Introduction: How to Make Springs

Picture of How to Make Springs

Springs are nice to have in the shop for your projects but how many should you carry and what size or type should you have.

Buying springs can add up and sometimes it is difficult to find the exact one you need. Wouldn't it be nice to make your own.


Making springs may seem intimidating but with a few basic tools and simple instruction anyone can make them.

In this article I will show you how to make some, first the easy way then I will move on to some other tools but still keeping things easy.

Step 1: Types of Springs

Picture of Types of Springs

Here are just some of the springs I will show you how to make.

From left to right,

  • Tension spring
  • Compression spring
  • Tapered spring
  • Torsion spring

Step 2: Start With These Tools

Picture of Start With These Tools

An easy way to start is to use the tools shown below. With these few tools you will be able to safely make many different types of springs.

  1. 1/2" dowel
  2. piano wire
  3. pliers with wire cutters
  4. saw
  5. clamps
  6. cordless drill

Step 3: Cutting a Dowel

Picture of Cutting a Dowel

First cut a piece of dowel about 5 inches long and cut a small slot in one end, this will be for inserting the wire. 1/2 inch dowel will work best, since this will also fit in the drill chuck. A smaller dowel will not work very well since it may not hold up to the wire.

Step 4: Making a Tension Spring

Picture of Making a Tension Spring

A cordless drill works better than a drill press because you can control the speed. For Safety always use a pair of pliers. If the wire springs it may cut you.

With the drill mounted onto the workbench with the clamps, one hand is on the trigger and the other hand on the pliers turn as much as you need to make your spring. Keeping the string taut as you feed it, the spring will turn out nicer.

Step 5: Wire Bending

Picture of Wire Bending

After the spring was made I used some pliers and did some wire bending and made this tension spring. By experimenting you can make many different sizes.

Step 6: Compression Spring

Picture of Compression Spring

This spring will use a longer dowel and will also have the slot cut in it. When the wire is fed it is spaced just by using your eye. It may take some practice but it is fun to do.

When this spring was complete I tested it out. I put the spring on a dowel and placed a small block on the spring. When I pushed on the small block and quickly let go it shot to the ceiling.

Step 7: Tapered Spring

Picture of Tapered Spring

A tapered dowel can be made using a drill and a belt sander.

Using the same technique the wire was fed in the dowel slot. When the spring was fully turned I clipped the ends and the tapered spring was complete.

This one I had to do twice to get the hang of and the second one turned out nicer.

Step 8: Torsion Spring

Picture of Torsion Spring

Torsion spring was made but this time I had to use a brass rod since a smaller wood dowel would not hold up. To make it just make a few coils and space apart as needed. With a little bit of wire bending at the ends you can make yourself a nice torsion spring.

Step 9: Conclusion

Picture of Conclusion

Here is a compression spring I made using a brass rod and also a photo of the many different types I made.

I hope that wasn't very hard and I hope it will help you with your projects. This can also help you save money if you have to make a lot of springs.

There are many other types of springs and many other ways to make them, if you know a different way to make them please let me know.

Comments

medic265 (author)2017-06-07

Great video and THANKS for making it! I know it takes time to make videos and I appreciate it. I wanted to ask about the wire cutters you use in the video. They appear to be older and well made! I love using antique tools. Could you maybe give me the brand and/or model. I'll look on ebay for them if I know what to look for! Thanks again....

wchang3 (author)2016-09-19

Great,Simple and practical...but can't get better spring material or any material else?? Tq

Corbin_Hacks_Stuff (author)2016-03-04

This gets the Official Seal of Awesomeness

john122 (author)2016-02-06

Just what the Instuctables site was made for, very creative, practical and well done. Thanks for sharing.

Daneel (author)2016-02-05

I've had a thought on this. What if you put a threaded metal dowel into the driver and attached it to a piece that ran in a track. Then, you insert the threaded dowel into a proper receptacle and run it into it as far as it will go. Then you take your spool of wire, run it from a device that will let it feed freely and attach it to the base of the dowel. When you run the driver now it will push itself away from the receptacle and thus from where the wire is feeding from, automatically wrapping it along the length instead of manually arranging it as it went. To change the rate of the wrap change the thread width of the dowel, or even use it to set the density of the wrap. Just a thought, love this 'Ible.

barben (author)2016-02-05

Great idea. Always thought about this but never enough to actually do it and now I will be ready when I need the next one. Thanks

Sparky5150 (author)2016-02-05

Great instructable Jack. I really enjoy your YouTube channel Too.

