Sunday, July 27, 2014

Airplane Box Card Assembly Tutorial

Feel the wind beneath you
as you create this card in a box with propped up wings,
spinning propeller, pilot's compartment with seat and wheel,
suitcase in the back seat, and clouds behind the tail fin.
The card is basically a bottomless box that folds flat for sending,
but then opens and has engine flat fold into place
to become a miniature airplane.

NOTE: The finished model pictured above is a remake from
the model used in this tutorial construction.

1. Identify and cut the shapes:
A left body panel
B right body panel
C bridge strips (3)
D front panel nose cone with circles, prop
E "engine" panel overlay with contrast liner
F tail shape (with overlays above)
G left wing overlay assembly
H right wing overlay assembly
I left body overlay with wheel & strut
J right body overlay with wheel & strut
K windshield assembly with vellum pane
L steering column assembly
M cockpit seat layers
N suitcase assembly
O clouds assemblies (3)
P wheel "washers" and reinforcements

2. Fold the box body shapes at vertical perforations. Attach the wheel reinforcement circles on outside of each piece to align with the wheel hole.

3. Join body halves by overlapping back straight edge with side tab perforation and glue in place.

4. Fold the plane body into a tube to align the remaining body straight side edge and tab perforation line. Join edge at perf line.

5. Fold the nose chassis front "flap" back over the box cavity. Join the nose "circle" front shape to the box, and the chassis engine cover (has grill cut outs) to the upper flap.

6. Fold each of the three bridge strips as shown, folding end tabs back.

7. With the engine chassis folded back, position and glue the front bridge strip to the inner side box edges, taking care that the strip lines up exactly at the inset edge, as shown.

8. After bridge has been positioned, but before the glue has set completely, fold the box assembly into its flat position and apply pressure at the positions where the bridge tabs are joined. This will allow the tabs to adjust slightly, if needed, and set the creases as necessary.

9.  Position and attach the second bridge strip in similar manner, placing it approximately at mid-wing position.

Once positioned and glue, complete the folding and pressing operation noted above in Step 8.

10. Position and attach the final bridge, placing it approximately in the middle of the remaining space between the middle bridge and the back of the box compartment.

Complete the folding flat and pressing operation again.

11. Prepare the left and right body pieces by folding the wing support "triangle" outward as shown. (This image is using a kraft card stock shape to make it easier to see. Also fold the finger tab half circle outward.

12. Position and glue in place the support reinforcement "triangle" shape on the back of the body piece, to align exactly with cut edges and perforation. Take care that the finger tab half circle DOES NOT get glued down.

13.  Attach the tail and star decoration shapes to each body piece.

14. Position and glue in place each body piece on the corresponding side of the box, taking care to align straight top edges, front straight nose edge at front perforation, back tail tip at back perforation.

14. Position each wheel strut "triangle" shape under the wing support area, with punch holes aligned. Glue in place.

15. Layer and attach 2-3 wheel "washer" circles so that they act as one piece. This shape placed on the brad behind the wheel and between wheel and plane body will help the wheels spin better.

16. Layer wheel hubcap circle over wheel circle with punch holes aligned, and glue the shapes together. 

Thread regular size brad through wheel and washer assembly, then insert through body punch hole and bend prongs back.

17. Prepare the three cloud shapes, if desired, layering and attaching the outline card stock "frame" with the velum cloud shape. Position and attach these to the back upward extension of the card.

NOTE: using a dry form of adhesive such as roll-on sheer dots is a good choice that will not show through the opaque vellum.

If you are not using vellum, use the cloud shapes cut from card stock alone, or with the outline attached to the cloud shape.

18. Prepare and attach the tail piece onto the upward extension of the card. Note that there is a partial perf guideline (easily seen from the shape's backside) that is lined up where the side extensions project from the back, to help with the placement.

19. Position each wing decor shape over the corresponding wing shape.

20. Prepare the windshield unit. Provided shapes include the lower frame with "window" cut out, full lower frame shape, and rim. For the sample, a lower full frame was cut from plain vellum as the "glass" of the windshield, with a light gray "frame" that reinforces the vellum, with front and back rims attached at top edge.

21. Carefully position the windshield, centered on the front bridge, so that the lower extension fits into the indent of the engine chassis shape (see Step 7) AND adjusted downward so that the lower rounded edges of the rim can rest on the chassis side extensions. This will help to sort of "lock in" the engine flap when the card is in its opened position.

22. Prepare the steering column by folding the lower extension reinforcement back and upward below the center "square", then back down again at the perf mark just beyond the underneath "square" shape and at the middle perf mark as shown here.

23. Glue together the surfaces the match up so that the column looks like this.

Also, at the bottom end of this assembly, a short portion will fold back slightly. This is the area that will attach to the "toward-the-back" surface of the front bridge.

24. Attach the front and back grip constrast shapes, and the square and circle on top of the center.

25. Position and attach the lower folded back portion of the column to the front bridge, centered, and adjusted low enough so that grip tops don't extend much above the windshield rim.

26. Assemble the base and overlay shape of the cockpit seat. Fold the lower seat portion forward. Apply adhesive to the lower portion of the back side (approx. 1/4" to 3/8" area only), . . .

. . . then position it on the front of the second bridge.

27. Assemble the suitcase by layering the smaller front rectangle aligned at lower left, with handle, corner and strap details on the smaller rectangle shape as shown.

28. "Dry fit" the suitcase at the front of the third bridge to determine the angle you prefer and observe where the adhesive will be applied between the surfaces of each that will touch. Then glue the suitcase in place.

29. Join 2-3 "washer" shapes (black shape in my left hand here). Assemble the propeller stack by threading front circle (blue here) with propeller and larger contrast circle (orange here) with washer behind onto a regular size brad. Then thread the brad through the hold on the front of the card nose shape.

30. When the card is open, fold the side triangle extensions outward to help support the wings.

Here is the plane box card finished and open.

And just for fun, here is a second version.

Here is the card in its flattened shape.


  1. I just wanted to come over from the Silhouette store and say this card and the school bus card are really amazing - great work!! :)

  2. Jodi, I just finished making this card for my soon-to-be 5 year old who loves Dusty from Disney Planes movie. It is absolutely perfect! Thank you so much for another unsurpassable file!

  3. I got this file from the silhouette store to make for a friend's 50th birthday and I want to thank you so much for the instructions. I would have had a terrible time putting it together with them. Still not sure I got the steering wheel rights, but works for me. I also decorated my box while it was flat. It was easier for me. Can't wait to see what else you come up with!!