How to Make a Model Cable-Stayed Bridge

by Tad Cronn

Cable-stayed bridges are similar in appearance to suspension bridges. The difference is that a suspension bridge transfers energy to the bridge ends, whereas a cable-stayed bridge transfers all energy to one support, the cable stay pylon. Make a model of a cable-stayed bridge to help you understand how the bridges work, or use it as an attractive addition to your model collection.

Items you will need

  • 12-by-30-inch fiberboard
  • 2 balsa wood blocks, 6-by-6-by-4-inch
  • 24-by-6-by-1/8-inch balsa sheet
  • Craft knife
  • Craft glue
  • 12-by-1-inch dowel
  • 4-by-1-by-1-inch balsa block
  • Sewing needle
  • Nylon thread
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Step 1

Glue two 6-by-6-by-4-inch balsa wood blocks, so that the short side is vertical, at the farthest ends of the 12-by-30-inch fiberboard. Let the glue dry for one hour.

Step 2

Cut a 1-inch diameter hole in the exact center of the 24-by-6-by-1/8-inch balsa sheet using the craft knife. Measuring from the center of the large hole, poke a small hole with the sewing needle in the middle of the wood sheet every 2 inches. Make the holes large enough for the needle to pass through.

Step 3

Cut a 1/8-inch-wide notch on one end of the 12-by-1-inch dowel with the craft knife.

Step 4

Glue the ends of the balsa sheet to the two balsa blocks. Let the glue dry then push the dowel through the hole in the center of the balsa sheet, making sure the notched end is up. Glue the 4-by-1-by-1-inch balsa block directly under the dowel to support it.

Step 5

Create the bridge's cables. Put a knot in the end of a piece of thread and, beginning from the underside of the bridge, push the needle and thread through a hole in the bridge, over the notched end of the dowel and down through the corresponding hole on the other side of the bridge. Make the thread snug, tie off the end with a knot, reinforce it with a drop of craft glue, and repeat for the other bridge cables. You should have four cables per side, all meeting at the top of the cable stay.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paint your model bridge for extra realism.

About the Author

Tad Cronn is a professional journalist living in Los Angeles. His columns have appeared in the "Los Angeles Daily News," the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," the "Orange County Register" and other publications. He is an award-winning illustrator, author of "The Lynx," and an experienced handyman, model builder and gamer.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images