If you haven't seen Jack's YouTube channel check it out...lots of kewl stuff!

www.youtube.com/channel/UCFH2LKIvcLPhGgDO-QKZlmA

JohnK185 (author)2016-02-03

Nobody mentions the 5 minutes and 49 seconds of advert one has to endure before getting to the good stuff! Am I missing a trick, or is everyone brainwashed into thinking that this is respectful treatment? You've probably got a good and useful video there, but I am too insulted to watch it. If you really want to "be nice" add an option to skip the ads.

BobCrozier (author)JohnK1852016-02-04

AdBlock+. I haven't seen an online ad for over two years now.

oldship (author)BobCrozier2016-02-05

yups, same here

I can understand why adverts are annoying, but you have to remember that videos take time and effort to make and adverts are a great way for video makers to be compensated for sharing their time and skill with others (such as yourself) without subscription fees. The viewer can make the decision to pay for the makers knowledge with some of their own time or not watch the video. pop ups and adware, they suck and are invasive but I can see the logic with having ads on independent blogs and videos. That being said, you are totally entitled to your opinion.

Knight Lamune (author)JohnK1852016-02-03

Hey! This guy doesn't use uBlock Origin! Not even Adblock Plus! Let's laugh at him! ;)

Epicuros (author)JohnK1852016-02-03

Strange! I did not have to watch any commercials. It got directly to Jack's presentation!

JJVOgre (author)2016-02-03

Piano wire = music wire

After coiling music wire heat treat spring for 25-30 minutes at 450 degrees or until end of the coil changes color (brown).

From a guy that makes springs for a living remember, springs by definition are a mechanical device meaning they are a par that has to perform a function. If that spring is not made correctly then the whole assembly may not work correctly.

.02,

Jesse

Ralphxyz (author)2016-02-03

with the tapered spring I assume you start the wire on the small end???

Thanks, very helpful instructable!!

Prfesser (author)2016-01-31

Very nice! Wish I'd thought of this when I was looking for a spring for my Foucault tester!

Jack Houweling (author)Prfesser2016-01-31

Thanks, now you know how to make them anytime.

Epicuros (author)Jack Houweling2016-02-02

Hi, Very clever ideas on how to shape springs. However, I missed the kind of wire you are using. If it is regular (soft) wire I don't expect it act as a spring very long. I know that springs are made from steel wires, or the regular wire is hardened after shaping (I know it is hard to shape a steel wire; it doesn't maintain its shape)). How would this be done? One of your readers suggested "baking" the spring for 15'. Is "baking" sufficient or do you need to fast cool the object by dipping it into water or oil? I am a little confused on that.

big-jamie (author)Epicuros2016-02-03

heat treating is what the other comment was referring to theres 3 basic steps -

Annealing - heating up, cooling slowly, softens the steel, so you can work with it

Hardening - heating up, cooling fast in water or oil, hardens the steel, to the point where it will snap

Tempering - heating up, cooling reasonably slow in the air, softens the steel enough so it isnt brittle and doesnt snap.

Since these are small pieces of steel, heating them in an oven, taking them out and waving them in the air to cool quite quickly is a sort of hardening/tempering step in one which should produce a hard (but not too hard) spring which is better than just bent wire.

Just experiment or research heat treating - but thats the basics

Epicuros (author)big-jamie2016-02-03

Thanks. This is all very useful and clears up my confusion. However, although I played the video several times, I am still missing the word(s) Jack used to describe the wire. (Maybe hardened hearing because of age?) :-)

big-jamie (author)Epicuros2016-02-03

I havent watched the video but he mentions piano wire, but ideally youd be looking to use a dedicated spring steel wire (i dont know if theyre different or if piano wire IS spring steel) but spring steel has a high carbon content and allows you to heat treat it properly.

big-jamie (author)2016-02-03

After a spring has been coiled - dont you have to heat treat it to give it its proper springy properties ? Otherwise they could unbend just as easily as you bent them into shape in the first place.

As far as im aware (and someone can correct me if im wrong) the proper way to go would be to combine the processes in this instructable with using "spring steel" wire which is a high carbon steel wire, and after its formed heat treating it. Thats when you'll end up with a good solid spring that will last.

Ehlers_TV (author)2016-02-03

Pretty cool :-D Thank YOU !!

Perry The pom (author)2016-02-02

G'day Jack,

Well done. For anybody that lives out of town, making your own springs will come in very handy. Please keep up the excellent work

mutlu.teker (author)2016-02-02

One little advice from a professional spring producer: after finishing the shaping job put your spring in to a furnace with temperature 200-250 degrees celc for about 15 mins

londobali (author)2016-02-02

Great!
Thanks for sharing.. i'm subscribing so keep em coming! :)

Cheers from Bali..

