Designing the Skeleton Frame




Introduction: Designing the Skeleton Frame

About: Hi I am just a guy who loves to build and create things.

Please use the drawings. Print them a4. All the parts should fit together nicely.
Cut the parts out of the paper and trace tem on the piece of balsa wood. Then cut the piece out of the 2.5 mm wood and drill the holes on the right position.

Work structured or else all the pieces will be unorganized and you may have a hard time assembling the frame.
Most of the martials you can find in and around your own house. Try to keep things as cheap as possible.

The materials you need for the project I summon;

  • Frame
  • Balsa wood. 2.5 mm thick
  • Balsa wood 8 mm thick
  • Balsa wood 25 mm thick
  • Sanding paper fine grain
  • White clay
  • 2x Gunmetal x-10
  • White x-2
  • Black metallic
  • Decal stickers
  • Brushes
  • Thinner
  • Glue
  • Hobby knife
  • Steel ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissor
  • Drill + drills 2mm and 1mm
  • Nuts and bolds 2x18 mm
  • Nuts and bolds 2x25 mm
  • Small washers
  • Iron wire 2 mm
  • Copper wire 1mm
  • 14x Blue diffuse LED
  • 3x small bike lights whit button

      Step 1: Balsa Wood Model

      This is one project you will enjoy and have a lot of fun whit! Experiment whit shapes, led’s, moving parts, paint and decals. Follow the steps one by one and you end up with this!

      I love to create! I am always making robots and other stuff. Love building and designing. In the past I made robots and other things from cardboard, from old plastic ice boxes, or just any material which seem to produce nice parts. I ended up putting a lot of work and details in this robot and this is the end result!

      Download the shapes of the parts on paper in the next step!

      Thanks for looking! I hope you are inspired and want to experiment and create!

      Step 2: LED Power Helmet

      Look for a nice small led device, like a bike light. Then design and draw some helmet shapes, styles and forms. To act as a guide for the helmet.

      1. Open the led device remove all the plastic casing and trace it on wood.
      2. Cut the wood and fit it in there.
      3. Solder and remove carefully the original led and place two blue led lights on there to act for illuminated eyes.
      4. Now close the helmet whit a round piece of wood.
      5. Add to the front side a shaped and sanded piece that will act like a helmet front, experiment whit different pieces and shapes. 
      6. Assemble the helmet on the body.

      Step 3: Start Building!

      *.style1 { color: rgb(255,153,0); font-weight: bold; } *.style3 { color: rgb(255,102,0); } *.style4 { color: rgb(255,153,0); }

      Time to start cutting some wood!
      When you have printed the part sheet cut the parts out of the paper. Trace them with a pencil on the balsa wood 2.5mm. Cut the first piece out of the wood and after you have the first piece use it as a parent piece. Now start making baby’s! copy the other pieces only from the parent, so that all the pieces are the same shape. This is crucial!

      1. After cutting comes sanding. Sand the pieces all at the same time. Holding the same pieces tightly next to each other to make them identical of shape.
      2. After sanding comes drilling. Gentle drill the holes in the pieces where the holes are on the drawing.
      3. After drilling comes assembling! Assembly time is so fun is so nice to see you project come together.
      4. Afer part-assembling come frame-assembly.
      5. Afer frame-assembly comes glueing on non movebol parts.

      Connecting the feet.
      You can use some copper wire, as I did in the begin, bud after a wile is starts to deform and becomes too weak to support the entire weight of the model. SO I ended up replacing them. I used some joints that I got from the hobby shop. They usually use these joint on servomotors. Bud now they have a new task. Just cut the wire of the sphere solder the spheres together. Remodel the caps and drill a hole in a 20mm piece of wood. Glue the caps in the wood and your joint are good to go.

      Connecting the legs to the body.
      Wire was strong bud difficult to move. Wire had a bouncy effect bud did the job. I ended up replacing them whit wood made joints for adding movability and stability to the skeleton frame.

