Under 2 hours
Follow along to build a simple toy crane that can move anything from a paperclip to a piece of paper. From their favorite toys to crafting supplies, this little crane moves it all and provides hours of playtime fun!
Set Up Your Workspace
Tools and materials included:
- 1 body
- 1 base
- 1 cab
- 1 winch
- 1 hook
- 1 piece of string
- 1 arm
- 1 sticker sheet
- 4 axle pegs
- 4 wheels
- 6 nails
- 1 long screw
- 1 short screw
- Wood glue
- #2 Phillips screwdriver
Sand, Glue and Nail Base
- Start with sanding each wood piece to remove any rough edges. Remember to sand in the direction of the wood grain.
- Glue and nail the pieces together. Allow glue to completely dry.
- Lay the base down. Start with 4 nails.
Nail Together the Body & Base
- Lay the body down.
- Place the base on top.
- Make sure edges are even.
- Nail them together.
- Turn it over.
Nail on the Cab
- Lay the cab down with the nail holes on top.
- Start with 2 nails.
- Place the cab on top of the front edge of the body.
- Make sure the screw hole is not covered.
- Make sure front and side edges are even.
- Nail them together.
Screw on the Winch
- Place the winch on top of the body with the screw holes matching. Using a #2 Phillips Screwdriver, attach them together with the long screw.
- Slide the wider end of the arm into the cutout in the winch and align the holes. Attach them together with the short screw. Adjust the short screw so that the arm is not too loose or tight.
Add the Wheels and Stickers
- Slide an axle peg through each wheel.
- Put a dot of glue on the end of each axle peg and insert it into peg holes.
- Tap with a hammer if necessary.
- Add the stickers.
- Push one end of the string into the hole in the arm and tie a knot.
- Push the other end of the string into the hole in the hook and tie a knot.
Note: If you are painting the project, do not paint inside or around the peg holes. Painting inside or around the peg holes makes it difficult to insert axle pegs. Also do not paint the joint area of the winch and arm to make sure the arm moves. Allow the paint to dry completely.
Enjoy Your New Game!
Congrats, you've successfully built your own toy crane! Use your crane to move small objects around.
Make a Home Version
Kids love the wonder of cranes! With this DIY crane project, your child can build their own crane out of cardboard and common materials found around the house! Challenge your child to see what loads they can lift!
Trace Templates onto Cardboard
- Cardboard (2 to 3 pieces at 8 1/2 x 11 inches)
- Craft stick or popsicle sticks
- Yarn or string
- 4 half-gallon or water bottle plastic caps
- 4 machine screws
- 1 paper clip
- Craft paint
- Hot glue
- Black marker
- Utility knife
- Hot glue gun
- Phillips #2 screwdriver or other pointy tool
- Hammer (optional)
This DIY crane comes with printable templates that can be printed out on your home printer. Click here for the crane body template, and click here for the crane cab and winch template. Using a pencil and cardboard, trace the three patterns onto the cardboard.
Cut Out the Crane Outline
Cut out the DIY crane templates using a utility knife (or scissors). The templates should be cut out on the dotted line. Once the template is cut out on the dotted line, gently cut the template on the solid lines, being careful not to cut all the way through.
Peel off the excess cardboard around the perimeter of the template, leaving a layer of paper that will be used to cover the seams when the rectangle body is folded up.
Crease with Your Fingernail and Fold
Using your fingernail or a blunt edge, crease gently along the seams. Fold along the creases, deeping the folds. Practice folding the cardboard box into a rectangle and see where there might need to be some trimming of the 3/8-inch edges in order for the box to fit nicely together, with the paper covering the seams.
Trace the Cab and Winch
Download the free template with the crane cab and winch. Your home printer will print them to size. Trace them onto the cardboard and cut out with a utility knife.
Cut and Fold the Cab and Winch
Following the previous steps, use your fingernail or a blunt edge to crease the cardboard box at the fold lines. Trim any excess paper that won’t be needed for covering up seams. Use hot glue to secure the paper edges over the seams.
Place a 1-inch long cut in the middle of the winch.
Attach the Cab to the Body
Hot glue the body and cab together. If you’d prefer, you can make one solid body and cab combination if you’d like, or you may use the templates to create separate pieces.
Use a straight edge or ruler to draw a line down the middle of each four sides of the body.
Paint the Body and the Cab
Now is the best time to paint the body and cab since all surfaces can be easily reached. You’ll need about two to three coats of craft paint. Use a yellow-orange on the top and dark gray on the bottom.
Paint the winch black and set it aside to dry.
Paint and Attach Wheels
Using the four plastic milk or water bottle plastic caps, spray paint them or use craft paint to paint them black. Don’t paint the inside or the black spray paint will smudge the craft paint.
Once dry, use a Phillips screwdriver and/or a utility knife in the center of the cap to poke a small hole.
Push the machine screw through the hole and snap it into place.
Mark on the crane body where you’d like the wheels to be placed. Using a pencil point, poke a hole and then insert the machine screw wheel into the hole. The threads will hold the wheel in place. But if you’d like a little more security, use a bit of hot glue.
Attach the Winch to the Crane
Decorate the arm, then use a utility knife to carefully create a hole in the top. Hot glue the winch to the crane body. Insert the arm into the 1-inch slot in the winch. Thread the yard through the hole, creating a knot. Tie a knot around the paper clip, as well.
Get creative with your DIY crane! Use a black marker to outline the windows, windshield, and lights. Use white paint to paint them in. Use your imagination here!
Whether you purchase one of The Home Depot Kids Workshop kits, or you make your own out of cardboard, your kids are sure to enjoy this fun project!
With our kit and a few basic tools, you and your child can build this toy crane together. Or get creative and gather some household supplies for a real DIY build. Have fun playing with this crane by lifting up stray paperclips and putting them back where they belong.