Introduction: Make a Fidget Spinner From a Hard Drive

About: I love experimenting with science and physics, especially projects that involve electromagnetism, energy conservation and audio.

Don’t throw that old hard drive away! Whether it’s antiquated or just plain dead, a hard disk drive can be used to make a fidget spinner, and we will show you how! We will start with the disassembly of the drive, then move onto making the spinners, starting with:

1 - Hard disk platter Fidget Spinner By Hulkbuild

This is the spinner on the right in the cover photo, and also the demo video. It is basically a hard drive spindle motor with platters installed, ball bearings sandwiched between them.

2 - Actuator Arm Fidget Spinner By Folda Fett

Hi everyone, Folda Fett here. My fidget spinner is essentially made up of three actuator arms super glued to a couple of HDD bearings pressed on a spindle.


  • Torx screwdrivers, usually T8 &T6, or various high-quality Phillips head drivers
  • Bench grinder and/or flat metal file
  • Electric drill
  • Hacksaw
  • Tin snips
  • Pocketknife
  • Hammer
  • Nail set, punch, or other pointy metal thing.


  • In this instructable we are using full size hard disk drives from desktop computers.
  • And Super Glue!
  • And Ball Bearings!

Step 1: Remove Fasteners!

The first step basically involves removing all the fasteners that hold the drive together. Invariably, taking apart a hard drive will require torx screwdrivers, usually the T8 and T6 sizes. If you don’t have those you can sometimes get away with using a Phillip’s head screwdriver, provided the head has good sharp corners, allowing you to catch the points of the torx head fastener. If you use the right size driver and apply enough down-force you can usually crack them loose.

Often enough, one of the fasteners on the top of the drive is covered by a label or sticker, so make sure to poke around and find it.

Step 2: Peel the Tape Off

If you get all of the fasteners out of the top of the drive you will have to peel away the tape on the sides of the drive – this is the last thing holding the top cover on.

Step 3: Hard Drive Innards!

Now that we have the top cover off of the drive we can see the hard disk platter and read/write actuator arm. This step, like the last, also involves removing all the fasteners you can see. However, the order that we remove them matters, because in order to remove the hard disk platters we first have to get the actuator arm out of the way, and this involves disassembling its actuating motor.

I like to take the cover off of the actuator arm first, which can be pried off once the fasteners holding it down are removed. Then, you can loosen the actuator arm itself with a flathead screwdriver. The goal is to give the actuator arm enough range of motion as to be able to swing it off of the disk platters and pull it free. Once the actuator arm is out of the way you can go about taking the hard disk platters off. Remove the fasteners holding the ring, then lift it off. The platters should come off now too. Some hard drives only have one platter, but many have two or more. For my spinner design I will be using the platters, so set them aside and try not to scratch them.

Step 4: Remove Spindle Motor

The next thing to do is to remove the spindle motor from the drive’s frame. Just remove the three fasteners!

The frame of the drive is aluminum, and should be recycled, along with the hard drive's circuit board.

Step 5: Platter Spinner - Make a Thumb Pad

In building my spinner, I first reassembled the platters with their drive motor. This made the core of my spinner design, and is when I realized that I could hold the spinner on one side just by the motor itself, and spin the platters, but I would need a thumb pad for the other (top) side. Luckily, one of the fasteners on the drive I took apart had threaded directly into the end of the motor shaft. It was also the same fastener that had been in a recess of the hard drive’s cover, hidden under a sticker. All I needed to do was cut out that recessed piece of the cover and fasten it on as a thumb pad. I hacked that part of the cover out with a tin snips, then fine tuned its roundness with a bench grinder and flat metal file. Voila! Thumb pad problem fixed.

Step 6: Mark

So I turned the spinner the way that it was, with its thumb pad, and realized that it didn't spin very long. That is because the disk platters, which don't have much mass because they are aluminum, couldn't store enough kinetic energy to keep them rotating very long. My solution was to add mass to the platters, and the farther from the center of the spinner I put it the more effective it will be. I dug around and found some large ball bearings, where I got them I am not sure. You could use anything round that you want, from beads to marbles and much more, whatever you have lying around, the denser the better (just not lead).

First, I assembled the spinner with no gaps between the platters, then I turned it over to see the back. The three holes in the back of the motor are equidistant, and I used them to eyeball the placement of my bearings. I used a ruler to help me space them out equally, just whatever looked good. Whatever you do just make sure it is balanced. I used a washable marker to make marks, then when I had my placement the way I liked I hit the spots I had picked out with a nail set and hammer to make a little dent for the drill bit to bite on.

Step 7: Drill

Now I used a drill press to drill out the holes in the platters. I started with a small bit and worked my way up, and when I got close to where I thought the bearings might fit I tried it. If it didn't fit I drilled it out with the next size bit, then tried it again until it works. When I was done I used an old pocketknife to clean up the edges of my holes.

Step 8: Assemble

Now you put the spinner together. Start with one platter, then the ball bearings, then the next platter. You can assemble it so that the sides that were exposed while you were drilling, the ones you probably scratched up a little, face inward. Then you are DONE! I will hand it over to Folda Fett now.

Step 9: Building the Actuator Arm Fidget Spinner

You will need three hard disk drives for this spinner. A good way to get old hard drives for free is to visit your local recycling center. They usually have a bin for electronics, where you can find plenty of old computers to gut out. Once you have your hard drives, repeat steps 1 through 3 of the disassembly to acquire the actuator arms.

Step 10: Bearing Spindle

As you can see in the photos, the spinning part of my spinner is made up of two bearings from a hard drive, along with the cup-shaped parts that hold them that I hack sawed off of a hard drive spindle. Then I just pressed them onto the platters axis rod. I still had to make a thumb pad, so I just used a similar technique to Hulkbuild’s in which I cut it out of the hard drive’s cover. Then I super glued it to the screw sticking out of the spindle.

Step 11: The Actuator Arms

I used a hacksaw to cut off the pointy ends of the arms to shorten them down to a more reasonable length. I also cut off the metal tabs on the coil end because they were unnecessary.

Step 12: Assemble and Finish!

Now all you have to do is push the actuator arms on the spindle and glue! But you will want to make the spinner balanced, so make sure the arms are all the same distance from each other. Since a circle is made up of 360 degrees, I just traced one onto a piece of cardboard and using a protractor divided it up into three equal parts of 120 degrees each as shown in the photo. Then I could use this as a template to make sure the arms were all aligned right when I went to glue them. In a few minutes the super glue will have dried and you will have your very own computer assisted actuator arm fidget spinner! Ha-ha-ha! Thanks for viewing this instructable, I hope you liked it. And don’t forget to comment and vote!

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