Introduction: How to Make a Wooden Fidget Cube
For the past months - ever since the fidget spinners became popular, I've been looking at kids in my class while they use them. Unlike fidget cubes, they look to me like more of a distraction. Fidget spinners require quite a bit of movement (both hands), and are distracting since when you aren't putting them on your nose, you always try to hit them as hard as you can, focus on them while you wait for them stop, and then repeat the process. They catch my attention when I'm not using them, so what would they do when I am using them!? (Note: if you disagree with this and want to make a fidget spinner, skip to step #3 where I show how to get ball bearings for free (hint-hint stepper motors!)
I don't find concentrating in class an easy task. If my mind isn't busy writing notes for my next project, I'm fidgeting with anything that I have around: opening and closing the cap of my pen, opening and closing my water bottle, tapping my fingernails on the table, etc... Although personally, I've never used a fidget cube, it looks to me like a toy that could keep my hands busy for a long time. I decided to build my own wooden fidget cube out of scrap wood, with the fidgeting toys that I think I would use, some of which that I've never seen before. And I didn't forget to add a silent spinner that can be spun with one hand, and doesn't spin forever! :)
Although I originally made it for use in school, I think it could help stop me from going crazy during long rides in the car during trips too.
Let's get started!
(Watch the YouTube video: LINK FOR MOBILE VIEWERS!)
Step 1: What You'll Need:
Want to make this project? Here's what you'll need, or at least what I used!
For those who aren't able to salvage parts for free, I've added some links to eBay below. Keep in mind that these parts can be acquired at a hardware store, or anywhere else online. If you don't see something that you think should be here, or would like to know more about a specific tool/part that I used, feel free to ask in the comments.
I made it for FREE since I already had everything that was needed on hand.
Hardware, Materials & Consumables:
- Maple wood (from an old IKEA chair)
- CA glue
- Silicone adhesive
- A small ball bearing (salvaged from an old stepper motor)
- A screw
- Toggle switch
- Tactile switches
- Small washers
- A small bolt with a matching nut (coupler nut)
- 4mm Plywood
- Small weights (steel/lead)
- Handsaw (+ DIY magnetic handsaw guide)
- Wire cutter
- Homemade wooden vise
- Measuring & marking tools
- Drill & drill bit set
- Rotary tool (w/ sanding drums/ carving bits)
- Hot glue gun
Subject: Woodworking (& a tiny bit of metalworking)
Approximate Time: <10 hours
ALWAYS USE PROPER PPE.
Step 2: Cut the Wood to Size
All of the wood that I have has been salvaged from stuff, so I need to work with what I have. I was originally going to use European beech, but then decided to use hard (I'm almost sure) maple, because it looks better. Keep in mind that both have the same hardness, and they both are options.
The piece of maple that I had was 4cm by 4cm, I decided to cut it to 4cm long, well, because it's a FidgetCUBE! This was done accurately using my homemade magnetic handsaw guide, which is a must have tool to have around when using any type of handsaw.
Step 3: The Fidget Spinner
As I've already mentioned, I'm going to use a bearing that I salvaged for free from a stepper motor. I've embedded the new YouTube video below, but if that doesn't work properly, click here .
I started by drawing what looked to me like a spinner on a small piece of 4mm plywood, and then cut it out a bit oversized with a hacksaw. I clamped it in my homemade wooden vise to keep it tightly in place so it wouldn't move.
I then used a drum Sander in my rotary tool to sand/carve it to the shape that I wanted. This took less time than I thought it would take, but produced a lot of dust. I also sanded both sides with some fine sandpaper to make them a bit smoother.
A good reason to stop procrastinating about my homemade air filter!
Step 4: The Silicone Squishy!
I didn't have a lot of time to continue working and would have to wait until the next day to continue, so I figured I would make the silicone squishy, since it takes silicone more than a day to fully cure. Learning too much from David Picciuto...
I also wanted the cube to have a bit more mass to it (so I could throw it around and catch it), so I drilled a hole in the side where I was going to apply the silicone to, and inserted a small lead weight with a bit of silicone to secure it in place. Wash your hands after handling lead! Or just don't touch it.
I squeezed a nice glob of silicone onto the face, where the lead weight was. Only after making a big mess I remembered that silicone can be spread easily by putting soap on your finger, which stops it from sticking.
