Introduction: Simple Animatronics (robotic Hand)

Picture of Simple Animatronics (robotic Hand)

I made my first animatronic hand when I was about 10 years old using stuff I found around the house. Now I want to share with you how to easily make your own at home!

 This hand is made from readily available materials and is perfect for your Halloween haunted house, scary pranks, as a movie prop or just good old fashion fun. It also serves as a good starting point for further work that might include the use of servos, remote controlling and more advanced animatronics. There's a few videos at the end of this instructable that shows the building process and some of the movement of the hand. Here's one;

Step 1: Parts and Tools You Need

Picture of Parts and Tools You Need

Sharp knife
Hot glue-gun
Marker/ pen
Plastic or wooden clothes hanger

The two latter can be replaced by other materials as you will find out later.

Step 2: Making the Template

Picture of Making the Template

First off, draw an outline of your hand on a sheet of paper.
Mark off the joints of each finger including your knuckles. If you're lazy, just print out the last picture:)

Step 3: Creating Some Fingers

Picture of Creating Some Fingers

For this hand I used a plastic tubing that electricians use when they route wires trough walls. It is easy to cut and have a nice "spring" to it. Almost any kind of tubing will do so just take whatever you can get.

Cut the tube at a length equal to that of the distance from your finger to your wrist. Do this for all fingers.

From the template, mark off the joints and then cut a V-shape in the tube at each joint. Make sure the to check the angle of the bend so that it closely matches your fingers.

Step 4: Mounting the Fingers

Picture of Mounting the Fingers

Get your string and insert it into the tube. I used nylon string so that it doesn't frizz. Use a few feet for each finger as you can always cut it later.
Tie a few knots at the end as depicted and secure it all with some tape to hold it all together.
At the other end (wrist-side), pull and tape the string. This makes the next step much easier!

Step 5: Mounting the Fingers -continued

Picture of Mounting the Fingers -continued

Make use of those old CD-covers that clutters your desk and snap off a piece of plastic. Cut it to size and power up the glue gun.
Glue the fingers to the plastic strip (just below the knuckle joints). Make sure the right fingers are in the right place!

Step 6: Thumbs Up

Picture of Thumbs Up

Depending on the diameter of the tubing, you might want to tape the fingers before gluing the thumb in place. It might seem a bit tricky placing the thumb, but study your hand and you'll work it out. Use a big blob of glue and hold it steady until it cools.

Step 7: Wrist

Picture of Wrist

Remove the tape from the wrist-end of the tubes and insert them in a foot or so of tubing.
To stiffen things up a bit, attack that old CD-cover again and snip out one or two pieces as per picture. Glue it all together leaving an inch for the wires. Some extra tape might also be in place here.

Step 8: Controlling the Beast

Picture of Controlling the Beast

To get things in motion we need to make a bracket of some kind. A plastic clothes hanger is about to be hacked.
Make a square by taping and gluing the pieces together.
Secure it to the end of the tube by using even more glue and tape.
Tie loops for all fingers. The thumb is a bit tricky to control at first but with time you'll get the hang of it.

That's basically it! The next step is really not necessary but more depending on the usage.

Step 9: Bringing It to Life

Picture of Bringing It to Life

To add a more human touch, I glued some cell foam to the tips of the fingers and palm. This helps if you plan to use a glove for further realism.
On the other hand*, if the aim is a skeleton look, this might be redundant and you'd be better off with some spray paint. This is where your creativity should take over:)

Here's a quick video I made of another hand. I used my stiff MC glove so the movement doesn't really show on that one.

This is a low quality video I made during testing. I will replace it with a better one later!

Thanks for viewing my Instructable. Now, go and scare someone:)


rh12345 (author)2017-04-27

For some reason videos are not showing up for me on neither my desktop nor my mobile browser. Any ideas why I cannot view?

Anikan555 made it! (author)2016-12-19

I made it yes

Aethereal (author)2011-07-12

Dx I've been to several large hardware stores and can't find (even after asking) any of the tubing. Any help?

Thanks :)

Anikan555 (author)Aethereal2016-12-01

try Freeman's they have a ton.

Themajor13 (author)Aethereal2011-10-29

Try an automotive store. I work for Napa and we have a bunch of that stuff for wiring cars. Its called wire loom. Make sure you dont get the split loom because it has a slit down the center.

jakepark (author)2012-06-08

tantraad, could you use straws instead of pipes?

