Text-Only Instructions

Various sites show how to fold this cube. See, for instance,

Paper to be used: 12 squares of similar size; use large paper to practice with at first.

Thicker paper or thin cardstock is strongly recommended.

Note squares will also make nice, small models, but only use these when you are comfortable with the assembly of the model.

Folding level: Intermediate

Steps: 28
The finished model is a closed, three-dimensional shape with 6 faces, 12 edges and 8 vertices or corners, which makes it a cube or  a regular hexahedron.
All 6 faces are congruent (similar) and shaped as squares.
Being constructed using Sonobe units, the flaps and pockets will also cause the surface of each side or face to be divided into 4  smaller squares, giving the model a very interesting appearance and texture.
The divisions are somewhat reminiscent of a pinwheel where all the slits open from the same direction.
If you are interested in finding out more about these and other  kinds of 3D shapes, you can go to the page below.

Very small cubes can be used as jewelry components.

These models also look beautiful displayed in a large, flat bowl or see-through jar or vase, or use them as party favors or hanging decorations.

To use as a box, small objects can be added before the last module is inserted.

Extra help: 

You could try the following to help with assembling this model for the first time. 

* You can use something small and heavy, or what I call a "Heavy Helper" and position it on top of the central unit once you have added two units to it. The Heavy Helper will serve to anchor the first three units so that you can work more easily on assembling the rest of the cube. 

* Use glue tack to help until you can manage without it; no glue is needed to hold your cube together, but it is very helpful when you are learning how to construct modular objects; once you get to know how a model goes together, you will no longer need the glue tack. 

* After folding the units, make a square of modelling or similar clay by using the size of the folded units as a guide. Wrap the clay cube in thin paper so it will not stick to the paper you are folding with. 

The clay cube does not have to be perfect. It will only serve to help you when forming your cube in the early stages. 

* Alternatively, if you can find a small box that is more or less the size of the cube, you can use this as a prop on the inside of your model to fold against. 

* You could even fold some scrap paper into roughly the size of the folded units, stack them on top of each other and secure with tape or a rubber band to use in the same way. 

* You can keep your prop for future use. 

* You could ask a human to help you hold a unit or two in place. 

Warning: Do not try to enlist the help of any pets with this model. It has been observed that especially cats and/or dogs find this model very interesting, but they may want to play with or chew on some or all of your carefully folded modules, which will be a real problem since you need all 6 pieces for the finished cube. These animals are also not helpful during the assembly phase since their noses, paws and tongues tend to get in the way a lot, generally resulting in a somewhat damp, crumpled heap of unrecognizable blobs that may still be identifiable as paper, or if you have made the mistake of leaving your assembly unattended, you might find nothing left but some minute paper pieces. 

