How to Build a Geodesic Dome

Roll up your Sunday paper and create your own geodesic dome.

You’re barreling toward cold, dark days filled with nothing to do, which means now is the perfect time to spend those hours building your own geodesic dome to hide — um, play — in.

Adapted from Nomad Press’s “Amazing Math Projects You Can Build Yourself” by Lazlo C. Bardos, this dome is an elegant structure that lets you channel your inner Walther Bauersfeld, while building with the very newspaper you are reading.

Throw a sheet over the top and you’ve got a perfect hide-out for hours of play or some much needed alone time.

  • Full double-page sheets of newspaper

  • Bamboo or metal skewer, if you have one

  • Strong tape, preferably duct tape or gaffers tape

  • Scissors

T.M. Detwiler

Step 1

Roll a double-page sheet of newspaper from corner to corner around a skewer to help get a tight roll. After a few turns, remove the skewer and continue rolling as tightly as possible.

T.M. Detwiler

Step 2

Once rolled to the end, tape down the remaining flap. This is your first strut. You’ll need to make a total of 65 struts of two lengths: 35 at 21 inches long, and 30 at 18 1/2 inches. Before cutting, your strut will be about 30 inches.

T.M. Detwiler

Step 3

Once all 65 struts are rolled, trim them to the required lengths. When trimming, cut from each end to ensure you’re using the strongest middle part of the strut.

T.M. Detwiler

Step 4

Place 10 of the long struts on the floor with the ends touching, to create a decagon.

T.M. Detwiler

Step 5

Inside the decagon, use two short struts to make a triangle with one of the longer struts in the perimeter as its base.

T.M. Detwiler

Step 6

Now use two long struts to create a triangle the same way next to that. Repeat the small and large triangle alternating pattern all the way around.

T.M. Detwiler

Step 7

Tape the ends together where the struts meet, creating joints.

T.M. Detwiler

Step 8

Tape 10 short struts to the triangle tops, making another decagon. Whenever you add a round of struts, secure them with tape.

As your structure rises, it may be wobbly. Don’t worry, it will be flimsy until the last piece has been added.

T.M. Detwiler

Step 9

Place a short strut facing inward at every other joint (five total).

T.M. Detwiler

Step 10

Using long struts, connect the base of the innermost decagon with the tips of the small struts you just added, creating a star pattern.

T.M. Detwiler

Step 11

Use five long struts to connect the bases of the triangles you have just created and make a smaller pentagon.

T.M. Detwiler

Step 12

Finish by placing a short strut at each joint pointing inward and securing the ends together in the center. Climb in and enjoy.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

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