Introduction: TUTORIAL: DIY Cardboard Fire Truck Engine


large cardboard box (recommend using a toilet bowl sized box at a local hardware store)

utility knife

long ruler (or T-bar)


tacky glue

clear moving tape

white duck tape

red construction paper (recommend red card stock paper or red glitter paper)

gold card stock paper

black paper plates

(2) 3M Command Hooks

template here (no longer available)

Step 1: Once You Decide on Your Cardboard Box Type, Lift the Flaps of Your Box and Tape the Sides Together.

It’ll add height to your fire truck.

Step 2: Mark Off Where to Cut Out Your Windows (sides and Windshield) and Door.

(Read Step 3 before you cut into your windshield.)

Use a ruler and utility knife to cut your windows and door. (Remember: The sharper the blade, the safer you will be when cutting your doors and windows. I’ve had plenty of bad cuts from using blunt blades.)

I also added a window to the door, the front (aka windshield) and other side. It’ll give your child(ren) a fuller view when playing inside the vehicle, not to mention allow your kids to get in and out of the fire truck without the need to make a door handle.

Step 3: Make a Dashboard.

Before you cut your entire cardboard piece when making the windshield, I recommend scoring it so that it then turns into a dashboard panel for your kids to create their own fantastic design. I used a preexisting fold to create the dashboard (See image above.) Using duck tape (seen above in teal), cover handlebar cut outs and tape the dashboard to the side of the fire truck.

Step 4: Use (leftover or New) Red Card Stock Paper to Cover Your Cardboard Box.

I had plenty of red glitter paper saved from a huge deal at Jo-Anns Fabrics awhile ago, and I decided to use it to add color to the cardboard box.

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t have the box painted red. I am too lazy to drag a box box up the stairs, nor did I want to accidentally paint our basement red. Additionally, I painted our cardboard Christmas tree last year, and green craft paint, which is water soluble, began to change the shape of the cardboard.

Step 5: Use Yellow or Gold Card Stock Paper to Add a Little Color to the Middle Part of the Fire Truck.

Step 6: Add the Remaining Red Pieces to the Top Third of the Box.

Step 7: Once the Glue Adheres Card Stock Paper to the Box, Use a Utility Blade to Precisely Cut Around the Door and Windows.

Step 8: Use Clear Moving Tape to Cover the Edges of the Card Stock Paper.

I’ve had children come over for a play date, which then prompted a desire to peel away what was behind the covered cardboard box. It’s fun, and it’s what curious minds do. But the box ceases to be a play kitchen or fire truck once the color card stock paper is stripped. Thus, to help minimize the chance for accidental removal, taping the edges would seal card stock paper and give it a cleaner look.

Step 9: Make a Cardboard Ladder.

Take a long cardboard piece and mark off pieces to cut out with a pencil and ruler. Evenly mark out where you plan to cut, so that your cardboard turns out like the image below. (Unfortunately, I made the ladder after the I had made this tutorial. If you would like to further instructions, please send me a message, and I’d be happy to explain further.)

Add two 3M Command hooks to the back of the fire truck. You can add it to the side of the cardboard; but for our fire truck, it covered the window and inhibited the view from inside the truck.

Step 10: Add Embellishments With Duck Tape, Print Outs, and Black Paper Party Plates.

I made some embellishments to add a personal touch to the fire truck. Linus’ favorite number of the week happens to be #14, so the truck is from station #14. (Cute, ehh?) I added a grill and alternating red/orange flashing lights to the front. Then I added red brake lights to the back (See Image in Step 9.)

Take four black paper party plates and glue them to the sides of the cardboard box. Add white duck tape to the corners to add detail and color on your fire truck.

Step 11: Let Your Kids Decorate!

Step 12: Voila! Project Complete!

I can’t tell you how much fun they’ve had together playing in their fire truck. It’s just too cute!

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