Never throw away an old notebook!
Way back in 2007, I published an Instructable for a paper catapult. Yesterday, I (re)discovered my notes for the intended target - a paper castle!
Read on to build your own medieval fortress from a single sheet of paper...
Step 1: Needful Things...
I've added three formats of the template to this step. Print out the one you prefer.
You'll also need something sharp to cut the pieces - fine scissors will work, but I used a sharp craft knife and a cutting mat.
A ruler or other straight edge - preferably metal.
Glue is also needed. I used PVA craft glue. To spread it accurately, I used a trimmed cotton bud (Q-tip) - the fluffy end is just the right width to glue the larger tabs, and the shaved-off end is the perfect tool to glue the skinnier tabs.
A scrap of thick card will also be useful to stiffen the base of the castle.
Tweezers or forceps - many of the pieces need pressed on the inside, or manipulated when covered in glue, so tweezers are useful. If you need to, you could probably get away with a coffee-stirrer.
A word of warning - these files are not suitable for laser-cutting. Although they are not visible in the print-outs, there are double lines and invisible lines, and there is no allowance for material thickness.
Step 2: The Base Plate
Cut out the egg-shaped base for the castle.
Glue it to a scrap of card, and leave it to dry while you make the parts of the castle itself.
It's a good idea to let it dry pressed flat, such as between the pages of a notebook.
We will return to the base-plate later.
Step 3: A Note on Cutting and Scoring
When you cut out the pieces of the castle, you will see that they all have solid lines and dotted lines.
The solid lines should be cut, and the dotted lines folded. To fold these small pieces accurately, it is vital that you score the dotted lines.
Scoring causes a small amount of damage to the fibres of the paper, weakening it so that it folds neatly. Some people score by tracing the line with a sharp blade, but I prefer to use one point of a pair of scissors; press the ruler firmly down along the line, then draw the point along the line. Scoring works best with something slightly soft behind the paper - if you haven't got a cutting mat, use a piece of scrap card.
Step 4: The Keep
When you've cut out the keep, you need to score and crease all the dotted lines.
Glue the four longer tabs and glue the keep into the cuboid shape you see in the last photo.
The keep was the heart of the medieval castle [LINK]
Step 5: Keep Stairs.
As with all the parts, cut, score and crease.
Look at the first photo; using your small glue applicator (the shaved end of the cotton bud), glue the bottom-middle and bottom-right tabs.
Overlap them, and glue the to make the vertical end section of the stairs (see the third photo).
Glue one of the top tabs, fold it over, and press the other on top of it to make the top section of the stairs (fourth photo).
Finally, glue along the back of the long striped strip and fold it up to make the sloped surface (see final photo). The stripes are the stairs!.
You will notice that there are too many steps to fit on the stairs - folding the strip around the bottom of the slope can shorted the strip. When the glue is dry, trim off the excess.
Keeps were almost always accessed at the first floor, with no doors or windows on the ground floor. This was a security feature, as it is much harder to gain access to a 1st floor door (you can't run at it with a battering ram).
Step 6: The Curtain Wall
The curtain wall is basically a hinged tube.
Once you have cut, scored & creased the paper, glue the tabs down one side, and roll each section over to make the tube.
Be careful to keep the joints square, or final assembly will be difficult.
The curtain wall is the outer-most defensive layer of the castle itself, after earthworks and a moat. [LINK]
Step 7: Towers
The towers are simple cuboids - cut/score/crease, then glue the long sides together.
At each end, glue three of the tabs and fold them over - fold the fourth, unglued tab on top.
Repeat three times to make four towers in all.
Towers in curtain walls allow the walls themselves to be defended, giving defenders the ability to get at attackers on the walls [LINK]
Step 8: Gateway
Once you have cut, scored and creased, lay the gateway piece on it's back, like a dead bug (second photo).
The long tabs need gluing first, which forms the basic arch shape (see photos three into four).
Glue one of the central tabs, bend it horizontal, and lay the other central tab on top (see the fifth photo). When the arch is the right way up, this will be a ceiling within the arch.
Finally, the last four tabs need to be stuck down (fifth into sixth photo). Glue one of each pair, fold it horizontal, and fold its opposite number down onto it. When the arch is the right way up, they will be floors.
The gatehouse controls access to the castle [LINK]
Step 9: The Optional Stable
Because of the scale of the model, the stable is a very snug fit.
For this reason, I have left it off the base-plate floor-plan, just in case you don't want to add it. If you do want to add the stable, it goes against the inside of the curtain wall, as indicated on the final image of this step.
Once you have C/S/Ced* the stable, start by gluing the rectangular & square tabs on each side of the stable (see the notes on the first photo), and fixing them into an angled box shape (yes, I know, it looks like an American-style trash dumpster with the lid up).
Finally, coat the three outer edges of the "lid" with glue and fold it over to form a sloping roof with an over-hang. Depending on your folding and your own personal taste, you might want to trim the edge of the overhang - wait until the glue has dried before you do.
Real castles included all sorts of extra buildings that were not specifically defensive, including stables. If you can't visit a castle in person to explore, there are lots of online resources you can use, such as this.
*Really, do you still need to check a footnote to work out what this means? After all these step?
Step 10: Back to the Base-plate.
By now, the base-plate should be dry.
Cut it out, this time sticking close to the edge of the outline. You will probably find you are left with a distracting white edge - just run around the edge of the base-plate with a black marker and they will merge right in.
Step 11: Assembly
Now it's time to glue all the buildings to the base-plate.
You should read all the way through this step before attempting any part of it.
Start with the keep - glue the four tabs at the bottom (they will overlap at the corners), and press the keep into place on the base-plate. Press gently for thirty seconds or so to make sure it stick.
Second, glue under the stairs, and all of the side that matches up to the shaded shape on the wall of the keep. Again, hold in place for half a minute.
Third, the gateway stands astride the point where the printed roadway meets the castle. Glue the bottom, and press into place - you may need to hold the two "legs" of the arch separately to make sure they line up with the grey rectangles on the base-plate.
Fourth; note where the curtain wall will come up to on the gateway, and slather a generous amount of glue on that area. (PVA glue dries clear, so don't worry about going "outside the lines". Glue all along the bottom of the curtain wall and press it into place. The walls should not over-lap the squares printed at the corners. You can use the tweezers to reach inside the gateway and gently press the glue-covered arch walls against the edges of the curtain walls.
Finally, the towers. Hold them in place in the corners of the curtain wall, and note where the wall comes to. As for the gatehouse, cover those areas in glue, and the bottom of the tower as well, then press and hold them in place.
Step 12: You're Finished. or Are You?
There you go, you are now he proud possessor of an actual medieval castle.
Perfect for the windowsill, desk or bookshelf, a lasting testament to your skill, dexterity and patience.
But, it is right?
Could it be better?
There are lots of details missing from my design - you could draw in arrow slits, doors and stonework. You could add battlements, crenelations and a portcullis.