Introduction: Making GOOD Armor/props/other Cool Stuff Out of Cardboard

Hello! Tr0lldr0id here again. Today, I am going to show you how to make cardboard props or other such stuff strong. As in, it isn't weak and easily wrecked like cardboard usually is. I am going to be using pictures of a Verpine sniper rifle (from star wars) I made, because that is the only thing I've used these techniques on so far. the links to both the Wookieepedia article on them, and EvenR's instructable on making a Verpine prop are below:

So, why would you want to make stuff out of cardboard? because it's dirt cheap, easy, and it doesn't actually take that long, though the time length depends on how strong you want it to be, and because these techniques make it strong without affecting any of those. I am also going to incorporate some techniques that I read about, but have not actually used due to my lack of materials, as well.

BTW, I apologize in advance for all the viking themed duct tape in the pictures (for anybody who doesn't live in the USA, the vikings are a national sports team). I used cardboard from a failed project for the Verpine, and that was the only real duct tape we had at the time.

so, let's get started!

Step 1: The Cheapest Way

the cheapest way is really quite simple, and it is what I used to make the Verpine. So, basically, you cut out the piece of whatever it is you're making (piece meaning one part of a template). Then, you cut it out again 1-4 times, depending on what it is, and what kind of cardboard you're using. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the simplest secret to making strong cardboard things is to layer it! quite simply, if you are making the Verpine with standard 1/4 inch or so thick cardboard, you would want to use some 4-5 pieces of the stuff. However, there is also some (rarer) cardboard that is closer to 1/2 an inch, and you should only need 2, maybe 3 layers of that. I only found the stuff in our pole barn after I had cut 3 layers out of the 1/4 inch, so I ended up using 1 layer of 1/2 inch and 3 layers of 1/4 inch. if you are making, say, a helmet of some sort, (like a knight's helm or a or something like that, not a BMX helmet prop or anything similar) you might only want to use 2 layers of 1/4 inch. armor, though, I would recommend 3-4 of 1/4 inch.

after you have your layers, you just tape them together, paint seal them, and paint them. I recommend varnish too.

Step 2: The Not Quite Cheapest Way

ok, so, these are the techniques that I didn't use, and therefore have no pictures for :(. So, I was trying to find the El Cheapo way to make armor costumes, and I found an article on Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club website. it talked about how you can reinforce cardboard with drywall joint tape, Bondo-glass, and fiberglass (at least, I think it mentioned fiberglass). I don't know, here's the link:

anyway, I'm just trying to tell you that if you use some sort of putty like Bondo or some wood putty, it will should help strengthen the cardboard. I have no idea about drywall tape, though. if you try it, and it works, tell me in the comments :)

Step 3: Some Other Things to Think About

so, what else can you do? well, I personally recommend combining the techniques. layer your cardboard AND use the other stuff! it would make it about as strong as cardboard would get. there was also a tip in the MMCC article on how you can lightly spray a piece of cardboard with water to aid in bending it (LIGHTLY; as the article said, don't soak the crap out of it!!). again, I unfortunately do not have pictures of this either; the one time so far I have tried this was on a failed project of a DIY top hat. NOTE that bending it did not fail, it's just that I did not take some things into account when I took the measurements. also, you do not necessarily have to entirely use cardboard; as seen above, I used a piece of PVC pipe for the barrel of the Verpine. if you have spare materials like this on hand, and you can think of a way to use them, there is no reason why you shouldn't!

well, that wraps it up. hope your cardboard stuff is successful, have fun!