      Step 4: More Jetpack Fun! With LED's

      Cut out on feeling the pieces you see on the picture, sand the corners round and smooth.
      Now drill holes and assemble the arm.

      Cut in the jetpack a hole for the led device. Now place the led divice in the hole and attach wires to the chip through the middle unto the back. Take 6 led’s and test them first! Now take a round piece of wood and make small holes with a needle. Put the led trough there and connect the ends correctly. Now solder it all together and your jetpack is ready for mounting on the back of the model.

      Step 5: Handy Work

      Making the fine detailed hands for the robot.
      You need to take a little part of clay and make small spheres from them. The next step is to take a square piece of balsa wood and make 5 small cuts in them for the wires and the joint. Place the wires in the cuts and glue them. Close the piece whit another piece of wood. Wait a while until the clay dries, bud not until it completely dries just half way. Now you can put the clay spheres on the wire and position them. Cut the wire at the end and apply at the end a sphere of clay to cover up the wire end. And let it dry completely.

      Adding clay panels to the leg.
      Make bigger spheres the size of marbles and roll them around until they are round and smooth. Now apply them gently on the nuts and bolts of the robots leg. Move them around and model them as pleased. Let it dry completely.

      Step 6: Getting Dressed Up!

      This is the most time consuming phase of the project. It takes time to figure out and design where to go and what to do with all the body parts. So I made a drawing to visualize what I wanted to make. Then I thought about how to make it and then I stared building.

      Use the power of visualization an see where the model is going before you do anything. Pay attention to form and size.
      Tip: Use pieces of paper to visualize body parts and model them around.

      To bend the thin balsa wood for the shoulders you need to make it wet. Bend the wood carefully and dry it with a hair blower to fixate it.

      Chest piece
      The chest piece is the center of the body and is an eye-catching part. Make it detailed and whit enough depth to look solid and good.

      Cut a round piece of wood from the thicker balsa wood.  Taper the edges of the shield whit a knife, It saves al lot of sanding time. And hollow it out, make is a good and thin as you can without poking through the shield. Now sand the shape nice and smooth.Adding al the details to make 

      Step 7: Finishing All the Woodwork

      Finishing of the woodwork
      Give it a sand with a piece of fine sandpaper.
      Grab a screwdriver and fasten all the joints at the right tension for a nice feeling of the model.

      Don't forget to play and have fun then do some nice posing before you start painting it! 

      Making a support standard for the model.
      I decided to make a good and proper standard for the model. I draw a shape on the thick wood and cut it out then t cut of the corners of to safe sanding time. Then sand it down to asmooth and clear surface. Drill to a hole in the top and put in a steel wire. Drill also a hole on the bottom in the middle for the steel wire bud don’t glue it in there. So that the robot will be easily can be taken of the standard.

      Step 8: Jetpack Fun

      Jetpacks build these jetpacks by feel. You can also make them solid from a thick piece of balsa wood.
      Place then at the back of the model.

      Step 9: DECAL Stickers!

      Adding decal stickers to give it a nice fished detailed look. It pumps up the appearance of the model and gives it a awesome  look. In the past I liked cars and planes and so on. And I rarely put decals on them, and If I tried I failed to apply them the proper way. When I figured out how to work with decals.. it looked so nice!

      I hope you have still some leftover decal stickers. Because you need them! From maybe a old kid plane or car that you made in the past.

      If you out of decals, no worries. You can buy them form 2-10 euro/dollar online, or at your local hobby store. I used these decals for my project.

      Start cutting the decals in to pieces and put them in to the water. The decal will soak and you can apply gently the decal on the wood or plastic.

      TIP: If you decal falls of the next day, because the wood had a bit of a rough surface. This happened to me with the bigger decals. You can only glue them on whit photo glue a used in photo albums. This because it doesn't affect the pigment and doesn't dissolve the decal.Although it is hard to apply. The end result will be stunning

      2e method is putting a layer of finishing lacquer on it bud be very careful whit the moving parts, for lacquer has glue-is like capabilities and gives a shining finish.

