Introduction: Balloon-tying Jig

Picture of Balloon-tying Jig

Most kids go through a stage of being unable to tie a balloon without it farting off across the room.  Water-bombs can be even worse, slippery little devils that they are.

This simple jig makes tying balloons (especially water-bombs) a lot quicker, and makes it a lot easier to build up your ammunition for April Fools.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

The jig must be smooth and snag-free, or every balloon will burst.

For this prototype, I used a dead Sharpie pen and some spare timber.

Tools included a small saw, sharp knife, drill+wood bit and a circular file.

Step 2: Cutting.

Picture of Cutting.

First, cut a slot in the end of the pen.

The slot needs to be wide enough to slide the neck of the balloon into, and smooth enough to avoid snagging the balloon.

I cut into the pen with the saw, twice, then smoothed off the edges by trimming with a sharp craft knife.

Then, on the side of the pen that will end up at the bottom, I cut a wide, vaguely V-shaped notch to momentarily anchor the end of the balloon during knotting.

Step 3: Drilling, Filing, Hammering.

Picture of Drilling, Filing, Hammering.

I had a wood-bit almost as wide as the end of the pen.

I drilled a pilot hole first, then used the large bit to drill a hole for the pen to wedge into.

The hole turned out to be ever-so-slightly too small.

To make the pen fit, I used a round file to enlarge the hole slightly.  Do not be tempted to hammer the pen into the hole - you will snap off the end of the pen.

Instead, grip the pen firmly with a pair of large pliers, and then hammer the pliers beside the pen.

Make sure that the V-shaped notch ends up at the bottom of the pen.

Step 4: Tying the Balloon.

Picture of Tying the Balloon.

Describing how to do this takes a lot longer than actually doing it.  These instructions are right-handed.

Hold the end of the balloon in your left finger & thumb.

Stretch the neck of the balloon over the top of the jig, and round once.

Stretch the end of the neck over the wrapped neck, and down through the slot.  Let go with your left hand.

Roll the balloon off the jig - the neck will stay in place just long enough for the end to pass through the rolling loop, completing the knot.

I made a video of the tying process - it is so short, I almost couldn't be bothered uploading it to YouTube...

Step 5: Finishing.

Picture of Finishing.

There you go - all done.

The important part of the jig is the actual pen.  The lump of wood is just to hold it.

You might want to fix the jig into the end of a longer piece and tuck it under your armpit, or fasten the wood to the wall beside your garden tap, whichever is easiest.

As I type, a coat of waterproof stain is drying on the timber, because it is bound to get soaking wet on a regular basis.  You might want to paint yours.

The jig does not have to be made from a pen - you could carve it from a section of dowel, or a piece of copper tubing.  It doesn't really matter as long as it is fairly smooth to allow the balloon to come off the jig when knotting.

Let me know if you found this useful, and maybe post a picture of your own version?


kpieper876 (author)2016-11-22

I made it, but no photo. Piece of cake!

Kiteman (author)kpieper8762016-11-23


PhilTee (author)2014-03-25

Genius! I'll have to make one.

Kiteman (author)PhilTee2014-03-26

Thank you. When you do, take a picture and hit the "I Made It" button!

kewrw28 (author)2013-06-24

Thanks a lot brother. I will try to make one of these this weekend with my grandson. Again, thank you

Kiteman (author)kewrw282013-06-24

You're very welcome.

uersel (author)2013-06-17

In the last few years I made several of this jigs. They were always of big help for tying large amounts of ballons for various theatre shows. On the image you see about 600 ballons, all inflated an tyed within 2,5 hours by one person, myself (its for the same play I made the fog chiller). I usually make the jigs out of wooden dowels and some leftover wood.
So thanks a lot for this instructable, it saved a lot of time and my fingers from lots of blisters!

Kiteman (author)uersel2013-06-17

Oh, that's awesome!

MrE (author)2012-08-06

Great Ible I will make one myself soon. Just one little question what is the name and who wrote that little song in the video.

Kiteman (author)MrE2012-08-07

It's called "At the Rising of the Moon", a traditional Irish song. I'm afraid can't remember the artist, but it's played on an ocarina.

curious youth (author)2012-06-03

this is cool. but i cant stop laughing at the shape.

torned00 (author)2011-08-04

i think you got that idea from:

tdawber-mandeno (author)2011-08-03

good for making epic water balloon (double layered regular bloon so it dosent pop when filling)

Puzzledd (author)2010-10-23

Fantastic idea and description!

Kiteman (author)Puzzledd2010-10-23

Thank you.

chamster (author)2010-10-11

WOW! U have made so many insructable! Are u the creater of instructables?

