Introduction: Build a 6'-0" Tall Wooden T-Rex Model

Picture of Build a 6'-0" Tall Wooden T-Rex Model

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!!)

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.

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

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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

Picture of Final Suggestions

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!


hcompton1 (author)2017-07-18

Could this possibly be done with foam core board?

JayMcClellan made it! (author)2017-06-01

Thanks for this great project! I scaled it to 30% size and welded it together from plasma-cut steel, with added wings and horns to turn it into a dragon. I posted a video of the construction at and of course gave you credit for the original design.

JohnAspinall made it! (author)2016-06-21

I took the recommendation to use 3/4" plywood for the load-bearing pieces and 1/2" for the rest.

kaptaink_cg (author)JohnAspinall2016-12-29

Looks great! Man, that is some clean looking plywood!!

JohnAspinall (author)kaptaink_cg2016-12-31

I put some time into sanding and painting. (Bone white, heh.) I'm thinking about redoing the paint job though: black outlines (i.e. on all the edges) might give it a Mexican Day of the Dead look.

Thanks for the awesome plans!

Rudy3983 made it! (author)2015-04-13

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...

kaptaink_cg (author)Rudy39832016-12-29


EricS29 made it! (author)2015-05-15

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.

kaptaink_cg (author)EricS292016-12-29

Most impressive! Did it ever make it to burning man??

KissMyMonkee made it! (author)2015-05-19

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!

kaptaink_cg (author)KissMyMonkee2016-12-29

Looks great!
I actually haven't made the Pteradon myself yet, BUT was just talking to one of our younger kids about it. I think it might be my next project. I'll be staining that one and suspending high in 2-story front room.

Dr.Duckhunt (author)2015-07-02

I made mine 5 years ago, survived 4 winters in Canada, and finally broke his leg this spring,

kaptaink_cg (author)Dr.Duckhunt2016-12-29

haha! Love the crutches!
At least it's easy to just cut a new piece!

ruppaw (author)2015-07-19

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

kaptaink_cg (author)ruppaw2016-12-29

Definitely under public domain. You're good to go, and have my blessing ;)

JenniferH195 (author)2016-03-25

Hi and thanks for posting this information. Would you be willing/able to give me your opinion on how much to sell a 4' x 6 foot puzzle / model that was hand made by a friend years ago for our kids? It's in very good condition and pieces are numbered. The wood has been stained. It's been used in classrooms and at the fair. Not cheaply made. Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated!

kaptaink_cg (author)JenniferH1952016-12-29

Hello! Sorry, I would have no idea on that! I haven't looked into prices for that sort of thing.

BCDesign (author)2016-06-14

awesome work!I will try build this as soon as I get a chance!!

kaptaink_cg (author)BCDesign2016-12-29

Looking forward to seeing it!

rdickson3 made it! (author)2016-07-29

I Scaled it up a little and made him out of 1/4 inch steel! He is now named Bitey McTineyhands standing tall! Thanks for the plans and idea!

kaptaink_cg (author)rdickson32016-12-29


johnr573 made it! (author)2016-12-28

I built mine per the plans but painted and did the head as a "real" t-rex vs. a skeleton. The plans and tutorial were great - thanks so much!

I would add that instead of cutting each slot with a jigsaw I built a simple jig and used a straight router bit (Harbor Freight has a set with 1/4, 1/2 & 3/4 which was perfect for the build). This made cutting the slots a snap and saved a ton of time.

kaptaink_cg (author)johnr5732016-12-29

Great idea with the router!
Looks great!

JeffreyK22 (author)2016-04-18

Can this be done with a CNC?

kaptaink_cg (author)JeffreyK222016-04-18

In fact, if your CNC is large enough, that's a WAY better way than cutting it by hand.

AndrewR62 made it! (author)2015-11-17

I used a program I found on t'Internet to split each page of the pdf, then printed on A3 and taped the 2 halves back together. This resulted in a model about 120cm high.

I used 18mm for the spine, tail, legs, pelvis and tongue parts, 12mm for the rest and it's very solid, except that the legs seem a bit loosely attached. I'm thinking of replacing part 8 with a pice cut from a larger block of wood, since it's the part that holds the whole thing together. It used slightly less then half of eact 1.2x2.4m sheet.

This was made for my son's 8th birthday party. We were going to bury it in the sand pit but the tail end of Hurricane Kate made the day far too wet for that, so we hid the pieces around the house and he the kids hunt for them. Cue half an hour of excited screams of "I found one!", then they had the fun of putting it together. Great fun, thanks for the inspiration and the plans.

His older brother is now jealous: "you never made me anything like that"!

kaptaink_cg (author)AndrewR622015-11-17

I love the "archaeology hunt" idea! So awesome.
Great job!!

How old is the older brother? Perhaps try making the petrydon (Sp?) one with him, only use higher quality wood, take the time to sand/stain it properly? Could be a great project for an older kid! (Hell, I'm a grown adult and would still hang it in my room!)

AndrewR62 (author)kaptaink_cg2015-11-18

He's 12, but not really into making anything, more into books and TV. It might be worth a try though, thanks


AndrewR62 (author)AndrewR622015-11-17

Regarding routing the edges: I made the 18mm pieces first, and routed them clamped in my B&D workmate. This required 4 clampings per piece and was quite tedious. For the 12mm, I couldn't do this because the router bit would heve struck the workmate deck, so I clamped the router level with the deck and did each peice hand-held. I think this is actually safer, because the router is safely fixed in place and I only had to concentrate on the dangerous bit being in one place. I didn't have to find somwhere safe to put the router between cuts while I reclmped and it was much faster. This is what a router table is really.

kaptaink_cg (author)AndrewR622015-11-17

Trying to remember if it was on this project or one of my arcade cabinets, but I also did the upside down router thing. (Ghetto-wannabe-router-table) Dangerous, yes, but so much more efficient and produced better results.

AndrewR62 (author)kaptaink_cg2015-11-18

I think if you do it properly, it's safer than using a router hand-held. You have both hands on the workpiece and there's no chance of dropping a running router on you toe.

I found several examples of using a workmate as a router table, or making a table that fixes into it. For example:

SeanS53 (author)2015-11-13

Sorry if I missed them, but how do you download the CNC files?

BryanP10 (author)2015-09-08

has anyone thought of using this for a costume? Switch the Plywood out for craft foam?

msaeger (author)2015-04-18

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 (author)msaeger2015-04-18

Now that I think more I am thinking you are calling 7 the tail and 10 the spine right?

Rudy3983 (author)2015-04-13

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

Wood bug (author)Rudy39832015-04-14

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. (author)2015-02-04

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.gold2015-02-05

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)

herrick2014 (author)2015-01-18

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.

zetapc (author)2014-08-14

muy bueno amigo

RishiG (author)2013-08-29

How did you manage to print the template on the large paper?

kaptaink_cg (author)RishiG2013-08-29

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.

RishiG (author)kaptaink_cg2013-08-29

That's great, thanks! great instructable btw!

tallest (author)RishiG2014-07-15

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

grd (author)RishiG2013-08-29

Try this - 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.

iSquirtled (author)2014-04-09

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 (, if only a nice someone would transcribe them into 24x36 pdf templates!

Thanks again!!

fossilbabe (author)2013-02-25

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)fossilbabe2013-02-25

Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it!

DieOog (author)2012-11-22

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.

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