Picture of Cardboard Armor
I made this for protection during cardboard tube tournaments ( http://www.tubeduel.com/ ). It protected me well; I took second place and I believe I would have won had the final match been allowed to progress to its natural end. Damn refs, grumble grumble.

I used the following as a general reference, and for the names of the parts (several of which I did not previously know):


Step 1: Breastplate and Backplate

Having quite a bit of experience making clothing, I figured fitting cardboard around the body would not be too difficult. As it turns out, there are some differences between the stiff cardboard and the much more malleable fabric. I worked out a technique of scoring the back of the cardboard with the cap of a pen along lines I wanted it to bend on. This, along with a way of making darts, allowed me to shape the cardboard fairly accurately.

For the front and back plates (together these are called a cuirass), I first drew a flat shaped based on my body measurements. For the front I used these:

  • front of the waist (a little more than half my waist measurement)
  • length from waist to shoulder across bust
  • length from waist to bottom of neck hole
  • front of the bust (quite a bit more than half my bust measurement)
  • width from arm to arm, above the bust
  • length from waistline to underarm hole
For the back I used these:

  • back of the waist
  • length from waist to shoulder
  • length from waist to bottom of neck hole
  • width from underarm to underarm
  • width from arm to arm across the shoulder blades
I drew the front with darts at the bust so the armor plate would fold out there. (I didn't bother to put any darts in the back plate and this was fine.) A less busty person would need less of a dart, but most people will need at least a small one. We're all just curvier in front. I did place the waistline for each piece on the edge of an existing fold, where the original box had an edge. I also left about an inch of extra cardboard there out of habit, but it turned out this was a good thing (see Step 6 about the pauldrons).

Cut out the pieces with a knife of some kind - a utility knife or box cutter works well. Cut only the lower side of the dart marking all the way through. The upper side, cut through only the top layer of cardboard. Then peel the top layer and the corrugations off, revealing the inside of the corrugated sheet. It looks like a small flap. To construct the darts, bend the cardboard so the dart edges meet, and hot glue the flap down to the outside of the front plate.

It's easier to bend the cardboard if you score the inside first, just run the cap of a pen firmly along the line you want to bend on. A stiff ruler helps a lot for scores that run diagonally to the corrugations. In addition to the bust area, score and bend the shoulders and sides.
Kabobetts13 days ago
Nice but I went on the webpage for cardboard dueling and you don't need a suit
Kennyvm2 months ago


so fun!

TessaK110 months ago

I'm using your pauldron tutorial for part of a Halloween costume... granted I'm going to embellish a bit more, with spikes and whatnot, but overall a really good tutorial on basic pauldron shapes!

yellowcatt2 years ago
Your cardboard armour reminds me of what me and some friends would make back in the early 80's.
We were working in a stores then and Saturday mornings were really quiet so we made cardboard armour and some would guard the mezzanine while others tried to capture it. At one time we were using the forklift as a siege engine.
TessaK1 yellowcatt10 months ago

Forklifts are the ultimate siege engines!

There is an easier way to attach the vambraces, if you use a hole punch and shoelaces they stay on well and are easier to put on.
bobonung2 years ago
Thanks for the knight helmet. I used it last Halloween for my Monty Python Black Knight costume, turned out great!
cool knex133 years ago
I am not saying this model is bad but you could make a bit more effort in making armor.

I'm making paper armor that takes me 100 hours.
also 3.5 star
Ernext3 years ago
is very useful and this helped too much for me, thanks!
I'd like to do this for a history project. We have to dress up as historical figures and I have chosen Joan of Arc. I might duct tape or spray paint on the final project if possible.
gchace4 years ago
really just had to choose fruit of the loom huh.... didnt you? But other than that its %$#&$#@^Z#$%ing sweet!!! 8-0
In the middle ages, underpants could stop a broadsword. Fruit of the Loom mellowed out a little later... XD
Thanks for the great instructions.
My 9yr is almost finished with his costume and I basically just supervised (and did the exacto knife work leaving him with the scissors stuff).

