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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.






 
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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.



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nwsayer2 months ago

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!

tkjtkj3 months ago

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 ;)

Wlightning35 months ago

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.

thespringguy15 months ago

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
thespringguy110 months ago
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..

yes where do you buy it

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

jredekopp5 months ago
Is there a way to make this work for torsion springs?
GrfxGawd7 months ago

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!

coll28508 months ago

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.

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.
bof2b4 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
dave spencer (author)  bof2b4 years ago
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.
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
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.
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.
dave spencer (author)  dconnolley2 years ago
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?
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
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?
dave spencer (author)  Tweeks_tx4 years ago
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.
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.
Gilius2 years ago
Have you tried to make any torsion springs too?
static4 years ago
 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...
dave spencer (author)  static4 years ago
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. :)

 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.

msw100 static3 years ago
The problem is not the video size but the stupid advert you must watch before hand
usmarine244 years ago
Would like to make a much larger spring 2in diameter but limited to what bit size I can use. Any suggestions?
try winding around a piece of two inch pipe
the only thing that comes to my mind is using larger bar stock in an engine lathe. you can drill an appropriately sized cross-hole to hold the beginning bit of wire and turn the lathe (either by hand in Neutral, or by a low speed gear). could still work with the keystock too.
dave spencer (author)  usmarine244 years ago
You could find an arbor with a step in it that would chuck into a drill. you could also wind it by hand as long as you keep constant tension on it. maybe a friend could help.
msw1003 years ago
They look the part,but should they no be tempered some way as surly when you stretch them they will not spring back unless you use spring steel to start with?
hintss3 years ago
this reminds me of at our robotics team, when they were making a spiral, so they bent a rod around a tree, then ended up with a rod stuck around a tree.
will this work with an aluminum or brass rod?
dave spencer (author)  sniperHunted3 years ago
If you mean as an arbor, sure. The only problem you will have is it will wear and deform quicker. steel is nice and hard and will last longer.

If you mean using aluminum as a spring, you can coil it into shapes this way but it will not really become a spring. If you compressed or stretched it it would not return back to its original size. You need a "springy" material. spring steel works best and stainless is pretty good. aluminum and brass are just too soft.
usmarine244 years ago
Great instructable dude
stan44 years ago
Awesome guide...
AzNmeowmeow4 years ago
This looks a very useful video and instructable, but I REALLY have trouble finding the materials for a stainless steel spring. Is there by any chance another stainless steel size that's commonly avaliable around Home Depot and ect?
Light_Lab4 years ago
Many years ago I used to make springs this way on a lathe. We used commercially available untempered spring wire and after we finished we heated up the spring to red hot and dropped it into fish oil to temper it.
Some times we would make special custom springs by soft annealing standard off the shelf springs and straightening them to salvage the wire. Then we would rewind them to suit the job at hand and re-temper.
This is incredibly useful!
mir45z4 years ago

Dave used stainless steel wire to make the springs. Most stainless steel is already hard enuff to do the job. So heat treating is not necessary. If you heat treat the stainless it will be too brittle. Now something like mild steel would be a different story.

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