Introduction: Desktop 3D String Art

Picture of Desktop 3D String Art

Back in geometry class we used to draw these on paper. I could never remember what they were actually called, but I think they went by "string art". (That’s what came up in a search too)

Basically the Idea is making a curve with straight lines. Usually it's done on paper or 'stitched' onto cardboard. The plan for this one was to make a 3D version that I could hang on the wall or display on my desk. I think it turned out awesome, so I hope you like it and I can get more people to try it also.


Step 1: Supplies & Tools

 For this project you’re going to need a couple tools and supplies.

- Drill
- 3/16" Drill Bit
- Pencil (writing utensil)
- Tape Measure, Ruler
- Heavy Duty Stapler (this part is optional you could just use glue alone, you would need something else as an anchor then)
- Saw (I used a coping saw, but any fine toothed saw should work, you don't need to cut much)
- Clamps will be a big help, even more so if you’re just using glue.

- About 4 Feet of 3/4" Screen molding (also sold as plywood edging) this is the wood frame of the project.
- A Roll of String (I used mason line)
- Staples (If you’re using them)
- A Piece of Scrap Wood that’s about 1/2" thick
- Paint (optional of course)

(If I missed anything Sorry it will be somewhere in here)

Step 2: Measure and Cut the Frame

Picture of Measure and Cut the Frame

This Part is fairly easy, just take your tape measure and mark out four 9" sections of edging. Once you're done marking it, Take your saw and cut out the four sections. See, that was simple enough.

Step 3: Mark It for Drilling

Picture of Mark It for Drilling

This step is fairly simple. Start off by making marks every 3/4". I made the first mark on the 1" and the last mark before 8", so there are 10 marks in total. Go ahead and mark the same marks on the other three.

Now, The edging I’m using is 3/4 inch so the middle of it is 3/8". Make that mark on both sides and trace a line down the middle with a straightedge. Now you’re ready to drill it.

Step 4: Vroom Vroom, Drill It

Picture of Vroom Vroom, Drill It

Speaks for itself pretty much, stay on the middle line and drill a hole with the 3/16" bit at each mark. It should give you a fairly consistent line of holes. It doesn’t have to be perfect but if you want to you could use a drill press, I used a regular drill.

You’re drilling all the way through it so drill on a scrap piece of wood.

Step 5: Start Assembling

Picture of Start Assembling

Ok now you’re going to need that scrap piece of wood. Cut 3 pieces of the scrap that are about 3/4" long (same width as the edging wood).
Now put plenty of glue on the scrap pieces and create the 90 degree L shape (pictures help on this step). If your stapling them now is the time to do it, if not, then you should probably clamp them and let them dry before you do anything.

You should have two L shapes now.

Step 6: Make the "W"

Picture of Make the "W"

Ok now you should have 2 L shapes. This part is probably the hardest part of the whole thing. Clamps and glue will be your best friend on this one

put lots of glue on the third scrap piece and attach it to one of the L's.
If you’re not stapling them then you should clamp it here and let it dry completely before you attach the next one.

Ok so now attach the other L to the scrap block with plenty of glue. This is the time to clamp everything up and let it dry for an hour or two (overnight is best, if you didn't use staples I would let it go overnight)

Step 7: Strengthen It Up

Picture of Strengthen It Up

(You should do this before you leave it to dry)
If you haven’t noticed yet it’s pretty fragile. So what you can do is fill all the gaps with glue. The wood absorbs a lot of glue and it leaves gaps. Fill the gaps with glue. Then let it dry.

Step 8: Paint It (optional)

Picture of Paint It (optional)

Now that the glue is dry, if you are going to paint the frame now's the time.
I went with a glossy black; you can go with whatever color you want. I think neon colors would look pretty sweet.

Step 9: Time to String It

Picture of Time to String It

This is the time consuming step. You’re going to need lots of string.

There is two ways you can do this, you can string the whole thing in one consecutive piece or you can do 10 separate strings. I did it in one consecutive string. So that’s what I'm going to show you how to do.

