Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas 3d Train Set Assembly Guide

This 3D  project is reminiscent
of the days when the electric train was set up
to circle the trunk of the Christmas tree.
Constructed completely from cardstock (with embellishments)
the train has engine, coal and box cars
that can be purchased and downloaded as cut files.
Available (soon) from Silhouette America,
SVG Attic, and SnapDragon

Locomotive measures 
approx. 8" long (without cowcatcher) x 5.5" tall x 3.25" wide.
Coal car measures 
approx. 4.25" long x 5" tall x 3.25" wide,
and its open top could carry wrapped candies or other treats,
or double as a gift container.
Box cargo car measures approx. 7.5" long x 6" tall x 3.25" wide.

Assembly tutorials for all three are included in this extensive post.

1. Identify and cut the shapes.
A box base 
B wheel support structures (2)
C wheels (base plus decor overlays)
D box lid
E barrel hull with accent bands and front
F smoke stack (upper and lower shapes)
(not shown is accent band for stack)
G light tube housing with "lid" and lamp oct
H cowcatcher with decor bottom strip
I box hull with holly decor shapes
J cab structure with window rims, side accent panels and opening cover
K main cab roof
L cab roof top accent
M back coupler shape

NOTE: Find the tiny "F" cut into the front tab of each of box LID and BASE to help orient the attached housing shapes and wheels, etc. as assembly progresses.

2. Build the box lid and base. Fold the shapes on all perforations as "mountain" or inward folds.

Bring the straight side edge to overlap the short corner tab and glue. Complete this seam for all four corners of each LID and BASE of box.

3. Fold back (to the box's inside) and glue  the rim edge flanges in place.

4. Prepare the wheel support structures. Fold the long and short edge flanges outward as "valley" folds. Fold all other perforation lines as inward or "mountain" folds. NOTE that the side containing the hole cutouts includes a flange-like extension at the top that DOES NOT fold back. Instead, it will attach on the inside of the BASE's perpendicular "wall".

5. Bring the angled straight side edges to overlap the short side flanges and glue in place.

As each of these types of seams are executed, be sure to be as accurate as possible to bring straight edge to align exactly at perforation line. The more accurate the construction from the start, the more easily your project will fit together throughout.

6. Apply glue to the face side of wheel support edge flanges, and to the outside vertical extension (like a flange, but does NOT fold down).

Drop the support box into the corresponding opening of the BASE box so that the flange tabs are on the inside of the BASE, and the face with the wheel brad holes is to the outside of the BASE box. Apply pressure to make sure all flanges seat properly and attach completely.

Complete for both supports.

7. Assemble the wheels: 2 large with snowflake and rim ring on circle base; 4 small with candy swirl overlay on circle base.

8. Prepare a stack of 4 wheel washers for each of the 6 wheels. (These will space the wheels away from the locomotive body so that the box LID assembly does not push the upper part of the wheels away undesirably.)

Insert a small accent brad through wheel front, through washer stack . . .

. . . and then through the wheel support housing punch hole. Bend the brad tabs back securely, but loosely enough to allow wheels to turn, if desired.

9. Prepare the barrel hull structure. Attach the front band accent shape while the hull is flat.

Bend the barrel perforations and tabs back as "mountain" folds.

10. Fold the front back perpendicular to the hull body so that the tabs can be inserted under the straight edge segments of the front barrel edge. Glue each front tab in place to corresponding hull edge segment.

11. Prepare the light assembly. Fold the light tube shape on vertical perforation lines. Overlap the straight end over the tab and glue in place.

12. Fold the bottom edge tabs back, and then straighten again to insert into the opening on the hull front.

13. Apply glue to the face surface of the tabs, and fold back to glue securely to the inside of the hull front.

14. Prepare the light "lid". Fold the narrow rim on perf marks so that it forms a ring. Overlap and glue the end edge over the tab.

Fold the octagon top back and ring edge tabs inward. Glue the tabs to the undeside of the octagon top.

15. Insert the "lamp" octagon inside the lid . . . 

. . . then add glue to the inside edge of lid and place over the light tube on hull assembly. Apply pressure to ensure that it is glued in place.

16. Prepare the smoke stack.

Form the upper portion by folding all tabs and edges inward as "mountain" folds, except fold bottom edge tabs outward slightly.

17. Fold each top section straight edge to overlap the adjacent tab and glue in place. Repeat for each of the 6 segments.

18. Overlap the straight edge with each of the two corresponding side tabs and glue each in place (one at a time) to complete the side seam.

19. Form the lower portion of the stack by creating a tube, overlapping the straight side edge at the side tab perf line.

20. Insert the upper section bottom tabs into the top (non-tabbed edge) of the tube, adjust so that each "faces" of upper and lower match up, then glue tabs in place on the inside of tube.

