I recently asked people what they wanted to learn to make this year. One of the early responses to my survey was from a woman who likes to make 3D paper items and was interested in lighthouses. This was the perfect idea for my next project – a paper lighthouse!
I live in Michigan. We have a significant amount of coastline along the Great Lakes and a significant number of lighthouses. After searching online and looking at several, I opted to make a paper lighthouse that has a very traditional design.
This week’s post is a 3D paper version of the Belanger Park Lighthouse. Belanger Park is about an hour from where I live and close to where I work. I like the shape of the lighthouse and thought it would work well as a 3D paper lighthouse.
You can light up the 3D paper lighthouse version of the one at Belanger Park with an LED tea light, too!
About Belanger Park Lighthouse
Wedged between mighty steel mills and the towering DTE River Rouge Power Plant, Belanger Park in River Rouge is a fascinating island of calm amid the industrial expanse of downriver Detroit. The lighthouse is a recent addition, a product of community volunteers and donations. Its 20 watt light when passed through the lens can be seen for ten nautical miles…https://www.detroityes.com/webisodes/2005/02-downriver/03-ballengerpark.htm
Materials and Supplies
(This post contains affiliate links to some of the items I used in this project. It just means that you will help to support my blog if you make a purchase after clicking the links. There is no added cost to you!)
- Designs from my Resource Library
- Main Lighthouse: 1 sheet white card stock (12″ x 12″)
- Railing and Trim: 1 sheet redwood-colored card stock
- Roof: 1 sheet brown or slate card stock
- Lower Windows: 1 sheet or scrap of Yellow paper
- Stonework: 1 sheet light brown paper
- LED tea light (4.5″ circumference maximum) – I found these cool white tea lights!
Cutting the Paper Lighthouse
I have tried to design the Belanger Park Lighthouse pattern so that it can be cut by a craft machine or by hand.
- The hand-cut pattern is in the PDF that is my Resource Library
- The craft-machine-cut pattern is the ZIP file of the .SVG files in my Resource Library
There are five .SVG files:
- The main portion of the light house (the white wood slats from the photographs)
- The red-tone trim and railing
- The light brown stonework along the bottom of the walls
- The darker colored roof
- Yellow for some color behind the windows on the lower walls
The files have both cut lines and score lines. Scoring makes folding easier and gives you crisper folds.
When you pull the .SVG files into your software, you should see shapes and lines. Anything that is a line is a score line. If your machine does not score, then delete all these stand-alone lines.
The Cut Pieces
When all the cutting is done, you will have the following:
White Card Stock
- Lower part of the paper lighthouse
- Top portion of the paper lighthouse
Red Tone Card Stock
- Front door
- Awning over front door
- Window frames for top windows
- Window frames for lower windows
Brown/Slate Card Stock
Light Brown Paper or Card Stock
- The lower portion of the bottom section of the real Belanger Park lighthouse is made of stone. This paper represents that stone.
Yellow Paper or Card Stock
This is the backing color behind the windows on the main portion of the lighthouse.
I will walk you through each section of the Belanger Park Paper Lighthouse in the order I made mine.
Add Backing Color on the Lower Windows
Before you fold the lower section, turn the paper over so you are looking at the inside of the lighthouse. My white card stock is a dark slate color on its back side (the inside of my lighthouse).
Apply some glue around the outer edges of the 6-pane windows and attach the little yellow pieces of paper. This is the color that shows through the windows when looked at from the outside of the lighthouse.
Lower Window Frames and Door
Turn the lower walls section of the lighthouse over so you are looking at the outside of the lighthouse walls.
Set out the thee matching widow frames and the door.
Using the three matching window frames, add glue to the frames and center them around the 6-pane windows.
Apply glue to the back of the door and center it over the one stone cutout that has part of the paper left uncut to accommodate the door. Line up the bottom of the door with the bottom of the “stonework” cutout.
Lower Walls “Stonework”
Note: if you are using a glue that doesn’t set fast, you may want to wait a little before moving on to each step.
Turn the main part of the lighthouse so that you are once again looking at the inside of the lighthouse. Fold along all the score lines, folding toward the interior of the lighthouse.
Fold the light brown sectioned-arc that represents the stonework of the lower walls.
Lay in some glue along the top edge and the left and right edges of the openings for the stonework. Line up the light brown piece so that its lower edge lines up with the bottom of the cut openings and the folds align with the folds of the lighthouse walls.
Set this aside so all the glue on this lower section of the lighthouse can set.
Top Windows of the Lighthouse
The window openings on the top part of the lighthouse do not have backing paper. You could back these with a translucent paper but I wanted my cool-white tea light to be clearly seen from ten nautical miles… I mean feet. 😉
Working on the outside of the top portion of the lighthouse, glue the six window frames around each of the windows. Make sure your frames are evenly centered over the windows and do not extend beyond the score lines.
