Making a Square from Rectangular Sheets

Many origami models require that you start off with paper that is a true square, where all four sides are equal. 

If you don't have origami paper on hand, or you would just like to practice using copy paper or old magazine pages, which are normally cut into a rectangular shape, it is helpful to know how to turn these into true squares.

Step 1: Folding

Lay your rectangular piece of paper down on a hard, flat surface with the long sides to the left and right and the short sides at the top and bottom.

Fold the top right corner of the paper down and to the left until you can feel that the two layers of paper lay on top of each other on the lefthand side.

Follow the two layers of paper upwards to make sure they line up as closely as possible until you find the narrow, top point of the paper.

While holding the two layers in this position, make a sharp crease, running your finger from the top left corner down and to the right.

Now, on the righthand side, your paper will slope up sharply from bottom right to the top left corner.

Notice that at the bottom of your folded paper, there is a rectangular piece, which has not been folded.

It is this part of the paper that you will remove to create a true square.

Step 2: Weakening the paper

Concentrating on the single rectangular layer of paper at the bottom, fold your paper upwards so it covers the bottom part of your folded triangle. Crease well from left to right to create a horizontal fold and, lifting your paper from the folding surface, fold back the other way. Do this a few more times to weaken the paper in both directions.

You can also run your nail along the crease or use a damp finger to weaken your paper even further.

Step 3: Removing the extra paper

There are many ways you can use to remove the bottom part of your sheet, including taring, cutting with scissors, rotary cutters or craft knives, etc. Feel free to use whatever method you find easiest, or ask for sighted assistance until you are comfortable performing this step.

I will describe the taring method I most often use for those who would like to try this.

After you have weakened your paper along the horizontal crease line, place the paper flat on your folding surface again. It works best if you now place the paper with the weakened fold in a vertical position. Place your thumbs and forefingers on either side of the crease and move your hands apart in a swift, but controlled, motion.

Don't worry if the edge of your paper is not perfect. You will get better with this with practice. 

More importantly, don't let this step prevent you from doing origami. If you prefer, you could consider asking for assistance to cut enough practice squares or have your paper cut at a copy or printing shop.