21. Fold the top hexagon into place and glue to the top tabs. It may be helpful to use the end of a new pencil inserted into the tube's end to press the tabs in place against a flat hard surface.

22.  Insert the stack tab ends into the opening on barrel top.

On the inside of hull, fold the stack tabs back and glue in place.

NOTE: the space at the side edges of the hull's top panel are not wide enough for the entire tab to be "seated". Trim those tabs back to match the available space before gluing in place.

23. Insert the side bottom edge tabs of hull into the corresponding slots on the box LID, first one side, then the other.

24. On the LID inside, fold the tabs outward and glue in place.

NOTE that the front of the barrel hull acts as a "tab" to extend down on the outside of the box LID. Glue this in place also.

25. Prepare the box hull by folding the three side panels back from the hull's front (location of circle finger hole and slots), and also fold tabs with perforations back. Line up the side upper straight edge with corresponding tab perf line and glue in place.

NOTE that the lower side edges of this hull will extend down on the outside of the box LID sides similar to the barrel hull front edge. A rounded decorative tab extends back from this portion of the box hull and SHOULD NOT be folded back as a tab.

26. Slide the box hull into position behind the barrel hull, inserting the barrel tabs into the box hull slots, allowing the lower side edges to be positioned on the OUTSIDE of the box LID.

Make sure the box hull is completely seated before gluing.

27. On the inside of the box hull, fold the tabs inward and glue in place, using the finger hole to apply front and back pressure to tabs and hull. 

Also glue the lower sides in place.

28. Prepare the cab body. Position and attach the window rims and side panels (offset from cab edges slightly) while the shape is still flat.

29. Insert the lower edge tabs of the center portion of the cab shape into the corresponding slots on the box LID . . .

. . . then move the cab to be perpendicular to the box LID to insert the box hull tabs through corresponding slots in the cab front.

Fold all tabs inward and glue in place, using the finger access opening to assist applying pressure to tabs and cab.

30. To cover the tab construction, apply glue to backside edges of cover shape, then position and attach in place.

31. Swing the cab side edges to align with box LID edges and glue each in place.

32. Prepare the cab roof main section by folding edges back on perforation lines. Insert tabs behind corresponding straight side edges and glue in place.

33. Place the roof section over the cab top and insert cab tabs through corresponding slots in roof. Fold tabs inward and glue in place.

34. Build the roof upper accent "lid", then position and glue in place over the roof. NOTE that this accent lid is slightly offset (larger) than the roof.

35. Slide the LID assembly over the BASE assembly, working to carefully ensure that the wheels remain on the outside of the LID's rim.

Make sure the LID and BASE are fully seated, then apply glue between the rims to join these securely.

36. Prepare the coupler "hook" shape by folding on the short end flange perf line, and at the center.

Fold the shape so that circle cut outs line up, then glue the surfaces that come together to join. (Leave end flange unconnected.)

37. Position and attach the coupler hook as shown, centered on the back edge of the box LID, with the flange extending downward to attach to the side boxing of the LID, with the upper portion attaching to the top surface of the box LID that has become the cab's interior.

38. Prepare the cowcatcher by adding the lower rim accent shape while it is flat. Fold on the center vertical perf line and on the horizontal top decorative tab line. the narrow tab and the upper portion back on the angled perf lines. Bring straight edge to line up with tab perf line and glue in place.

39. Apply glue to the upper decorative tab, then position and center across the front of the box LID.

(NOTE: I also added decorative black studs to the rounded ends of the catcher for fun.)

And after 39 steps, you're finished!

CC1. Identify and cut the shapes.
A BASE box main shape
B wheel support structures
C wheels (layered circle with ring and star) with wheel washers
D (not shown) rim reinforcement shapes
E LID box main shape with post openings
F car body panels main shape
G car body front panel
H posts (2) 
I ball finial slice form shapes (2 sets)
J panel accents (not using contrast panels)
K coupler: hook (right) and post 

CC2. Build the LID and BASE boxes as was done for engine.

CC3. Build the wheel support boxes in similar manner as for engine.

CC4. Slot in and attach the wheel supports to box BASE in similar manner as for engine.

CC5. Assemble (4) wheels with star and rings on circle bases.

CC6. Prepare washer stacks, then assemble wheel and stack with small accent brad.

CC7. Insert brad with wheel assembly through punch hole on wheel support. Fold brad prongs back on the inside.

CC8. Prepare car body shape by folding on end tab/flanges, then overlapping straight edge of side panel to perf line of front panel.

CC9. While car panel is flat, attach the accent shapes, including the panel outlines, two-part reindeer, corner flourish (and contrast panels, if desired; not used here).

CC10. On the backside of the panel, position and glue in place the corresponding rim reinforcement shapes, taking care to match upper edges, and ends with side edges or perf lines.