To give it a nice finish we decided against paint but rather are using aluminum foil with a dab of glue and he will call it the SilverNight.
As well, a shield will be attached to one of the arm vambraces.
hellrider754 years ago
easy and fun i will try this thx
bustedit4 years ago
hmm, a bit of criticsm has been posted, but i think this looks great, and i love the Fruit crest
ylpihs4 years ago
Absolutely love this the armor looks really cool
cyprian9164 years ago
thats a pretty could base for a structure but i would have put more work in and come out with a better finale product.
Edgar4 years ago
For that old, early Middle Ages, Black Steel look, try painting the cardboard matte black, then, after it dries up liberally use Graphite dust on it.
gchace Edgar4 years ago
GREAT suggestion thanks
Edgar gchace4 years ago
Happy building! :)
bcjfla764 years ago
You can also hot-glue some velcro along the inside of the seam. This would allow the wearer to easily put them on or take them off.
gchace bcjfla764 years ago
another aesome suggestion
I have to admit, the design is simple and at the same time kinda cool. Now, if you could do this with sheet metal, you could go and really kick some serious a$s!

What's missing though is gold paint and a dragon design on th breastplate. Still, really cool...
Oops, broken link. The real article is here:

Good armor, I must say. Did you think about using Lorica Segmentata? It's was used a lot in Roman armor. You can check out the wikipedia article:

swords455 years ago
i painted the vambraces with gold paint, it looked awesome
Camisado7 years ago
Cool! Now let's make some out of metal..... MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! Errr, uh... 5 stars!
same dude i wanna make armour with metal........i give this person a 10/5...
trebuchet037 years ago
So today was our home game... A few days ago, a friend and I started construction of our armor. Photo Left (friend) Gauntlets Vambraces Chest and Back Plate Lower Leggings with knee caps Helmet with mane Shield Cape Sword Photo Right: Me Gauntlets (with knuckle covers) Vambraces Pauldrons with fringe Faulds with fringe Chest and Back Plate Lower and Upper Leggings with functional knee covers Shield (made from an Aluminum disk sled and fabric covered) Helmet with mane and fringe Two tone cape Sword Sword Sheath In both cases, thing are tied together through grommet holes :) A lot of people stopped us to take pictures - it was a lot of fun :) Walking up stairs, in my case (full leggings), was a little difficult - I'll have to articulate those pieces a bit better for the next game. For now, things will be hung on the wall :p
that's some very nice armour you made!
Hey, can you please put some instructions on how to make that? It looks really good! THANKS!
Oh My God! HOW'D you BUILD THAT??????!!!!!
rachel (author)  trebuchet037 years ago
Hey, post some more pix where you aren't hiding behind your shields! I mean the shields look great but we can't see the cuirasses, pauldrons, or faulds. Also how did you solve the 3-d bending problems? I guess to sum up, where's the Instructable???
Coming... Sorta... The mad construction dash... and many failures created a lack of pictures :/ I'm going to go back and take some images - and grab some images from sketchup models :p

For the 3D pauldron bit :D I started with a 13"x13" square and scored the diagonal... I cut the score halfway to create a triangle and curled/trimmed the corners... Hrmm.. probably hard to picture from that description - so yes, instructable coming soon (along with everything else waiting - including meatloaf cupcakes :p).

I made the chest and back plate with mostly 2D planes - which solves the 3D issues of faulds. But, in my case, it makes the butt piece stick out funny (so I cut it a little shorter). Yes, there were a few "Assless Chaps" jokes - but the cape covered that up :p

More images here - but that's before I curled the pauldrons down properly...
fluffybuddy6 years ago
having trouble finding cardboard. do you know any places in melbourne... and is this armour flexible???
flio1916 years ago
this made me LOL
LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL!!!! wonderful ending! me and my sis were rolling!!! and yes, reather funny if i must say so myself.
Ender12346 years ago
ha ha man my friends are never going to stop making fun of me when I build this...I'm going to try to put some foam camp pad down on the front and back of the "cuirass" to see if it'll hold up better (we hit pretty hard with or foam swords). I'll let you know how it goes. I atcually don't larp, but my friends and I saw Role Models were very inspired :).
chaitanyak6 years ago
this is a really well documented diy ! maks me want to go make it right now :)
yerjoking6 years ago
Looks like half a pie :S Lol, nice ible :D:D:D
The Jamalam6 years ago
i just realised, that these are kind of spaulders. pauldrons guard the armpit as well.
The Jamalam6 years ago
Cover this in foil and it would look really great!
ill get a photo up
yo i was able to solve the 3d problem with cardboard by bending it at close intervals to create a bent piece
mage6 years ago
moodog6 years ago
I made some armor like this but is was a full suit, from head to foot,it was awsome. P.S. good instrutable
Sandisk1duo7 years ago
Live action role pay, serous business!

