Introduction: Cardboard Crane

About: Hi my name is Luigi, I am from Italy and I am a Maker and I love to create stuff! My favourite machines are laser cutters and 3D printers (I own a Tevo Tarantula <3) but I like also all my others tools. F…

Hi, my name is Luigi, I'm a 22 years-old student and a maker (of course!) from Rozzano, Milano, Italy.

That's my very first instructables. Writing in english it's not my favourite hobby, so don't blame me for that; I'll try to do my best!!! ;)

This project gave me the opportunity to realize one of my childhood's dream: having a child-sized crane to play with!

I'm very proud of the result, I've designed all the parts by myself starting from a finger-joints box and realized the project thanks to my local FabLab "Multilab" in Rozzano. Here I used their laser cutter to Cut&Engrave the pattern. It has been 6 months since I discovered Inkscape and laser cutting machine, thanks Multilab!

So why cardboard? It's cheap (in my case free, saved from trash), it's easy to work with and it was a challenge to realize a structure with a not-very-rigid material.

...remember, with hot glue all stuff stay in place ;)...if not, you'd better upgrade your design like me!

Step 1: Cardboard Crane - How To

First you need following materials:

  • 4 pieces of cardboard 72*42 cm (8 mm thickness)
  • 2 mt of string (2 mm diameter)
  • Glue gun & glue sticks
  • Toothpicks
  • A good cutter & a pair of scissors
  • Laser cutter

After you need the design to start with.

Step 2: Cutting Pattern - Starting Assembling

After cutting your cardboard with the laser cutter, place the pieces on a large surface to see what you need for the assembling.

1- First assemble the central tower.

Start with glueing 2 pieces of the frame then add the square supports all the way long into the frame. Then close the other 2 sides of the central frame and the job is done!

*Be careful ! There are 2 holes in two pieces which need to be assembled the same way.

Step 3: Glueing the Upper-frame's Parts

2- Start with the short frame.

Fold the frame in the middle. Use a square for better results.

Glue the triangular support on the frame to stuck it up. The short frame tooks 3 triangular internal supports.

Bend the little supports on the inside and glue them up!

3- The long frame

Fold the long frame in the middle.

Glue the triangular supports on the frame, they are 5.

Then you have to bend (internal) the two structures which support the tracks of the sled; use the cutter to help you during the process. Then glue everything in place!

4- The upper structure

Now it's time to assemble the entire upper structure. Take the short&long frame and join them with the long base of the upper structure. It has the corrispondent finger-joints for every frame.

Step 4: Sled, Pulleys and Tackle

5- The sled

Now, that's a particular structure which allows the crane to move object up-down and near-far away from the crane itself. It slides in the tracks of the long frame.

You have to glue the main two pieces up, before installing it.

After that, you have to install the first pulley's (see point 6-pulleys) with a toothpick, right in the middle. That will be the up-down pulley.

Then you can install your sled in the tracks glueing the four rectangular pieces directly to the sled. They will maintain the sled in the right allignement during movement.

6- Pulleys

My aim was to use only cardboard, glue gun and just a few others materials, so I figured out this pulleys made of 3 circles of cardboards filled with hot glue... and that seems to work quite nice!

You need 4 pulleys: one is integrated in the sled, one moves the sled (it's in the long upper frame), two are in the short frame and link the sled to the tackle on the base.

7- Tackle

To move the sled and the hook we need a sistem from the base. I designed these tackles gluing the parts, using 4 toothpicks to create a rotation axis. At the end, just glue them on the base.

Step 5: Basket, Hook and Final Assembling

8- Basket & hook

Just take your basket's parts and glue them up. Prepare the hook (just a little hot glue for the little two parts) and try it out!

9- Final assembling

Now you have to connect the central tower to the base glueing it up. I use 4 little scrap pieces of cardboard to make 4 little feet.

Then it's time for some string ! Tie it up the central tower to the base using the prepared holes in the upper part of the tower. Than glue it up, just to be sure they won't loose.

Rock&Roll !!! Now we have to connect the central tower with the upper-frame! Gently push the upper-frame into the central tower, then glue everything. Now, if your cardoboard is like mine, you better add some supports to help preventing the structure bending. Insert them between the tower and the longer frame.

The final step is to connect the pulleys sistem with the remaining string.

There are two lines:

- Up-Down system -> the string goes from the tackle on the base up to the posterior pulleys to the central pulley in the sled. Then down to hang the hook.

- Linear movement system -> the second string goes from the tackle tp the second posterior pulley, creating a circle. Create another string's circle which goes over the sled to the front pulley and its glued under the sled.

Insert something in your basket and play!

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my project !

I thank all my friends at the Multilab for the support and a special thank to the maker-boss Pierluigi for his patience and kindness.

Cardboard Contest 2017

Second Prize in the
Cardboard Contest 2017