Making Reproduction Erector Parachuters - A Tutorial by Bruce Hansen

My purpose for making the parachuters was two-fold; complete a couple of 10 1/2 sets I had without parachutes and prolong the lives of the 45+ year old ones I did have, especially when "carefully handled" by my 4 year old. One of my sets has my 4 year old son's name on it for a future Christmas. Why not keep with the holiday theme and make some "Santa-chuters"? I made them with the traditional and the holiday scheme so both files are available for printing. One note on the Santa version: the pattern is not quite symetrical so there is a front and a back.


  • 1/16" plywood: (see local hobby shop or Tower Hobbies on line) 1' x 2' sheet should make at least 100.
  • Pick up sticks or coffee stir stick: used for making the struts
  • Computer w/color printer: used to print out the 'chuters
  • String: Kite string works fine; used to tie the struts to the 'chuters
  • Nylon sheer fabric: used for the chutes, use about the sheerest you can find. One yard should be plenty.
  • Super glue: used to glue chutes and string to struts
  • Scotch tape: used to reinforce gluing of chutes and string
  • Pop rivet (1/8" aluminum): used to rivet the washers together at the top of the chute.

Here is a page of 'chuters and piece of 1/16" plywood about to be glued together. Use Elmer's white glue and glue just the fronts first. For reference, the parachuter bodies are about 1 5/8" long:

After the glue dries, cut them out with a scroll saw or X-acto knife. Now glue the back side on:

I sanded the edges with a Dremel tool and sanding drum. A file works just as well:

The parachutes are cut 6 1/2" square on the side. The original Gilbert ones vary between 5"-6". These are slightly bigger because the plywood/pick up sticks are heavier than the original. Use a carpenter's square and utility knife to cut the fabric square:

Use either "pick up sticks" (see your local toy store) or coffee stir sticks for the struts. In this case, pick up sticks are used and cut with a diagonal pliers 4 1/4" long:

The struts and two 2" lengths of string are super glued to the parachute. Overlap the struts about 3/8" onto the chute. Overlay the string about 1/2" - nothing too critical here. Wrap the joints with a piece of scotch tape for reinforcement. I used a 3/8" (cut a standard width down the middle) wide by 1" piece for the wrap. Glue the string to two adjacent struts; they will be glued to the opposite side struts after the string is fed through the parachuter's body.

Drill two 3/32" holes in the parachuter for the string to pass through. Be careful here so you do not assemble your parachuter upside down. After the string is fed through the hole, super glue it to the opposite strut. Reinforce the glue joint with a piece of scotch tape as before:

The top of the parachute has a washer on the top and bottom; use the 1/16" plywood again. I used a 5/8" tenon cutter on a drill press. Originals had a fiber washer but cardboard would work too; just not as durable. An 1/8" hole is then drilled through the plywood disk to make washers:

Cut a small hole in the center of the parachute and pop rivet the two washers together; one on the top and one on the bottom with the parachute material in the middle. After pop riveting, drill out the mandrel head of the pop rivet with a 3/32" drill to form a through hole. That's it, you just made an Amusement Park parachuter!