Introduction: Make Your Own Springs in Seconds

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I make lots of stuff that needs springs.  I have always hated trying to find the right spring for the job in a hardware store, then having to pay up to 10 dollars for it.  When I was learning to make chainmail I came up with this method for winding rings and realized it could be used for making springs as well.  It is insane how quick and easy this is.

Video makes this easier to follow and shows just how ridiculously fast it is, so I included a podcast with me doing this. The spring segment is at 5:19 but don't be shy about watching the rest of the video afterwards, not to mention other episodes. also, don't forget to check out my other instructables.






Step 1: Materials

A Drill, one with a little bit of torque.

Heavy duty gloves, not gardening gloves.  I use welding gloves.  If you try this with light duty gloves, call an ambulance before you start so it will arrive in time to stop the bleeding.

An arbor- just a fancy name for a rod to wind the spring on, round is common but not required.  Match the arbor to the diameter of the spring you want to make.

You may need a piece of square steel (I used 1/4" keystock) if you want to make a compression spring.  More on this in a minute.

I have 3/32" stainless steel tig rods for welding sitting around.  Each rod only costs a few cents and they seem very suited for doing this kind of hand bending. while still being stiff enough to be a spring.



Step 2: Expansion Springs

Expansion springs are ones that stretch, like a spring in a screen door or a gate.

Bend the rod at a 90 degree angle leaving an end as long as you need to create a hook after.  Slip the end into the chuck of the drill between the teeth.

Hold the arbor in your hand grabbing the wire at the same time.  Slowly start the drill and squeeze the arbor tight to control the wire.  It may take a try or two to get the knack of how to hold it.

Stop the drill before the wire gets to the end because the tip will whip around the arbor in your hand.  If your hand is not well protected when this happens, this will be the part where you will be picking up chunks of skin off of the ground.

Slide the spring off the arbor and bend the ends into hooks with pliers.

Yes! it is that easy.

edit:
A friend emailed me and told me about a limited travel extension spring.  It took me about 2 minutes and a set of needle nose pliers to make these clips to add to my compression spring. (see pictures) The idea is that under heavy loading,  an extension spring can deform and straighten right out.  This spring can handle much higher loads stopping at a fixed point.  Pretty cool concept and super easy to make.

Step 3: Compression Springs

Compression springs are ones that squish, like the spring in a ballpoint click pen.

Making these is almost as easy.  Start the same way and make a few turns of an expansion spring (wire touching itself).  Then wrestle the spacer (keystock) in between the last turn and rest of the still straight wire.  Spin a bunch of turns with the spacer and then finish it with a few more expansion turns.  Slide it off the arbor, clip the ends and you are done.

If you made it this far, you might be interested in our facebook page

Comments

author
cinpro made it!(author)2015-02-13

You can get spring wire in many sizes and lengths on Amazon, its cheap and don't worry about getting a large roll. You can buy really short lengths, but you will end up paying more for it

author
danolson59 made it!(author)2015-04-04

I need to make a small torsion spring for a mailbox door. What do I search for on Amazon to find and buy the right wire?

author
RobertC2 made it!(author)2017-06-27

Try springs from Clothes Pins, Mouse Traps, or even small Chip Bag Clamps.

author
mikejonesmikejonesmikejones made it!(author)2015-07-29

I have the same requirement for a mailbox door. Were you able to find what you want on Amazon?

author
mikejonesmikejonesmikejones made it!(author)2015-07-29

I have the same requirement for a mailbox door. Were you able to find what you want on Amazon?

author
jeanniel1 made it!(author)2017-02-22

What type of wire / metal would be needed to make the compression spring - as I'd want one to have a bit of push back when I squish it down! I want to make a 2.5" ID spring about 4" long uncompressed, and maybe 2.5" long fully compressed.

author
PatrickW8 made it!(author)2016-01-09

um i do think that you would like to heat the wire in a kiln to take off the tress which can help protect it from breaking , and possibly injuring you,and i also found a great pdf file online about making springs if anyone is interested just message me,

author
astrong0 made it!(author)2016-12-24

Looks like you have yourself a popular commodity on Instructables. I also would like that PDF if you are still doing so. astrong123@gmail.com

author
tlangy made it!(author)2016-11-16

PatrickW8, I would love to have the "pdf" on spring making, please email to "t.langy@hotmaill.com".

