Soda Straw Stuctures

A relatively simple way to make geometric structures using plain soda straws.

You are welcome to use this procedure as you wish. All I ask is that you give me credit:

Michael J. Patten

and email me as to where and how:

The trick is the hinges that hold the struts together.

How to Cut

Since you will need two hinges for every strut, you must cut the straw into thirds (one strut, two hinges)

Measure a representative straw (hold several straw in a bundle and discard the long and shorter ones).

Divide that measurement by three.

Mark on straw down that distance; cut.

You now have a template for all other cuts.

Hold remaining straw end by end and cut remaining pieces.
(note, the last piece may be longer or shorter than the rest, but since it will be a hinge, it is not as important).

The first cut should be uniform and used as the strut (the uniformity of length will become apparent if you attempt building complex geometric shapes).

How to fold hinges

The piece that will make a hinge should be flattened.

You can roll the straw between your fingers and you will feel where the straw was made (it should flatten easier).

Fold the flattened piece down the middle (it should want to fold one way more readily than another).

Bend the folded piece in half.

Notice that the hinge now has a "V" shape, which may be useful to combine in your structure for natural tendency to bend one direction or the other).

How to assemble

If you want to construct straight-line structures, place hinges in opposite directions.

For geometric structures place hinges with "V's" the same direction so that they naturally tend to fold in the angle direction.

During complex, multi-layer structures, construct inner structures first, working out.

I use this method to make the 5 Platonic Solids and the 13 Archimedes Solids
(of course they are now NOT solid)
as well as models of any geometric shape you can imagine.

These models are not that stable.
You could stabilize them by putting a staple or other wire through the strut and two hinges.

Contact Information

Please feel free to write with suggestions on improving this instruction.

Electronic mail address

Hey, spam just proves that someone knows I'm alive (the delete key is handy)

Back to Top

Copyright 1938-2002, Michael J. Patten
Last revised: February , 2002