Kiteman (author)chamster2010-10-11

LOL, oh, no.  You need Eric, the site's creator and CEO.

chamster (author)2010-10-02

Brilliant! But why is it in the pranks section?

Kiteman (author)chamster2010-10-03

Where else do water-balloon-based projects belong?

seabananers (author)2010-08-07

some thing is very wrong here

Wafflicious (author)2010-07-22

Excellent :)

Kiteman (author)Wafflicious2010-07-23

Thank you.

flowjuggler (author)2010-07-12

Great jig. We work with a lot of kids (and adults) doing balloon workshops and tying the balloon is inevitably a source of stress for a number of participants. Although we've gotten good at teaching a no-hurt, easy to understand method of tying, this will be a great tool to have on hand! Thanks.

Kiteman (author)flowjuggler2010-07-13

You're welcome, although, after just one afternoon of using the jig, my youngest suddenly worked out how to tie them for himself...

ikeike40 (author)2010-07-02


itsmanofpopsicle (author)2010-06-26

Some people are ACTUALLY SELLING a similar product. Better go through copyright again...

mybluemake (author)2010-04-10

Fooking brilliant. As the world's coolest uncle and great uncle I've purchased over 5000 biodegradeable water balloons for this coming Summer. I love my siblings' spawn and their issue, but not a damn one of them can tie a balloon. As a fat fingered middle-ager, I've damaged my hands enough tying over 600 last August. This is on!

Kiteman (author)mybluemake2010-04-15

Excellent.  Post pics when you do.

EvanSavar (author)2010-04-11

That is really cool. I just looked up balloon tying on Google and the same item for $2.00. It be great though if I didn't have the 2.00 to buy the item!! 

the_burrito_master (author)2010-04-05

little perverted ,much?

good job.

 lol I was thinking the same thing...

lol it's cool tho.

lol, me 2

gserrano701 (author)2010-04-10

 I agree with you all.   The gratest thing of it all is the simplicity.

What if you attach a foot pump to the other end of the sharpie??? that would let the friend with the big lungs make better use of them talking to the croud while blowing up the baloons.


imfasa (author)2010-04-09

Tou are such a genius!! (although i CAN tie balloons... :P)

Questor (author)2010-04-08

if you ran an "air supply" from the back, thru the sharpy, it would blow out the slot and you could fill the balloon and tie it at the same station. Just control the air like they do with helium balloons.  Could work with water, too. Just "messier"

girlcousin (author)2010-04-08

Thank you thank you thank you!!  Our little town has a halloween party every year and we do a 'bust the balloon win a prize' game and tying those knots just kills our fingers!!!  Now I am all exited about carving my sharpie pen and putting smiley faces on all my balloons, now!

AT (author)2010-04-08

Nice!  Simple yet very usable

mizantropic (author)2010-04-08

i'm really curios if you could do that with a swollen balloon.

You could, but with a water balloon filled to its absolute limits... You might have to be very careful.

cbergquistf (author)2010-04-08

Great idea !  Simple.  Effective.

dacker (author)2010-04-08


Once or twice each year, I find myself volunteering at one thing or another which needs tons of balloons blown-up.  As a guy, with strong lungs, I'm often stuck blowing up a hundred or so.  Next time, I'll make 1-2 of these ahead of time.  I'll probably use a hardwood dowel in place of the Sharpie body.

I'm glad you posted the video or I'd never figure it out.  The video could be improved by appending a slow-motion version to the full-speed version.

Covo (author)2010-04-08

 I thought there might be a way to do that...I am bummed I did not think of it first!!!.  Good job kiteman, working with kids who do not have the dexterity of adults, this will come in HANDY!!!

AustinMiniMan (author)2010-04-08

That is magnificently elegant. It's easy to design something complicated and obscure, but sometimes it takes the most skill and poise to design something simple in both concept and conception. This shows a real knack for creation, engineering, etc. You should be proud.

limonchi (author)2010-04-08

nice and simple=>10
only need better decoration
thanks, i ´ll make one

Greasetattoo (author)2010-04-08

GREAT job..
You should draw a couple of colored balloons under the pen...
Put some graphics on the board!

knektek (author)2010-04-04

How about using a smaller piece of wood. To save our environment!

Kiteman (author)knektek2010-04-04

Use whatever size you like - it's only pine, as sustainable as it comes.

The lump is large so that my boys can wedge it wherever they need it for making bombs, or just lay it on the ground and anchor it with a knee or toe.

evanwehrer (author)Kiteman2010-04-07

 Thats what she said...

I burn 2 by 4's for fun :)

About This Instructable




Bio: The answer is "lasers", now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Project previews on Tumblr & Twitter: @KitemanX
More by Kiteman:Fallen Astronaut 2Custom laser cut metal business cardsDashboard Phone Stand
Add instructable to: