Cardboard Toy Horse




About: I'm a creative content creator here at instructables, which means that I have the most awesome job making just about anything and everything! My passions are interior decor, fun and innovative children's pla...

What's better than making a toy for a child out of upcycled material that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing to the adult eye? Inspired by Eames' famous plywood elephant, but without the fancy price tag, and innovative cardboard furniture, I turned sheets of regular corrugated cardboard into an incredibly sturdy toy horse! Great for all ages, this horse can either be cut by hand with the help of an exacto knife or shaped by a laser cutter.

In this Instructable, I'll show you how I made a great kids' toy/ chair. Let's get started!

Step 1: Drafting & Cutting

Initially, I hand-drafted designs of what kind of shapes I wanted the horse to have. Then, I digitally drafted a few versions in Adobe Illustrator. I've uploaded the document of the horse in case you want to duplicate the design. Feel free to do so.

I used an Epilog Laser Cutter to cut my lengths of cardboard to the exact silhouette of the horse. However, this project can easily be adapted to suit any material you have at your disposal. In my case, I used cardboard and a laser printer, but you could use plywood and a jigsaw or just cardboard with an exacto knife, which may take you longer, but would be so gratifying in the end.

While digitally designing the horse, I kept in mind that I would need dowels to reinforce all the pieces of cardboard and to keep them together. I made 1/2 inch holes strategically at four points, two at the legs, one at the head (as an eye) and one at the rear (tail). These are important to the design, as we will be placing 1/2 inch plywood dowel rods through all the holes.

Step 2: Gathering Cuts & Deciding Width

I didn't know exactly how thick I wanted the horse to be, so I kept cutting sheets of cardboard until I was satisfied that the horse would be stable and not topple over. Ultimately, I used 57 sheets of cardboard, which equated to a 9 1/4 inch width. I could have gone thicker, but for my target audience (18 month old tot) I wanted her to be able to easily "mount" and sit comfortably on the horse.

Step 3: Gluing

With all pieces cut, I was ready to begin gluing. I chose to use regular white school glue, which proved to be a wonderfully strong adhesive for this project, surprisingly. I glued around the perimeter of the horse with some squiggles of glue on the inner body. Then, I placed a another cardboard cut out on top and lined up the edges. I found that exacting it at the corners made this process significantly easier.

Although the cardboard seemed perfectly straight to my eye, when I placed one sheet atop of another, they didn't want to stay attached, so I put 'weights' on top of every layer to make sure the glue had enough time to dry, allowing the two pieces to adhere.

I found it easier to work in groupings of 4 sheets, gluing all together, then adding to the larger glued group, placing weights on top of it all. This process was tedious but I wanted to the end product to be clean and the edges straight.

Step 4: Drying & Testing

I allowed the entire piece to dry for 2 hours (in a warm room) then I tested the strength of it by having a friend who weighs 160 lbs sit on it. It held up without any trouble! So it would hopefully be indestructible for a toddler. Hopefully.

Step 5: Adding Dowels

Now to reinforce the horse, I added the 4 1/2 dowel rods. Basically, I took a rod and forced it into the 'pre-drilled' holes. It was getting difficult at some point, so I enlisted the help of a mallet, which I hit the rod with. It went down smoothly after that. After all four rods were in, I used a small saw to cut the rods. This was really easy, as the dowels were made of plywood. This would ensure that the rods were flush with the outter sheet of cardboard, and that no rod was left poking out dangerously.

And that's it! You're done! Enjoy the look on your tot's face when they see the awesomeness you made for them!

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    13 Discussions


    6 months ago

    love this toy, I am starting this project for my kid due in march!! thanks for sharing it.


    4 years ago

    This is a terrific project, thanks for sharing it!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    i wonder if there is a way to add wheels to this, and what would they be made out of?


    5 years ago

    How about adding one more sheet of cardboard to each end, but without the holes. Then the dowel holes would be invisible and wouldn't run the risk of poking out. Maybe stick some faux fur to the sides for the kids to pet.

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is really great. I think, if it were me, I'd maybe shape the 'horse's back' on the outer few layers to create a slightly narrower seat. It'd be easy to do, and might make the seating position a tad more comfortable. It may be worth experimentation, but this is really nice as it is.


    5 years ago

    Could you use the dowels
    as assembly guides then
    weighted it down


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Glad I could be of service to test the integrity of the horse!