Set this aside to let the glue set.
The Roof Shape
All of the folds for the roof piece are to be folded toward the interior of the roof.
Make sure your folds/creases for the bottom tabs are sharp/crisp.
Apply glue to the vertical tab of the roof and join the roof into its cone shape. Set aside to dry.
The railing is the most delicate piece in this lighthouse. The folds will take a little patience.
There is a score line that is near the edge of the main hexagonal shape of the “floor” of the railing piece. This is the fold line for the railings. On each railing piece there are two narrow tabs. Each of these has a fold line, too.
To help with folding the bottom edge of the railing, I pressed my thumbnail into the fold line as I fold toward the inside. I shift a little and press again.
Continue until the whole length of the railing is folded.
Repeat for all the railings. Fold in all the tabs on the railings.
Go back and make sure your folds are nice and crisp using either a fingernail or a burnishing tool (or the edge of a credit card, etc.).
The only glue for this piece is to glue the tabs to the adjoining railing.
I hold these together with my Sewing clips (I love these!) while waiting for the glue to set.
Lower Portion Folds and Assembly
Go back to the main lower portion of the lighthouse. All of your folds should already be folded. Apply glue to the long vertical tab and join it to the opposite side of the lighthouse body. You may need to hold on to this as the glue sets. This lighthouse is small enough that I can fit a finger into the inside at each end to help pinch the tab to the body as the glue sets. I used Tacky Glue and only had to hold this for a minute before moving on to the next step.
Apply glue to the lower tabs, fold in the base hexagonal shape, and line up the edges of the lighthouse to its base.
Set the lighthouse on your work surface.
Use a pen, a chopstick, or some other similar long object, reach inside the lighthouse to press the tabs to the bottom hexagon.
Upper Lighthouse Folds
Go back to the upper section of the lighthouse. Fold along all the score lines.
There is a set of three tabs along the bottom of this piece. Do NOT fold these three tabs. Fold along all the score lines toward the interior of the lighthouse.
Apply glue to the vertical tab and attach to the opposite side of this lighthouse section.
Apply glue to the tabs on the roof. Fold the hexagonal base of the roof and align the edges of the hexagon base to the edges of the roof. lightly pinch along the edges so the tabs are affixed the roof base. Work around the roof with your pinches until the glue is set enough to let go of it. If you are using the Tacky Glue, this should not take too long. Or, you can set it aside while you go do something else for a few minutes.
Apply glue to the top tabs of the upper portion of the lighthouse. Press the upper portion of the lighthouse onto the base of the roof. Align the hexagonal shapes of the roof and the lighthouse section and center the lighthouse section onto the roof.
Hold this until it is set enough that it does not shift on its own.
In my tests on this design, centering the railing was a challenge. I came up with a method that does not rely on you trying to “figure it out” or eyeballing it.
The railing floor has three slots cut into it that align with the bottom three tabs of the top portion of the lighthouse.
Press the tabs into the slots and set to the side.
Take the bottom portion of the lighthouse. Make sure the tabs are slightly raised from the horizontal. You want them sticking up a little vs. pressed into the interior of the lighthouse. Apply glue to the top three tabs. Be sure to not add too much glue. The top three tabs are at every-other wall of the bottom portion of the lighthouse.
While holding the top portion of the lighthouse and the railing, line up the bottom tabs of the top portion of the light house with the wall sections of the lower part of the lighthouse that do not have tabs. Insert the tabs into these sections and press together.
Attaching in this manner will perfectly center the railing and top section onto the bottom section of the lighthouse.
While this glue is setting, periodically lift the top section of the lighthouse to make sure it is not getting stuck to the railing. If you did not over-do the glue, you should be fine. You want to keep the top section so that it can be separated from the bottom section but leave the railing attached to the lower portion of the lighthouse.
There is a tiny rectangle cut from the red colored cardstock that has a score line down the middle. Fold along that score line so that the awning is at somewhere around a 90-degree angle.
Run a bead of glue along one edge of the awning. Set the awning above the door. This piece is small enough that you should be able to eyeball it.
Light up the Lighthouse!
The assembly of the lighthouse is done.
Lift off the top section of the lighthouse. Turn on your cool-white LED tea light and set it on top of the railing, centered between the cut slots in the floor of the railing.
Re-insert the tabs from the top portion of the lighthouse into the slots in the railing.
Your lighthouse can now warn all the paper ships nearby not to run into the shelves.
You can get the patterns to all my DIY and craft projects in my Resource Library by signing up for my weekly newsletter.