Introduction: The Incredible Amazing Stick! for Elevator Buttons

Picture of The Incredible Amazing Stick! for Elevator Buttons

This is called the incredible elevator stick, but it is very versatile for many many uses.  Sometimes the simplest inventions are the most useful.  Back when I was in high-school, I would often have to use an elevator to get from one floor of the school to the next.  As I am in a wheelchair, it was very difficult to maneuver in this very tiny elevator to reach any of the buttons.  Unfortunately, the elevator in the school was an old model with the elevator buttons high out of reach.  Even with the newer elevators, with my particular disability, in most instances I can not get close enough to the buttons to reach them.  To solve this issue, the Incredible elevator stick was created.

My first incarnation of the elevator stick consisted of simply a dowel stick cut to a comfortable lenght with a rubber thimble used for sewing stuck onto the end with a rubber-band.  This worked quite well.  It allowed me to easily reach and press the button on the elevator.  This worked well for me through High School. 

In college, people would frequently ask me about this curious looking dowel stick with the rubber thimble rubber-banded on the end.  It would often get strange looks.  I started to realize that while it was practical, the ugly looking stick was somewhat a funny looking item to carry all about.

Thus we come to the new and improved Incredible Elevator Stick, which I might add is far more versatile than using for pushing elevator buttons alone.  I can't tell you the number of times I've used this stick to simply reach, push and even pick up items that I have dropped.  I've added a strong magnet to mine so that I can pick up small metal items like paper-clips, screws and nails.  Because it is very lightweight, I frequently carry it with me and have had many times in which it has come in very handy.

There are a number of ways to make this item, but you will need the following basic supplies for which substitutions may be possible.

1) Dowel stick - You want to find a dowel stick that is comfortable to grip in your hand, thick enough that it won't bend too much, and not so thick that it is heavy to carry.
2) A rubber cap (rubber feet)- Various sized rubber caps are made for fitting onto dowel rods for the purpose of making dowel legs for tables.  These feet can sometimes be hard to find, but are available in many hardware and retail shops.  You want one that is slightly bigger than your dowel rod.  A substitute for this is the rubber thimbal, though this is not as nice looking.
3) Electrical or Duct tape-  You will need some electrical or duct tape in the same color as the rubber cap.
4) Paint or stain- You can use either acrylic paint, spray paint, or stain to paint your dowel.  The paint should be water resistant and durable.  (For most paints, you should use a disposable sponge brush)
5) picture frame eye loop- A very tiny eye loop of the sort that is used for picture frames.
6) leather- Either leather lace or scrap leather
7) Hot glue and hot glue gun
8) Optional:  A lanyard
9) Optional: A small strong magnet that fits within the rubber cap.  Rare-earth magnet.
10) Optional: A saw

Step 1: Step 1 Stick Length

Picture of Step 1  Stick Length

The first step for making this elevator stick is determining how long you need it to be.  Typically, dowel sticks will me much too long left un-cut.   You want the stick to be long enough to reach the highest elevator button for the elevator(s) you are most likely to use, but not so long that it will be difficult to carry.  The best way to determine how long the stick should be is to take an un-cut dowel stick with you, go into an elevator, and see what length  it is most comfortable to hold the stick to reach the button.  Another good way to determine ideal length is to sit the tip of the stick on the floor.  Generally, the stick should not be much more than two or three inches above your knee from the position of sitting in a wheelchair.  For myself, I am making a short elevator stick to go with my longer stick.  A short stick is easier to carry, but will work with fewer elevators.  A longer stick will work with more elevators, but be more difficult to carry.

Mark the length of the stick with a pencil, than saw off the excess if necessary.

Step 2: Step 2: Paint

Picture of Step 2: Paint

The first decorative elevator stick I made, I took a wood burning tool to do some intricate designs, then stained a dark cherry.  You can do all sorts of things when it comes to painting to Jazz up your elevator stick such as cover it in glitter or cover it in decals.  Keep in mind what you plan to use the stick for.  If you want one for getting about the mall you may want a more decorative version than one for getting about at work.  The easiest thing to do is simply spray paint the stick a color to match your wheelchair so it looks like it is a part of the chair.  Don't be surprised to get a lot of questions about your elevator stick as it does have a crop-cane like appearance.

