General Instructions for Folding and Gluing a Polyhedron
There are a number of ways to make polyhedral models. The patterns on this web site are geared toward making models that can be folded up and glued along tabs. However, you can use these patterns to make models using other methods.
- Select the type of paper to use, Most models will look better and hold up better with a heavy-weight paper like card stock. You can buy card stock in a variety of colors or you can use old manila folders.
- Print the pattern. If you can't print directly onto the material you are using either because it is too heavy to go through the printer or because you would like to make a model free from markings, print the pattern on normal printer paper and thentransfer the pattern to the paper you are using.
- Staple the pattern to the piece of paper that you will use (if you are going to transfer the pattern to card stock). Stapling will hold the pattern in place so you can score and cut without the pattern slipping.
- Score fold lines on the pattern. Scoring is making an indentation on the paper (compressing the fibers) so the paper folds easier along that line. If you are making the model out of boxboard or corrugated cardboard, you can cut partway through the material on the reverse side of the fold. While scoring can be done after the pattern piece has been cut out, I find it often easier to handle a full sheet of paper.
- Cut out the piece from the pattern. Most patterns can be cut with scissors, but some, tricky spots may require an X-Acto knife. If the pattern has crop lines (dotted lines that show where to cut) on them, you can use them to cut out the pattern using a paper cutter.
- Fold along the scored lines to create a crease. If you want particularly sharp creases, you can rub a bone folder or your thumbnail along the fold. Dashed lines are valley folds and dot-dashed lines are mountain folds.
- Apply glue to a tab and press the tab into place. Hold the glued pieces together for a few seconds to ensure a good bond. Of all my gluing tips, the most important is to use glue sparingly. Work with one or two tabs at a time.
- Apply glue to the final tabs and hold the piece in place. The final face of a polyhedron is usually the most difficult to glue properly. You can insert the end of an opened paper clip into the model at a vertex to help lift the tab and hold it against the face until the glue sets.