Introduction: Cardboard Glider

I love things which fly.

You love things which fly.


You might have seen styrofoam or plastic gliders They fly great but ...plastic. So I decided to make one out of completely biodegradable materials and which matches them in performance.

This is a very basic project , requiring few materials, and easy to make in under an hour.

It took me three days to perfect the design and now i want to share this with you through my first instructable

lets kill it.


You need

  • corrugated cardboard sheets (the ones used to make boxes)
  • pair of scissors and a cutter
  • masking/painters tape
  • a pen
  • flour dough (to use it as added weight which can be molded in shape)
  • a ruler/scale

Step 1: Prepare the Cardboard for the Wings and Tail

if you look closely at the cross section of the sheet, you will find 2 corrugated(curvy) sheets sandwiched between three plain sheets alternately. As we want the wings and the tail to be light and a bit flexible, we make them with a single corrugated sheet. To get this, just slide your thumbs in the middle of the cross section running parallel to the length of the curves and rip it apart as shown.

You should get 2 sheets; one with the corrugation sandwiched and the other exposed. I used the latter to make the wings. It doesn't matter much if the sheets are uneven or untidy. but try to get them as neat as possible.

Step 2: Cut Out the Parts

It is important for the main body(fuselage) to be rigid and strong and at the same time the plane should be as light as possible .Hence

  1. the main body is made of the original sheet(double corrugated)
  2. the wings and the tail are made of the exposed corrugated sheet made in step 1

you can eyeball the design from these images or print the first image ( i dont know if thats possible) to use as a stencil and cut out the parts as shown from respective sheets .


try to cut out the main body as neatly as possible AND make sure that it is straight ( it should rest neatly on a flat surface *with no curves or bumps.)

try to make the wings and the tail AS SYMMETRIC AS POSSIBLE as this(symmetry) is the most important factor determining how straight your plane flies.

after the body is cut, make slits in it as shown.

mark the center of the wings too.

Step 3: Final Touch to the Wings and Tail.

  1. To make the wings more aerodynamic and to reduce drag, take a strip of masking tape equal to the wing's length and stick it on the edge (which faces the wind when the plane flies) such that it covers the edge, halfway up and other half down as shown. The other 2 side strips are just for design ;)
  2. with the help of the ruler, make a crease in the middle of the wing so that it can be bent a little bit into a V shape. This V shape (dihedral angle) stabilizes the plane in flight.
  3. in the tail, make 4 cuts, 2 on either halves (as shown the drawings in white paper) to make flaps ( elevators)

Step 4: Assembly


1. slide the wings and tail in place as shown. ( do not worry if they get distorted in the process, for cardboard, unlike plastic is flexible and doesn't break easily.)

to do this, use both hands to hold the wings vertically and slowly push the body through them using your thumbs.

For the tail, just shove it inside.....

look at it from every possible angle and straighten out any curves, bumps and distortions. Try to make it highly symmetric: the V of the wings perfectly vertical; the tail perfectly horizontal; the body and the back fin (rudder) straight in line.... { no glue is required, the friction is enough to hold everything in place, however, the wings do slide from their position after the plane /hits something/falls abruptly(which it may do in the starting ) but you can surely use any liquid glue/hot glue to hold everything in place.}} the product should look like the first 2 images.


weight balancing.

the force of lift acts vertically upwards on the wings. hence the weight ahead and behind the wings should be equal. Thus to balance the weight of the tail and the rudder behind the wing, we put an additional weight on the nose in front of the wing in the form of dough.

to get this part right, all you need is trial and error and error and error.........

throw it gently. if it tilts backwards, add more weight. If it just falls on the nose, reduce the weight. You will get it right after some experimentation. and it will look something like the latter 3 images.



this is the most fun part!!!

Your glider will not fly perfectly in the first shot. So be patient with it. After many tweaks, adjustments, or maybe rebuilds, you will eventually perfect it !

go ahead and experiment. see if it doesn't fly straight...maybe the wings are unsymmetric or the rudder (back fin) is tilted to the side. see if it falls down like a stone or lifts up abruptly....adjust the weight on the front. see if it barrel rolls....**stick some dough on the bottom of the wing opposite to the rolling direction (if it rolls to the right, stick dough on the left wing)...........

After you get a decently flying plane, play with it!!

bend the flaps on the tail(elevators) upwards as shown in the first picture and watch it get more lift.

bend them alternately ( one up one down) and watch how the plane goes

after you perfect the basics with practice, go ahead and make your own designs!!!!

after all, making stuff is all about learning with experimentation and experience.

if you like this project, DO MAKE IT!! and tell me!!!

thank you.

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