Step 3: Step 3: Rubber Tip

Picture of Step 3: Rubber Tip

If you want to make your stick have a magnetic tip, take a small round strong magnet, and tape it to the end of the stick.  You need to use a very strong magnet, one that will still work through the rubber cap.  Make sure the rubber cap will fit over the end of the stick.  If the rubber cap is loose, wrap tape around the end until the cap is a very tight fit on the end of the stick.  Next, after the cap is in place, tape around the bottom edge of the cap so that the cap can not fall off.  This cap is what will be pushed onto the button.  It should be rubber so as to grip the button when it is pressed into it.  If the cap does not provide enough grip, you can dip the end of the stick into liquid rubber.

Step 4: Step 4: the Loop

Picture of Step 4: the Loop

Carefully screw a small loop onto the end of the dowel stick.  Usually the eye-loop has a sharp tip, so with some force you can screw it into the wood... or try to pre-drill with a tiny dremel tool taking saftey precautions to secure the dowel.  The eye-loop is what will be used to connect a lanyard that will go over the person's wrist to help the individual carry the stick and prevent dropping the stick.

Step 5: Step 5: the Grip

Picture of Step 5: the Grip

To make the grip for the dowel, you will need either leather lace or scrap leather.  If your using scrap leather, you will want to cut a long strip about a half inch wide.  You can make the strip narrower if you like, but it will be difficult to cut straight.  Take your hot glue gun and apply a generous amount of glue to the end of the dowel that has the eye-loop, and then stick the end of the leather strap or leather lace to this area.  Wind the leather around the dowel adding a drop or two of glue as you go making sure the leather is flat against the dowel.  Use a piece of tape to hold the leather to the dowel tightly as the glue dries.

Take another long strip of leather.  Tie the leather to both the upper and lower part of the hand grip and apply glue to hold it in place.  This will prevent the leather grip from unwinding.

Step 6: Step 6: the Strap

Picture of Step 6:  the Strap

There are several ways to make the lanyard or strap that attaches to the end of the dowel.  The simplest way is to take a piece of leather lace approximately 16 inches long and tie it into a loop.  Then thread it through the loop and knot.  You can also use lanyards made for cameras or skip this step completely.

Step 7: Step 7: Safety and Use

Picture of Step 7: Safety and Use

There has been several occasions upon using this elevator stick in elevators I was unfamiliar with in which I nearly got stuck inside the elevator because I could reach the button to open the elevator door on the outside, but not operate the buttons on the inside.  Raised buttons and some very old elevators have buttons that are extremely hard to push and will make it difficult to use this stick.  It is recommended that the first time using an elevator, be accompanied by an abled body individual until you are comfortable that you can operate the buttons yourself.  If this is not possible, be sure to carry a cell phone or let someone know where you are going.  As you enter an unfamiliar elevator, quickly look at the buttons.  If they look as if they will be difficult to reach, exit the elevator before the doors close.

Step 8: Visit

Picture of Visit
Finally, Don't forget to visit  for all sorts of great stuff I have been working on!


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acaig (author)2015-01-26

That's great I take a collapsible one with me ike a car Ariel it's got a tiny rake on the end great for itchy back magnet and rubberised strip
I was thinking of making another so that the tiny rake actually grabs and moving the rubber to the handle end for grip of holding and if you do use it as a back scratch the rubber catches on your clothes but I'm in no hurry it works well and collapses to 9.5 cm I'm going to check out your link now

ccheskin (author)2014-05-28

i made an amazing stick with a hook on the end to pull the curtains.

DarkRubyMoon (author)ccheskin2014-05-28

Awesome! I bent a paperclip into a hook and taped it onto a stick to use it to pick up all sorts of things and reach items as well. Works great ;)

flamekiller (author)2010-05-27

This device should be called the Finglonger.  Just sayin' ...