Start by pulling out A LOT of string (25 feet or so), there would be nothing worse than stringing the whole thing and then being 5" short at the end. I used just shy of 25 feet of string, it's way better to have extra.

Ok now, pick one side and anchor one end of the string. I did this by tying a loop knot and stapling the knot. (Picture might help)

Now you got to start threading everything. Start at the top hole and string it down to the closest hole at the bottom, pull it all the way through (yes this takes some time). Now take the end and thread it through the next hole out to the next highest hole, and pull it all the way through again.
(Yes this is somewhat confusing, the picture helps)

continue this pattern until you got the first 'L' stitched up.
After this it gets a little trickier the next step explains it.

Stringing Tip: If you hold the tip your threading with while you pull everything through, the line will never actually knot.


Step 10: Just Keep Stringing...

Picture of Just Keep Stringing...

Once you finish the first one it gets a little tricky. You’re going to start sharing the holes. Same threading idea just takes a little bit more work.

Ok so now you are done with the first "L". To get the string to the next L thread in through the top hole of the next 'L' (see picture) and then just keep going with the same pattern.

The pictures really do a better job of explaining, it’s kind of complicated. Look at them ;)

once you finish the second ‘L’, the third 'L' is just like doing the second L. Go from the end of the second L and thread to the hole at the start of the third L.
this is the same thing as going from the first one to the second 'L'.

If you are still super confused leave a comment with your question and I'll try to help out.

Step 11: Finishing Up

Picture of Finishing Up

Yay! Now all three L's are done! You could just staple it and tie it off right next to the hole but I wanted mine to look the same on both sides. (Well sort of). So I pulled everything tight and wrapped it around to the top and I anchored it there.

Now, go display your work of art on your desk or wall!


Oystark (author)2015-03-17

Your awesome project inspired me to do my own!
Thanks :)

mli3 (author)2011-12-12

Man, this illustrates the concept of derivatives rather well.

shokora (author)2011-09-17

Very nice : D Never thought of using these materials for the frame. Just a quick side-note for people wanting to make this. You can also use UV reactive neon-wire. This type of 3d art is done a lot in the psytrance / goa scene, and they build incredibly complex (and psychedelic) constructs with all sorts of neon-wire. I'm not sure where you can buy this outside of The Netherlands, but here you can probably find it at smartshops.

Marsanni (author)2010-08-19

I'm going to try and make one out of EL wire :D

Charlie13 (author)Marsanni2011-08-06

Already tried. the string didn't bend the way I wanted it to and it's an awful pain to replace when the lights dim.

twist2b (author)Marsanni2010-08-19

I thought the SAME thing! HAHA!

noelle_tan (author)2011-07-25

What could this be useful for? I want to make it, but I don't want it just be centrepiece.

average joe 1999 (author)2011-06-12

its a parabola

Radh1 (author)2011-02-24

This is great..could You do this in fiber optic cable?

ezcheese (author)2010-11-28

Know the guy who built a stool like this. Its awesome.

keglermom (author)2010-11-21

I see that you tend to give negative remarks. If you're this negative at 15, I can only imagine how disallusioned you will be at 18. If you think you can do better, by all means post an istructable that we can comment on.

zakamooza (author)keglermom2010-11-23

i am not 15

keglermom (author)zakamooza2010-11-23

Sorry, I didn't realize you had a birthday and you're now 16. You still have a lot of growing up to do. Don't knock people when they put their creative talents on display.

Charlie13 (author)2010-11-14

i'm in the process of building one with UV LEDs and the some fluorescent string. should be cool to look at, but rather impractical for a coffee table unless it's at a night club

mrdepo96 (author)2010-11-04

Why say that? it's art. It's enjoyable to look at.

