Introduction: Making a Cardboard Head With a Secret Hiding Spot

Picture of Making a Cardboard Head With a Secret Hiding Spot

We made a box in the shape of my son’s head.  We laser cut pieces of taskboard (corrugated cardboard works well, too) and laminated them together. The heads pivots on a dowel and is held in place by two magnets

Step 1: Taking the Photographs

Picture of Taking the Photographs

We started by taking a series of photographs. We used software called 123D Catch to turn the photographs into a 3D model.

Step 2: Making a Polygonal Model

Picture of Making a Polygonal Model

123D Catch made a polygonal mesh from the photos. Here's a screenshot of the mesh 

Step 3: Turning a Polygonal Model Into a Solid Model

Picture of Turning a Polygonal Model Into a Solid Model

We then turned the polygonal model into NURBS surface so we could do some further modelling operations

Step 4:

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We then modeled an elliptical cavity for the hding spot and put in holes that would be used for alignment, for the pivot and for the magnets.

Step 5: Slicing the Model

Picture of Slicing the Model

We then used 123 Make to slice the model. It's important to measure the material accurately in telling the software how thick to make the slices; otherwise the final model will come out distorted

Step 6: Assembling the Head

Picture of Assembling the Head

Then we laser cut all 212 parts and began assembling the pieces. We just added layer after layer and used yellow glue (white glue works just as well) to put them together.

Step 7: Using a Dowel As the Pivot

Picture of Using a Dowel As the Pivot

A dowel pin is inserted and used so the head can pivot open.

Step 8: Adding the Magnets

Picture of Adding the Magnets

Round magnets have been added on the top and bottom of the head so it snaps close and conceals the secret hiding spot


realsuzzane (author)2016-03-21


eric.labontepaquet.5 (author)2015-05-08

Do the programs you used cost anything?

they are free

saeed33320 (author)2015-06-16

Plz send file

Piraju (author)2012-09-17

Tenho uma Router CNC, e gostaria muito de fazer esta cabeça fatiada em MDF de 2mm ou 3mm.
Por favor, alguem poderia me fornecer este arquivo em DXF ou DWG ou CDR ?
Ficarei muito grato.

tinker234 (author)2012-03-18

amazing i wonder if i could do this with a knife

pheenix42 (author)tinker2342012-03-19

Yes, you could. It would take a while as you wouldn't have the automation of the cutter mentioned, but it could be done!

carlbass (author)pheenix422012-03-19

Agreed -- you could do it with an exacto knife but it would be a labor of love. There are also a bunch of srvices where you can send the files and they'll cut it for you

Pontay (author)carlbass2012-03-22

What services? How much would it cost USD? I do not have a laser cutter (and I know how many cuts that would take with an xacto - no thank you)

JesseHarringtonAu (author)Pontay2012-09-13

Ponoko also does have some Lasering services if you are in the ordering to your door frame of mind.

Rowen27 (author)Pontay2012-03-23

Google for hacker spaces close to you, or see if there is a FabLab anywhere near by (they are usually based in museums and collages). For instance I live near Chicago, and know of at least two places that give the average person access to expensive fabrication tools like Laser cutters, shop bots and 3d printers.

redknight1971 (author)2012-07-31


rms_adsk (author)2012-04-19

It is now possible to do Booleans and planar cuts in meshmixer ( ). Meshmixer can work directly with Catch mesh output, which means you can skip the NURBS conversion step. See the youtube channel for (brief) tutorials.

StretchyBill (author)2012-03-24

I haven't done it, so I could be wrong, but maybe 123D Make could be used to turn the wireframe into a surface.

carlbass (author)StretchyBill2012-03-24

123D Catch creates a polygonal mesh from the pictures. You can export it as a .OBJ, .DWG, .FBX and several other formats.

The .OBJ can be brought directly into 123D Make.

I changed it to a solid so that I could hollow it out, add the cutouts for the magnets and add some holes for dowels to make assembly easier.

gpvillamil (author)carlbass2012-04-14

Very cool project!

Just how did you go from .OBJ to NURBS?

