Straw Builder Project #1: Mechanical Hand using only fast food straws
As with all of my straw projects, you can take pride in using freely available materials. Unlike other constructions toys, the fastening process is part of the building material. After finishing this project, snapping together expensive injected molded blocks will feel like cheating.
This is a great project for kids and parents or as a classroom project. The project will require a bit of patience and take a few hours to fully build and assemble. If not assisted by an adult, I would suggest a starting age of 10 years old since the force needed to use the paper punch is too much for younger kids.
Wooden Skewer (optional)
Permanent Marker (optional)
That's it. The elegance of this design is that it is basically free and the assembly is pretty simple. Yet, this design achieves fully mechanical hand that rebounds back to its original state when the tendons release their tension.
For this project, the goal was to build a fully functional hand using only straws. The diameter of a McDonalds straw is just about perfect. You can substitute straws from Chick-Fil-A clear straws. I prefer the McDonalds straws because they have a yellow and red band that run the length of the straw which makes cutting easier. The yellow and red bands act as a visual guide and results in straight cuts.
The magic of this project is that it uses no glue, welding, staples or securing other than by creative use of the source building material. Straws are incredible building materials. They come in a wide variety of dimensions but share inherent strength, flexibility, and availability attributes.
Step 1: Materials
You will need about 25 straws to complete this project. Kindly ask the fast food employee if you can have a few extra straws. While the project is free, the straws do technically cost money to the restaurant so be respectful. Before you know it, you'll have a stockpile. For our build, I told the fast food window employee that I was building a project with my child for school. They handed me all the materials over two or three visits in this way. I don't recommend washing and reusing straws. Aside from the need to sanitize them, they have lost a bit of strength just from normal use. Teeth are very destructive.