After it has fully cured, I can update and say that it's quite hard to squish it, but I like it this way. To make if softer, add more silicone, and make the big glob taller. Also, keep in mind that there are many different kinds of silicone adhesive, and speaking of different kinds, I thought the one I was using would have been a bit white-er, not as clear.
Step 5: Attaching the Spinner & Last Tweaks (pt2)
I found the center of the spinner, and then drilled a hole in it with a step bit. I have to say I'm surprised to see how well it drilled through plywood, and not only plastic and aluminum. I think drilling at high speed and not applying a lot of force eliminates most of the possible tearout.
I drilled a hole in each corner (or whatever the pointy part of a triangle is called!) and glued in a small steel weight with CA glue. I'm quite surprised, and highly recommend a step bit like this - they're only like $2 on eBay!
I located the center of the face of the cube in which I wanted to put the spinner on, and drilled a small pilot hole in it. I placed the bearing on a small screw which I had chosen earlier, and then added 2 small washers after it. I screwed the screw onto the block and made sure that it was tight.
I dripped a small drop of CA glue inside of the main hole that was drilled in the spinner, and squeezed it over the bearing (or maybe the correct term is "press fit"?), making sure that it was centered and with the tearout side down. Unfortunately though, it had cured and was hard before I was able to push it all the way in, but I later found out that it actually makes it easier for me to spin it!
I finished the top with more CA glue to make it a bit more durable. Keep it away from your eyes when doing something like this since there's a lot of surface area, which makes a lot of CA glue fumes evaporate at once, and they can burn your eyes quite badly.
Step 6: Push Button Switches!
Push button switches! I mean buttons! Push button switches, more commonly sold as tactile switches.
I chose 7 small push button switches from my collection of switches that were salvaged from old appliances, and cut off their leads (feet/wires). I recommend choosing ones that don't make a really loud click sound which drive other people crazy.
I scuffed up one face of the cube, and glued the tactile switches down with hot glue. It looks to me like they've adhered pretty well.
Step 7: The Coves/ridges
These are basically a half of a hole that I drill across a piece of wood. I used this technique before for a SpectrumLED (see my comment on the updated mount), and thought they could be a good idea for the cube. Also to show a neat little trick that I found ;)
I wanted to make some ridges/coves across one face of the cube. I think that's how they're called. Here's how I made them:
I placed a piece of wood on the face that I wanted to cove-ify, and then clamped (sandwiched) it to my workbench. I drilled two holes between the pieces of wood with a brad point drill bit (trust me - it helps a lot!) and then repeated the same process with a smaller drill bit. This makes for quite a cool texture.
Looks like my picture of them disappeared, but they can be seen on other steps.
Step 8: The Toggle Switch!
I found a toggle switch that wasn't too loud in my collection of switches. I would have preferred a switch that was black, but didn't want to use a switch that I thought I would need for a different project.
I traced it, leaving an outline of the bottom of the switch on one face of the cube. After that, I drilled a few holes to get rid of some material, and then continued with my rotary tool and knife. I never knew wood carving was so hard. End grain is impossible, but I did it!
I glued the switch inside with hot glue, but I think I used too much because the heat kind of damaged the switch a bit, so it doesn't click when I turn it off...
Step 9: The Nut on a Bolt Spinner Thingy
There's something quite satisfying about spinning a hex nut on a bolt, or a threaded rod. Why not add it to a fidget cube?
I found a coupler nut that felt right for playing with, and then found a bolt that matched its size and TPI. I cut its head off with a hacksaw. I scuffed up two adjacent corners of the last face that was left on the cube with more sandpaper, put a glob of hot glue on both, let them cool down (so it would raise the screw up), and then glued on the screw with more hot glue.
This is a really fun one to play with.
Step 10: DONE! | More Thoughts | Video!
Some more thoughts:
- I WISH I had something like this 5 years ago!
- Do you think I should varnish the side with the coves? Humidity might be an issue (it's end-grain).
- The spinner currently looks really cool in wood, but maybe even cooler in aluminum!
- I also think that I could get tired of using only a fidget spinner all the time, so I like having other stuff too.
- A word has gone around that I've built an electric fidget spinner. That doesn't even make sense! Oh, wait it does, and it's called and bandsaw or an electric bike. I wish I could build those! :)
- Have any other ideas for creative toys to add to a fidget cube? Share them in the comments below!
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