When my You Tube subscribers ask me if there is a limit to what can be made with cardboard, my answer is an empathic “no”! As shown in my various Makezine posts throughout the past year, the ways cardboard can be manipulated into ideas ranging from scooters and toys to furniture is far-reaching.

The beauty of cardboard is its simplicity and abundance. Cardboard can be found everywhere for free and it can be bent, cut, shaped and glued into anything you want.

Creative limits are mental barricades we self-impose on ourselves and I broke down my mental barricades years ago. I like showing others that they can do the same! We can also collectively get past the idea of cardboard being nothing more than just recyclable garbage!

This is why I love the world of Make Magazine/Makezine! This site is a collection of individuals from around the world, in varying disciplines, with a similar common desire to create, break boundaries and share inventive knowledge with others. It’s a beautiful thing!

When it comes to my love – might as well call it an “obsession” – of cardboard as a creative medium, I’m always on the lookout for the next challenge to take my skill-set to higher levels of art and design. Create for the sheer sake of creating as a personal challenge. Sometimes I randomly self-generate an idea and sometimes televised pop-culture inspires me.

Two weeks ago, on a stay-in Friday night with nothing but infomercials to watch at 2am, inspiration drop-kicked me in the face! Every channel seemed to have some sort of ridiculous exercise machine guaranteed to ‘melt away the pounds’ and ‘give you the body you deserve!’

I enjoyed watching perfectly chiseled and fit people use zany metal machines that were over-priced and lacked practicality. Selling a dream of fitness for Christmas or the New Year for around $500 (with ‘call now’ special offer easy payment plans to boot)!

My mind started churning out alternative ways to get buffed using a machine handmade in my living room. Elliptical machines looked especially challenging to design and thus the self-imposed challenge was made!

One week and fifteen glued sheets of double-corrugated cardboard later, my elliptical experiment is now complete. My constructed Cardboard-O-Flex elliptical machine is able to sustain my weight with just construction glue keeping it together. Truthfully, I was unsure if this first attempt would stay together once my full weight was applied, but it has and I couldn’t be happier.

100% made out of cardboard and can hold up to 200lbs.

100% made out of cardboard and can hold up to 200lbs.

This was the first cardboard craft I’ve made that requires above-ground maneuverability. Unlike a rocking chair or my scooter design, the legs of an elliptical have to be free-floating above the floor. The legs of the elliptical had to support my 185 pounds of weight while being able to move back and forth with the handlebars and guide wheel. In the beginning I had no idea how many layers of cardboard were needed to support my weight and keep the device stable. I made an educated guess based on past inventions and went from there. At least nine layers of double corrugated cardboard is the answer.

The trick is getting on the elliptical by evenly distributing my weight. Cardboard can only take so much downward pressure and uniform balance is the key. Once on and balance is kept, the machine performs as designed. There are still more improvements to be made, but at least I can say that, “YES, it is possible to make a functioning elliptical out of cardboard!” (…not like anyone was asking)

Now, was making a cardboard elliptical practical? The answer is no! Then again, simply eating less and exercising more through walking or jogging each day is more practical than wasting hundreds of dollars on a workout toy destined to become your next over-priced coat rack.

Was making a cardboard elliptical fun, educational and worth the time? Yes, yes and oh yes! I had to problem solve, push my own creative boundaries and innovate to make the cardboard elliptical happen! Furthering your understanding of design is always time well spent!

Another creative feat complete and another year’s worth waiting to be discovered! Can’t wait to share my 2015 ideas with you all!

Have a Merry Christmas and a joyous New Years! Eat well and look towards that heap of discarded gift box cardboard for a low-cost way to burn those festive calories. Cheers!

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