Paper rolls is a simple technique I use to make stakes, axles, handles and similar long or thin, round objects.
You could make such of wire, bamboo sticks or other materials, but I prefer to make my models entirely of paper. Fully paper models just work better in my opinion are less prone to damage (e.g. falling from the table what happens to me all the time). A “fully paper textured” models have a sense of consistency that is IMHO always broken when using different materials or painted elements. It does not mean that I never use wire or something like that but I prefer to keep it hidden and avoid where possible. Anyway below you’ll find some tips on how I make paper rolls.
For the purpose of this tutorial I took the fence stake texture from my Meadow Fences set, printed on ~160g/m2 plain paper, and will use clear drying bookbinder’s PVA glue. A ruler and a wide snap-off blade knife will be useful to make first couple folds. This piece is 9cm long and will make quite thick post (approx 3-3,5mm). Most paper rolls I use are much shorter as it is easier to work with shorter elements. However this one is to make fence posts and does not need to be extra thin or pretty. If you need a lot of short stakes it is faster to make longer rolls and cut them to pieces. Here is how I make them step by step.
1) On a printed side crease a line parallel to longer edge about 1,5 mm from it (red line on Fig.1). For really thin elements (eg. ropes or door handles) it can be 0,5mm or actually “as little as you can”. Preferably use fine tipped but blunt tool. If creasing with a knife blade, just be sure not to cut too deep as it is easy to chip off the narrow strip of outer layer of paper and that can make the following steps tricky.
Flip it to the other side and fold flat, than unfold, apply a thin strip of glue and fold again to glue it flat. Wait a few seconds to let the glue bind.
2) Crease another line along the edge of previous fold (the red line on Fig.2) , pre fold along the crease, apply the glue (blue line) and fold another fold. Repeat this step 2-3 times.
When making shorter rolls you can crease 4-5 paralel lines ca. 1mm apart on the unprinted side, then apply glue to creased area and roll/ fold them all at once. It require some experience but is much foaster. For longer rolls like this one however doing this stage step by step helps to keep the roll even and straight.
3) To make straight folds you can use a ruler as a support and a wide chip off blade to press and break the paper along the fold line. It can be helpful especially with the first 2-3 folds later the roll should be rigid enough to fold it “freehand”.
4) To make sure the roll will be tight after each fold press it and pull with your fingers along the red arrows. The tighter you make it the more durable and rigid the roll will be. Make 3-4 more folds this way.
5) …and you should get something like this. The roll at this stage is quite flat, to make it more round compress the fold in your fingers along the length to give it more round shape.
6) This is what you should get. Now if the diameter is right you can cut off the excess paper apply glue to the edge and glue it to the shaft to finish. If you need thicker roll follow next steps.
7) Apply glue to the rest of the paper. This is where high water content glues are in advantage. The water will soften the paper and make it easier to roll. To keep it tight you can make the “press and pull” motion as in step 4 after each coil. It can flatten the roll a bit but you can fix it later. Roll it until you reach desired girth (or until the paper ends). Yoou may need to reapply glue on the edge to make is stick to the rest of the roll. After this the roll is essentially ready. What is left is to eventually correct its shape, and make the end caps.
8) Roll the shaft between your fingers to round it after eventual flattening in the previous step, and to glue well the edge of the roll, re apply the glue on the edge if necessary. To avoid tearing the edge of the print by sticking to your fingers (the excess glue may be pressed out from under the edge) use clear drying glue and roll it in one direction (the same you rolled it previously) as on the photo. At this stage a roll wet with glue is somewhat plastic and can be straightened if required or bent or shaped to a degree. After the glue dries it will keep this shape, depending on the glue. Glues that give a rigid joint will keep the shape better.
9) After you get a roll of desired shape apply the glue to the ends and glue the end cap texture. Leave it to dry and cut off the excess paper.
10) This is what you should get.
Below you can see a set of stakes I made using this method. The first three were made of standard office 90g/m2 paper and without much care (you can see thy are not very tight) but are enough for what I need them – when capped they will make excellent fence posts. The fourth is made by wraping a bamboo barbecue stick in the textured paper (you can see bamboo fibres). The last two were made during this tutorial. On the final photo the stakes are assembled to support a primitive plank fence.