Introduction: Moving Glider Wings

About: Cutting and Sticking since 1985

A wearable set of folding glider wings powered by a kinetic energy recovery system.

I made a new pair to put together this Instructable so there are photos from 2 versions. The variations consist in the finish rather than the function and I just didn't have anyone around to take photos of the new one being worn.

The measurements included will make you a pair for an adult, they can be scaled down for littler makers or if you're short on cardboard. Any measurements that I think might be important I'll point out within the steps but on the whole you could do it by eye as its the shapes/proportions that matter more than the exact sizes.

You'll need:

Poster tube
A plastic bottle
Florist wire or a BBQ skewer

Craft knife
Hot glue gun
Compass (or make your own)

Step 1: BackPack Structure

You'll need 3 rectangles of the same size, these ones are 40cm by 30cm.
You could get away with smaller for a child size. Judge it up against the wearers back if you're unsure.

First take 2 of your rectangles and use some hot glue to attach them together.

In the image above the left rectangle is the double layer one, the right single.

I've included measurements to a degree but it's just for a pointer as variations will make little impact.

The size of the circles you're cutting out depends on what c/b tube you'll be using. Use your tube as a template to draw around. Cut just inside this line - this will ensure the tube remains tight when you fit it, you can always make the hole larger but it's not as easy to go the other way. Your wings may be wobbly if it's not a tight fit.

The width of the slots for the straps on here are 4cm, you could probably get away with 3cm. If you're using fabric or plastic for the straps you can make the slots narrower.


  • Keep any cut at least 3cm or more from the edge of your rectangles, this will help with any weakening of the c/b through use - the slots used for the straps are less liable to tear this way. Sticking with this thought the gap between the bottom slots needs to be sufficiently big to not tear easily too - aim for a minimum of 2.5cm but this can vary dependant on the strength of c/b you use. (You can always add a brace later if you find it too weak)
    The tearing factor is also massively reduced by using thick plastic or fabric rather than c/b for the straps, I'll mention that in the next step.
  • The circles need to be in the same place on all rectangles. To make this easier once you've got them cut out of one, put it on top of your other rectangle and use a pencil to mark the right spot on the other for cutting.
  • Keep hold of the circles, you might want to use them for decoration later.
  • If you don't have a strong tube (loo roll and kitchen roll tubes for example are a bit too weak) then cut a long strip of cardboard (about 8cm wide) and curl it up really tight and glue. Just make sure they're about the same size!

Step 2: Adding the Straps

To make your straps cut 2 long strips of cardboard approximately 100cm x 4cm.

You want the fluting (the internal linear ridges of corrugated cardboard) to be perpendicular to the 100cm length.
If the above sounds confusing then you'll soon discover if it's wrong if the straps won't bend around in a curve easily as in the pictures.

If you think your cardboard is a bit weak double up each strap and glue so they are a bit sturdier. In the long run this'll give you more playtime.

  1. Take your rectangle and feed one of these strips through each of the single slots at the top near the circles.
  2. Bend back a flap and glue to base.
  3. Once the glue is dry cut off any excess that's covering the circular holes.
  4. With the remaining length feed your straps up and back through the 2 slots at the bottom.
    Be careful here, you can't just grab and pull them like with a real bag but gently guide them through.


  • My original version uses old thick plastic sheet for the straps - think toughened binbag - so if you have anything similar I'd advice using that, it's a easier to adjust for little hands when wearing and with less potential for damage/tearing to the structure or straps.
    You could also try fabric.
    If you do this the plastic can be pushed through a simple cut rather than a widened slot, which makes the cutting part less fiddly - use a ruler to push the plastic/fabric through your slots.

Step 3: Attaching the Tubes

Get your cardboard tube and cut 2 sections of approximately 8cm in length.

You'll also need about 8 small strips of c/b about 15cm X 2cm

  1. Attach the tubes using hot glue on the inside of the circles. Make sure the tubes length is sticking out the opposite side to your straps!
  2. Use the strips to strengthen the connection between parts by running them up the inside of the tube and onto the back of the backpack, on this example I've used yellow c/b and made them decorative by tapering them at one end. This isn't essential though you can just use a strip from your offcuts.
    On the first version of wings you can see I've covered the tube ends with the 2 of the circles cut out from the rectangles earlier so the strips needn't look nice if you plan do do something similar.


  • If you're struggling to get a straight line around the tube just use a strip of cardboard, wrap it around and match up the ends, then use a pencil to mark the tube
  • It's often easier/safer to cut thick cardboard tubes with a saw rather than craft knife
  • Keep any offcuts at this stage as the wee triangles could be used to add decoration to your wings later.

Step 4: Making the Kinetic Energy Recovery Jet

For this bit you'll need:

A plastic bottle - the size depends on what you have / how big your backpack is, the one I'm using is from supermarket fruit juice, if you only have small bottles you could try adapting the design to have 2 Jets

Length of straight wire, I'm using florist wire as I have some but you could also use a bbq skewer. It just needs to be a bit longer than the height of your bottle.

All of these instructions are helped hugely by the photos.