TIA,

tlangy

author
teckhoff1 made it!(author)2016-11-12

could you message me the pdf aswell

btcminez@gmail.com

author
AustinIbe made it!(author)2016-10-16

Hi Pat Iam Austin from Nigeria, please email the pdf file to adiribe@yahoo.com. Thanks in anticipation.

author
ha1rtr1gg3r made it!(author)2016-07-07

Hey PatrickW8, shoot me an email with that pdf? ha1rtr1gg3r@gmail.com , itd be appreciated!

author
mok2t2 made it!(author)2016-03-29

Hello PatrickW8!
My name is Sam, I'm from Finland. I also noticed the possibility of breaking without heating.
I have a possibility to heat with coals which I think would suit this kind of heating. Am I right?

My second question is should I heat the steel rod with some other material? Should I also temper it, and if so, how should it be done?

You also found a pdf about making springs. I'm interested about that too.

Please contact my email:
mok2t2@gmail.com

With regards,
Sam

author
mok2t2 made it!(author)2016-03-29

Hello PatrickW8!
My name is Sam, I'm from Finland. I also noticed the possibility of breaking without heating.
I have a possibility to heat with coals which I think would suit this kind of heating. Am I right?

My second question is should I heat the steel rod with some other material? Should I also temper it, and if so, how should it be done?

You also found a pdf about making springs. I'm interested about that too.

Please contact my email:
mok2t2@gmail.com

With regards,
Sam

author
Hthea made it!(author)2016-12-12

Interesting to build springs of different sizes

author
RaghunandanJ made it!(author)2016-10-08

Thanks for a nice Instructable for making springs. I have the need to make a very tiny conical spring instead of cylindrical spring. What changes should I do ?

Thanks !

author
dave+spencer made it!(author)2016-10-08

Your arbor would have to be conical

author
RichieM14 made it!(author)2016-08-11

Very helpful- thank you for saving my project (I couldn't find the springs I needed). BTW, you can buy wire that's specifically made for springs on eBay- at least that's where I got mine.

author
Hthea made it!(author)2016-04-21

I was thinking of winding a piece around a broomstick or other to make a coil I have seen a person do it that way and it worked for them on a specific item. It most likely depends on why a spring needs to be heated up for something particular .

author
leroy001 made it!(author)2015-09-06

This technique works a treat. I'll building a competition grade r/c scale model of a j-3 piper cub and needed two identical springs, they attach to either side of the tail wheel steering torque arm in order to absorb ground feedback shocks. I used spring wire and my drill... perfect result! love it.

Thanks for the tip.

author
ceremona made it!(author)2015-07-05

I used music wire for my springs and used a lathe. I wonder how much success a woman's hand has with the drill method? I found the amount of tension needed for my long springs to be pretty hard on my hand just using a lathe. Can't imagine having to hold drill with the other hand!

author
michael.timokhin.3 made it!(author)2015-06-02

Awesome. Thanks a bunch for simple and meaningful idea. I was looking for a small spring for a car door actuator lock. They sell them from overseas for quite a chunk of change ($20 at least). Using your ideas I can make the spring myself. Thanks again!

author
Stealingsugar made it!(author)2015-03-26

It's not PROjects, it's prajects, that is how it is supposed to be pronounced. Thanks for the spring info.

author
GarnF made it!(author)2015-04-02

Take off! He's Canadian, eh. And his PROgram has ta meet the CBC requirement for Canadian content, ya hoser. Now if ya want a "praject" go watch SCTV and learn ta talk, eh.

author
GWorks made it!(author)2015-02-01

Nice ´n easy way of making springs. I will use this as a reference in my upcoming instructable, if I may?
Thanks :)

author
nwsayer made it!(author)2014-08-08

I need to make the kind of spring you use as a battery contact - its diameter reduces as you go up so that when it compresses the coils nest and it can lay flat. For that I assume I'm just going to need a conical arbor.