Great instructable, a little bulky!
amazing i made some for a school project but it was nowhere near this good
bounty10127 years ago
I made some cardboard samurai armor and im gonna post some pics soon...
I did too
Aaahhhh! sorry, that last picture was pretty terrifying.
ansion7 years ago
i made some about a year or so ago, but had some trouble making a good cuirass. i was pretty impressed with my helmet though. ill see if i can post some pictures of that (the whole armor set).
rachel (author)  ansion7 years ago
Please do! I'd love to see more examples. What was yours for, anything in particular or just because you felt like it?
ansion rachel7 years ago
my brothers and i like to go around and hit each other with swords, but they kept getting hurt and i kept getting in trouble. so i made some armor for all of us. one brother got rid of his when we moved, and the others isn't as well done as mine
ansion ansion7 years ago
here is the instructable. the paint kinda shines cause of the cameras flash, but it's not bad.


i got a roll of leather recently, and plan to make armor out of it. let you know when i do.
XD Mandalorians, FTW! I am refering to your mythosaur skull there. I have the exact same pic.
AJ_DA_DJ7 years ago
[http://GORKEM_S-KNEX-SNIPER-RIFLE sniper]Pretty cool!
Could it withstand a knex crossbow or
ansion AJ_DA_DJ7 years ago
it'll withstand k'nex. it's pretty good, no matter how it's made. just watch out for an unprotected area. a shield may be a good idea :)
I have some cardboard with a lot of holes in it from shooting it with airsof guns... Maybe I sould some pauldrons out of that... REALISTIC!
WurdBendur7 years ago
Why leave your whole face sticking out? The whole only needs to be large enough to see out of (and maybe a whole or grille for you to talk through), so a slot for your eyes would have been enough. It would have to be large enough to accommodate glasses, of course, but I think you could get away with leaving your mouth covered, at least. You know, for better protection.
rachel (author)  WurdBendur7 years ago
You are completely right, as events have proved. After the tournament everyone started a melee as you might expect, and I got hit in the mouth with someone's shield, to which he had injudiciously attached a broken hard drive... The results:
rachel (author)  rachel7 years ago
(It's my right front tooth, you can't really see how it's chipped unless you embiggen the photo by clicking on it)
You got hit in the mouth with a hard drive? I hope they kicked that guy out for good. But I have to ask. Why a hard drive? In my day, when we wanted to really injure someone, we just used sticks and rocks.
receiver5457 years ago
you lost to that non amored girl !! hahahha lol nice! i watched a video of it !!!'
laernmoer7 years ago
OH man, now I want to bring my cardboard armor to this event!!! I had no idea this existed. I miss california, my homestate of oddness. It's what makes me feel normal.
rachel (author)  laernmoer7 years ago
You mean, your Roman-esque soldier uniform ? That rocks!
trebuchet037 years ago
What timing! My homecoming football game is this weekend.... Our mascot happens to be a Knight (We are formerly the Golden Knights - now just the Knights)! And I've been recently making development drawings of 3D shapes to cut out of cardboard for another cardboard project :p If everything is successful, I can provide some template drawings to further fool proof the process :D
kittensox7 years ago
When and where are the tournaments? Fabulous!
rachel (author)  kittensox7 years ago
We got into the newspaper actually:


check out the video, there's a short clip of the final match featuring Me!

It was so fun, I can't even tell you.
I gotta say, you look like a God.
rachel (author)  Erik Lindemann7 years ago
a Cardboard God! those are the vengeful type.
kittensox7 years ago
Oh silly me, you posted a link!
darkmuskrat7 years ago
Long Live Fruit Of The Loom!!! Kerplaa!
badrang47 years ago
totaly inspiering!