CC11. Fold the body shape to form a tube, then align and attach the straight edge at perf line as side seam.

CC12. Fold the upper coupler post shape at cross-perf line, then center and attach at the bottom of the front panel (fold aligned exactly at lower edge of panel at each side of tab).

CC13. Prepare post. Fold on perforation lines, all inward. Form a tube to bring the straight edge to overlap the side tab and glue.

CC14. Add dab of glue to each, then fold the mini tabs at post "lid" inward. Fold the "lid" down so that the tabs are inside the tube.

CC15. Insert the post end tabs into the hex opening of the attached coupler shape. Fold the tabs outward and glue in place on the underside of coupler.

The coupler upper shape with post should appear somewhat like this.

CC16. Form the posts by folding on the long vertical perforation lines. Fold into a tube and attach tab under opposite straight edge.

It may be helpful to insert a tool such as a new pencil into the post tube to provide a "press-against" surface to join the seam.

CC17. Insert the tab end of each post into the opening on the box LID.

In order to keep the pose opening free to insert the corner side tab of the car body shape, trim away the side tab of each post at the perforation line.

Fold tabs back and glue to the under surface of the BASE.

CC18. Slide the car body over the posts to insert the front, back, side tabs into their corresponding slots. Corner tabs insert into the side edges of the post openings.

On the backside of the LID, fold the tabs and glue in place.

CC19. Apply glue to the post surfaces that touch the car body, apply pressure appropriately to attach posts securely to car.

CC20. Fit LID over BASE in manner similar to engine. Glue in place.

CC21. Prepare the coupler hook by folding end tab back, folding at center perf mark so that circle cut outs line up, then gluing together the surfaces that match up.

CC22. Apply glue to the upper and lower tab extensions, then center on the back of the coal car so that upper tab glues to the top of the LID, and lower tab glues to the LID's boxing (vertical) surface.

CC23. Prepare slice-form ball finials for posts. For each ball, use 4 circle shapes and 2 circle/stem shapes. All have center perforations. 

Fold each as "valley" fold on center perforation.

CC24. Glue a circle shape half to the corresponding half of a stem shape. Add a second circle shape to the glued-on circle, attaching the half backside surfaces tp form a three-part unit.

CC25. Prepare a second three-part unit. Place the two units back-to-back and glue together the half circle surfaces that line up.

(NOTE that the bottom half stems DO NOT glue to each other, or anything.)

CC26. Prepare a second finial unit.

Insert stems into the tops of each post.

The coal car is now complete . . .
and can be joined to the engine's
back coupler by placing the "hook" circle cut out
over the coal car's front coupler post
as you can see here.
B1. Identify and cut the shapes.
A (below) main chassis box BASE
A (above) back hook coupler
B wheel supports (4)
C wheels
D wheel washers
E front post coupler brackets and post
F main chassis box LID
G car housing sides (2) with large side trim (2), end trim (2), side slats (6), side vertical ties (for "back" only), end diagonal tie (2).
H roof
I roof bump out with end vent grilles in place
J roof accent
K emblem assembly accent for "front" side
L wreath assembly accent for back
NOT SHOWN: interior wall support shape

B2. Prepare the box LID and BASE in a similar manner as for the engine and the coal car.

B3. Prepare the (4) wheel support assemblies in a similar manner to the engine and coal car. 

B4. Insert and glue wheel supports in place in the four openings in the box BASE, in a manner similar to the engine and coal cars.

This is how the BASE box looks with the first wheel support in place.

B5. Prepare the (8) swirl and circle wheels.

Layer with a four-stack of wheel washers. Thread onto a small decorative brad . . .

. . . then insert through the punch hole in the wheel support. Attach all 8 wheels.

B6. Prepare the car side housing halves with accent shapes while the housing is still flat.

Accents include the edge trim shapes for sides and ends, slats for both sides, heart emblem assembly for "front" side, vertical tie slats for "back" side, wreath assembly for end.

B7. Fold the top and side flange/tabs back. (NOTE that the bottom edge tab shapes do not have perforations and should not be folded, but remain flat extensions.)

B8. Overlap the edge to perforation line for the first side seam and join. Form the sides housing into a tube and join the other side seam.

B9. Fold the top edge flange/tabs back and glue on the inside.

B10. Insert the bottom edge tabs of housing into the edge slots on the LID box top.

(This may take some patience to work all tabs in without letting tabs already inserted pull out. Make sure that the tabs do not slide between the LID's rim edge tabs which were previously glued in place on the LID inside.)

Once in place, apply glue between LID rim and tab to attach housing to LID.

B11. Prepare the center wall support shape by folding the pairs of tabs on two sides and bottom in opposite directions.

B12. Apply glue to tab surfaces, then insert the wall into the housing "box" and attach to side walls and bottom at the center point. Be sure that the support is fully inserted and seated against the LID top surface.

