notch, it was a lot easier to cut the piece out starting at the hole, than if I had to cut towards it from the edge of the plywood.

On the skull pieces, start by cutting out the mouth, across the top of the teeth. Then go back in and cut out each individual tooth. Next, drill a hole in each of the cranial sockets, and cut these out as well. Finally cut the head from the plywood.

Also, it's better to frequently switch to a fresh blade, than to tear up your plywood with a dull one. 

Step 4: Router & Notch

Picture of Router & Notch
If you have any small mistakes or rough cuts, use the sander at this point to smooth them out.

Take a scrap piece of wood and run the router along both sides. Adjust the depth of the round to your liking. For my 1/2" thick plywood I went with approximately 3/16" radius round. Run the router over all the edges of your pieces, with the exception of the teeth. These look much better if left sharp.  On some of the smaller pieces I turned the router upside down and ran the piece over the top of it.  This worked well, but is quite dangerous so be -very- careful if you try this technique.

Take another piece of scrap wood and using it as a guide re-mark the notches on each piece. These plans were originally sized for 1/2" plywood, so if you are using 3/4" or a combination of both, adjustments will need to be made. Do not re-mark the clouded notches on piece 8 until the notches have been cut out of piece 9. The notches in 8 must line up with the three notches in piece 9.

Cut all of the notches out using the jigsaw, test fitting with scrap wood as you proceed. Be sure to test fit ALL notches prior to moving on. 

Remember, do not round off any of the notches with the router.

Step 5: Assembly

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Cut some strips of adhesive felt that match your plywood thickness. These will be used in some of the notches to ensure a tight fit. I only used felt at the head, and hips. All other pieces were left as they were. Assemble the T-Rex per the attached diagram (also part of the Guide PDF in step 2) Start at the hips, legs, tail and then upper body.

Step 6: Final Suggestions

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At this point, if you like the natural look, your T-Rex is complete! Personally, I plan to take my time staining and finishing each piece to match my bookshelf. (a nice dark red color) In addition I will be upgrading the legs, tail, and spine to 3/4" ply to provide greater stability. Once this is complete I will post final photos.

Alternate Idea for the Adventurous:

Try making this using pink solid core foam insulation instead of plywood. Cover the skeleton with chicken wire and then coat with stucco for an awesome backyard statue!

(Please vote for me in the DADCANDO contest!!)

Step 7: BONUS!

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As a "thank you" for all those who voted for this instructable I decided to add a Bonus Page!

Below you will find the CAD file for the Trex model pieces. 

I've also attached everything you need to make a Pteradon!!  This project has been sized to fit a single 24x48 sheet of 5.2mm ply.  You can buy this for under $8 at Home Depot.

The Pteradon will have a 4'-4" wingspan, and the body is around 2' long when complete.  I've included CAD and PDF files for this project. As before, print the template sheets on 24"x36" sheets.

Enjoy, and please post pics if you build it!! Thanks!
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ruppaw9 days ago

Anyone know if this is under public domain? Iv got someone who wants me to build a few and wanted to check if thats infringing on any patents

Dr.Duckhunt26 days ago
I made mine 5 years ago, survived 4 winters in Canada, and finally broke his leg this spring,
photo-2015-07-02, 12:08 PM.jpg
KissMyMonkee made it!2 months ago
Thanks for the plans! My daughter wants to be a Paleontologist when she grows up so we decided to throw her a Dino Dig Party for her 8th birthday. We used a smaller paper size since Staples was charging about $50 for the larger paper. It came out to about 3 1/3-4 feet tall and still looks awesome! Attempting the Pteradon next!
EricS29 made it!2 months ago

Thanks for the plans! I made this one out of 3/4" plywood and tripled the thickness for the legs. It has been in my front yard in San Jose since October2014 and I hope to bring it to Burning Man this year. I'm also thinking about putting a self balancing electric unicycle under each leg and try to ride it around.

msaeger3 months ago
Thanks for the plans!

Can you clarify for me which pieces you would do out of 3/4? Just 1,2, and 7 or would you also do 10?
msaeger msaeger3 months ago
Now that I think more I am thinking you are calling 7 the tail and 10 the spine right?
Wood bug1 year ago

Thanks for the plans!

