Introduction: DIY Foot Massager

About: We are fascinated by and enjoy making STEAM projects.

When suffering from tired feet there is nothing like a good foot massage. This is difficult to do for yourself and it is not always easy to find an obliging massage therapist. The obvious answer seemed to be buy a foot massager. On checking on-line there were a number of products based on rollers that you rub your feet on that appeared to fit the bill but it turned out that it was not possible to purchase these locally and all of the on-line options had prohibitive freight costs. In addition, upon checking reviews of these products there was often negative comments including being too small for normal sized feet, the wood used smelling so strongly that the unit had to be left outside etc. Pictures of the on-line products also showed the units looking of questionable quality.

The answer ... make one!!

Having seen all of the on-line units being made of wood it biased our thinking towards this medium for our one. We had scrap in the workshop some 10mm ply, a length of 42mm x 20mm hardwood, a length of 3/16" mild steel rod and one old broom handle of 23mm diameter. These seemed the ideal ingredients to be re-purposed to a foot massager.

The construction of the base is simple and only requires basic tools being saws and a drill. A hacksaw is required for cutting the 3/16" rod into lengths. However, the making of wooden rollers does require a well equipped workshop. We used a lathe and milling machine with an indexing head attachment to make the wooden rollers.

But, never fear, there is an easier option - just 3D print the rollers as per the above photo. This is version 2.

And, by the way, the 3D printed rollers give an even better massage!!

Step 1: Make the Base

All construction details are in the pdf drawing attached. It is at half scale when printed on an A4 sheet and all dimensions are in mm.

The base is cut from 10mm plywood and is 180mm x 168mm.

It needs four 4mm holes drilled 10mm from the edge and 40mm in from the ends of the 180mm sides. These holes need to be countersunk from the bottom so the heads of the screws are below the surface. The screws are to hold the side rails in place.

Step 2: Make Side Frames

Refer to the pdf drawing for dimensions of the side frames and details of hole positions.

These are made from 2 lengths of 42mm x 20mm hardwood cut to 180mm long.

The top is tapered from the centre down to the ends to a height of 27mm and then rounded with a radius of 20mm.

Then there are five 3/16" holes to be drilled 10mm deep on the side face to accept the rods supporting the rollers.

Finally there are two 3mm holes to be drilled on the bottom of the frames to accept the screws mounting the side frames to the base.

Step 3: Make the Rods to Support the Rollers

Simply cut 5 lengths of 3/16" steel rod to 148mm long. De-bur the ends with a file or grinder.

The diameter of these rods could be varied but would require changing the dimensions of the holes in the side frames and the rollers.

Step 4: Making Wooden Rollers - Skip This Step If You Want the Easier 3D Printed Option

The version 1 foot massager had wooden rollers as per many of the commercial items.

It is assumed that if you have the equipment to make the wooden rollers you do not need much instruction.

Basically we cut five 125mm lengths of an old broom handle which happened to be 23mm in diameter. Larger diameter would be better - anything up to 32mm will fit.

Steps in making each roller are

  1. Use a lathe to bore a 3/16" clearance hole down the length of the roller.
  2. Use a lathe to turn grooves into the roller. We used a standard 60 degree thread cutting tool to cut 10 grooves, 3mm deep. If you have larger diameter dowel then use less but deeper grooves as per the drawing for the 3D printed rollers (8 grooves).
  3. Use a mill and indexing head (as per photo) to put longitudinal scallops along the length of the roller indexed every 60 degrees.
  4. Sand off any burrs if needed.

Step 5: Making 3D Printed Rollers

Our 3D printer only has a z volume of 100mm so could not print the 125mm long rollers in one hit. We therefore printed the rollers in halves and glued them together to create the complete roller. There are stl files attached for both the full roller and the half roller. We printed ours out of PLA with 20% fill.

Step 6: Assemble the Foot Massager

Assemble the components as per the exploded views.

We have also attached an stl file for 3D printed side frames. We have not printed or used these so no guarantees.

Step 7: Completed Foot Massager Ready for Use

The completed unit with 3D rollers should appear as above.

Step 8: Turn Tired Feet Into Happy Feet