B13. Prepare the roof "lid" by folding back ("mountain" folds) all edges and flanges. Join tabs at corners, then fold rim flanges back, in a manner similar to the way the LID and BASE were assembled.

B14. Prepare the "bump out" for the roof by folding edge perforations up as "valley" folds, all other tab and housing long perforation lines back as "mountain" folds. Glue end vent grilles in place while the shape is still flat.

B15. Join the side tabs to corresponding sections of the center portion by overlapping straight edges to tab perf lines and gluing one by one.

B16. Insert the bump out shape into the opening in the roof lid from the underside. Glue edge flanges to the roof lid backside.

B17. Fold the accent roof shape back ("mountain") on perforation lines. Apply glue to the underside area that will attach to bump up top, then position (center end to end) and attach.

B18. Place the roof "lid" onto the box car housing. You may decide to leave this lid detachable so that the car can be used as a divided container. OR, you can glue the lid rim in place.

B19. Prepare and attach the coupler post unit in a manner similar to the coupler unit assembled for coal car.

Attach the coupler to the front end so that the extension of the post lines up with the joint of the LID to the housing.

(This image shows the ladder already attached, which is described in the following step.)

Attach the hook coupler, if desired to the car back end. (If you don't plan to build and load more box cars, the back coupler may not be necessary to prepare and add on.)

B19.  Attach the ladder to the "front" end, with the bent-back mini-tabs on the top hooking onto the roof lid top surface.

(If your box car has roof assembly glued in place, you may also want to glue the bottom ends of ladder in place.)

That finishes up the box car assembly.
Couple it on to the engine and coal car.


  1. wahoo!!!! c'est magnifique vivement qu'il soit en vente merci

  2. merci ça y est je l'ai acheté sur silhouette one line , c'est magnifique, !
    maintenant au travail
    bonne sopirée

  3. That is just wonderful! Thank you so much! Your instructions are so good; I really appreciate them. I can't wait to assemble mine.

    1. Thanks for kind words, especially since you commented BEFORE the actual text explanations were included.

  4. What type of glue do you use? I have some Tombow, but it doesn't seem to hold well.

    1. We use Tombow mostly. Also have used the Scotch brand that is similar, which has a nicer lid for keeping the tube upright so that it is ready to apply right away. Recently at a scrapbook event we were told about a "fast good grab" liquid glue called ZipDry but not sure what we think yet.

    2. I love my Tombow. I finally got it to work. I was putting too much on. I'll share a link when I finish. I changed some of the colors.

  5. I love this design and would dearly love to make it for when my grandson visits at Christmas. Unfortunately every time I try to load it into the Silhouette Studio it crashes and closes. Has anyone else experienced this problem or does anyone have any suggestions?

  6. Apparently this is a widespread problem. We have broken the file up into two parts to assist with this, but Silhouette doesn't have a way to deal with it. Send me an email at with your request for the files you have purchased. Let me see if i can get them back to you.

  7. Wonderful tutorial!. Can't wait to start this.

  8. Love this. Just purchased the files. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial. I was wondering what size is the best to cut the trains and cargo cars? Can it all be cut on a 12x12 page or do I need to break up the pieces.

    1. You will need to rearrange the shapes to cut from different colors of your choice. All shapes of one color may fit onto one 12x12 sheet, but it may require more than one 12x12 for some.

  9. Well, I have this the files for this little train set and whilst it is lovely I am having one heck of a time trying to figure out the pieces. This is my third day at this. It would be helpful to have a 'scratch map' of each section. The file open with all the pieces the same colour - I have managed to go through each files and colour the pieces, it has taken forever - I have cut most of the pieces but I really would appreciate a clear reference. Has anyone, apart from Jodi, completed the project. I must add I am not keen on jigsaw puzzles so maybe that is my problem. I am going to finish to file. It would be handy to print the file for reference but Silhouette doesn't allow that.

    1. So sorry you are having difficulty. This is an advanced file and project. The tutorial is very thorough, and it was hoped that the layout shapes image with letter identification and descriptive words for each of the "cars" in the train would help you identify the shapes, even when they open in different configuration in the cut file you have downloaded. I would suggest enlarging the image on your computer screen until you can see the shapes clearly enough. Then compare the colors in the flat shapes layout to the completed project for more identification help.

      I know many people who have completed this project.

    2. Thank you, Jodi, all is going well; It was easier for me once I coloured the various pieces in each file - just me! It is a cute project,

  10. Thank you, Jodi, I'm getting there - I just find the files all in one colour a little confusing! I have recoloured all the pieces and this make the pieces easier to sort out. It is a very cute project.

  11. Hola, encuentro en Silhouette sólo la locomotora, pero no el vagón, ni el carro de carbón. tu los puedes vender por fuera?