DarkRubyMoon (author)flamekiller2010-05-28

Hmmm Finglonger.. Finglongerer?  I was thinking about calling it the Pokey-mon.  Poka-stick?  Whack-a-button?  Whack-a-ru?  There are just so many great possible names for the Amazing Incredible stick :D

Zimminger (author)DarkRubyMoon2010-10-27


flamekiller (author)DarkRubyMoon2010-05-29

The Finglonger idea, I must admit, was stolen from Futurama, and I can take no credit for suggesting the name.

JacobElisud (author)2010-05-27

I practice Scottish and Irish Gaelic sword and stick fighting (well, as much as I can), so anything involving a stick is great to me (right now I use a cane, which is actually an Irish blackthorn walking stick which would NOT be fun to get hit with, but it's good to know that when I end up in a wheelchair, I'll still be able to carry a stick!)

You know, it might also be fun to make some form of gun and shoot those elevator buttons. Like a sturdier version of the toy rubber dart guns, and with a cord on the projectile, and some way to automatically reel it in.

Imagine getting in an elevator, and some nice person asks what floor your going to, and you say "No problem, I got it" and whip out your elevator button gun and nail it first shot. :)

DarkRubyMoon (author)JacobElisud2010-05-28

That would be cool!  I can just see me shooting all the elevator buttons now... and upsetting whomever was stuck in the elevator with me LOL.  Maybe something like one of those marshmellow pvc toy guns.

From experience, I will say this stick makes for a great dualing stick sword, though you don't want to get whacked with one lol.  Thanks!

Bor (author)2010-05-20

 There's just one thing I wonder... The elevator at my grandma's has those fancy buttons you just have to touch with your finger without pressing them. Does this work over there as well or does the object "stroking" the button has to be a real finger?

DarkRubyMoon (author)Bor2010-05-21

That is a great question.  Thank You everyone for the suggestions on this.  We don't have too many elevators like that which I've encountered, so I've not given much thought to this.

butcher_mike (author)Bor2010-05-20

 they are conductive, simply sowing in some conductive thread into the tip, or placing a small piece of conducting metal on the end should solve that

Zimminger (author)2010-05-20

For sticky buttons, you might want to weight the tip so you can give them a hard whack.  For touch screen buttons and push buttons that need to "feel a human finger," they're sometimes operated by body capacitance.  Run a wire or strip of foil down the rod from the grip to the tip; that should do it. 

DarkRubyMoon (author)Zimminger2010-05-21

Yes... I'll have to take a look at one of those elevators that are touch sensitive...I've not encountered any around here... but that is a great idea.  The magnet does offer some weight to the tip.  It is a balance between making  sure is not too heavy for person in wheelchair to lift and having the right weight for feel.

porcupinemamma (author)2010-05-20

When I was at college, we were required to invent at least one assistive device.  Some of the inventions were truly awe inspiring! You would be an excellent guest lecturer at many colleges/universities. If you have not had the joy of listening to Judith Snow, I just know you will.  Judith is an Inclusion Consultant.  Check out one of her video clips at you Tube

Thanks!  I did have a chance to speak as a guest at my college some time was a great experience.

quiet1 (author)2010-05-20

How about turning your Pokein' Stick into a multi- tool? I'm picturing an assortment of interchangable tips for different needs; pokeing, grabbing, picking up, whacking anoying folks, etc. Maybe mod an expanding
to include a screw head to mount the tips. It could be the first "Defense-ible"!

DarkRubyMoon (author)quiet12010-05-21

I love that idea!  Need a good name for it... The Swiss Stick?  The multi-stickable?  Transform-a-stick?  Robo-stick?  I'll have to work on that!

KAoC (author)2010-05-21

Oh my, I love these things! They're brilliant. My university has one hanging next to every elevator on campus. The best part is, no one knows how to use them.

Imagine this, your stick is chained to a wall, about 4 inches away from the rubber tip, and the chain is just long enough such that the non-tipped end can  barely touch the buttons (the chain becomes taut before the end reaches the button and you kind of have to swing it the rest of the way).