Katzsta (author)2016-02-02

Even though these might be "basic" springs to some, they are advanced for me. I have a pair of garden pruners where the spring escaped by flying over my shoulder, never to be found again. Now I can finally make something to work in those pruners. Thank you for the detail and great pics.

EufrasioJ (author)2016-02-02

muito bom o instructable, obrigado pór compartilhar a sua experiencia

LancasterPA (author)2016-02-02

Thank you very much. I have an Apollo AV-1 underwater scooter that I keep in brand new condition. The problem is that it is actually old and very hard to find parts for. The spring in the trigger is about $10 and I always keep two or three on hand. I can almost guarantee that I can make them now.

pkinnetz (author)2016-02-02

Great Instructible!. I've been wanting to know how to make some itsy bitsy springs for some hairclips I want to try. But I want to add that its highly recommend you add safety glasses to the list of tools. With hard wire, there is springback, and the wire can go crazy on you, flipping you in the eye.

betsycoss (author)2016-02-02

THANK you. Springs are so excensive! I never thought to make my own!

JGDean made it! (author)2016-02-02

Good 'Ible", but pretty basic. More advanced tutorials are available online.

As an ex-gunsmith, I have made lots of springs and keep a variety of sizes of "piano" wire (spring wire) on hand. It can be purchased in 36" lengths from most hobby supply stores (both online and brick-and-mortar stores). Larger quantities (in coils) can be obtained from Industrial supply outlets like Grainger and even on Amazon.

A dial or digital caliper is necessary for serious work with different wire gauges/sizes. In the attached picture, factory-made springs are on the left, while the ones on the right are slightly lighter gauge, hand-wound springs that I made. Double torsion springs like these require some slightly different techniques and winding jigs. These are for a semi-auto target rifle

Yonatan24 (author)2016-02-02

Can you give some examples of projects that you used springs for? The only woodworking project I ever saw that had a spring involved with it was Matthias's "Egg Hardness Tester" (To be exact it was by a woodworker, But had nothing to do with wood)

arthurelizondo (author)Yonatan242016-02-02

I have a kitchen garbage can that has a pop open lid. The lid has two springs that swing it open to a vertical position. Being a kitchen garbage can, it gets moved around a lot. The lid is taken off, and thrown on the floor, in order to change the plastic garbage bag. Naturally the springs got lost! This is a use for springs. I can't buy the springs so I have to make them. I can't wait to go home and make the needed springs. Thank you Mr. Houweling.

billbillt (author)2016-02-02

Thanks for this!.. I have made quite a few springs in my day, but I learned a few things from you!..

edre pavas (author)2016-02-02

excellent video,thank you.

chris.holford.7 (author)2016-02-02

A really good video! Thank you.

PHILEMON83 (author)2016-02-02

Nice! But I want to ask, what other wire can be use l?

Jean LouisN (author)2016-02-02

Merci bcp pour ce tuto simple .. il suffisait d'y penser... :-(

Jean LouisN (author)2016-02-02

Merci bcp pour ce tuto simple .. il suffisait d'y penser... :-(

Jean LouisN (author)2016-02-02

Merci bcp pour ce tuto simple .. il suffisait d'y penser... :-(

Kinnishian (author)2016-02-02

Cool instructable. I like the practical experience making some springs.

For others interested, I suggest looking up "Dan Gelbart prototyping" in one video he goes over using easily heat treated metals to make high quality springs (and he also covers other forms of flexures.) But for quick and easy piano wire works well..

Abner T (author)2016-02-02

Do any heat treating on the wire?

lazemaple (author)2016-02-02

what is the best diameter of wire for most springs

apaier (author)2016-02-02

Thank you! I've been wanting to make my own battery holders and was struggling with the right way to make the spring side properly.

kennannek (author)2016-02-01

I have always wondered what kind of wire would work to make a custom spring, great instructable!

Taillights (author)2016-01-31

Where did you get the piano wire ?

sdfgeoff (author)Taillights2016-02-01

Modelling/hobby shops often sell piano wire as it is useful for many other things.

I am a piano technician but you can try piano supply companies or call a local piano store or technician.

SteveMann (author)2016-01-31

This is very useful (we just built a robot and one of the springs broke during a TED talk presentation of it, so I realize we should be making all our own springs so we can replace them on the spot without having to go out and buy more).

It would be nice to see a derivation of the mathematical relationship between parameters and spring constant so we can achieve a target resonant frequency in mass and spring combination (as Jonathanrjpereira points out).

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