Introduction: Check Ball Earrings

Picture of Check Ball Earrings

The other day I was waiting on my wife and daughter while they were trying on clothes at Kohls. I decided to look at the jewelry for some ideas. This design was among the earrings however, they were made from gold wire and oyster pearls.

Gold and pearls? Don’t have em’. Paper clips and a busted automatic transmission? That I have. These check balls were inside the transmission.

There are plenty more parts left. I think I’ll make a desk lamp with the gears.

Step 1: Shape the Paper Clip

Picture of Shape the Paper Clip

Extend a paper clip leaving the outside smaller bend intact.

Use cone nose pliers to roll a loop at the bend. Make sure when you wrap the loop you use the longer of the two free ends.

That way after the loop is complete the free ends will be the same length.

Bend the free ends towards the center so that it opens the loop as shown in the picture. Next bend the loops back, working the loop apart.

Adjust the loop as necessary so they are parallel to each other. 

Step 2: Fit the Ball

Picture of Fit the Ball

Place the ball on a flat surface. I also used a paper clip to help keep the ball from rolling away.

Hold the free ends of the wire form with pliers and force the ball into the form.

Adjust the wires so the fit nicely around the ball.

Step 3: Attache the Backings

Picture of Attache the Backings

The backings I’m using came from the craft store.

Using cone nose pliers, form loops into the free ends. Adjust the wire so that the looped ends overlap each other.

Fit the backing into the loops.

Step 4: Make Adjustments

Picture of Make Adjustments

Because the wire started out bent, you may have to play around with getting the earrings to match each other.

Don’t worry too much about that though.

Unless your wearing both earrings on one ear at the same time, no one will notice a slight difference.


daveand5 (author)2011-05-15

many long laughs,
I can just see the $1400.00 lamp on my $25 early salvation army end table
thats what it cost for my last tranny repair, so i figure the lamp made of the offending tranny guts would be worth that at least!

Mrballeng (author)daveand52011-05-16

The lamps are coming along. I'll take $1399.99 =).

emilygraceking (author)Mrballeng2011-06-11

Those are beautiful! Love it.

agate123 (author)2011-05-28

You sir, deserve the highest of fives.

rawkergirl (author)2011-05-15

Wow, those are beautiful! Unfortunately I don't have a busted automatic transmission lying around (actually, maybe that is fortunate), but I imagine other materials could be used instead.

Mrballeng (author)rawkergirl2011-05-15

You could use anything round: beads, marbles, or even sling shot ammo. Thanks for the comment.

johnny3h (author)Mrballeng2011-05-16

Although I've never made jewelry, I have used "ball bearings" for many different projects.

Another good source of free ball bearings is failed trailer bearings which come with many in one "race."  When I have to replace the bearing set in a trailer for myself, or a friend or neighbor, I save the old ball bearings for later use.

I've also used these ball bearings as check valves in homemade liquid pumps.  If you don't have access to friends or neighbors as a source for ball bearings, try checking with your local trailer repair shop, OR a boat dealer or repair shop.  If they don't have an old bearing set laying around, ask them to hold the next set replaced and leave your name and phone number so they can let you know to go pick it up.

sergiosparks (author)2011-05-16

Wow ! a simple idea that turned into an elegant work of art !

askjerry (author)2011-05-15

Nice design, and very professional photography too.

I'll have to see what little spheres I can find and do something similar. I can build stuff... it's just sometimes I need inspiration and this is certainly great for that!

jwzumwalt (author)2011-05-15

I could see this idea adapted for beautiful marbles too.

snoopindaweb (author)2011-05-15

=////=======> Wye' You SNEAK..cOOl..YUP.!

rbormann (author)2011-05-15

Veeeery creative! Congrats!

D00M99 (author)2011-05-10


Harvard82 (author)D00M992011-05-12

I really wouldn't call that reverse engineering, it's more of repurposing. It's not like he's now building transmissions.

D00M99 (author)Harvard822011-05-13

Well, by reverse engineering I mean that he saw the earring design at Kohl's an reverse engineered it. Right?

padawanspider (author)D00M992011-05-15

I would say you are correct.

old_code (author)2011-05-15

Those photos are among the best that I've seen on this site. Esp. maintaining the focus on the close ups.

Comments are correct; those look great enough (and what a conversation piece!) to sell.

hammer9876 (author)2011-05-15

Jewelry for the ladies to wear to the car clubs. Thanks!

haakon.k (author)2011-05-13

Beautifully photographed (and executed).

escapefromyonkers (author)2011-05-10

ball bearings from the valve body" when i worked in a tranny shop in the late 70's we gave all the valve bodies to one of the guys that was blind, and he rebuilt the valve bodies, i just had to do a visual for cracks that he couldnt feel. i think it was the only place in the auto transmission that had ball bearings. Exceppt maybe the torque converter,since they all went to one guy to work on and i didn't see much of what was inside them

I'll snap a picture of the stuff that came out of the valve body. I found a bunch of springs, valve pieces, and ruber check balls. Thanks for the comment.

Any idea on how to open up a torque converter?

mcshawnboy (author)Mrballeng2011-05-10

A grinder with abrasive blade was how our instructors opened them when I attended Lincoln Tech back in the day.

Harvard82 (author)mcshawnboy2011-05-12

The grinder works really well. You could try a sawzall too, but that might take you a little longer. Just be careful with the overrunning clutch inside the torque converter. Once you pop that spring out you'll never be able to get all the sprags back in line easily.

scoochmaroo (author)2011-05-10

Seriously, when are you opening up shop? I've got a list of items to buy from you now. . .

Mrballeng (author)scoochmaroo2011-05-10

Your the best. I'll get on it.

mslaynie (author)scoochmaroo2011-05-10

Absolutely... this is just amazing! I am absolutely wanting my husband to see all these and make them for me! Can you imagine how cool it is to be his wife, and get all these pretties?!

You're freaking awesome, Mrballeng!

ironsmiter (author)2011-05-10

Instructables cat sez "I can haz Gear?"

+5 for cool factor.
+Several million for finding a way to get out of the dog house, for having torn apart a transmission, within sight of the wife.

I guess the garage floor was less of an issue for you, than the kitchen table was for me :-)

Mrballeng (author)ironsmiter2011-05-10

The kids also had a good time using th air tools. Adult supervision of course.

You took apart a transmission in your house?!?! The dirty transmission fluid stunk up the garage. I couldn't imagine a kitchen.

splazem (author)2011-05-10


bluesquirrel (author)2011-05-10

These are beautiful in their simplicity

iminthebathroom (author)2011-05-10

wow, sleek

RedneckEngineer (author)2011-05-09

Wow ! Who would have thought a tranny would be worn as a earring. Good build and keep it up!

Dr. Pepper (author)2011-05-09

I've taken apart lots of transmissions and the rear axles of cars. There is so much cool stuff inside of them.

About This Instructable



Bio: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
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