AdamVigneaux (author)2010-10-22

Mini Desktop 3D String Art
Inspired by this tutorial but not able to fit the result of it on my desk, I created a miniature version of it in my own Instructable. Thanks for the idea.

tz1_1zt (author)2010-08-30

Looks great. First thing I thought was,; "Wow, a deconstructed tennis racket" But no one else seems to have spotted that. I might make one and attach a racket handle to one end, just to communicate my hatred of the silly ball sport.

goofy102938 (author)tz1_1zt2010-08-31

so true

Shadowmang (author)2010-08-23

but cool

AdamVigneaux (author)2010-08-15

Really good, fun, easy project. I just finished creating one, and hung it up on my wall. I found two things in the Instructable to be confusing or annoying, however: First, the small amount of pictures - Even just one or two more pictures on the steps when you're weaving in the string would help immensely with understanding the technique you used. Second, you should have measured how much string you actually used. Your units are very vague in writing, and you never had a picture of the string you had before weaving it. I had about 11 feet on my first attempt, and had to start over after the first "L" because I realized that it wasn't enough. I ended up using closer to like 20 or 25 feet of string. If you fixed those two aspects of the Instructable, it would be much easier for people to do the project.

thinkdunson (author)AdamVigneaux2010-08-19

well, if you say that each line is 8 inches, multiply by 10 lines per section, multiplied by three sections, equals 240 inches. then add about an inch for each turnaround. there are ten holes per leg, multiplied by four legs, equals 40 inches in turnarounds. 280 inches = 23’ 4". that took maybe thirty seconds to calculate? just a guesstimate.

CosmicSpoon! (author)2010-08-18

Wow, very cool. Definatly gonna try it! Good job! :D

updown789 (author)2010-08-17

I'm thinking about making two and stretching fabric over it to make a roof for a trellis. Hmm....

zigzagchris (author)2010-08-16

Wow stole this from my head. Used to do it on paper and thought of how well it would work with string

Kiteman (author)2010-08-15

You could make this with hinges at the corners, instead of the wooden blocks, and then hang it by one end from the ceiling.

Or a larger version, with more legs, could make a really interesting garden fence...

Shadowmang (author)Kiteman2010-08-15

good points, I just used what i had laying around for this one, I always thought if I made it large scale it would make a cool stairway banister or railing on a second floor.

it would be very nice

tanmanknex (author)2010-08-16

Can you say EL wire?

DIYCharlie (author)2010-08-14

This is very cool. I do believe I will be trying this very soon....well as soon as I finish up other projects. I think I'm going to try to complete the entire section, all 3 curves essentially, with one length of string. This will result in less overlapping and less use of the same hole...I think. If I finish it up, I'll post some pictures up here.

Shadowmang (author)DIYCharlie2010-08-14

Cool! I would love to see pictures if you do it

solo.card (author)2010-08-14

Really love this, and things of a similar nature. I used to draw these all the time when I was a kid. I love the various lamp shade type things using similar principles. :)

DavidRobertson (author)2010-08-14

Use electroluminescent wire…

kcls (author)DavidRobertson2010-08-14

+1/2, because that would take A LOT of wire.

DavidRobertson (author)kcls2010-08-14

lol yup.

eulaliaaaa! (author)2010-08-12

It is called a "parabola". Great Instructable!

red scourge (author)eulaliaaaa!2010-08-13

Or one half of a hyperbola :P

BeanGolem (author)2010-08-13

Yes! I just made a lampshade for the corner of my living room using a similar technique. It makes a pretty cool complex 3D surface though, because the two pieces of wood between which the yarn is stretched aren't in plane with each other. There are basically two of these that cross at the middle... Instructable this weekend!

Shadowmang (author)BeanGolem2010-08-13

awesome! I'll look out for it

Jayefuu (author)2010-08-12

Great job :D What other cool shapes can you make?

Shadowmang (author)Jayefuu2010-08-13

All kinds, You can adjust the angles to make different curves, and you can use a bunch of them together to make Images, It would be hard to do in 3d though. On paper you can make all kinds of shapes and figures with them.

Shadowmang (author)2010-08-12

Thanks for the nice comments everyone I really appreciate it.

SterLuMan (author)2010-08-12

Nice job on the thing and the instructable... if i wasnt so lazy id definitively do it...

ChrysN (author)2010-08-10

Nice, I remember drawing these when I was a kid.

frollard (author)2010-08-10

Beautiful project! The power of the compound curve in the mind is so beautiful.

About This Instructable




Bio: I love to snowboard hang out with friends and have a good time :]
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