      Step 10: Painting Fun!

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      Painting a project can make it or break it. Be always thought full and have patience when you start to paint. Think about the colors for a while and try to visualize them. See them before you paint.

      Never start painting whit a new color before trying it out. I always do just to be sure put a bit on a brush an paint some pieces of wood or material. Or paint some extra colors next to it to see they react, maybe red or with black. Double some layers of paint and experiment and make a paint mess just for the fun of it.
      I used bottles of gunmetal X-10 and White X-2 next to black Hammerite paint from the hardware store, still had some left, the paint just looks soooo slicky an sexy when dried up. Mix it whit some thinner and there you go model paint!

      The color x-10 is not to dark not to light, and with gorgeous metal finish! Make sure to move the joints when you paint all the time, move all the joints as long as it needs to dry the paint.

      After all the parts are painted and dried up glue them on and make the final assembly.
      Now pick up a screw driver and tighten all the bolds and nuts just a little, little bit for a nice feeling of balance between movability and resistance.

      • One coat of gunmetal x10 did the job for a sweet base color.

      • Three withe X2 coats just to make the white shine right.

      • Two black Hammerite coats on specific parts.

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        4 years ago

        I can't see any pictures...


        7 years ago

        the mohawk head silhouette is so cool!

        support marine
        support marine

        9 years ago

        I have starting watching Gundam build fighters and have been wanting to make a little robot for sometime, and this will do the trick. Thanks for this awesome tutorial.


        9 years ago on Step 1

        what size of paper is the A4, I am from the USA. If needed I can convert from the metric system.


        9 years ago on Step 1

        Would love to try this. But apparently, balsa wood is not common here in our place. Any alternative i could use?


        Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

        You can always use cardboard. I made some old project just from cardboard and the plastic from ice-cream boxes. The skeleton is design whit cardboard in mind to. Try to find a slightly thinker and stronger cardboard, bud anything will do. After you finished the parts you I suggest fixating them whit a textile glue or any paper mache glue for strength. When making the joints use bigger washers for better movability. Good luck!


        9 years ago on Step 1

        Can I get the patterns that are printer ready/ Example one pattern sheet per page.


        Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

        Hi, I'm exited to hear you want to start experimenting in building my design. yes you can download them, I already put them on A4 for easy printing. Save it to your desktop and you can print them. It's in the pictures in step one. Bud for easy guidance I put them to in the link beneath. Have a nice time building, and if you have other questions let me know.

        Leg Pattern A4
        Arms and body pattern A4


        10 years ago on Step 1

        Fantastic design and modeling skills! As an engineer who used to do a considerable amount of balsa modeling, my hat is off to you.


        10 years ago on Step 9

        AMAZING wow patience and skill combine to mastery

        Dream Dragon
        Dream Dragon

        10 years ago on Step 1

        That's really cool, and since your sheet is 2.5mm thick it should be within the range of materials that could be laser cut. I'm sure there's someone around here who could help convert your drawings into cutting plans if you wanted.

        I happen to like the LO TECH aproach of sticking paper to the wood and cutting round it by hand.

        Well Done, and thanks for sharing your project.


        Reply 10 years ago on Step 1

        Yeah that’s a great idea to make it laser cut! I hope I can experiment whit that kid of stuff in the future. That would be nice and produce really clean parts. Thanks for your insight!


        Reply 10 years ago on Step 1

        3D printing can only approximate the talent represented in this build.


        10 years ago on Step 1

        That is a very nice robot and I like the fact that you drew it up by hand and cut out and smoothed all the shapes by hand. I read the other people pushing laser cutting and 3D printing, but then you end up with something that looks machine made, not hand made. I'll take yours over those any day. Great work and I hope you had enough fun making it to make more.