Make your own little pickup truck using safety matches with this guide

It's made from thousands of safety matches.
Christopher McFadden

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Matches are great things for starting fires, but they also happen to be useful building material. To prove this, let's make a model pickup truck from them, shall we? 

Follow this guide to find out how.

match car complete
Source: Interesting Engineering

As you can imagine, you'll need some tools and materials before getting started.

Materials and gear needed

  • Safety matches (a lot of them)
  • Wood glue
  • Wooden skewers
  • Cardboard
  • Pliers
  • Lighter

With all your gear in hand, it is time to get on with this great little build.

Step 1: Make the main chassis

The first step is to take your cardboard and sketch out the basic design for the chassis of the pickup truck. This will be used as a guide for the entire build so make it as big, or small, as you need. 

With that done, cut out the template using a pair of scissors or modeling knife. Next, take your pile of safety matches and cut some of them into very short lengths - basically, just the head with a little bit of the stick remains. 

Begin to glue and lay them into position to the front "bumper" end of the chassis. The cuts don't need to be too clean, as the cut ends will be hidden inside the vehicle.

match car chassis
Source: Interesting Engineering

Add some longer strips of safety matches to the rest of the chassis base. Once the chassis gets wide enough, you can also glue into place full-length matches where needed. 

Step 2: Build up the main body of the truck

With that base of the chassis now basically ready, we can now begin to build up the main body of the pickup truck using more safety matches.

But first, cut out four semicircles of cardboard and glue these into the place where the wheel arches will be. With that done, glue into place layer after layer of matches to match the pattern of matches, and match lengths, on the base of the car. 

match car wheel arches
Source: Interesting Engineering

When you reach the top of wheel arches, build an arch of matches around the cardboard templates as needed. Once done, you can then remove the cardboard template pieces to leave the match-arch free standing. 

Keeps adding matches to the main body of the pickup truck. At strategic points along with the build, you can also add details, like door edges, etc, between the exposed match heads with headless matches as shown. 

You can also add other design features of the car, like the hood, by cutting matches at an angle and building out the features needed.

Step 3: Add the canopy and axles

Next, take some more matches and cut off just the heads. Separate the heads and "tails" of the matches into two piles. 

With the headless lengths of matches, cut and glue into various shapes and arches to make the main supports and axles support for the wheels. Drill holes through the parts were needed to insert the axles later. 

match car axles
Source: Interesting Engineering

Once complete, glue these parts to the underside of the chassis below the wheel arches. With that done, take yet more safety matches, and glue them together to make the main canopy for the passenger compartment of the car. 

Glue this into place on the top side of the chassis as needed.

diy match car canopy
Source: Interesting Engineering

With that done, grab your pile of match heads, and glue them to the main hod of the pickup truck. Do the same for any trims and the "roof" of the matchstick pickup truck too. 

For other features, like the front grille, you can use yet more loose match heads. 

Step 4: Make the wheels

Next, take some wood skewers and cut them down to size to make the main axles for the wheels. For the main wheels, cut a set of circles from cardboard to the correct diameter of the wheel arches. 

Glue the circles to either end of the skewer and begin to build up the wheels using more lengths of safety matches. You can make the design to your liking.

match car wheels
Source: Interesting Engineering

With the wheels complete, glue them into place at each end of the axle onto the cardboard circles as needed. Next, make some more decorative features for the pickup truck using more matches, like the roof rack, and glue them into place as required. 

You can add door handles using short lengths of safety matches to the "door" as well. 

 With that done, your DIY matchstick car is now complete. Now you have a few choices, either place the thing somewhere prominent for posterity or, as in this case, burn the thing to ashes!

Decisions, decisions... 

If you enjoyed this little build, you might enjoy making some more little wooden things from scratch. How about, for example, a wooden robotic arm

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