Rudy3983 Wood bug3 months ago

can I just ask is that already enlarged or is it a close up of the small version?

Wood bug Rudy39833 months ago

I'm not sure actually, I took screen shots of the plans because I didn't figure out how to tile print the pdf back then, so I don't know the scaling. That small one is about 40 cm wing span. The plywood is only 4mm.

I also made a big one, this one is 270% scaled from the pdf and wing span is about 3 meters. This plywood is 12mm.

Rudy3983 made it!3 months ago

I was looking for a pteridactyl (dinosaur with big wings) and I was going to do the same with that, about a month ago I made this on my dads cnc machine which cuts it out for you. My one is nine foot high and needs extra support either by ropes in a tree or two legs stuck together. If anyone else is thinking about buying one, my one is defiantly more expensive at over £100 for only the sheets off wood...

devon.a.gold5 months ago

This is awesome!! We need one for an upcoming museum theme party for a school fundraiser . . . would you consider selling us a "kit" comprised of all the pieces cut out? We have some dads who could put it together, but they're not so comfortable with the saw!!

kaptaink_cg (author)  devon.a.gold5 months ago
I would love to, but it's outside of my ability. The cost of shipping would be astronomical as well. What you might look into is finding a company that does laser cutting or CNC cutting and have them cut the pieces from the CAD files I provided. Shipping will still be expensive, but it would be cleaner cuts with much less labor time. (You can imagine how long it took me to cut all the pieces using just a jig saw)
herrick20146 months ago
We are in the middle of making 2 full size and one half-size t-Rex dinosaurs for the entry way to our wedding! Staples printed the plans out. It cost about $50 on 24x36" engineering paper. I printed the small one on 12x18". So excited! Will post final product.
zetapc11 months ago

muy bueno amigo

RishiG1 year ago
How did you manage to print the template on the large paper?
kaptaink_cg (author)  RishiG1 year ago
I work for a drafting company so I just used our plotter. If you don't have access to one you can usually find a printing store or Office Supply store (Like Staples or Office Max) to print it for you.
That's great, thanks! great instructable btw!
tallest RishiG1 year ago

Here is a downloadable program to do the multi page printing thing.


grd RishiG1 year ago
Try this - http://woodgears.ca/bigprint/ It allows you to print large pictures as a mosaic of smaller pages. Also have a look at the rest of the site, it's a great wood working resource and Matthias has a great style for presenting his videos.
iSquirtled1 year ago

Thank you very much!

Those 24x36 pteradon templates are so nice and easy!!... is there a way to adapt the Trex model to fit two sheets like the pteradon templates? Also any chance more templates of different dinos could be included in the future, only because I saw that this guy picked up a bunch of models from a craft store and the forms are there (http://www.instructables.com/id/Cardboard-Dinosaur..., if only a nice someone would transcribe them into 24x36 pdf templates!

Thanks again!!

fossilbabe2 years ago
Just love this guy and thank you so much for doing this for us. It was so easy a cave woman could do it. Looking to make more and so excited. I would love more patterns if they come avaiable. Fossilbabe
kaptaink_cg (author)  fossilbabe2 years ago
Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it!
DieOog2 years ago
Thanks for this instructable. I built a T-Rex using my XY table for my son's ninth birthday party. I buried all the bits and had the kids dig it up as archaeologists and assemble it. The kids had so much fun they did not want to go home again.

Once again thank you for your effort.
kaptaink_cg (author)  DieOog2 years ago
That sounds awesome! Can you post any pics from it?
Quite dangerous to flip your router upside down ? You bet. I cut away a big hunk of a finger doing that about 17 years ago. The router grabbed the piece I was holding and sucked my hand right in. Ouch!
wonderful, thanks for making the plans available.

I adapted the Pterodon plans to cut with an Epilog Min laser at the Champaign Urbana Community Fab Lab.

