Picture of How to make a 12 leaves Mechanical Irirs

1 - bicycle chain......yes a bicycle chain, you'll seee what's for.
1 - copper sheet
1 - 15mm MDF board (20 x 20 cm will do)
1 - 3mm MDF board (20 x 20 cm will do) ( not on the pics)
1 CD tube case
And also some tools such as:

Bicicle chain tool
4 mm drillbit
130 mm Holesaw
75 mm Holesaw
Table saw or router table, or router, or dremel.
A blowtorch
Soldering wire and paste
A visegrip (recommended)
A Vise

You will also need a template file wich you can download from here, is a dwg (Autocad) file, you have to print it on a 1:1 scale.

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Step 1: Getting some pins

Picture of Getting some pins
Ok, so what the heck is the bicycle chain for? well, every iris leaf, has two pins, one of them is  a pivot pin, and the other is a travell pin, wich runs in a slot.
So, in this project we will use the bicycle chain pins, ;)

Now,what you need to do is to take your bicycle chain, and dissasembly it several times, in order to get 24 pins, as the images show.

I put my chain tool in the vise to have a better handling.

Every chain link is componed by two pins, two little rings, and two little flat pieces, we will only use the pins, but save the other little pieces, cause they can be very usefull, and you never know when you gonna need them.

Once you get the 24 pins, clean them up very well (i use alcohol), to get all the oil and grease out, and we are ready for the next step

Step 2: Cutting the leaves

Picture of Cutting the leaves
Now let's make some leaves!

Ok, first print the leaf template, and glue it to the copper sheet.
Now cut the leaves!

Regular scissor will do the job (Remember, this copper sheet is 0,1 mm thick)

Once you get them all cut, remove the paper, and we are ready for the next step!
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LordNikon12 months ago

Just out of curiosity, is there a specific measurement used for the leaves so that they will close completely? I'd like to scale this a few different ways but I want to make sure that any adjustments I make will still create a closed iris.

RKumar113310 months ago


Great instruction set; thanks! However the pdf only has the template for the leaves. Is there another file that has the template for the two circles that need to be cut from wood?

purgedsoul2 years ago
Thank you for the template. It's wonderful! I made a scaled one out of chipboard, 220 GSM vellum board; and round tootpicks as pins. It was fun building it. I am now planning on making another one out of straighten pvc pipes and aluminum soda can.
kommodore (author)  purgedsoul2 years ago
Wow! Very nice done! show us some video of it, it looks awesome, im glad the templates help you!

Hi kommodore, sorry for the late reply, was busy with work, and tweaking the iris. Here's a video of it. Modified the iris, and put it in a pringles can.

kommodore (author)  purgedsoul11 months ago

Very nice!

Love this and think it is amazing. I made one myself out of cardboard.
A small adjustment that I think could make the Iris even better is making the pins smaller, not as high as they currently are. They would instead look something like in this picture I included.
mathieulj11 months ago

Nice. Thanks for showing that us poorly equipped folk can still make neat things :) . Man I'd love a laser cutter but its really impressive what we can do without one.

kommodore (author)  mathieulj11 months ago
BroBotMKIII12 months ago


I tried to download the template and open it on my mac, but for whatever reason it didnt work, i downloaded a software called Inventor Fusion from autodesk, what software should I use to view it?

Is it possible for you to provide an image of the template like in step 2 that we can print out and use?

Thanks :)

kommodore (author)  BroBotMKIII12 months ago
I will upload a pdf file for the templates, just stay alert, i will upload it in a few hours, so stay alert!


Thank you so much :)

kommodore (author)  BroBotMKIII12 months ago

Ok now i upload it! i completely forgot about it yesterday XD, sorry, but now there's a PDF file with the leaves template, just print it as it is, i tested it first, and the scale is correct!


Hahaha ok great thanks :)

Hello from Egypt, Kommodore.

Thank you for sharing this with the world.

I have a question, is there a ration between window diameter and the width or number of leaves? Thank you in advance.
gpresentey3 years ago
What's it for?
If you're ever seen the movie Lemonie Snikket's A Serious of Unfortunate Events it is a very cool window if you make one large enough.

the same design is used for camera shutters

Make a big enough one and you have a door :)
what is that , i hv same question...
who cares it is awesome. lol sorry i don't mean to be mean.
Here's a thought.
1) place paper jpg copy on top of paper
2) place pin on top of paper that is on top of copper
3) vice grip it together
4) use blow torch and burn the paper away
5) solder as usual :D
6) profit :D :D
leoblue20022 years ago
thank you i dident notis it sry for spelling
leoblue20022 years ago
how do i download the template for the leafs?
kommodore (author)  leoblue20022 years ago
Hi, the template is in the "Intro" step, right before the step 1, is a DWG file, so you need Autocad or a DWG viewer to be able to see it.

If you want to scale it, you will need Autocad.

Hoggster3 years ago
Could you give me the link for the template of the leaves?
kommodore (author)  Hoggster2 years ago
Hi, the template is right here, in the "Intro" right before the step 1.

leoblue20022 years ago
how do you download the templet?
1dog7893 years ago
epic XD
steamlad83 years ago
awsome :D can you spray paint the copper a more silver or iron look :)
eduardoh3 years ago
What is the process and what software can I use to make my own templates for a project like this and for other projects?

I want to make some cards that have moving parts.
really nice. how do you get the template the correct size?
Marsh3 years ago
This is very well done! Excellent detail! I'm going to try to make it from tempered hardboard and large enough to walk through.
The only change I would like to see is that you post the iris.dwg file (presumably that contains the templates you mentioned) in a compatible file format. Very few of us are likely to have autocad.
kommodore (author)  Marsh3 years ago
You can also download this free dwg viewer from Autodesk.

Viewer does not allow modification; Not even scaling, as far as I can tell.

But I'm sure a quick search would provide someone else's example in a friendlier format that you could start from for your larger, wooden version. There are lots of iris examples out there.

I'm sure you won't need to start from scratch, Marsh; When i eventually get around to making my own variation I'll be looking for YOUR work as my starting point, so don't forget to use an open format and post!

Great work though, Kommodore! Elegant & inspirational.
kommodore (author)  ManOfScience3 years ago
try to scale it whe you print it, maybe there's an option there.
jeowf Marsh3 years ago
It might not be able to work because i think that jwkoi's one didn't close simply because wood doesn't bend. I think that the reason that this one closes to such a small aperture is because the copper can bend. You may have a problem with tempered hardboard.
pcooper2 jeowf3 years ago
It's not the flexibility of the iris leaves that matters — it's their thickness. Ideally, the leaves should be infinitesimally thin.
Marsh pcooper23 years ago
I think 1/8" will be thin enough for a three foot radius. I'll certainly post it if it's successful.
Marsh jeowf3 years ago
Tempered hardboard has plenty of flex, and I'm pretty sure it will have to be sanded so the edges taper thinner. I'll post is an an Ible if successful.
kommodore (author)  Marsh3 years ago
go ahead, and if it's going to be big enough to walk through there's no problem using the harboard, as long as it's no more than, let's say, 5 mm thickness, i think 3 mm would work great for the leaves.

about the dwg file, i could export it to pdf or something, but i can't assure it will maintain the original measures when you print it (it might be a problem just if you're going to use the 130 mm and 75 mm holesaws, but if you're going to use another tool to cut the rings, the original measures doesnt matter) so i'll try to export it to a pdf file.
For Mac users there is a free app from the Apple app store to open.dwg files ;)
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