How to Make a Miniature Oil Rig

Things You\’ll Need

  • Cardboard

  • Ruler

  • Pencil

  • Utility knife

  • Craft glue

  • Small paper cup

  • 6 bamboo skewers

  • Gray play dough

  • Clear plastic drinking straw

Oil rig at night Texas produces the most crude oil in the U.S. Image Credit: NA/ Images

Learn about the process of drilling for "liquid gold" by making a miniature oil rig. Oil rigs are also known as land drilling rigs and are used in removing oil deep from the Earth. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, the U.S. is a one of the top producers of oil, producing 7.5 million barrels a day as of 2010. Create your own miniature oil rig as an addition to a school diorama or science project.

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Step 1

Use a ruler and a pencil to draw a 3-by-3-inch square on cardboard as the platform for the oil rig. Cut it out with an utility knife. Mark four dots in each corner of the cardboard square approximately 1/8 of an inch away from the corner.

Step 2

Pour 1 tablespoon of craft glue into a small paper cup. Dip the pointed end of a bamboo skewer into the craft glue. Insert it into one of the four marked dots in the corner of the cardboard square. It needs to be roughly 1/4 of an inch deep. Repeat this step with three more bamboo skewers.

Step 3

Draw a 1 1/2-by-1 1/2-inch square on the cardboard and remove it with the utility knife. This is the crown block at the top of the oil rig. Using a craft brush, dab glue onto the top of each bamboo skewer inserted into the 3-inch square cardboard. Place the 1 1/2-by-1 1/2-inch cardboard square evenly on top of the skewers. Gently press the skewers into the cardboard so they are inserted into the corners of the cardboard, approximately 1/8 of an inch deep.

Step 4

Roll gray play dough into a 3-inch ball to craft the draw works and engine. Shape it into a rectangular block. Shape another piece of play dough into a 1-inch ball. Flatten the sides so it is cylindrical. Press it on top of the block. Smooth the pieces together and place it at the bottom of the platform 1/2 of an inch away from the derrick frame.

Step 5

Form a 1-inch ball from the gray play dough. Insert a clear plastic drinking straw into the center of the ball. Press the ball end of the straw into the bottom center of the derrick frame, through the bamboo skewers. Trim the straw if necessary to fit inside the frame. Brush glue at the top of the straw and press it into the center bottom of the top cardboard piece.

Step 6

Roll out a snake-like coil from the gray play dough that is 1/4 of an inch thick. Connect it to the ball, or rotary drive, underneath the straw to the draw works and engine. Trim it as needed.

Step 7

Measure the distances between the bamboo skewers one-third of the way down from the top of the oil rig. Cut another bamboo skewer into four pieces using those measurements. Glue the pieces into place as supports for the oil rig's derrick frame.


The miniature oil rig is approximately 10 inches tall. If you need a smaller rig, cut the bamboo skewers or use toothpicks.

Craft sticks or plastic drinking straws can substitute the bamboo skewers.

The drill and pumps underground can be fabricated with a screw and more play dough.

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