Introduction: Powerful Huge Wooden Toy Crane DIY With Motor | Remote | Magnet

About: XDIY with Itzik

This project started about two months ago, during the Corona virus lockdown.

We were about one month in lockdown already, and we knew it's the best time to create something (like many others did during this period)

I asked my kids what would they like to build together. They said that I promised to make a crane long time ago...

So - we decided to try to build a crane, from the limited materials that we had at home. I have some boxes with many parts which I saved for years, and it helped in this case. It took about 5 days to make it.

I named this project - "Corona Crane".

Is there anything better than "leveraging" your morale by building a crane, during the lockdown? :)

Note: Since this project was pretty long and contained many steps and some domains, I decided to divide its video into 2 parts:

  1. Part 1 - Crane's woodworking + mechanism + accessories.
  2. Part 2 - Crane's electronics + mechanism (motor + remote control) + test results - leverage of different items and weights.

You're welcome to visit my YouTube Channel and subscribe, so you won't miss the next videos, and also watch my additional projects. Don't forget to click the 'bell' button in order to get new videos notification.

Thank you!



  • Wood profile 7*4 cm
  • Wood profile 4*4 cm
  • Wood profile 2*2 cm
  • Threaded inserts + matching screw
  • Wood profile - rounded 2cm
  • Wood glue
  • Screws
  • Wooden dowels
  • Flexible Rope
  • Metal Shackle
  • Metal hanging hook
  • Cylinder Magnet
  • Plastic plate
  • 12v Power adapter
  • Electric switch
  • Electric plastic box
  • DC female
  • 2 Pulleys
  • 2mm metal rods
  • Small stone / concrete block
  • Remote control + receiver
  • Metal rail
  • 1 thin metal pipe
  • 12v / 15v DC Electric motor + gearbox
  • 12v Led strip
  • Clear protective topcoat (Varathane Satin Water-Based Interior Polyurethane)

General List of tools I'm using -

Tools in this Instructable:

  • Saw / Sliding Miter saw
  • Soldering iron
  • Glue gun
  • Clamps
  • Sander -
  • Sanding paper
  • Drill driver
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Paint brush / roller
  • Wood file
  • Allen keys
  • Screw driver
  • Cone drill bit

Step 1: Planning & Dimensions

We started by planning the woodworking structure of the project.

I explained my kid how do I plan to make the crane, and let him draw it from his imagination.

Later, i did a final 3d plan of the crane.

This project was very special, since we had a lot of time, so I gave my kids the time to think of ideas for the crane, regardless of whether we implemented them or not. They thought of special ideas and also helped in some of the making steps. They learned a lot from this project!

The crane's dimensions:

Total "Plus" Base - 50x50 cm

Total Tower (Vertical rod) - ~100cm

Total Jib (Horizontal rod) - ~100cm

Step 2: The Video - 1st Part

Step 3: Vacuum Cleaner?

This vacuum cleaner helped me to improve this project!

See how, on later steps.

Step 4: Woodworking - Crane's Base & Tower Rod - Cutting

We started with cutting the parts for base and tower rods of the crane.

  • 2 pieces of 50cm from the 4*7cm wood profile for the base.
  • 1 pieces of 89cm from the 4*7cm wood profile for the tower (bottom horizontal rod)
  • 1 pieces of 7cm from the 4*7cm wood profile for the tower (upper horizontal rod)

Step 5: Woodworking - Crane's Tower Base - Angled Edges Cut

In order to have a better look, I cut each of the base parts edges in angle of 45 degrees, starting with half its thickness.

Step 6: Woodworking - Crane's Tower Base - Joint Cut

I decided to connect the base, using a joint connection. I never did such joint connection and it was my first time.

I think this one is called "Cross halving joint" or "half lap joint".

I marked the width of the profile (7cm) on each part.

I made the cuts using my sliding miter saw. I limited the depth of the cuts using the accessory comes with the saw, for this purpose. (See the video for better understanding)

Now, I can tell you that I didn't make it correctly this time.

For such joint, you should cut the parts half way of it's thickness.

I put the profiles close to the saw's fence - This was my mistake.

When you cut half way using a miter saw, close to the fence, the saw blade doesn't reach to the bottom slot on the saw. So in this case, the cut is being done rounded and not straight (as you can see in the photos).

In order to have a straight cut, you need to keep the wood away from the fence using another wood part, and use the sliding saw to cut it straight the whole way.

Eventually, in this case it wasn't too bad and the connection was fine with the glue, but I'll know it for the next time :)

Step 7: Woodworking - Crane's Tower Base - Joint Is Ready

After making the cuts, I checked the joint of the 2 parts.

Step 8: Woodworking - Crane's Tower Base - Hole for Tower Rod

We marked the profile shape of the tower, on one of the base parts, drilled around the shape, and made a hole with the size of the profile.

We made finishes around the hole using a wood file and sanding paper.

The tower profile was inserted pretty tight, good enough.

Step 9: Woodworking - Crane's Tower Base - Joint Glueing

We used wood glue to connect the 2 parts of the base, inside the joint cuts and waited until it's getting dry.

Step 10: Woodworking - Making the Base Detachable - Part 1

I decided to make the crane's upper parts, detachable from the base, in case I would like to store it easier later.

So, instead of using glue and screws, I used threaded inserts.

In case you're not familiar with Threaded inserts, these are metal parts which are being inserted into the wood, and have internal threading, which match for "machine screws" - with flat point. These screws can be installed and remove many times.