You will be folding 12 similar units to form your cube.
It is recommended that you fold all 12 pieces before attempting Phase 3, which will explain how to fit the pieces together to form the finished model.
If using two-sided origami paper, lay your paper with the patterned or colored side down before starting to fold.
NOTE: This phase describes how to fold the Sonobe unit. If you are able to achieve this without instructions, fold 12 basic Sonobe units and then go to Step 9.
Step 1
Place a square  down  with its edges to the left and right, top and bottom.
Step 2
Fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge to form a horizontal center crease line.
Crease and unfold.
Step 3
Now fold the top and bottom edges in to meet the horizontal center crease line.
Crease and leave folded.
You will have a figure with an upper and a lower rectangular flap meeting each other along the horizontal center line.
Step 4
Now, fold the top left corner, all the layers, diagonally down to the right as far as it will go. It will line up with the bottom edge of the paper and form a triangle on the left side of the unit.
Crease well and leave folded.
Step 5
Repeat this fold with the bottom right corner of the rectangle.
There will now be 2 triangles that have formed next to each other, pointing in opposite directions.
The outline of the figure will be a more or less rectangular shape, but with points on each side.
Step 6
Unfold the 2 triangles so you have the rectangle again.
Step 7
Notice that you will now have short diagonal valley fold lines at the bottom left and top right corners of the rectangle.
These lines extend only halfway from the corners to the central slit of the rectangle.
Reverse the valley creases so they become mountain folds by folding the bottom left and top right corners inwards so they are hidden within the layers of the paper.
It should look as if a small corner is now missing at the left bottom and top right of the rectangle.
Step 8
Refold and tuck the large left triangle you created in Step 4 under the small corner just below it and then do the same with the large triangle on the right, tucking it in under the small top right corner just above it.
This will lock your Sonobe unit securely so it stays closed.
Important: Always start to fold your large corners in the same way; in this case, the top left and bottom right corners. If you make a modular model and one or more of the units are created with the opposite corners folded in, the units will not fit together.
You will now have a securely locked, long, skinny diamond shape, or to be more accurate, a parallelogram.
Keep the unit with its points at the left and right and with the smooth side facing the table for the explanation that follows:
Step 9
In order to use your Sonobe unit to make modular origami figures, it will help a lot if you can identify the main back and front  parts of the unit and familiarize yourself with its features.
Depending on which type of modular figure you want to make, you will fold your Sonobe unit slightly differently, so for the purpose of this short explanation, the parts of the units will first be described in general terms.
 (A) The Slits or Pockets
If you consider the surface of the module, which we will call the front, you will notice 2 diagonal folds with two loose flaps that face in opposite directions.
These folds  are actually openings, slits or pockets where the points of other modular units will be inserted.
Note that the face or central square of each unit will seem to have 4 diagonal openings, all facing in the same direction and arranged in a kind of pinwheel formation.
 You will always be using the 2 slits that are opposite from each other and that have a single layer of paper.
So, it is worthwhile checking that you can distinguish between the double-layered openings, which will not be used, and the single-layered slits which will be on opposite sides of each unit.
(B) The Central Square
Turn the unit over from left to right and place it so one of its long sides is facing you. The surface of the unit, which we will call the back, should now be smooth.
With the unit in this position, you will be able to identify the central square, with the left triangle  forming a point nearest you and the right triangle forming a point furthest away from you.
This orientation of the parallellogram is important and all your modules should have the central square and points folded in this way.
(C) The Points or Flaps
With the central square placed straight in relation to the edge of the table, you will have a triangular flap on the left, with its pointy end nearest you. On the right, there will be a similar flap, but this one will have its point furthest away from you.
Put in another way, the left triangle will seem to slope downwards from the left side of the central square while the right triangle will seem to slope upwards from the right side of the central square.
These points or flaps will be inserted into the slits or pockets of other similar units.
This completes the explanation of the basic Sonobe unit.
Three more steps are necessary to prepare the unit for using it to fold our cube.
Step 10
Place the unit down again, so it has a smooth surface. Position it so you have the central square with its bottom edge horizontally or lined up with the table.
You will have a triangle on the left of the square, sloping downwards and another on the right, sloping upwards.
Step 11
Fold the left corner straight over to the right and the right corner straight over to the left so their bases meet each other diagonally across the square.
The folded triangles will thus meet each other perfectly and cover the central square.
Make sure that all 4 edges of your square are straight and really creased well at this point. Press extra hard since firm creases will make the assembly of the model much easier.
Step 12
Lastly, fold the bottom left corner of the square diagonally up to meet the top right corner and crease along the fold in order to accentuate the diagonal crease of each unit.
Gently unfold the last 2 steps and set aside.
Repeat steps 1 to 12 11 more times so you have 12 similarly shaped units to work with.
Make sure you follow the instructions for all the squares precisely since all units should be alike in order for the modular pieces to fit. In particular, the pockets and slits of all modules need to face in the same direction on each piece. If some of the units are folded with the slits and pockets facing in the opposite direction, the points of the other units will not fit.
The parallelograms should also be folded in the same way, corresponding to the description in Steps 9 to 11 above.
Step 13
First look at your folded Sonobe unit. It has a square with two flaps that seem to point in opposite directions.
