How to Make a Model Car With Household Items

cardboard box image by MAXFX from

Things You'll Need

  • Corrugated cardboard box
  • Car photos (optional)
  • Pencil with eraser
  • Utility knife
  • Cutting board
  • Rubber cement
  • 2 ballpoint pens
  • 2 jumbo paper clips
  • 4 matching plastic milk or bottle caps
  • Duct tape

You can make a detailed model car using a few common household items. Because models are small scale representations of full sized vehicles, one that is based on an existing car needs to closely follow the design features and form to be easily recognizable. Making a model car from household items is an inexpensive way to learn the elements of model making and custom design, without spending the money on a kit.

Disassemble a sturdy corrugated cardboard box until all the sections are flat and single panel width.

Sketch each panel of the car's outer body in pencil directly onto the cardboard using a real car or photos as reference. Draw the side panel of the car only once -- you can trace it to create a copy for the other side. The hood, roof and trunk panels must be 4 inches wide or less so the axles will fit.

Place the cardboard outlines on a cutting board and use a utility razor knife to cut them out carefully. Trace the cutout of the side panel and cut out the duplicate.

Apply rubber cement to the sides of adjacent section panels and press them together. Allow the glued connections to dry for 15 minutes before continuing. Reinforce the adhesive by painting an additional thin layer on all the panel joints once they are all fully assembled and dried.

Pull the ink and and pen assembly from the plastic tubes of two ballpoint pens and keep the tubes. Straighten out two jumbo paper clips and slide one into each of the empty pen tubes. Even out the paper clips so the same lengths are protruding from either end of the pen tube.

Bend the protruding ends of the paper clips at a 90 degree angle and press the corner at the beginning of the bent portion into the center of a plastic milk bottle cap. Use duct tape or other strong adhesive tape to secure the paper clip ends to the plastic cap wheels.

Cut parallel notches in the underside of the side panels so the pen tube axles can be pressed into position. Make the notches deeper if the body is resting too high above the wheels. Push the car model gently on a flat surface to see it roll.


  • Color and decorate the finished car model to make it look even more like the car that inspired it. Add details like mirrors, hood scoops and spoilers with masking tape. Spray paint the car and wheels separately to prevent over-spray.


About the Author

Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.

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