Before you can begin building your bridge, you need to round up all the materials you will be using. You should have familiarized yourself with any restrictions regarding materials in the Design Process. If you are given the freedom to choose your own materials, you need to look at the pros and cons of each type to make the best decsion for your situation.
Typically, model bridges are made from wood and bonded together with wood. This is by far the most common scenario, but you might also be facing a paper bridge challenge, or perhaps welding something out of metal. The principles of gathering materials are the same no matter if you are using wood or not. Garrett’s Bridges will focus on wooden bridges, but we offer some advice on other materials as well.
Even “wooden” bridges is not a precise definition. You might be using:
- Popsicle Sticks
- Balsa wood
- Other (bamboo)
Material selection is a huge topic and we have dedicated an entire category to it.
Read more about material selection
Getting the Right Tools
Having a few tools will make building your bridge much easier, and will help you be more precise in your construction. Chances are you have everything you need in your home already. Here is a quick list of the most used tools.
- Cutting tool: Saw/Exacto knife
- Gram scale
There are three main things you need to make building your bridge a success.
- A table (avoid using the nice kitchen table)
- Good lighting
- Good ventilation
The last item, good ventilation is important if you will be using any type of glue.
You need a strong glue to hold your bridge together. However, you also want a light glue that dries relatively quickly, is easy to work with, and is inexpensive. Finding a balance of these traits is sometimes hard to do. Don’t worry though, we cover most of the common types of glue on our Glue Tips page.
Build the Bridge
Now that you have a design and have gathered all the materials you need, you can move on to the actual construction of your bridge. Here is a simple process that you can adapt to meet the specific needs of your materials.
- Tape down top and bottom chords
- Glue on truss
- Repeat for other side
- Make two piles of books
- Tape the sides of bridge to the inside of books
- Glue on top lateral bracing
- Glue on bottom lateral bracing
- Double check bridge is perfectly vertical
- Finish adding any additional bracing
- Weigh the bridge
- Record weight and all specs
This page is an overview of the building process for building model bridges. Lots of links have been included throughout for further reading, but there are even more articles related to bridge building.
To access those, go to the Building Article List
If you have something to add, share your wisdom here
If you are looking for pre-designed bridge plans or kits, check out our store
You can also download the full 5 Steps to Building a Model Bridge ebook for free here:
5 Steps to Building a Model Bridge
Are you Ready to Break this Bridge?
Once you are done building your bridge, you are ready to Break It.