This is going to be a Christmas gift for my father. He loves unique stuff so I had the idea to make him this car which I hope he likes. It's made almost entirely of cardboard with the exception of the toothpicks used for wheel spokes & wooden dowels for the axles & a layer of paper mache. The paper mache not only covered the hot glue joints & corrugated edges of the cardboard but also allowed for a more precise finish on certain small corners & edges. In the next few steps I will show you exactly how I made it.
Step 1: Tools and Materials.
You can see in the pictures everything I needed to make my car but I will list it all anyways.
Materials: Corrugated cardboard (mine is from 24 pack of cumberland gap water) heavy cardstock (mine is from dividers from meow mix canned catfood) sheets of paper (mine from old Harry Potter book) Elmers glue all clear dry glue, Hot glue, Acrylic paints of various colors, Spray paint, wooden toothpicks, wooden dowels (a bit smaller than your hole puncher) Gel pens of various colors, Cup of flour bleached or unbleached will work just not wheat (Wheat flour won't stick) 2 cups warm tap water, teaspoon of salt. Not pictured but towels will be needed too for when you paper mache. Cardboard party drinking straws (for steering column & exhaust pipes).
Tools: Safety glasses, Hot glue gun, hole punch, scissors (bandage cutting ones work best for cutting more precisely & the thick cardboard) Exacto knife, Compass for making circles, Paint brushes, Tree limb cutters (makes cutting the wood axles & toothpick spokes much easier) Pencil, Whisk or fork (for mixing up the paper mache recipe) Large plastic container, needle nose pliers (handy for hard to reach spots) Tweezers (handy to remove annoying stringy strands of hot glue).
Step 2: Making the Cardboard Car Body.
I decided to make a classic 70's style car but you can make anything you want. The great thing about cardboard is it's easy to work with & you can cut & bend it how you wish. I started by simply sketching the side body panels onto the cardboard & cutting them out. I cut out cross members to help hold the shape of the car as I hot glued them in place. Remember to cut the panels out to where the place you will need bends matches up to the corrugation lines in the cardboard to get a smooth bend that don't crinkle & look bad.
Step 3: Making the Wheels.
Once I had the body of my car I figured out how big my wheels needed to be. I cut the wheels out by first marking them with my compass onto the cardboard & cutting 1 out. I then used that piece as a template for marking all the other pieces I would need to cut out for all 4 wheels. Also the compass center hole I used to find the center of each of my other wheel pieces. I had to cut 5 for each wheel out of the corrugated cardboard. 2 of each of the 5 per wheel I had to cut the center out to allow for my toothpick spokes. I used my limb cutters to cut the toothpicks in half & stuck the pointed end into the 2nd layer down cardboard piece with the cut out center & angled them out toward the center of the wheel. I used my elmers glue to glue the center of the spokes together as well as the ends where they entered the cardboard. I used cardstock & my compass to make a trim ring to go around the spokes cutting one out as a template & used my pencil to mark 3 more just like it. I used chrome spray paint to spray the spokes & trim ring being sure to walk around spraying into it to cover all areas beneath the spokes as well as all the spokes. I also cut out a spare wheels holder for the back of the car to give it that fancy continental kit look. Now I mixed my paper mache paste in the container adding 1 part flour 2 parts warm tap water with around a teaspoon of salt (salt prevents molding) & used a whisk to stir it all up until I had something with the consistency of chicken noodle soup. I found that for the wheels & other curved areas thin strips works the best. The sheets from the Harry Potter book were about too thick so I recommend something thinner like newspaper or phone book to make it easier for you. Now is the time to make your wheel wells & use one of your wheels as a guide on how large it will need to be being sure to allow plenty of room for the wheel to rotate without rubbing the wheel well.
Step 4: Paper Mache the Car Body.
With my body & wheel wells done I could now begin placing paper mache over my car. I cut paper of various sizes & shapes before getting my hands messy & I recommend cutting several thin strips, small squares, larger rectangles, etc...because you will be needed all types as you cover the project. Be sure to have towels under where you are working and in the floor where you are standing because it can get a bit messy. After getting the paper mache satisfactory allow it 24 hours to dry (more if you live in humid area).
Step 5: Painting the Body.
After it all was dry as a bone, I sprayed a few coats of chrome spray paint over the entire body. This was done to not only provide a nice painting surface for easier application of my brush on acrylic paints but also since many parts of the car would have chrome this allowed me to just paint the black on where needed avoiding areas where chrome would be on the car. It would have been much more difficult to try to paint the chrome on over the black & required lots of masking which I had to avoid. The black would have been most likely impossible to cover with silver acrylic paint (plus the acrylic silver don't pop like the chrome spraypaint) so this saved me many hours of extra work & the acrylic paint goes on over the silver spray paint so good with great coverage.
Step 6: Details Such As Interior, Trunk, & Adding the Wheels.
Now the work was getting at a more detailed level with interior work. I used gel pens to draw my car a dash with instruments and such on heavy cardstock that I had spraypainted chrome first. I cut out my steering wheel using compass & made the steering column from cardboard party drinking straws.Since I made the trunk so as it could be opened I added a jack and tire iron in there which I simply quickly sketched out onto my chrome painted cardstock & cut out. I made interior door handle armrest & ashtrays the same way. I used the cardboard drinking straws to make the dual exhaust tips coming out of the side rear of the car painting the inside black & outside gray. Lots of other details went into the car body as well & I used a silver gel pen to draw on the body lines & hood & door closing points. I made side mirrors using the chrome painted heavy cardstock. For the wheels I wanted whitewalls so I used the heavy cardstock with glossy white side out to cut them out using compass & gluing them onto the wheels with elmers clear dry glue all & used rubber bands to hold them in place til glue dried. After those dried I placed the wheels onto the wooden dowel axles after measure & getting everything spinning in the right place. I used the heavy cardstock to cut out axle place holders with the glossy side facing toward the car leaving a little side to side play so the wheels could turn easily & used hot glue to hold them in place on the wood dowel axle. I then made the hole of the inner part of the wheel large enough to where it would slide firmly over the would dowel through 2 layers of the wheel cardboard test fitting and spinning it all before I hot glued the wheels in place. I'm happy to say my car rolls really great.
Step 7: Ready to Hit a Drive Thru.