Here is a blog article:

waw.. u made a big Tyranno! I bought 2.25cm Miss Tyrannosaurus almost 5 years ago, and now she has severe arthritis..! wooo.. but I love her!
kaptaink_cg (author) 3 years ago
That's awesome!!
This is what I built with help from the local CNC.

tinker2344 years ago
add to my shop
I don't understand the cloud. Is there or is there not a cloud ? Why ? And if there is, how do pieces 8 and 3 hold together ?
kaptaink_cg (author)  Mischievous15 years ago
Yes, there is a cloud marked on piece 8 to remind you to check the slots against piece 9. The question is answered in greater detail in one of my comments below. In the main photo on step 5 you can see my son putting these pieces together. Piece 3 slides into piece 9 and then piece 8 attaches.
Okay ! Thank you for your answer ! This cloud has been very confusing for me, I had not understood what it meant : I thought it was part of piece 8, I drew it and cut it in the wood (!!!) (And it did not fit very well with pieces 3, as you may imagine) Well, it learns me I should read all the comments before trying an instructable. I love this one. I will post photos of my little T-Rex soon. Thank you ! (PS : I printed the pdf on A4 paper, and my T-Rex happens to be only about 60cm high (sorry, I'm french, I don't measure with inches or feet. It must be about 2 feet high, a little less). How was I supposed to print it, so that it would be 6 feet tall ? I don't think I can put anything else than A4 paper in my printer...)
kaptaink_cg (author)  Mischievous15 years ago
Sorry for the confusion. I've had a couple questions on that.. Maybe I should have dashed the cloud in or put a note on the piece. I would love to see pics once you have it complete! For the 6' tall model you have to print on 24"x36" paper. (Arch D) In metric that would be an ANSI D sheet, but it'll be a little undersized. ANSI D converts to 22"x34" in imperial. You'll have to take the file to a printing service or maybe find a drafting company who can print it for you.
Thank you for your answer ! Here is the photo. It is 55 cm high, made with 10mm plywood. (One piece is missing in the tail, I had lost it when I took the photo, just found it back.) It's not perfect and it's got a few problems (particularly around piece 8, that I will have to do again), but I learned to use the jigsaw with this instructable, so I'm still happy with what I've done. About piece 8 : I've cut the cloud, but did only 2 notches, and I don't undestand why there should be a third one : one notch for each piece 3 (right and left), and what is the third one for ? I haven't got a router, and I was wondering what it was for. Making round edges on the pieces ? Is it really important, does it change the T-rex a lot ? I couldn't see on the photos. Is it a usefool tool? Isn't it a little expensive ? Are you planning on giving the plans of another dinosaur ? I'd love to try a new one !
Photo1238 (Small).jpg
kaptaink_cg (author)  Mischievous14 years ago
Looks Great!! OK, to answer your questions: -The third (middle) notch on 8 allows the spine and tail sections to meet up. Not overly critical, but looks a little nicer that way. -Yes, routers typically are used to round edges, but can also create nice, complexed edges, and can also cut grooves in wood. -Overpriced? Depends on which one you buy and how often you use it. I wouldn't buy one just for this project. (in fact, I borrowed my dads...again.. lol) -No, it doesn't change it a lot, it just makes it look a little more "finished" You could achieve the same effect by sanding down all of the edges, but that would take forever. -Other dinosaurs.. yeah I'm considering it. Was thinking of making a smaller scale pterosaur. (i.e. more affordable) but I haven't decided yet.
My spine and tail weren't very stable, even held by piece 8. I screwed metal splice plates alongside the notches in the spine and tail, above the slots, so they wouldn't interfere with the other pelvic pieces. It's rock solid now. Paint/stain blends the metal in with the wood. Awesome instructable and a great birthday present for my paleontologist girlfriend. I used 5mm ply for the bird and 3/4" ply for the strong-jawed walker. We'll tuck these bad boys on the edge of the woods bordering the road so sharp-eyed passers-by can enjoy them. Thanks!
Ok ! Thank you very much for your answers. It's the first instructable I achieve, and I'm really happy with the result. Be sure I'll vote for you at the "dadcando contest" as soon as I will have understood how to.
action pig4 years ago
I searched "laser puzzle dxf" into google and came up with a bunch of sites promising free downloads. The bee puzzle looks particularly interesting...
Hey, great instructable! It took me a couple weekends to finish mine. I had a blast completing it, and made a little video of the final assembly...Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QYGfGb8-_8
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