How to Make Gears Easily

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Introduction: How to Make Gears Easily

About: Retired technology teacher - 2 kids, I have an Hons deg in Design and Technology - 28 years as Computer systems engineer Trained as Electronics engineer in the Royal Air Force


One of the most difficult and yet common mechanical systems is a gear train. A great way to transmit mechanical power from one place to another or to increase or decrease power (torque) or increase or decrease the speed of something.

The problems are always that to make efficient gears needs quite a lot of drawing and mathematical skill as well as the ability to machine complex shapes.

For a lot of amateur work it isn't necessary to have maximum efficiency and therefore we can get away with a much easier to make, even with hand tools, system.

A gear is basically a series of teeth on a wheel.

http://automata.co.uk/gears.htm

provides a very good explanation of how gears work and how to work out gear ratios.

(Note in the diagram above they have labeled an incorrect number of teeth on the gears - sorry)

Step 1: Formula and Maths (the Bad News)


Formula for drawing and making gear teeth are all over the web BUT they seem, to the beginner, very complicated.

from http://www.engineersedge.com/gear_formula.htm

So I decided to simplify the issue and it works very well at both large scale and small scale. At small scale it works best with machine cutting with laser cutters for example when very small gears can successfully be made this way.

Step 2:

No content

Step 3: The Easy Way


So how.
1. the shape of the teeth is simplified to be half a circle

Step 4: Working Out the Size of Everything


2.We can now easily sort out some simple maths to make our gear

  • a. How big/small do we need the gear teeth to be, (diameter) - The smaller the gear the smaller the teeth need to be.
  • b. All the teeth that are going to mesh, (connect), together must be the same size so calculate your smallest gear first.


3. Lets start with a gear tooth size of 10 mm

I want a gear with 5 teeth on it so the circle will be 10 x 10mm round (circumference)= 100 mm

To draw that circle I need to find the diameter so I use a bit of maths and a calculator a divide the circumference (100 mm) by Pi = 3.142

This gives me a diameter of 31.8mm I can draw this with a compass and then fit exactly 10 circles 10mm diameter round it with my compass.

If your able this is easier to do with even the most basic drawing software. If your using software you should be able to rotate the tooth circle round the main circle and will need to know how far to rotate each tooth - This is easily calculated by 360 deg / the number of circles so for our 10 circles 360/10=36 deg rotation for each tooth.

Step 5: Making the Tooth Shape.


delete the top of one circle and the bottom of the next circle. To make this work out there must be an EVEN number of circles.

4. We have our first gear. This can be cut in wood or metal with basic hand tools, saws and files.

5. It is easy to repeat this process for any number of gears as we need them. Keep the circle size the same and they will fit together.

Step 6: You Have Your Gear

6 Because this semi-circle shaped gear tooth is easy to cut you can do it with hand tools, a sabre (jig) saw or even a coping saw.

In the past I have made a template of 9 or 10 teeth from plywood and use it as a guide for my hand router and cut the gear teeth with little trouble.

If you have access to a laser cutter these can be cut from 3 or 5 mm acrylic and work well down to very tiny sizes.

Step 7: UPDATE

Just to add this to these ideas. Some time ago i tried making simple plywood circles and gluing on the outside a cut down timing belt from a car. This worked as well and is a LOT quicker to do.

You need to select a diameter that will suite the teeth spacing on the belt. I elected to cut between 2 teeth and make my join there.

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    56 Comments

    0
    bhazlet
    bhazlet

    6 months ago

    Nice and simple tutorial for making basic gears, I like the simplicity of using the 10 mm round profile. Also, Love the idea of using an old timing belt on the circumference of a disc. I may use that idea for some student projects if I can find a local mechanic with some old timing belts laying around. Aloha.

    0
    rickharris
    rickharris

    Reply 6 months ago


    This went up after I published my instructable. great minds!

    Remember that the half round profile is only good for light loads. But then again you not going to make metal gears like this anyway.

    It works with 3D printing as long as the profiles are fairly large.

    Enjoy, a good way to get kids to use the maths they get taught and to understand it really might be useful!

    0
    bhazlet
    bhazlet

    Reply 6 months ago

    Little first experiment. Used a flat washer for the gear profile, my compass is too worn and loose. The down side of tracing the 1" washer is you get a little parallax and imprecision in tracing, 1" washer becomes a 1 1/8" pencil trace. But sufficient for my demonstration purpose and a start for students' projects.

    IMG-2029.JPG
    0
    JStar714
    JStar714

    Question 7 months ago on Step 5

    In step 5 did you mean you need an even # of circles? The gear you made does have an odd # of teeth

    0
    rickharris
    rickharris

    Answer 6 months ago

    Thanks, I should have said (and it now does) the number of circles must be even.

    There are now a number of CAD packages that generate gears with the correct tooth shape, There are even online gear generators google will show you the way.

    This was at the time a simple way for kids to form gears of any size without complex drawing techniques, It may now be somewhat redundant - Although interesting.

    0
    JStar714
    JStar714

    Question 7 months ago on Step 2

    I must be missing something. Does step 2 have any content?

    0
    rickharris
    rickharris

    Answer 6 months ago

    I am not at all sure why step 2 is empty, There doesn't seem to be anything missing but this was published 10 years ago. I have added a comment to say it is empty as I don't seem to be able to delete the step.

    Thanks.

    0
    joelo46
    joelo46

    5 years ago

    very good instructions, but it's you're not your

    0
    rickharris
    rickharris

    Reply 9 months ago

    Sorry miss read the comment I am an idiot. You’re right. Sorry.

    0
    rickharris
    rickharris

    Reply 5 years ago

    As far S I know this is my original idea, unless you can show otherwise?

    0
    joelo46
    joelo46

    Reply 5 years ago

    what

    0
    rickharris
    rickharris

    Reply 5 years ago

    your comment "a very good instruct able but it isn't your..."

    I assume this continues you're idea???

    0
    deleayuba
    deleayuba

    Question 9 months ago

    Will this work for a rack and pinion arrangement? I need to make a piston oscillate 10cm with a ≤90° rotation of a shaft.

    0
    rickharris
    rickharris

    Answer 9 months ago

    There is no reason why not if the load is light. If you need the rack to be 10 cm long then decide on the size of the “teeth” this will tell you how many you will have. The same number and size will be round 1/4 of the spurgear.

    0
    Sodaiskhan
    Sodaiskhan

    11 months ago

    Thank you ,

    It was helpful to me.

    0
    J Crafts
    J Crafts

    2 years ago

    Thank you Rickharris, this has been so helpful to me. Thanks for posting this :)

    0
    Ariaana
    Ariaana

    3 years ago

    Thank you, that is really helpful to me.

    0
    cathie100
    cathie100

    Question 4 years ago on Step 3

    Rick,
    I have tried to make several gears with the circle unit, but my compass and triangles are not up to the job. Do you know of a web drawing tool I could use?

    0
    rickharris
    rickharris

    Answer 4 years ago

    There are a number of FREE CAD tools that will help you. A google search should find some.

    Sketchup is perhaps the best known although has a steep learning curve.

    A 2D CAD tool is perhaps best for drawing these gears.

    0
    andrea biffi
    andrea biffi

    4 years ago

    great! that's really useful with new lasercut tecnology which is becoming more and more accessible!