Introduction: Make a Cardboard Robot

About: The Maker Studio is a museum makerspace at Science City in Kansas City, MO. To see more of our creations follow us on Instagram @The_Maker_Studio or @ScienceCityKC

Make your own little friend with this cardboard robot tutorial. If you're a little apprehensive about making things three dimensional, just want a little guidance or some tips on working in 3d with cardboard this Instructable is made for you.


Main materials:
These materials are for making the body of your robot.
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors or Shears- scissors will work but shears make cutting cardboard much easier
  • Pencil
  • Hot glue/tape- to attach the cardboard pieces together
  • Optional- Canary Cutter for cutting down boxes

Detail materials:

These materials are for adding features and details to your robot it's up to you what you use but here are some examples.

  • Adhesive (if you want to use something other than your hot glue/tape)
  • Beads, gems, buttons, googley eyes, paper clips, decorative tape, markers, +++

Step 1: Cut Out the Head & Torso

If your cardboard has a good side & bad side, use the bad side to trace out your head and torso shapes & cut them out. Don't worry about arms, legs, etc. we'll make those later on. For the photographs above our good side is the pink side with writing.

Flip your cardboard over and trace out the shapes onto another piece & cut them out. This will give you two mirror image heads & torsos like in photo 3.

It's a good idea to keep your cardboard scraps handy so that you can pick out little pieces you may need later on. You can keep them in a container lid or plate so that when you're all done it's easier to dump the unused scraps into the recycling bin.

Step 2: Make the Sides

Since we're making a 3D robot the head and torso are like little boxes. They need a left side, right side, top and bottom. You can cut those out as thinner or thicker sections based on what you want your robot to look like.

Make the first side piece:

Take your robot's face and lay it next to a piece of scrap cardboard, lining it up with the bottom, and make a mark showing how tall your right side needs to be. It needs to match the height of your robot's face. Now you can draw out the rest of the right side based on how thick you want it to be. (Photo 1)

Make the other side pieces:

Make the left side the same way- by laying the face next to a scrap piece of cardboard & making a mark to the right height. You can use your right side to help measure the width- in the photo (#2) it is the piece that's below the cardboard scrap. (Photo 2) Once you have both side pieces you can lay them out like in Photo 3.

Make and add your top and bottom pieces, then you have all the parts for your robot's head. (Photo 4)

Make the robot's body the same way you made the head.

Step 3: Assemble the Head & Torso

Now that you have your pieces made and laid out you can start to assemble your robot's head into a box. Hot glue is preferred (& shown in the images), but you can also use tape to put the pieces together. Put a bead of hot glue along one edge of the face, then take the corresponding side/top/bottom piece and set it onto the hot glue at a 90 degree angle (meaning it is making an upper case "L"). Be sure to hold it in place until the glue is cooled and it stays on it's own.

Add the second side/top/bottom piece & let it cool until secure. Now you need to reinforce it with glue in the corner. (If you're using tape, add a piece of tape that goes around the outside of the corner to hold the two pieces together).

Keep repeating this process until you have all 4 sides attached & their corners reinforced. Add on the other face piece by putting a bead of hot glue along the top edge and then pressing down until it's cooled. You now have a three dimensional robot head!

Repeat the process for the robot's body.

Step 4: Add Details!

Now that you have the main parts of the robot done you can dress them up with your craft supplies & recycled materials. TIP: If you're gluing something very small it's safer to put the glue on the robot first and then place the small item onto the glue- that way you're not getting your fingers really close to the hot end of the glue gun. See Photo 2 with glue being placed on antenna tip & the small bead is placed onto the glue to save fingers from potential burns.

Step 5: Make Arms & Legs

If you've got some larger pieces of cut cardboard you've been saving this is a great time to use them. Cut test arms and legs and lay them out to make sure you like them, adjust as needed. To give them a little more dimensional you can layer multiple pieces of cardboard on top of each other- add some felt for a pop of color.

If you want your arms or legs to come out at an angle you can cut the ends (Photos 3 & 4). Be careful, if your legs are at too much of an angle your robot may not stand up well. Arms and legs take a bit of time to set in the right position as the glue cools, you may need to hold them in place for a minute.

Your robot may be able to stand on its own or you may need to glue its feet to a surface to hold it up.

Step 6: Make More Robots

Now that your robot is done, you can make him lots of friends.

Cardboard Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Cardboard Speed Challenge