Introduction: 4 PLY , No Problem !!

About: Just an average guy. husband, father of four, grandpa, civil engineer turned cabinetmaker, jack of all trades master of a few. Enjoys, golf, curling, woodworking, creativity & making things.

Have you ever had one of those days when 2 ply just wasn't cutting it, or on those light days when 2 ply was too much? Well, here is the solution to that age old problem. Now you can transform your your run of the mill toilet paper into a product that suits your needs, just by cranking a handle.

All kidding aside, when I read in the Paper Contest " for the adventurous, try your hand at a paper machine "and trying to think outside the box, I remembered a scene from the TV show The Office . I looked it up, season 7 show # 10 at about the 13 minute mark. Dwight is having his flunky Nate separate the 2 Ply into 1 Ply in the background for cost savings. I remembered thinking then, that one day I was going to make one of those machines, and here we are, the Ultimate Paper Machine !

I do have a bit of a warped sense of humor, my wife chuckles and shakes her head but my kids get it, that's the main thing!

Step 1: Plans & Drive Wheels Pt. 1

I have included a drawing of the unit with all of the dimensions.

I used bits and pieces of off cut material, three 1/4'' x 2 1/2'' bolts, two 1/4'' x 1 1/4'' bolts, seven 1/4'' flat washers, and a small piece of tire tube. It's a fun little project to get rid of small scraps.

I started with a piece of walnut 3'' x 22'' x 3/4'' thick .Using a 2 1/4'' hole saw I cut out six wheels ( two extra just in case ) on the drill press. I took a 1/4 '' bolt and with two nuts and washers snugged three pieces together . I drilled a 1/4 hole in my drill press table for one end of the bolt to sit in and the other in the chuck of the drill press, then I sanded the disks. These and the other round parts could easily be produced on a lathe.

Step 2: Drive Wheels Pt. 2

Using the same 1/4 '' hole in the drill press table I put a 1/4 " drill bit to act as a centering pin for drilling - first a 5/8'' step 3/16 " deep - then a 7/16 '' step another 3/16 " deeper. Then Insert the 1/4 '' x 2 1/2 " bolt in and tap the bolt down into the 7/16 " step , locking the bolt head from turning. Note that walnut is soft enough to allow this , other hardwoods might have to be chiseled out to match the bolt head. I then glued a 5/8 '' maple plug in the 5/8 '' step.

Insert the walnut disk with the bolt into the drill. First sand the maple plug flush and then put a slight camber, a high spot on the outside of the wheel. ( I used a disk sander while running the drill ) This keeps the belt tracking on the wheel. Repeat with the other two, trying to keep them all the same.

The crank wheel also has only one 5/8'' step 1/4'' deep, to accommodate a 1/4'' x 1 1/4'' bolt that will be threaded into the frame

Step 3: Paper Tube Dowels

Rather than using a dowel and trying to drill an exact center hole I chose to use the method of gluing up four pieces of square stock with a 1/8 bevel down one edge. 11/16" x 11/16" x 24'' long, After applying the glue and tape lengthwise to line up the four pieces, use 5" stretch wrap as a clamp to pull it all together.

Once dry, router the outside corners in small increments until you have a snug fit in the toilet paper roll. Cut the dowel to the same length as the toilet paper roll, then drill into the center using a 7/32 " drill bit. The bit will naturally follow the center.

TIP : I have used this same method to make a hole down the entire length of a dowel. Cutting all four pieces out of the same stock and keeping the same orientation when you glue them back together makes it really hard to spot that it is not a solid piece.

TIP : I always have a roll of stretch wrap handy, it has a tremendous amount of pull force for clamping round or odd shaped objects. Plus it does not stick to the glue

Step 4: Paper Holders

I cut out six 5 1/4'' diameter disks out of 3/16 plywood, sanded them and glued three on to the three spindles lining up the center holes.

T Bolts - I drilled three 1/4'' holes into a 1/2'' x 1/2'' strip and sunk three 1/4'' x 1 1/4'' bolt ( grind the head to a diamond shape and set down into strip ) then glue another strip on top. Cut strip to 3/4'' wide with bolts facing out, sand and cut in between bolts to make individual T bolts.

Glue T bolts onto three other plywood disks.

Step 5: Main Frame

The frame was made from 3/4" x 2 1/8 " pieces ( as per drawing ). After cutting and fitting the pieces together, I glued and taped the joints. For added strength, after it had set up I drilled 5/16'' holes 1/2" deep at the joints, then drilled a pilot hole for a 2 1/2'' screw followed by a 5/16" walnut plug.

The frame was then sanded and three 1/4" holes drill thru for the drive wheels and one hole 7/32'' not drilled all the way thru for the crank wheel.

TIP : When drilling wood plugs with a plug cutter place a couple pieces of masking tape on the drilled side so when you run the saw blade ( band saw, or table saw ) down the strip to release the plugs they pull away with the tape and do not get fired out or tangled up in the blade.

Step 6: Crank Handle and Belts

I got a little creative with the crank handle by putting a little curve to it. I cut it on the band saw and sanded it on a belt sander. It is 3/4'' wide and the crank knob is 2 3/4'' from center of the drive wheel .The handle was made by drilling and threading a 1/4'' bolt into a 3/4'' x 3/4'' x 1 1/4 maple block, putting the bolt into a drill and turning it against a belt sander.

I drilled a 5/8 '' hole 3/8'' deep for the bolt and cut a screwdriver slot in the head of the bolt. Then I threaded the bolt into the knob and cap with a maple plug. Be careful not to get glue on the bolt head when capping, it has to spin free.

The belts were made from a car tire inner tube cut to 3/8'' strip, and cleaned with a bit of solvent and a rag.

Step 7: Assemble

Install the drive wheel with the 1 1/4'' bolt and washer, snug it up but make sure it still turns freely. Glue and clamp your handle on over the bolt. This is the only piece that needs to be installed prior to finishing.

Before final assembly pre-finish all your pieces ( I used rub on beeswax and orange oil ).

Put a 1/4'' flat washer on the drive wheel and put the bolt through the holes, put on another washer and then thread the paper holder assembly on. The 1/4'' thread on the bolt will thread itself into the 7/32'' hole fairly easily ( put a few drops of glue inside the hub to help lock the threads), tighten until snug but it must still turn freely. Repeat with other two hubs and drive wheels.

Install the drive belts , toilet paper, empty roll and then thread your outer plywood disks on.

Note: to make 1 ply use only one belt around the two rolls and the crank handle and put your 2 ply roll on the outer spindle.

YOU'RE ALL DONE , your ultimate paper machine is ready for operation !

Step 8: Conclusion

Just a few thoughts where this might be useful: as a one of a kind wedding or birthday gift, mounted on the wall of your man cave as a conversation starter, on the counter in your guest bathroom with a note attached "please feel free to roll your own", on a bookshelf in the den as art, for practical jokes, the possibilities are endless, I would love to hear some of your ideas and suggestions!

Thanks for your support and votes, and have a little fun! We're here for a good time not a long time :)


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