Cardboard and Duct Tape Solar Oven




This instructable is about a solar oven I made out of an old picture frame, two cardboard boxes, some duct tape, aluminum foil, white glue and crumpled newspaper. You will need to find a picture frame. I used regular glass but tempered glass would be better as it gets very hot and could shatter if you spilled cold water on it.  I think I used about a 12 x 14 frame, not sure as it was a few years ago. What ever size glass you find will decide the size of the inner box and the outter box should be 2-3 inches larger. You need to cut a hole in the larger box to fit the inside box then crumple up some newspaper and pack between them.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1:

    Next thing after the box is in the hole and newspaper is packed between them is to tape it up.

Step 2:

      Next I lined the inside with aluminum foil using white glue. After I tested it I extended the foil out of the box and over the top. I also reversed the door so the tape was on the outside. Sorry I have no photos of the modification.  I used two layers of Duct Tape for a hinge on the back of the picture frame. 

Step 3:

    Next are the reflectors. I made them out of cardboard but corrigated plastic political signs would work perfectly (After the election and with permission)   I cut out the cardboard and applied white glue and flipped it over on to a sheet of foil shinny side down. Trim the foil after it dries and add Duct Tape around the edges. The best angle is around 60 degrees off the glass. I was just learning when I made this so my angle was off so I corrected that later, again no pics.

Step 4:

   Time to start testing. I tryed different methods of aiming the oven by blocking with rocks, bricks or leaning it against something. Found it didn't do a very good job of baking rolls as they came out hard as a rock but I cooked a chicken breast in it in 2 1/2 hours. I had to tweek the reflectors to get the right angle for the sun to focus on the pan. I poked some holes and used a shoe lace to adjust the light beam.

Step 5:

    I poked a hole through the back and inserted a probe type thermometer. I had it up to 280 degrees when we was in Arizona on a nice February. We used this oven for a couple weeks then I built "The Solar Baby"  a pivoting, gimbled solar oven, I made 2 instructables on Solar Baby 1 and 2, made mostly with recycled parts and reach 350F. This project is what got me hooked on solar cooking. We have been on the road in our motorhome 3 years and only use our propane oven on cloudy days.

Cardboard and Duct Tape Contest

Runner Up in the
Cardboard and Duct Tape Contest



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Metal Contest

      Metal Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge

    15 Discussions


    1 year ago on Introduction

    Hey Aleutianwind, what an awesome tutorial!! We are featuring this on our site as a project to take action on renewable resources with an accredited nonprofit - you can find it here:

    Thank you so much for the fantastic step-by-step guide!!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    How did the dog door work out? What did ya use to get the dog into the oven?

    (n'yuk -n'yuk)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I've used a similar solar oven as my only oven for ten years or so with ordinary window glass, and never had it break from dripping water on it (temps to 350 degrees in its youth, with a black-painted interior). I have broken the glass several times from the wind blowing the oven over--the reflectors unfortunately make very effective sails. Double-strength window glass lasts better than single strength.

    I have baked pies in my oven, if a bit slower than the recipe recommended.

    The frame you incorporate is a good touch. Wish mine had had one. Air leakage from the glass just sitting on the cardboard top downgraded the efficiency of my design over time. A caution about the duct tape, though. It works for awhile (if away from the hot portions; the plastic melts) but eventually will fail.

    Your Solar Baby designs look great. However, I'm working on a plywood and sheet aluminum version of my cardboard build since it has worked pretty well for me. I will post it when it's done.

    3 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Was wondering if you completed your new oven. I have lots of questions, this is so exciting to see people being so initiative! Ive heard about these ovens and looked into them before but there seems to be so much more practical,tested sources here. How long does it take to cook different foods? And Im wondering if plexy glass would work okay.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Not yet. I've got the framework built, but then got sidetracked building a dog door.

    How long it takes to cook things will depend on how hot your oven gets, but it is generally slower than cooking in a regular oven--perhaps an average of half again as long? I wouldn't use plexiglass. I have not tried it, but the glass gets hot enough to burn your fingers. There's a good chance it'd collapse onto your food, not to mention the fumes it could release.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I agree, the dollar store picture frame for glass window is a great, cheap, ready-made solution!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice job !…
    A great project to read in a rainy, cold, overcast saturday ! LOL

    Thank you all the same !…