The square itself has a smooth surface on one side, but various pockets or slits have been created on the other side. These pockets are where you will be inserting the flaps of the units of the cube.
So, you will be working with the Sonobe units with their smooth sides facing you and the side with the slits and pockets facing away from you.
Put in another way, the smooth sides of the squares will thus be hidden on the inside of the cube while the pointy flaps will fit into the pockets on the outside of the cube.
It is important to orientate all the units in this way throughout the assembly process.
Don't be afraid to use a fingernail to open the pockets. You should be able to figure out where the pockets are and how to slide the flaps of the new units into them once you start assembling the cube.
Also, where the small cube with six units used the central square of each unit to form one face of the cube, in this large cube, each module will be divided into 2 parts by the diagonal crease that lies across the center square. So, keep in mind that you will be required to orient your units in a different way from the cube with 6 units.
For extra clarity, the assembly of this cube is divided into 3 parts:
Part A will form the bottom of the large cube, using 4 modules.
Part B will start to form the sides, also using 4 modules.
Part C will use the last 4 modules to complete the sides and top of the cube.
Part A - The Bottom
Step 14
Explanation of the placement of the units
Unit 1
Start by placing one unit down with its flaps at the top and bottom. The smooth side of the unit will be facing the ceiling, so make sure the side with the pockets are facing the table.
Important: Rotate your unit so that the central crease that divides it is horizontal. This will mean that you will have  a long flap above the central line, slanting away from you and towards the right and another flap below the center line, slanting to the left and towards you.
Unit 2
Now take a second unit and place it down on the right of the first one. The   second unit should have its flaps out to the right and left, also with the side with the pockets facing the table.
Important: Rotate your unit so that the central crease that divides it is vertical. This will mean that you will have  a long flap on the left of the central line, slanting upwards and towards the left and  another flap at the right of the central crease, slanting to the right and downwards.
Always make sure that you tilt your units as just described, with the central diagonal fold lines meeting each other at 90 degree angles.
You will be arranging your first 4 units in a flat pinwheel shape, always inserting units from the right and turning your entire figure towards the left each time.
The pocket you will use will always be just below the horizontal line once you have turned your model.
From hereon, you might have to pick up the model in order to assemble it. You can lightly hold it in your handDon't be afraid to turn it during the assembly.
Step 15
Insert the point of the  second unit into the nearest pocket you will find on the back of the first unit.
  To keep yourself orientated, you can place your thumb on the center crease of each module, with your forefingers at the back of the units.
Slide in the second unit all the way until your forefingers meet.
The central line of the units will touch each other, forming a 90 degree corner on the top right.
 The point of the second unit will disappear and the first two units will be loosely joined by their sides.
Step 16
Rotate the figure 90 degrees to the left and repeat the previous step, sliding the third unit's flap into the pocket at the back of the second unit.
Step 17
Rotate the module 90 degrees to the left once more and repeat the previous step, sliding the fourth unit's flap into the pocket at the back of the third unit.
Step 18
Rotate the unit for a last time. You will notice that the pointy flap of unit 1 is now lying in a horizontal position on top of the figure, pointing to the left.
Take the point and tuck it to the back of the model, inserting it into the pocket at the back of unit 4.
After you have connected the first 4 units you will have a fairly loose structure with  a kind of pinwheel formation, where the units will meet at a central point and there will be a pointy flap jutting out on all 4 sides.
The bottom of your large cube, consisting of 4 units, is now completed
  Part B - Starting the Sides
Step 19
Turn your figure so one of the sides is facing you. Locate the pocket near the bottom edge of the triangular flap that has an opening on the right.
   Holding unit 5 in your right hand, slide it into this pocket as far as it will go. Once the unit is inserted, it will form a 90 degree corner and  will sort of wrap around this 90 degree corner, extending towards the next side of the large cube.
   Step 20
Turn the model 90 degrees to the right.
Step 21
Locate the loose point you will find just below unit 5. tuck this point upwards so it slides into the bottom of unit 5.
Step 22
Repeat the previous 3 steps with units 6, 7 and 8, following the sequence of adding a new module, turning the model to the next side and tucking in the loose point from below the new module.
Once unit 8 is in place, you should have a box-like structure with the sides that are still floppy and  the  top of the cube that is still open.
Part C - Finishing the Sides and The Top
Step 23
Start on one of the sides and locate the pocket that will be on the right, with its opening towards the top of the figure.
Bring unit 9 from the top and insert it into the pocket just mentioned.
Step 24
Find the loose point just behind the newly inserted unit 9, bring it to the outside of the figure and tuck it in towards the right, so it slides into the pocket on the outside of unit 9.
Step 25
Turn the cube 90 degrees to the right so the next side is facing you.
Step 26
Repeat the previous 3 steps with units 10, 11 and 12, following the sequence of adding a new module, flipping and tucking in the loose point  into the new module and turning the model to the next side
Once unit 12 is in place, you should have a cube-like structure with only the top flaps that still need to be tucked in.
Step 27
Lastly, insert the loose points of the   4 flaps remaining at the top of the  model into the pockets  just next to them, turning the figure as needed until all flaps have been inserted to close the top of the large cube.
This will be a similar process to that which you followed when you started to assemble the bottom of the cube.
Step 28
Gently press the corners and sides into a final cymmetrical cube shape and marvel at this beautiful modular creation.
Making origami accessible to visually impaired crafters through text instructions.
for non-commercial use only.
Compiled by Lindy van der Merwe - March 2023
Revised: July 2023