Anikan555 (author)jakepark2016-12-01

in my point of view sure but yah don't have to?

tanntraad (author)jakepark2012-06-08

Hi! I don't see why not. But wouldn't it be very skinny? Also, it might not be as strong.. but give it a go! Let us know how it works out:)

Hooligan2 (author)2014-05-10

thank you so much for this. My little brother was born without a hand and you gave me an idea on how to effectively make him a working hand. Thank you soooo much.

Anikan555 (author)Hooligan22016-12-01

aw well I hope he likes it

rikun85 (author)2016-11-15

The videos don't seem to be loading. Is there another place like Youtube where you could post them?

moyere10 (author)2015-12-01

On step 7... in one of the pictures there is a small triangular grey piece. What is that and what is it for?

Naturelover64 (author)moyere102016-10-02

I think its a piece of the CD case he/she was talking about. Maybe its there to guide the strings?

ianlee74 (author)moyere102016-02-17

Looks to me like you hot glue it to connect the fingers to the arm tube.

RexProjex_37 (author)moyere102016-01-29

probably just decoration

SeyedS1 (author)2016-08-27

Just add few or one motor(s) on the wrist and set it up to pull the strings, now you have a mechanical hand, im willing to make this with motors , and it can be controlled by a glove.

lokesha6 (author)2016-07-29

It is very nice

Lindseya255 (author)2016-05-04

um.. False title.. Says robotic hand, animatronic? But this is cool and i love these. Have a great day

MahmudI (author)2016-03-19

OMG very cool

MikasaDragneel (author)2016-02-03

I'm making it for a science project and whoever made this is a genius!

MikaelS2 made it! (author)2015-10-23

We made a pair and covered the palms with cell-foam, some auto putty and latex. Thanks for the guide!

T0BY (author)2015-08-05

Very nice.

DiegoG17 (author)2015-08-04

Yes indeed well done

DiegoG17 (author)2015-08-04

This is really cool beacuse everyones been like" if you like nightmare bonny so much why dont you just build him!" so this might work!

Venkata SivaiahS (author)2015-07-10

Nice one, thanks!

cardboardman234 (author)2015-03-16

can you use paper tubes for fingers?

You might be able to...

chelo_ldu made it! (author)2015-04-20

added some servos

JackieC3 (author)2015-01-23

not trying to be rude but i did the same thing when i was small but i use a pizza box and just string but yours is much more cooler

exceeda88 (author)2013-04-18

thank you for this, i have recreate it using rubber tube

tanntraad (author)exceeda882014-03-22

I'd love to see it!

CurranSmells (author)tanntraad2015-01-06

Where do u get the tubing and what is the tubing specifically called

fionag123 (author)2014-06-14


samanrabiei (author)2014-05-13

norrisalex (author)2014-04-16

Hi there, thanks for the great instructible. How much did it cost you to make this? I only need a cost estimate because I'll be doing this for a project and I need to provide documentation for my construction.

agfawkes (author)2013-09-13

This is my favorite instructable on the whole site. Thanks so much. It's so inspirational! I found this a few years ago and just remembered it today. I think i will try it this time... 

tanntraad (author)agfawkes2014-03-22

I'm honored, thank you! Go ahead try it!

jazzy97 (author)2014-03-21

I found this very handy, thanks

tanntraad (author)jazzy972014-03-22

Nice one, thanks!

amaituino (author)2013-10-15

Thanks !

amaituino (author)2013-10-15

The thumb is very tricky indeed ... I have tried your way with little (tiny) modifications

Homepwner (author)2013-09-25

too cool!

Orzahn (author)2013-04-24

Thank the robotic overlords for instructables, I was looking to build a hand, but wasn't sure if the strings would work, but evidently they do ;) Thanks.

ksafaet (author)2013-04-02

nice work.... :)

sridharvenkatesh (author)2013-03-25

simply superb! thamk you! i learnt a lot..

MakingWorld (author)2013-03-06

well done!

MakingWorld (author)2013-03-06

well done!

wood wizard (author)2012-12-30

I have some armoured paintball gloves and shall try to make an exoskeletoney version .I shall try to put it on here but It could take a year for me to get round to it. if possible I'll make them extendable arms to. my mouth is often bigger than my skill level so don't count on it being up soon.shall put a link here if I get it done.

ThamarBerber (author)2012-12-25

Thanks for posting this 'Ible! I'm one step closer to be able to get things from up high out of the fridge myself!

cjs1298 (author)2012-12-04

I like how extra additions can come. Like coverage with a glove or even adding an arm.

About This Instructable




Bio: Name: Bård Lund Johansen Engineer, Materials Technology
More by tanntraad:Controlling a keypad matrix via a microcontrollerMake an iPod Video ProjectorMake a remote controlled camera from a cellphone!
Add instructable to: