Cardboard Pantograph Tutorial

Introduction: Cardboard Pantograph Tutorial

Ever wonder how coins can have such detailed designs? Or how scaled replicas are made of sculptures? In this tutorial we will be making a cardboard pantograph for scaling up or scaling down an image.


  • A ruler
  • Tape (masking tape works well)
  • A blade (a craft knife or a box cutter is best, but scissors will do)
  • 2 Markers or pencils
  • A screwdriver
  • 5 wood screws
  • A piece of scrap wood
  • A piece of cardboard at least 6" x 13"

Step 1: Cut Cardboard

    Cut four strips of cardboard down to 1.5" x 13".

    Take one 13 inch strip and cut it down to 7 inches; discard the excess.

    Take another 13 inch strip and cut down to 10 inches; discard the excess.

    Step 2: Mark Cardboard

    We want to mark points on the cardboard we will use for pivot points and to hold our markers.

    For all cardboard strips we want to mark a dot ½ inch in on both ends.

    Take one 13 inch strip and from one dot mark an additional dot 3 inches in.

    Take the other 13 inch strip and mark an additional dot at the halfway point of the strip; 6 inches in from any dot.

    On the 10 inch strip an additional dot 3 inches in from a previously marked dot.

    The 7 inch strip doesn't need any additional dots.

    Step 3: Add Screws to Pivot Points

    Now let's assemble the pantograph!

    It helps to layout the pantograph first.

    Place the 13 inch strip with the dot at the halfway point horizontally in front of you.

    Place the other 13 inch strip vertically. The dot furthest away from the other dots on the 13 inch vertical strip should overlap the horizontal 13 inch strip's left-most dot.

    Take the 10 inch strip and place it vertically over the center dot of the horizontal 13 inch strip. Use the dot on the 10 inch strip that's furthest away from its other dots.

    Place the 7 inch strip horizontally underneath the vertical strips. Alight the 7 inch strip's left dot to the vertical 13 inch strip's dot that's 3 inches down. Align the 7 inch strip's right dot to the top-most dot on the vertical 10 inch strip.

    Where the strips overlap are the pantograph's pivot points. that's where we will put four of the wood screws.

    With your hands, twist the screws through the overlapping dot to make the pivot points. Now you don't want to twist the screw too far, only far enough to hold the cardboard together. After it's assembled the screws should be pointing up, the cardboard hovering above the table, leaving the pantograph free to glide on top of the table on the screw heads.

    Step 4: Anchor Pantograph

    Now from the last dot of the horizontal 13 inch strip screw the pantograph into the wood block.

    Tape the wood block down to the table to keep the pantograph from moving.

    Step 5: Add Markers and Use Your Pantograph!

    At the two remaining dots, poke holes to add your markers. Now, using a sheet of paper draw or trace and image and watch it size itself;f up or down depending on which marker you use.

    You can also move your pivot points on your pantograph to get different effects, so play around with it

    Step 6:

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      2 years ago

      such a good idea!

      Penolopy Bulnick
      Penolopy Bulnick

      2 years ago

      That's a really interesting little tool :)


      Reply 2 years ago

      Sure is. Useful for enlarging and reducing without a projector or computer software.