Introduction: Playing Card Construction Set Using Cardboard Connectors

About: Daniel Bauen breathes new life into objects that have met their untimely demise in the junk pile.

Have you ever wanted to build a house of cards that wouldn't fall down?  This instructable will show you how to make connectors for regular playing cards, which will allow you to quickly build huge towers, and whatever else you can imagine.

The idea comes from the desire to build more stable, and creative structures using playing cards, using Tinker Toy style connector hubs. After seeing that Skallops had already done something similar, I was inspired to take it a step further and start making different connectors. The half round connectors are nice, but mix that with full round connectors, and you have an even better construction set.

Instead of wood, the connectors are cut out of cardboard from old cardboard boxes. This makes them light weight, free and disposable if they get messed up.  

Step 1: Design the Connectors

You can use any CAD or vector drawing softwhare to design the card connectors.
  1. Start with a Circle that is 35mm in diameter.
  2. Draw lines radiating from the center at 15 degree (or 30 degrees if you want a stronger connector with fewer angles)
  3. If the lines are spaced at 15 degrees, they should alternate between long (9mm) and short (4-5mm).  You only want a single line, because 1 pass of the laser creates the perfect amount of kerf to hold a playing card.
  4. If the lines are spaced at 30 degrees, they can all be long (9mm).
  5. Add a radius where the line intersects with the OD of the circle.  This creates a lead in for the cards, and will make them easier to slide into the slots.

Step 2: Cut Out the Pieces With a Laser Cutter

I use a laser cutter to cutout a whole bunch of connectors in just a few minutes.

Don't have a laser cutter? Look to see if there's a Tech Shop, Hacker spaces, invention studio, or university near by that has one which you can access.
  • Cut a corrugated cardboard box apart at the bends.  Select faces that are flat, and in good shape.
  • Place the flat piece of cardboard inside the laser cutter.
  • Focus and Align the laser.  Select the correct settings for cardboard.
  • Upload the files that you created to the laser.
  • Press go, and watch to make sure that it cuts correctly, and doesn't catch fire.

Step 3: Start Building

Once the connectors are cutout, you're ready to start building awesome structures, bridges, shapes, animals, hats, and whatever else you can imagine.  

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