That seems like a very useful procedure!

I am currently working on workflows to take prepare 123D Catch captures for 3D printing.

carlbass (author)gpvillamil2012-04-15

I used a piece of software called geomagic to do it. It wasn't absolutely necessary to do the conversion but it made the whole process easier

chostet (author)2012-03-27

This project utilizes 123D Make from Autodesk which is not currently available. When can we look forward to seeing the new software version? I have been checking the site daily for weeks hoping that the "coming *very* soon" banner will ring true. Can we get any insight into this? Expectantly waiting and dreaming! -Chris

carlbass (author)chostet2012-03-29

We screwed up and were not quite ready with the new versions while the old one expired.

We're going to be bringing out new versions of 123D Make, Sculpt, Catch and Design soon on mobile, desktop and online. We're in the final few days of QA on the full release, and expect to submit it to the Mac AppStore next week. At that point it's in the hands of Apple's review and approval process, but we expect that it will be available around mid-April. And yes, the app will still be free.

One thing we've done that is cool - but admittedly contributed to further dev time – is connecting the 123D apps through the cloud, so you can design something in 123D, or 123D Sculpt, or even work on your model in a web app on, and then open it directly into 123D Make. This makes the workflow smoother and opens up all kinds of possibilities. In the meantime, continue to keep an eye on the site – or sign up here to be notified when the app is released:

chostet (author)carlbass2012-03-30

Thanks for your honesty. I cant wait to see the whole system working together! This is certainly going to be a game changer. I am assuming that the desktop versions will be for Mac and PC? I am also assuming the whole package will be released at the same time (so timing is in Apple's hands to some degree). Thanks again. I'm looking forward to enjoying all you and your team's hard work soon.

carlbass (author)chostet2012-04-03

As soon as they're released I will post a message

overblast (author)2012-03-22

If you put lasers behind the eyes, you'd have a weapon! Good for home security if they see a rotating head with 2 lasers aimed at them....

Something like this???

carlbass (author)Antzy Carmasaic2012-03-25

That's very cool!

hehehe... Nice idea!

Antzy Carmasaic (author)2012-03-23

Somehow reminds me of Sherlock Holmes' story 'The Adventure of the Six Napoleons'.

edwinguerra (author)2012-03-22

Carl, as mentioned by rbeck1, this is a key step for this Instructable. (BTW: NURBS is a Non Uniform Rational B-Spline) How is this surface created once you have your 123D Catch mesh?

stringstretcher (author)2012-03-19

Neato! Put a set of these in it... with an arduino that talks.

carlbass (author)stringstretcher2012-03-19

I love the idea of adding an arduino to do more

pablomar33 (author)carlbass2012-03-22

and what the result would be putting an arduino? you say put the arduino cnc?

really, very cool project!

bonnyjishop (author)2012-03-22

although a Brilliant idea and good for hiding valuables - would you call this one a no-brainer?? lol!

carlbass (author)bonnyjishop2012-03-22

Very funny!!!

As parents, we're always trying to stick things in our kids' heads, now we have a real shot at it

rbeck1 (author)2012-03-22

This seems like a major step, how do you turn it into a NURBS surface, what is a NURBS surface?

jamwaffles (author)rbeck12012-03-22

I don't know how to convert to one in 123D, but a NURBS surface is a mathematically defined continuous surface, as opposed to a model made of individual, flat faces.

rbeck1 (author)2012-03-22

Please add a photo of the head with its top closed so we can see how hidden the joint is.

omnibot (author)2012-03-18

Finally a place to keep my secret brain!

mikeasaurus (author)2012-03-18

What a clever idea! I like the thought of having a secret hiding spot in my mind.

scoochmaroo (author)2012-03-18

This is incredible! What a devotion of time and effort. Beautiful end product. Can you link us to 123D Catch and 123 Make where you mention them in the Instructable? Fun project!

randofo (author)2012-03-18

This is a cool idea. I think this project has a lot of potential for iteration and silliness. At the very least, it would solve the problem of where to hide the extra set of house keys.

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