Build a Cardboard Tank

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Introduction: Build a Cardboard Tank

My buddies and I were trying to think of something we could build out of cardboard and duct tape. We came up with a tank. It was a little more costly than originally estimated, but it was fun and the end result is amazing. It'll blow your friends away! This instructable will go through each step in the process, and hopefully you'll be able to build your very own tank for you to play in (or your kids/pets/neighbors/neighbor's cat to play in). BTW, please hit the vote button for the cardboard and duct tape contest!!!!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

For this job, all you really need is cardboard, duct tape (regular gray, dark gray, white, and black), and something to cut with (utility knife works great). We also used a few power tools along the way, just to speed the job up--they're not required. Also, get as much cardboard as you can get your hands on. We went to or called every appliance store in town begging for cardboard. Ask for fridge boxes, washer/dryer boxes, anything big works great. Also, be sure to ask for the extremely hard cardboard used to protect the corners of the appliances. These are a must in a first couple steps. And, as for the duct tape, I think we ended up using about 60 rolls.

Step 2: Build the Frame

Take those tough corner pieces, the strong tubes, the duct tape and start putting it together. We cut slots in the tubes to help support the corner pieces, then wrapped the joint in duct tape in a X shape.

Step 3: Begin Adding the "Skin" and Other Supports

Once the frame is built, grab some of the fridge boxes and start piecing it all together. At this point, it doesn't look much like a tank at all, but remember, this is just the skeleton! You have to keep the vision in your mind. 

Step 4: Create the Turret and the Wheels

The turret is made the same way as the main body of the tank (frame and skin). The wheel are cardboard concrete forms used for footings in construction work. They are 16" in diameter, and 10" deep. There's 7 wheels per side.

Step 5: Tape It Up With the Colored Tape!

We were going for a snow camo look. And of course we wanted to do the new digital camo styling. So, we taped the whole body in white, the tracks and behind the wheels in cheap gray tape, the wheels were black with a white hub, and we used multiple shades of gray and black for the camo patterns.

Step 6: Go Have Fun With Your New Tank...

We took ours down a tube run. It was a blast.

Cardboard and Duct Tape Contest

Grand Prize in the
Cardboard and Duct Tape Contest

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    What do you mean by you took it down a tube run?

    42 Comments

    im making a cardboard tank for a miniature army with my friends. im gonna add holes so i can stick a nerf gun through.

    Wow! I'm going to make a cardboard tank for a movie I'm making. That tank helps a lot ! Will send pic of it when I'm done!

    although not nearly as grand as the one shown here, I made a full size 2d M1 tank out of cardboard for my son-in-law when he retired from the marines. I had quite a lot of trouble finding a group that wanted it when I was done. (finally found one, but I don't know if they ever used it)

    starting assembly.JPGTank Overview Illustration.jpgtank, retired Marine and Mayor of Madison Heights.JPGsub assembly view of cardboard.jpg

    That is awesome! Are you willing to sell it? If yes how much?

    I want one with my bed in it always ready

    Try building an airplane next!

    No, doesn't move. But I think you should build one and make it move!

    What a great job!! You were most deserving of the grand prize award.

    so, what other contest was this in, hmm? i see other cardboard cars in the background of your pics.

    5 replies

    that's the reason for all of the 330 stuff on it. the name of the group is 3-3-0. it stands for john 3:30 "He must become greater; i must become less."

    I love it! John 3:16 is so well known...now I'll remember John 3:30

    it was originally built for the youth group at my church. that's why we took it down the tube run. it's called the boxsled blitz at hume lake Christian camp.

    Ok cool, i wish it could roll, then I would build one. It would be really pointless though.

    I did not even pay attention to the 330 stuff, but i see it now.

    You are awesome and ambitious! Congratulations on winning...you deserve it!!!

    Nice job, great detail. I made a 1:1 M1Abrams out of cardboard, duct tape, pvc, and zip ties. I actually built it around a truck and drove it around. A video effects friend of mine used it to make Cardboard Warfare, you would probably like it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAz-Ax330tE

    1 reply

    hahaha i'll have to check that out...sounds awesome!

    wow!! do we see a winner here??