One day I got the bright idea to stand around those elevators with a clipboard and a fake story: I am doing a psychology experiment. I would simply ask passers by who were not wheel chair bound to use the available device to call an elevator. I would record my findings and say thank you and they would go on their way. 

After 22 people struggled to push the untipped end into the button, there was finally a success found in a good friend. It turned out though that his cousin uses a wheel chair and guess what, made his own stick as well. :)

Anyway that was pointless, great instructable!

DarkRubyMoon (author)KAoC2010-05-21

That is a terrific idea to hang one by the elevator!  I wish I thought of recommending that to my college.

keebmn82 (author)2010-05-15

 Now get to work making hundreds of them and sell them to Medical suppliers. You'll be rich. 
I bought a grabber from one and it was $40.00 got one 10"  longer at a hardware store for $15.00 Same manufacturer. 

DarkRubyMoon (author)keebmn822010-05-15

A friend of mine made this terrific grabber I use... far better than anything sold in stores.  I hope to make an instructable of it one day.  He had professional tools, but I am sure there is simple way to make it.  Anything considered "medical equipment" they charge ridiculous prices for.  My wheelchair cost as much as a nice car.  Selling these to Medical suppliers would be a terrific idea... though I hate to make money off of people who really need such things.  If I knew anyone who could really use one, I'd just make it and give it to them.

keebmn82 (author)DarkRubyMoon2010-05-15

 I dont charge people that cant afford to pay me for the things I make or do for them. But if they can afford to bake me some chocolate chip cookies, then thats my price.
I have a super cheapo wheelchair, $1,200.00 with insurance or $300.00 without.
I want to make a sports chair...someday.

DarkRubyMoon (author)keebmn822010-05-18

I'd work for Chocolate chip cookies! :)  My decision to modify my wheelchair came when I found out insurance would not cover any of the cost of the wheelchair I really wanted.  The wheelchair i now have i got only because it was technically used, and the wheelchair company wanted to get rid of it from their inventory.  I had tested out the iBot wheelchair which could ride a person at standing height  on two wheels and climb stairs... one of the most brilliant inventions I have ever seen... and one of the best designed wheelchairs ever.  The cost was just a little more than my prior wheelchair, but insurance rules changed so much, they wouldn't even cover the value of my former wheelchair.  Unfortunately, as a result of insurance not covering its cost... the iBot chair is no longer on the market for anyone.  It is very sad when simply because of money issues, such an idea that could help so many can't be afforded by those who need it most.

Candor (author)DarkRubyMoon2010-05-20

aaaaand this whole discussion makes me realize how luck I was to get the base of my Talek model for only 40 bucks.

Sabata (author)DarkRubyMoon2010-05-20

"I hate to make money off of people who really need such things"

I understand where you're coming from, but if there's a need for the product...

Try to get some in medical supply shops at a reasonable price and you'll be doing people a service. You know there are plenty of folks who don't read Instructables or don't know you well enough to ask for one ;-) so by selling them you both win.

XOIIO (author)2010-05-15


DarkRubyMoon (author)XOIIO2010-05-15

Yes... I do hope this instructable doesn't end up in the wrong hands!  Can you imagine if Apes got a hold of this invention?  Maybe that is how Planet of the Apes began!

Sabata (author)DarkRubyMoon2010-05-20

This got me thinking that the stick could also be useful for self defense purposes. Its design and intended use is great "camouflage" for those areas where defending oneself is frowned upon.

