How to Make a Typewriter

I’m feeling very honoured. This typewriter is the first of my paper models which I put up for sale and it has been sold! I’m so excited, thank you to the lovely buyer in the US. In case you would like to make your very own typewriter, here are the details of how I made it:

1. Sketch out the basic shape on foam board and pin or glue together. It is worth investing some time and research into getting the shape right, as this is the key to a realistic-looking typewriter.

2. Add a piece of foam board for the keyboard. Cover the outside of your typewriter in a light shade of paper and cover the inside where the keyboard is going to sit in a dark shade of paper, which will give the keyboard more visual depth. After some experimentation, I settled on pale blue and brown paper.

3. Cut a piece of round balsa wood as long as your typewriter is wide and cover it with paper.
Cut two round pieces of foam board. They need to be slightly bigger than the diameter of your round piece of balsa wood. Cover all sides of your foam board circles with paper. Push a short pin through the center of each circle and into the ends of the balsa wood. You have now finished the cylindrical platen / typewriter roller.

4. Cut out a rectangular piece of paper, roll it around the balsa wood platen / roller and glue it into place. If you like, you can add a line of printed text onto the paper, to make it look more authentic.

5. For the base of the keyboard cut four small pieces of foam board. All of them should have the same width, but each should be slightly higher than the previous one (1.5mm higher in my case). The lowest piece of foam board should have the same height as the front of your typewriter. The highest piece should be as high as the back of your keyboard field (where the brown paper finishes). A pair of tweezers will come in handy here.

6. To add the letters for the keyboard, it is the easiest if you use a graphic computer program, such as Adobe Illustrator, Freehand or Coral Draw. Layout the keys as they would appear on an old-fashioned typewriter. Print off your keyboard. To give the keys more depth, glue your print onto mount board. Now you just need to cut this to create the keys for your keyboard.
I found that for the scale I was working at (my finished model is 7 cm wide) it looked neater to cut the keyboard in strips only, rather than trying to cut out and arrange each key separately. Glue each strip onto its foam board base and add a spacebar key on the front.

7. Nearly done! Just add a little bit more colour in the form of some buttons, a label and the paper holder on top. Use tweezers to ensure precision.

Viola, there you go! You made a typewriter!


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  1. Sue
    Posted 2 February 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    That is completely adorable and awesome – can I ask what size it is (the dimensions) .. just trying to get an idea of the size! Thanks for sharing and congrats on the sale!

    • Posted 3 February 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Thank you very much Sue! It’s roughly 7.5 cm / 3 inches wide and 9 / 3.5 cm deep. I had so much fun creating it that I’m thinking about making another one. Let me know if you would be interested in more details.

  2. onelmon
    Posted 4 February 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    saw this on craftzine and I love it! thanks for sharing! =)

  3. Posted 4 February 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Oh my goodness, so cute! Thanks for sharing your process

  4. Posted 1 October 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    This is so so CUTE!! I LOVE it!! 🙂

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