The “magic” folding cube is made up of 8 single cubes. When you buy a folding cube from a store, it is usually a picture cube. The faces show nine different pictures, six outside and three inside. Here is a store-bought model which has pictures of works of art by Van Gogh.

Each person needs 8 cubic inch wooden blocks, 2-inch wide Scotch (or other) packaging tape, 24 colored dots, for example, 8 pink, 8 green, and 8 yellow; a marker; and patience!

Before you start, cut sixteen one-inch-wide strips of packaging tape. Stick them lightly along the edge of a table so they are ready to use. (These one-inch by two-inch strips will exactly cover the faces of two cubic inch blocks, creating a hinge.)

Before building the folding cube, first study the positions of the eight hinges. You join eight equal cubes (cubic inch blocks) with eight pieces of packaging tape (shown here in orange), exactly as shown in the diagram. Do you see that there will be eight hinges? |

Each hinge needs to be reinforced. You do this by using two pieces of tape for each hinge, placing the second piece on the side opposite to the first piece. So you actually use 16 pieces of tape. (Click here to see how the first three reinforced hinges are made.) This makes a folding cube that is quite durable and fun to play with.

We have numbered the hinges one through eight in the picture above, and the ones below.

We used green dots to cover the front and back faces (with hinges 1 and 4), and pink dots to cover the left and right faces (with hinges 3, 5, 2, and 6):

Finally, we used yellow dots to cover the top and bottom faces (with hinges 7 and 8, and with no hinges):

Here are two configurations you can make:

And of course you can turn it inside out and hide all the dots:

Now, if instead of dots, you want to cover the cube with pictures, you will need nine of them. Six should measure 2'' x 2'' and three should measure 2'' x 4''. You glue or tape the pictures onto the proper surfaces. (Study the pictures above to determine the correct placement.) You will need to cut apart the small faces with a knife. Cut only the edges where there are no hinges.

Here is the animation showing where the eight hinges are. The blue rectangles represent tape. (Note that the animation does not show how to reinforce a hinge on both sides.)

And here is an animation showing how the cube folds and unfolds:

We thank Jürgen Köller for information from his website, http://www.mathematische-basteleien.de/magiccube.htm