Papercraft Pirate Chest




Introduction: Papercraft Pirate Chest

About: Recently a papercraft freak, but looking for more ways to create beautiful things!

In this Instructable I'd like to show you how I made my first pirate chest made entirely from paper.

Recently I've found a lot of amazing papercraft projects, but this time I decided to make my own :)

Let's begin!

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Step 1: Making 3D Model

First I started with an idea drawn on paper.

Then I've found online program, that creates 3D objects-

It's really easy, and before you start it will walk you through basics.

The most important thing to remember, is to make sure, that entire object fits in working area. If not, further steps won't work. Don't worry about the size, it may seem small, but later we can change it.

I wanted the lid of my chest to be able to move, so I created a fold (blue thing), but later I realized that I don't need to do that in Tinkercad (I'll explain this step later).

When you're done, simply export to .STL file (on the right side of the page).

Step 2: Opening Pepakura

Next step is in another program- Pepakura Designer. It helps you unfold the 3D object into 2D model, that later you could put back in 3D from paper. It's like building a dice from 2D into 3D, but this will be a little bit harder (not too hard though).

1) Open Pepakura Designer

2) Open your previously made .STL file. A window will pop out, simply press OK (for auto detection).

3) Then another window will appear, choose 'No Flip' and then OK.

4) Last window will pop out, press 'Finish' (without changes of colors).

5) After that, you'll see how your chest looks like unfolded, meaning in 3D.

6) Choose option 'Unfold'. That will change the model into flat one. You'll see, that everything fits on 1 page, it may be difficult to put everything together from paper (elements will be too small). Next step will change the size of it.

7) Either you can go to 2D menu --> Change scale or use Ctrl + L (to enlarge the model by 10%) or Ctrl + J (to zoom model out by 10%). Change your scale until your satisfied with the size of the model. To measure the size go to: 'Menu 2D --> Edit mode --> Measure Distance Between 2 points' and simply choose, which line you want to measure.

8) Next step is to add flaps (which are used to glue 2 pieces together). You don't want them too be too big, and too small either. I've found that 4 mm is the best size for me.

2D menu --> Edit mode --> Edit Flaps --> Choose shape (I chose the one on the right side) --> Change height to 4 mm (or what's best for you)

9) Some objects will be too big to fit on 1 page. You can cut them into smaller pieces by using 'Divide/ Connect Faces' or Ctrl + N. When you drag the mouse on fragment you want to cut, make sure that the line color will change to green. Don't worry if you cutted too much, you can later look for corresponding faces and join them back together.

Green line --> Cut Shape

Red line --> Find corresponding line

10) Step to remember for future (if you want to work on more complicated projects) is how to segregate certain objects on different sheets of paper (you can use it to print some objects on different colored paper).

After you scaled and cut your model, simply drag corresponding objects into same page (I separated chest fragments from lid fragments). To make it even easier later, you can write on those pages what are you dealing with.

Choose 'Input text' from menu or Ctrl + T.

Remember, when you move objects around the page in 2D section (right side), to make sure, that nothing touches dotted line. If it does, it won't be printed on the paper.

Don't forget about numbering flaps before you print them. After that, you'll know, which flap should be glued where.

Go to 2D Menu --> Show Edge ID

11) Change printing settings for cardstock.

Then go to Settings --> Print & Paper Settings --> Choose option 'Print lines clearly (Vector print)'

After that, you'll be sure that every line is printed correctly.

12) Unfortunately, free version of Pepakura Designer doesn't have 'Save' button. But worry not! You can go to 'File --> Print to PDF. This way, you can come back and redo this project anytime.

*) As I mentioned before, in Tinkercad I've made a fold, that I'm not going to use. So I didn't print that part. I'll make a fold later, you'll see :)

Step 3: Printing & Cutting

Now it's time for printing!

Make sure, that you're using cardstock (normal, printer paper is to thin for this project). I'm using 65 lb (176 g/m^2). You can find it in every craft store.

After you printed every page, it's time for cutting. This step takes the most time. Make sure you're cutting only solid lines. For me scissors doesn't work, I use scalpel or X-Acto knife with ruler. That way straight line remains straight.

Take your time! You don't want to slice your finger or page in half...

Step 4: Scoring

After you cut every piece, it's good to score the dotted lines.

Either you can use scoring tool or if like me you don't have one, use blunt knife. Don't press it too much, you just want to make a tiny score, which will help you fold lines easier. As with cutting, I'm helping myself with ruler.

You'll notice, that there are 2 kinds of lines:

Mountain fold - - - - - --> Fold it, so edge will be on top (from the side it will look like ^, like pick of the mountain)

Valley fold - . - . - --> Fold it, so edge will be at the bottom (from the side it will look like V, like bottom of the valley)

I find it better to score everything first, before I start gluing. But it's up to you, pick what's best for you.

Step 5: Gluing- Fun Begins!

After you score every piece, it's time to start gluing!

First I like to segregate pieces on the table, so later it's easier to find corresponding numbers, instead of looking for hours to find one number.

Again, take your time, before you put glue on folds, try to figure out if it's the right place to start. If you think it's OK, go for it!

To make a fold, that I mentioned before, I simply measured the length and width of the chest, cut it from remaining paper (making sure that I cut double width) and fold it in half. You can see it on the last picture, that helps to close and open the chest.

Step 6: Painting

This step is optional. I wanted to make a pirate chest, so for me natural step was to paint it. I looked up some pictures, to have an idea how I want the chest to look like.

It's up to you! Use your imagination and create :)

Step 7: Finished!

That's it! If you have a friend, that's a pirate freak- that would be perfect gift for him/ her.

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    8 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago

    Would it be possible if I could get the .STL file or even the pepakura file?


    3 years ago

    I have tried this software before. I may try again. If I follow your directions I may have more success and learn how to use the program. Thanks.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I'm sure you'll make it! The hardest thing is to start ;)


    Reply 3 years ago

    or finding un-interrupted time to work and think.


    3 years ago

    These were the best instructions I have seen! Thank you for your help and careful attention to detail!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you so much! Share a picture if you make it ;)


    3 years ago

    That's cute! This would be fun for party props :)


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you! You could make a pirate party and hide gold chocolate coins in it ;)