Inspire Your Kid To Explore The Galaxy With A DIY Shoebox Rocket Ship

To Foot Locker ... and beyond!

by Barry Neeson
Originally Published: 

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As a child, some of my favorite times were new shoe days. Not because I wanted new shoes. No, it meant a new shoebox to make something out of. Friends my age have children of their own now but they don’t seem to get as excited as I did about shoeboxes.

This instructable is not a direct “how to,” as all the materials are pretty much just household objects that you may have laying about and subject to what you have, but it may give you some inspiration.

The Shoebox Spaceship makes a great day project for a parent and child and is limited only by how many random bits and pieces you have laying around. This seems like quite a long instructable but it really isn’t.

Step 1: Stuff You’ll Need


“Bits and bobs.” Start accumulating before the project you can end up with a fair amount of great stuff. Plastic packaging like battery packs, toilet paper/kitchen roll tubes, and Pringles tubes are all great additions to your stash.

Paint. I used spraypaint, but any will do. Acrylic is less likely to make the cardboard go soggy.

Oh, and of course a shoebox.


PVA glue (takes a while to dry but can be sped up with a hair dryer), glue dots, or a glue gun.



Craft Knife.


Step 2: Shaping Your Spaceship’s Nose Cone

This will vary depending on your shoebox, so if it seems vague I apologize.

For mine, I untucked one end. This gave me extra cardboard at the end that I could shape into a more “spaceshippy” type front. I did this by bringing the side edges in at an angle and marking it off with a pen and then marked the side panels. I trimmed these down and taped/glued it all in place. Once I shaped the nose cone, I cut a window into it.

I then trimmed back the lid so as to not interfere with the front.

Step 3: Windows And Doors

You want to make sure that whatever toys you are using can get in and out. I am using My Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (What? I’m a fan!) as my size gauge.


Use your toy to mark out a door big enough. I have done it on the side that doesn’t have the flap so it doesn’t interfere with the door opening and closing.

Cut it out but don’t throw away the part you just cut out.

Take a separate piece of cardboard and make a bigger square. This will be your outer part of the door. I used the handle section of a box of wine to get that look (pictured). Attach it to the smaller section. The smaller section will fit in the gap holding the door in place. To make the hinge, cut a small rectangle the same width as your outer door, leave a small gap, and join them together by putting tape on both sides.

Attach the smaller piece to the main body of the ship.


Here I am using the lid off of the Pringles tube. Using the lid, I mark out on the box where I want to place them. I then mark a smaller circle inside this one and cut that out.

I also cut a part off of the lid to make sure it doesn’t get in the way on the other side.

On a separate piece of cardboard, draw round the lids again and once again make a smaller circle inside. Cut out this hoop and attach it onto the lid and attach these over the window holes. If you are going to spray paint it you may want to keep the smaller circles to use as masks.

Step 4: Rocket Boosters!

What’s a spaceship without rocket boosters?!

I take 2 toilet roll tubes and attach them together. I then attach some bits to make it look a bit more space ship like (these were the clips from a set of parasol lights).

I then attach them to the rocket, making sure the lid doesn’t interfere with their placement.

Step 5: Exterior

The first thing I did was make a “fin” that would act as a foot stand when the lid was open. I measured it up so that when the lid was open it would touch the floor and help keep the spaceship from tipping over.

I then set about attaching random bits and bobs to give it a more spaceship look, mainly the plastic bits from packaging and other bits of cardboard to look like panels. I even used an old bubble blower as the antenna.

Blobs of glue from a glue gun make good rivets.

I skipped ahead a step so you can see what they look like painted (in the last photo).

Step 6: Landing Gear — Making It Move

To make the landing gear, I took some of the dispenser caps off of the laundry liquid and attached them to some toys cars I got — 3 for a pound, and I made sure to take the extra lights off for use on the ship.

I then glued them in place (glue gun is very handy for this) and attached some bits and bobs before attaching them to the base of the ship.

It rolls quite nicely and if you were inclined you could attach some string to the front so it could be pulled along.

Step 7: Paint It Up

I used spraypaint, but any will do. Acrylics would be my next choice, though.

At first, I was going to leave it white but opted to go with a darker color as you will see in the next few steps.

Step 8: Front Window And Seats

Front Window

I took a flat bit of plastic packaging and cut it to match the inside of the window shape, remembering to leave extra around the outside to glue it in place.


I took some more toilet roll holders and measured it out so my toys would fit, then cut away the extra length (keep that aside), and cut 2 slits. I then folded the inner part inside to make a seat with armrests, then rolled up the off cut and glued it on like a headrest.

I attached the seats to the inside by pushing a split pin through the base of the ship and the seat. This lest the chairs swivel around (I also ended up painting these too).

Step 9: Ready To Go Where No Man — Ahem — Turtle Has Gone Before

And we are done. You are now ready to travel to galaxies far, far away in a spaceship made from a shoebox and stuff that would normally end up in the trash.

I didn’t do much with the interior but you could add all sorts of boxes, panels, and gizmos to really kit it out (possibly another instructable).

I hoped you enjoyed this instructable and as always thoughts/comments/criticisms and even pictures of your own spaceships are welcome.


[H/T] Instructables

Barry Neeson has worked as a Tattoo Artist, Community Artist, and Freelance Artist. He likes making instructables that everyone can make as he understand that not everyone has a 3D printer or laser cutter.

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