Introduction: Paper Chinese Finger Trap

About: I make things

The Chinese finger trap is a type of practical joke. You give it to your friend and ask them to put their fingers in both ends of the device. As they pull outwards the cylinder will become narrower, making it almost impossible for the victim to escape.

Originally the finger trap was made of bamboo but in this instructible I will show you how to make it out of paper. It is done very easily by just weaving strips of paper round a cylinder. It only takes about 10 minutes to do it the most simple way and works extremely well.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Things you will need:

At least two sheets of differently coloured A4 paper

A4 scrap paper


Craft knife





Step 2: Make a Cylinder

First of all you will want to make a cylinder to make your trap around. If you already have a piece of dowel or a pen or something around the same size as your finger you can skip this step. To make your cylinder, just roll up a piece of scrap paper and use sellotape to stop it from unrolling. The cylinder should be a bit smaller than the width of your finger.

Step 3: Prepare Your Strips

Now you will want to cut out four strips of paper, preferably two of each colour. Cut your strips from the long side of a piece of A4. Your strips' width depends on the width of your finger. I used strips with a width of 1.5 cm but my fingers are quite thin. You can always experiment. Once you have cut the strips you will need to use Blu-Tack to stick them together perpendicularly at one end so you end up with two right angles like in the will want to have two identical right angles both with the same colour on top. After this step use Blu-Tack again to stick the two right angles to the top of the cylinder. so they are opposite. Again, just like in the picture.

Step 4: Weaving

Here you need to start to weave the strips round each other round the cylinder. This can be done by taking one strip going in one direction and slipping it under a strip of the other colour then over the second strip of the other colour. Repeat this with all the strips until you have nearly run out of paper. It may help as you are weaving to keep all the strips tight against the cylinder.

Step 5: Tigtening

Use Blu-Tack again to stick together the strips at the end like at the beginning. Then remove the Blu-Tack at the top holding the strips to the cylinder, and remove the finger trap from the cylinder. Now for each end point, individually remove the Blu-Tack and pull the strips tight then replace the Blu-Tack. Check the width by sticking one of your fingers in it, if you can't get it in you may need to loosen it.

Step 6: Glue Up the Ends

Now that you are happy with your finger trap you can remove the Blu-Tack and glue the ends together. Trim off all the excess paper and you're done! Now go and prank a friend. As the trap is made from paper, it may tear if your friend is too rough, but that doesn't really matter because you can always make a new one.

Step 7: More Srips

If you want to make a more fancy finger trap you can make one using more strips. Originally, I used 4 strips of each colour. More strips will need to be proportionately thinner. Don't just assume the widths like I did. Measure them. I made a really big one which won't work because there is no friction between my fingers and the trap.

Step 8: More Weaving

You will now need to stick the right angles evenly round the cylinder in much the same way as you did before. Weaving is almost exactly the same as with only four strips, but it will just be a whole lot harder with twice as many strips waving around. Tighten the trap, glue the ends and trim off all excess paper the same as you did with the previous one.

Step 9: Finnished

Now that you have made them all, please show them off in the comments. You can try making them out of different materials or with more interesting colours and patterns.

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