Great instructible. Thanks!

author
tkjtkj made it!(author)2014-07-31

Anyone who starts to manage blood-letting lacerations and Lb's of skin-chunks lying on the floor is my kind of instructor!!!

Nice job, in every way ..

BTW you have a list of sources for spring-metal-types for various applications? .. not all steels are 'springy', as you definitely know!

Thanks for an excellent, compact, efficient, and very useful 'structable ;)

author
Wlightning3 made it!(author)2014-05-21

Anyone know where to buy regular flat springs at for a retractable reel tyoe deal ? Doesn't have to be real strong something to wind up 10 feet of 14 gauge wire repeatedly on a daily basis. All these companies claim they sell for proto typing projects but want you to buy 100 minimum. I dont need 100 if its a proto type project.

author
thespringguy1 made it!(author)2014-05-14

All spring wire comes in rolls from the wire mill . If you want some you could contact a spring manufacturer and have them cut off a small amount. It's not the sort of thing hardware or retail shops would stock .

wire rolls.jpg
author
thespringguy1 made it!(author)2013-12-09

Hi dave , I love your work , well done.I understand stiff welding wire would work ok as a spring for a while, but honestly , you need to use proper spring temper wire from the mill , range 1,2 or3 would be preferable.it's just as easy to bend or coil as welding wire is. ...Throw it in your household oven for 20 minutes at 250 c degrees to stress relieve the thing so it won't return to a piece of staight wire again, and jobs done..

author
savageeuge made it!(author)2014-05-14

yes where do you buy it

author
jheissjr made it!(author)2014-01-31

What does range 1, 2, or 3 mean? I cannot locate spring wire online. Can it be purchased online?

author
jredekopp made it!(author)2014-05-13

Is there a way to make this work for torsion springs?

author
GrfxGawd made it!(author)2014-03-18

You showed me a few really great ideas here on the initial construction and shaping wire. Now to brush up on tempering so I can make my own springs! Thanks for the excellent wire forming ideas!

author
coll2850 made it!(author)2014-02-13

Great. Thank you for being so clever and taking the time to share it will us. I tried to buy a spring with no luck. So glad. I will buy some wire and make them myself :)

Thanks again.

author
cowsclimbtrees made it!(author)2012-09-04

Awesome job. Thanks for the Idea. I spent 30 dollars on 3 1"x 5" compression springs for my sons toy and all I had to do was this. tempering is easy to do. a torch and some oil. Use hooke's law if your in the manufacturing industry. for things around the house this idea is perfect.

author
dave+spencer made it!(author)2009-12-04

There is no problem with my springs not remaining springy.  As I said above.  I have a spring in my backyard gate that has been used almost every day for 3 years with no discernible wear.

author
Tweeks_tx made it!(author)2009-12-05

The point here is Dave that you have not actually created real springs.. but just showed a cool way of bending steel in the first stage of making a spring.  To be able to have a real spring you must temper the steel.  This is especially true with springs that are going to have any reasonable about of force applied to them.

Anyone who knows how many pounds or newtons of force they need for their application should plug their numbers into Hooke's Law to calculate the parameters needed to create their spring (BEFORE bending some random piece of steel wire).  More info on this is here.
 
But for a pretty good article on tempering, see here.  It touches on both oil and sand bath tempering.

Tweeks

author
ringai made it!(author)2012-08-24

I watched an old Afghani gunsmith making springs. He wound them on a by hand using pliers and wooden mandrel held in a block of concrete, then heated them in charcoal embers and cooled them in used motor oil.

author
dconnolley made it!(author)2012-04-27

I'm glad someone brought up this point. all he's done is coiled a piece of wire.
in quite a dangerous way.

I've done similar to this when making chain maille links. but I use an arbor in like a spit roast design between two wooden blocks and hand crank slowly, carefully and deliberatly.
Juggling with power tools is all fun an games untill someone gets the nick name Ace.

author
dave+spencer made it!(author)2012-04-28

If your mom won't let you use power tools, that is fine, use a hand crank. Even then you need proper safety gear because if you let go halfway the end of the wire could whip around because it would be a torsion spring at that point.

