PopSci DIY: A Newspaper Baler, Updated from the Archives

Streamline your environmentalism with this easy and inexpensive project

For the eight of us still reading a daily newspaper, compiling the week's news into a recycling bundle that's able to withstand the journey from kitchen to recycling bin fully intact is a battle of wits, strength and patience. Okay, I'm being dramatic, but wouldn't it be nice to have a simple contraption to make the job oh-so-much simpler? That's what the editors of Popular Science were thinking back in June of 1971 when they provided readers with just such a contraption.

Re-creating (and updating) this newspaper baler is actually quite easy, thanks to the detailed diagram provided with the 1971 article. All you need is a single 4' X 4' sheet of 1/2-inch plywood ($15), a handful of other inexpensive materials ($24), and an afternoon of your time.

Check out the gallery to break it down and build it for yourself.

Inspired By Popular Science (Old School)

This is the original Popular Science article from June 1971 that inspired this PopSci DIY update.Joel Barnard

The Materials

A few of the basic materials you'll need to complete the baler:Joel Barnard


Print out this original illustration from the 1971 Popular Science article and use it as your blueprint during construction. Note: Your bottom piece of wood should be the size of your folded newspaper, plus 1/2” on each side. All other measurements will be determined based on the size of the bottom piece.Joel Barnard


Rasp or file the 1/4 inch slits for twine, making them as smooth as possible so you won't battle with splinters down the road.Joel Barnard

Assemble the Wood

Once all your pieces are cut and edges are smooth you're ready to assemble.Joel Barnard


Although the original article suggests using glue and nails to attach the pieces of wood, I'll always argue for the strength and durability of screws (especially considering the abuse this unit might take). If you go the screw route (#8 wood 1-1/4 inches long ($5)), be sure to pre-drill the holes and countersink the heads for the smoothest, most professional finish. Three screws per edge will be sufficient.Joel Barnard


Once the bottom and sides are together, attach the front piece using two 2-inch T-hinges ($3), screwed into the base.Joel Barnard

The Wheels

Ball bearing swivel casters ($14) are optional, but wheels make things a lot easier if you're storing the baler in a closet or pantry.Joel Barnard

The Latch

Secure the door and allow for easy access with two simple eye-and-hook latches ($2), mounted near the top.Joel Barnard

Getting There

Assembly is now complete, but the baler's not quite ready to accept newspapers.Joel Barnard


Place two equal lengths of twine, tied at their centers, in the middle of the baler. Each string end should then exit the baler through one of the four slits.Joel Barnard

Tie the Twine

Tie the twine ends out of the way until you're ready for binding.Joel Barnard

Full Baler

Once the baler is full, unlatch the front panel and swing it down for easy removal of the newspaper stack.Joel Barnard

Bundled: You're Done!

Finally, tie the four twine ends down and remove your newspaper bundle.Joel Barnard