Polyhedron Models

Construction Techniques and Tips

rednote.gif When it comes to the study and appreciation of polyhedra, there is nothing as instructive and satisfying as holding an actual model in the hands. A great deal of understanding about the symmetries of the icosahedron can be had by simply spinning one on your finger tips!

The first and most important step for producing high quality models is in the construction of accurate templates. By using a template pieces can be made quickly, and yet each piece will be highly uniform.

On stiff cardboard draw an equilateral triangle with a side of, say, 2 inches. Make your drawing as accurate as possible, and mark the vertices by pushing a pin through them. Draw a border of about 2/10 inch around the triangle and then cut it out (the border will become tabs that you will glue together to join two pieces).

Now use your template to draw several triangles on good quality art paper, and then cut these out. Stack 3 or 4 triangles with your template on top, and push a needle through the stack at each of the vertices.

Using a straight edge and needle, score the paper triangles between the holes. Finally, cut off the corners, and fold the resulting tabs down along the scored lines.

Glue the tabs of four triangles together and you have a tetrahedron, your first polyhedron model! (I assure you, if you go through the process outlined above just once it will all become clear - just do it!)

Ok, having completed the above exercise, you are ready to construct templates for the square and pentagon, making sure that they each have the exact same edge length as your triangle. From these three shapes you can construct a large number of highly interesting polyhedra, such as the cuboctahedron, snub cube, and rhombicosidodecahedron!

Additional Construction Tips