Introduction: Climbing Cardboard Gorilla

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This is a cardboard version of a traditional wooden toy, with a small modification to give it swinging legs, "just because".

Step 1: Materials and Tools.

You will need a number of easily-obtained materials.

  • Corrugated card - enough to draw three copies of the template - maybe one and a half sheets of A4?
  • plain paper for templates.
  • Glue - I used PVA craft glue, but anything that sticks card will do the job.
  • String - three or four metres of slightly-rough string. Not the hairy stuff, but slightly rough.
  • A drinking straw.
  • A cocktail stick or bamboo barbecue skewer.


  • Cutting tools - scissors, craft knife etc. If your card is thick, you will need a large sharp knife like a Stanley knife (I believe Americans call them box-cutters?)
  • A drill - it is far easier to drill through several layers of corrugated card than it is to poke a hole.
  • A piercing tool - something to make a small hole in the card, such as a sharp pencil, a nail etc.
  • Printer or drawing tools.

Step 2: The Gorilla Template

To make a gorilla climb, you need a gorilla.

I hand-drew the original (see the scans), and you can do the same, or you can print off a copy of the scanned-and-drawn-over version I have attached as as a PDF. If you cannot see the full-size scans, don't worry. They are mainly an archive of the design process - the PDF file contains everything you need.

Notice that you need several layers of card - the torso and arms are made of three layers, the legs are one layer and the head is an added piece.

  • I tilted the different layers of the torso at different angles compared to the ridges in the corrugated card. This made the finished model stronger than if all three layers were at the same angle.

Of course, you don't have to use a gorilla, almost any shape will work, just make sure the angle of the straw is 45o (more on the straw later).

Step 3: Construction (1)

Cut the various parts out of the card, and pierce a hole through the, er, delicate parts of the gorilla to hang the legs from, and a similar hole through the centre of the single leg-layer. The legs will swing better if the hole in them is slightly larger than the cocktail stick or skewer you use.

Step 4: Gluing.

Glue the three layers of the torso & arms together. Make sure the layer with the missing lower section, and the slots missing from the hands, is in the middle of the three layers, and that you have laid a cut piece of straw in the palm of the hand, in the slot missing from the middle layer.

Don't be mean with the glue - like a composite material, the glue provides a lot of the strength of the finished toy.

Depending on the type of glue you use, lay the torso pieces under a book for a suitable time (overnight for the PVA).

Step 5: Construction (2)

When the glue is dry, slot the legs into the gap in the lower part of the torso, then slide a short piece of cocktail stick or skewer through the layers to fix it in place whilst letting it swing from side to side. A drop of glue front and back will hold the stick in place, but be careful not to glue the legs to the stick, or they won't be able to swing.

Glue the head onto the front of the torso, in an aesthetically-pleasing position.

  • You will need to add features to the head - you can draw them directly onto the card, or onto the plain paper and then glue that onto the front of the head.

Step 6: Something to Climb.

You can't have a climbing gorilla if the gorilla has nothing to climb!

With the remains of your corrugated card, make a simple beam, about as long as the distance between the gorilla's hands.

Drill two holes near the centre of the beam, and and a hole near each end.

Tie a loop of string through the centre two holes to hang the gorilla up.

Cut another piece of string about four metres long, and thread each end down though the holes in the ends of the beam. You could use two separate pieces, but using one piece removes the chance of knots pulling through holes. To stop the string slipping, I glued and wedged short pieces of bamboo skewer into the holes with the string.

Thread one end of the string through each hand of the gorilla, and then tie a large knot in the end of the string to stop it pulling back through the straw. You could, if you want, add a large bead.

  • I made "beads" by cutting short lengths of the corrugated card, gluing along their length and then rolling them around the knotted ends of the string.

Step 7: Climb!

Fasten the centre loop to somewhere high, such as the top of a door (or the centre of your shed roof), and slide the gorilla to the bottom of the string.

Pull each string in turn (left, right, left, right), and the gorilla will climb the string, legs swinging.


(Adding the video was gmjhowe's idea)

Step 8: Improvements?

When I first made this, I was planning to somehow disguise the corrugated card. Paint, maybe, or a thin layer of papier mache.

You could do these, of course, but after spending three days looking at his ugly mug, Gorilla kind of grew on me.

I like him the way he is, and I'm not going to change him.

If you, however, make him differently, or make a different animal climb the string, then please post pictures of your creations in the comments. I'd love to see them.


PS for non-pro members, I have added the PDF to this step.

Gorilla Glue Cardboard Contest

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Gorilla Glue Cardboard Contest