HillBilly Homer (author)Sabata2010-05-20

halberdear (author)2010-05-17

Originally I thought it was because elevator buttons are covered in other peoples germs, but I suppose this serves both purposes!

minime12358 (author)halberdear2010-05-20

Yah, I agree. I saw this in my email and im like "mann thats one germ conscious person to post an ible about it" but then i see this and I realized "ohhhhhh"

mhill (author)halberdear2010-05-20

Maybe I should quit pushing them with my nose...;-p

DarkRubyMoon (author)halberdear2010-05-17

Yes... it never occurred to me that elevator buttons would be so germy... but the more I think about it, the more happy I am that I've never pressed the buttons with my finger lol.

criggie (author)2010-05-20

Ski poles might be a good starting point - they have most of the handle etc already

purplefiona (author)2010-05-20

 Quick tip! Rubber walking-stick tips are called "ferrules" (in UK). Handy to know when searching eBay :)

stone3408 (author)2010-05-16

When I open the article I was intrigued about using a stick to press an elevator button.  When I read that you were in a wheelchair the idea was genius. I think that your idea is great and has lots of room to be expanded on.  What about a high power magnet on one end.  Pens, pill bottles, and all sorts of other small items could have a small metal band.  They would be very easy to pick up.  Keep up the good work.  I would try to find a message board or something like that to get this idea out to people that could really use it.

DarkRubyMoon (author)stone34082010-05-16

Thank you!  I have thought about perhaps doing an electro magnet for a future version if I ever finish some of my other projects.   I was a bit concerned initially that the magnet might set off alarms in stores... but thankfully that does not seem to be the case.  Thanks!

Eirinn (author)DarkRubyMoon2010-05-20

Most store security systems use RFID chips to insure that the product leaving is actually their own - it contains a serial number that gets read by a reciever when you exit the store and sound the alarm if the number hasn't been removed from the "not sold list".
A simple magnet should not, in any case, trigger such an alarm system.

Just my 2 cents, as far as  i know ;)

stone3408 (author)DarkRubyMoon2010-05-17

The store alarms shouldn't be set off by the magnets.   If you do it post another instructable I would love to see it. 

purplefiona (author)2010-05-20

 How wonderful! i can't wait to make one for my friend in a wheelchair. Had been trying to think of a useful birthday pres... now I know! I think it will be purple and glittery (of course) and I may add a small flashlight :) x

zim_256 (author)2010-05-20

For the new "tactile" elevator buttons, you'll need to add something conductive to contact the tip of the stick with your hand. Think about a fine wire connected to some metal part on the hand grip and use conductive paint on the other side of the stick to connect the wire.

appalgirl (author)2010-05-14

In the late 1990s, I was a nursing home administrator. My facility had several young men in wheelchairs who had the same problem with the elevator buttons. Since I'm also a nurse, I really wanted to solve that seemingly simple problem. I made pretty much the same thing; a dowel, varnished, with a cane or crutch tip on the end. The guys really liked it and would wear down the tips every few months from use.  You have improved the idea with the magnet, grip, and wrist strap.  Great Instructable! PS:  This is my first comment ever!

DarkRubyMoon (author)appalgirl2010-05-18

Thank you so much!

critterfluffy (author)2010-05-16

So you think it might be possible to modify the stick in some way to hold the door open while you check.  I am unsure about the mechanisms used for most elevators but most just require you touch the inside of the door.  This could eliminate this problem.  Open door, place something in way of door, enter elevator, press button, pull blockage from door.  Again, no idea how this might be done but it would definately make unfamiliar elevators a little safer to use.  Love the stick.  Keep up the good work.

You can block the door with  your wheelchair entering half-way in the elevator as you check to make sure the buttons are reachable.  The only problem with this is, if you do this on an old elevators with the bumpers, you can expect to be pounded a bit by the doors lol.  For doors with modern sensors, just waving the stick in front of the door works fine.

TheWomanMonster (author)2010-05-15

Very cool! I'm glad you were able to create a workable solution to a challenge most of us would overlook.

I'd love seeing a bit of artistic flair too,
just because something is 'functional' doesn't mean it can't be pretty as well.

Thanks!  I am an artist by profession, so I always enjoy making the ordinary look extra-ordinary.

Jdawg428 (author)2010-05-16

i was wondering what the point of this is till i realized you were in a wheelchair

kelseymh (author)2010-05-13

On a side note, this would be an excellent tool to awaken people sleeping through your PowerPoint presentation...

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