I wish people would stop telling me I have "only coiled a piece of wire". Prove me wrong by making one yourself. My stainless springs have functioned for years with no sign of wear. how do you think they make springs for use in the food industry?

author
ELM6061 made it!(author)2012-06-14

Nice indestructible Dave. A long time since I have done it myself and a nice reminder, thanks!!!
Just a thought to guide your wire.
Repeat, "A THOUGHT".
Specially where you need a spacing for a compression spring.
Use a flat piece of wood a comfortable handle size and drill a hole slightly larger than your wire gauge you will be using.
Right next to the hole, glue a piece of steel 50 odd mm long, the desired spacing that you want in the spring.
If you feed the wire through the hole, with the steel so it will be running on the shaft and between the chuck and wire (which has been fed through the hole).
As you wind the wire, it should pull the handle/steel against the shaft and the wedge should give you the desired spacing with the aid of the handle also as a guide. It should help to protect the hands as well and get rid of the awkward gloves.

Eddie

author
dconnolley made it!(author)2012-04-29

to a small degree it would behave similar to a torsion spring.

I dont need to prove you wrong. I am merely trying to educate you.
when making chain maille links this is the quickest way to coil the wire for uniformed links I would then stretch it out before cutting links. It would appear similar to the way you've coiled your wire. Both in aluminum and steel.

the reason myself and tweeks brought this up was because from a metallurgical stand point its just not sprung. Therefore It would be wrong to call it a spring. If you compressed it from its original length to its minimal length you would notice it would have lost length in just 1 compression. possibly with some parts buckling more than others.

I know how they make springs for the food industry since I've worked on many projects outfitting factorys and belt systems. Same ways they make all springs as mentioned by tweeks heat the metal up to a calculated temperature and quench it in oil

PS: A word of advice when using rotating machinery such as a hand/pillar drill DO NOT Use Gloves. Same goes for using any abrasive wheels... thats shop safety 101
do you want to look like seamus from family guy?

author
dave+spencer made it!(author)2009-12-06

Well if I ever need something more springy than what I get now, I will consider tempering.  I am quite adamant though that these work excellent as they are.  They take considerable force to change their shape and they return afterwards.  I call that a real spring.

Make one out of stainless and show me that it does not work.

author
cheesphht made it!(author)2012-05-30

Yeah Dave I think people need to realize that to coil these metals needs heat in the first place so you are tempering them - just not according to the book.

author
Gilius made it!(author)2012-04-26

Have you tried to make any torsion springs too?

author
static made it!(author)2009-12-04

 Video viewing much better today, but still when a video is the instructable, readers shouldn't be required to go 5:19 into a video to see the subject content of an instructable.

The basic winding technique is as I expected, but using a jaw of the drill chuck to anchor the wire is a trick I hadn't seen. Many wind wide spaced inductors by winding another wire, rope, string or cable with the desired wire, discarding it after the inductor is wound. Perhaps the same technique could be used to wind a compression spring. All in all a good instructable, but please consider to the point video production in future instructables. Also keep in mind video doesn't work well for those poor souls still stuck with dial up internet connections Thanks...

author
dave+spencer made it!(author)2009-12-05

I guess the problem here is the video was first.  I decided to do the instructable afterwards.  The instructable actually has more information in it than the video.  Sometimes it is nice to see it live though.  I told you to go to 5:19 so you could skip the other stuff if you were not interested and save time / bandwith.  I thought that was fair but to be honest, I would be bitter too if I was on dialup. :)

author
static made it!(author)2009-12-10

 Dave granted you did advise the relative content was 5:19 into the video, but  the video players can't fast forwarded to  a point that hadn't yet been downloaded to the user's computer yet. Internet bottle necks can make fast internet miserably slow. connections. I understand the video and then the instructable sequence, but do please consider editing videos complementary to  an instructable to the relative content.  While it's not broad band my 1.5 MB WISP provider is as good as it's ever going to get in my part of rural Kansas. Much better than dialup, though those internet bottle necks, remind me of dialup. Thanks for consideration you can give to the video editing.

author
msw100 made it!(author)2011-07-17

The problem is not the video size but the stupid advert you must watch before hand

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Bio: I have had a few careers so far, soldier, school teacher, arborist, millwright. I love change and I love learning.
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