  1. Put a hole in the centre of the lid and the base of the bottle. I used the point of a compass for this, remember to make them big enough for the wire/BBQ skewer to fit through.
  2. Cut a thin strip of cardboard about 0.5/1cm wide.
    If you cut it through the fluting of the cardboard diagonally (see photo) the next bit will be easier.
  3. Because of the diagonal cut the strip of c/b will naturally want to go in a spiral shape when you start bending/twisting it along the flutes. Place the wire through one 'flute' and twist strip around the wire and through another flute further down until the whole strip is twisted on like a corkscrew.
  4. Next get your bottle. Take off the lid and feed the wire and cardboard corkscrew into it. You'll have to do a bit of squishing but try to be gentle so it opens back up inside the bottle. Feed the end of the wire out the hole you created in the base of the bottle. Push the other end through the hole in the lid.
  5. If your wire is dropping through the bottle create a little stopper on the bottom of the bottle / top of the jet.
    Get a strip of cardboard and glue it to the wire, wrapping it around tight to stop the wire dropping into the bottle. This also gives you a sort of handle to spin the coil round :)
  6. Get your compass (or make your own) and draw a circle with about a 20-30cm diameter.
    Cut out and cut a line from the edge to the centre point
  7. Curl this into a cone shape, if you score lots of straight lines from the centre point out to the edges of the circle this will help to get the cardboard to bend in the right way
  8. Cut off the top of your cone, the size will vary dependant on the bottle, just keep removing until you can push it over the bottle neck (take off the lid first!)
  9. Feed the wire back through the hole in the lid and tighten the lid (this keeps the cone from falling off)
  10. Now you can waste (another) 10 minutes spinning the corkscrew around in the bottle with a satisfied look on your face.


  • The very centre of the bottom of bottles is the strongest thickest part, if you have trouble getting a hole in just go slightly off centre where the plastic is thinner.

Step 5: The Wings

Again the measurements here are stated for the sake of the example, you'll use less cardboard if you scale down the size. The shape of the wing is also up to you, I've gone for a plane/moth wing mash up but beside the top part which the circular hole that attaches to the backpack then the shape really can be played about with.

Dimensions are marked on the photo.

  1. Each wing is made up of 2 identically cut pieces (like the back of the backpack) so you'll need 4 in total.
    This is to keep them rigid, cardboard wants to bend along the flutes and with the wings movement this is more likely to happen. Doubling up means they'll last longer as well as function better.
  2. Glue the pairs of wings together with hot glue.
  3. Push one wing on over a tube,
    Rotate it downwards to it's closed position, do the same with the other.
    Depending on certain dimensions (the distance between the tubes mostly) the wings might seem too open in their closed position.
    If thats the case you can just take more of the curve of the wing allowing them to close further. Remove the same amount on both, do it a little at a time until your happy. (see photo)

  4. Now with just one wing on and in it's down position.
    You need to put in a couple of supports for the second upper wing, these don't have to look nice as they'll be hidden so just use any scraps. (see photo for where they are best placed) It's best that the height of these is a bit thicker than the wing. (I'd suggest if you used 2 layers for the wings then use 3 for the supports)
  5. Next up cut a thin strip of c/b, 1-2cm wide will do and glue it around the tube with the wing currently on, just a couple of mm above the wing (this stops it riding further up the tube when being moved)

    4+5 Are both elements to help the movement while you're wearing the wings, without them once the wings are open they tend to catch on their way down and you'll find it hard impossible to close them. It's frustrating so worth avoiding!
  6. Now put back on the second wing and test the movement.


  • Look out for any patterns that you can use on the cardboard boxes you have and if you're not fortunate enough to have stumble on a piano delivery box in the alley behind your house you could always paint on a design (I used masking tape and paint for the diagonal line design on the first wings I made

Step 6: Decorating and Attaching the Jet to the Back Panel.

Get the rectangle you cut out right at the beginning and haven't used yet. This will be attached by simply pushing the 2 tubes through the 2 circles at the top and covers up the workings of the wings - but don't do it yet!

Aside from attaching the bottle i've not included detail of dimensions for what I've done. It's really up to you how you decorate it, and I'm sure you can emulate it just from the photos but it's probably more fun to make your own version.

To attach the bottle:

  1. cut a strip of c/b thats long enough to go around your bottle and about 2cm wide
  2. Glue centre on to your bottle
  3. Wrap around tightly so the strip goes around the bottle, touching it right up until it reaches the c/b base.
    Use hot glue to fix. (you can use 2 strips if you think it might be a bit wobbly)

Once you've decorated push the finished cover onto the backpack.


  • Remember you can use the different shaped off cuts from earlier, both the fins and the circles on mine are just that. I never did use those triangles.

Step 7: Adding Handles to the Wings

Nearly done...

  1. Put your wings on, adjust the straps to a comfortable position.
  2. Using your hands lift the wings out to their extended position. Take note of where your hand is on the inside of the wing, maybe get someone to help you mark about where you need a handle
  3. Get 2 strips of cardboard, in the marked spot make a wee arch to create a handhold and glue on to the wing.

These are going to be used for raising the wings and so will be tugged about a bit so for a better/stronger connection cut slots through the wings and glue on the other side (like the tops of your straps on the backpack) or try using cable ties, the fixture will be more secure and last longer this way.

And you're done!

Just ask if there's any stage where I've missed some detail you need and have fun gliding about!

I'd love to see your versions so send 'em in if you make a pair :)

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Cardboard Contest 2017