Introduction: Articulated Back Scratcher!
Okay, its the middle of summer and you have been working out in the yard with grass and leaves flying all over the place, especially on your back where you just can't get to it, or maybe its the dead of winter and the cold air is void of all moisture so it is making your skin dry and crackly.......what are you going to do about it?
How about reaching for your very own, hand made, double-headed articulating back scratcher!! I'm not talking about one of the little plastic things with four fake fingers on it, I mean something that will leave lacerations galore as it quells the itch that can drive a person crazy!
What started as a school project for my son several years ago has been tweaked and toyed with until it has become the beauty you see before you today. It is very easy to build with a minimum of time and material invested for such a great reward.
I don't know about you but my back is just itching to get this made so lets get to it!
Step 1: Material and Tools
Materials are simple for this build but you may have to do some online ordering if you don't have a local supplier (beauty supply warehouse) for the brush head. You will need:
- 1 x 4 x 36 board, I used red oak. Actual dimensions 3/4 x 3-1/2 x 36
- 2 screws, 3/4" will work fine
- 1 longer screw for the center connection, 1" to 1-1/4" should be good
- depending on the brushes you get, you may need 2 small washers, metal or plastic will work
- 2 scalp massaging shampoo brushes. I ordered mine from Amazon here
- wood glue
When getting you brushes, make sure they have a center stem that is removable since you will have to take it out to attach it to the handle
Tools required are:
- palm sander, although sandpaper and a block will work just fine
- drill and bits
- compass (nice but not a requirement)
- tape measure
- single edge razor blade
Step 2: Measure Twice...
Start by taking a look at the measured drawing and understanding that each head connector will be sized depending on the size brush head you use. Mine have a 3" diameter so these measurements leave a 1/8" gap between them, be sure to adjust accordingly. You also need to determine how long you want the handle of the scratcher. 36" long is comfortable for me while a shorter person may want 24", you just have to play around and see what fits best.
For the handle, lay out the radius of the large curve at one end of your board. If you don't have access to a compass to do this, just mark a spot 3-1/2" from the end of the board, hold a piece of string at the mark and the other end of the string at the corner with your pencil then swing the arc. Bring the pencil in 3/4" on the string and swing the inside arc. Then draw a straight line 3/4" from the edge the length of the board to meet the inside arc.
A note on the handle: you will see on the measured drawing a small 3/16" cut at the curved end. This cut is optional, again, based on preference, but I think it is totally worth it. It will create a slight inward angle on the brush heads that helps align the heads with the back being scratched when used over the shoulder. I recommend doing it but it is based on the users body geometry....talk about custom made!!
The head connector is cut from the inner waste of the handle, even though we will cut it first, and lays out as shown; 3/4" radius for the inner arc, 1-1/2" for the outer. The length will be determined by the diameter of the brush heads.
Step 3: Cut Once...
Cutting is pretty straightforward but I wanted to offer one piece of advice. Cut the head connector first so you are working with a larger piece of wood and have more leverage with it. Then take care of the large radius, for the same reason. After that is done it is a long and tedious march up the length of the handle to the small radius.
Finally, if you choose to, nip off the 3/16" angle cut at the end of the radius.
Step 4: Preparing the Heads
First thing to do is remove the center handle from the brush head. On the model I used, there was also a raised plastic edge which needed to be trimmed off to allow for proper movement of the head. Carefully work a razor blade or sharp utility knife around it and shave it down flush.
At this point I discovered the hole in the center of the head was bigger than I wanted and would almost allow the screw head to pass though. Rather than using a screw with a bigger head, which would have been longer, I opted to use a small washer instead. I did have to remove the innermost circular row of "fingers" on the brush head to allow for the washer but I figured the other 300 or so would more than make up for it. A pair of small diagonal cutters helped out here.
Step 5: Assembly
At this point it may be wise to do whatever sanding you want to on the handle and head connector; I am not that wise and only did some light sanding to remove saw marks at this point. It was not until I had everything put together that I thought about final sanding and it was more difficult. One thing you will need to sand now is a slight curve at the ends of the head connector where the brushes attach. This is important because you want room for the brush head to be able to pivot on the screw and move with the contour of your back as it is being scratched. If the ends are flat it will limit the range of motion for the brush head.
The first step in assembly is to attached the head connector to the handle. I could have used just glue or glue and brads to keep it in place but this joint could be subject to some high stresses as you are digging in to get that elusive itch so it needs to be beefed up a bit. I applied some wood glue to both the handle and connector where they meet and let it set up for a few minutes before joining. There is not a great angle to use a clamp at the point so I set the clamp in place as shown to prevent lateral movement and held pressure on the two pieces for a few minutes, then set the unit aside to dry.
Once dry you can drill a pilot hole in the center of the joint and drive in your 1" screw.
Next you will drill pilot holes for the brush heads, but be sure and not go too deep as these are aiming straight at a small radius curve. A piece of masking tape on the drill bit will be a good depth gauge. Finally you can screw in the brush heads, but don't over tighten them. You want them snug but still able to pivot around in all directions.
Step 6: Finishing
At this point (or before you mount the heads might be better) you can finish the wood as you please by staining, painting or whatever you choose. Mine is going to remain au natural for a while!
Most of the photographs used in this Instructable were from making a 24" model without the angled cut, but the model with blue heads has the optional cut on it so you can see the difference.
Thanks so much for taking the time to look over this project and I hope to see photos of yours soon. Comments are always welcome and don't forget to vote!!