So, I drilled in the bottom of the tower, with the size matching to my specific inserts size, and tightened them using Allen (Hex) key.

I also put wood glue inside, but I'm not sure if it helps. I heard later that it's better to use epoxy glue to hold the inserts better inside the wood for long term.

Step 11: Woodworking - Making the Base Detachable - Part 2

After putting the inserts on the previous step, I drilled a hole in the bottom of the base, which will fit the screw going inside the insert.

Finally, I put the screw and tighten until the base was attached well to the tower rod.

Step 12: Woodworking - Making the Base Detachable - Video

If you didn't understand how to use threaded inserts in the previous steps, in this video I'm showing how I used them in this crane project and another project with different use.

Step 13: Woodworking - Crane's Jib Rod - Cutting

After finishing the base and the tower rod, we prepared the horizontal rod of the crane, which is professionally called "Jib", as I found :)

I cut 1 piece of 100cm from the 4*4 wood profile.

Later, in order to have a better look, I cut each of the profile edges in angle of 45 degrees, starting with half its thickness, like I did with the base.

Step 14: Woodworking - Sanding All Parts

After preparing the basic wood parts, we sanded them using a random orbital sander and sanding paper.

Step 15: Woodworking - Connecting Tower Rod With Jib Rod

In this step, I connected the tower bottom rod with the Jib road (vertical to horizontal rod).

Before I made the connection, I need to know the exact position.

Before starting the woodworking, we actually started the project with the electronic part, but in this instructable I thought to start with the woodworking first.

You'll see the electrical steps later, but meantime, you should know that all electric parts were inside a plastic box which was attached to the rear side of the the crane.

The box size is 22*14cm.

So, first, I removed the cover from the plastic box, and connected it to the Jib rod using 3 screws.

Now, after I have the position of the end of the box cover, I drilled 2 holes after the cover position, put wood glue on the tower rod, and connected with screws.

Step 16: Woodworking - Top Tower Rod

For final finish of the tower rod, I prepared a small part, 7cm length, from the 4*7cm wood profile.

I cut its top both sides, in angle of 45 degrees, for nicer look.

In order to connect it with hidden connection, I used wooden dowel. I drilled 10mm hole in both sides of the connection, then I took 10mm round wood profile and cut in the required size, and connected using wood glue.

Step 17: Woodworking - "Trolley" (Horizontal Motion) Mechanism 1

I didn't plan to make it from the start, since I didn't find matching accessories at home, but finally, we decided to try to make 'Trolley' mechanism like in real crane, but not motorized.

This simple mechanism will provide horizontal motion of the crane, along the Jib horizontal rod.

I had a one broken side of drawers metal rail so I decided to use it, and prepare a matching part from wood.

I started by cutting wood profile of 2*2 cm, to 36cm long.

Later, I made multiple long inner cuts inside the profile, in order to make a slot in the middle of it.

I made it using the sliding miter saw, didn't think of any other way to make it using the tools I have.

If you find it dangerous, please let me know.

Step 18: Woodworking - "Trolley" (Horizontal Motion) Mechanism 2

After preparing the slot in the wood profile, I connected one pulley to the edge of the wood.

Step 19: Woodworking - "Trolley" (Horizontal Motion) Mechanism 3

I put the wood profile inside the metal rail part, and checked the position on the bottom of the Jib rod.

Then, i drilled 3 holes in the positions which can provide the profile the flexibility to move inside the rail, and stop it where required.

I cut a small piece of the same profile, 2cm long.

Finally, I connected the metal to the Jib rod with the wood profiles inside it. (see photos).

I changed the strength of the 3 screws holding the "trolley", until it was holding the wood well enough but also let it move smoothly.

Step 20: Woodworking - "Trolley" (Horizontal Motion) Mechanism 4

I cut a small 4cm piece of the same profile, for the rear pulley.

Then, connected it using wood glue and screws.

Step 21: Woodworking - Rope Hole

In order to pass the crane's rope from the rear electric box, to the front part of the Jib rod and pulleys, I drilled a 16 mm hole diagonally, through the tower rod.

I wanted that the rope will be able to pass directly to the pulleys from the motor, without touching the wood parts too much, to avoid friction of the rope, which can tear it down quickly and harden the motor operation.

I had a thin metal pipe which matched the hole I drilled. I cut it in the depth of the hole, and inserted it.

It should provide better movement in case that the rope will touch the hole inside, instead of the rough wood.

(Anyway, in case I'll be required to change the rope later, in this design, it's very easy to make it. I can tell you now that I cut the rope too short and had to replace, it. It took few minutes. :) )

Step 22: Woodworking - Rope Insertion

I passed the rope through the hole I made in the previous step, and then connected the electric box to its cover, using the 4 screws of the box.

Later, I passed the flexible wire through the 2 pulleys.

Step 23: Woodworking - Mechanism Closeup

Step 24: Woodworking - Rope Metal Shackle

On the end of the rope, I connected a Metal Shackle, which we'll be able to use later to connect to different things to the crane rope, and also for the accessories that I'll make on the next steps.

Step 25: Woodworking - Rear & Fore Pendants (Jib Suspension Cables)

In order to give the cane better "real" look, we decided to add "Rear & Fore Pendants" or "Jib Suspension Cables".

I took 2mm metal rod and connected it in two diagonals, from the top tower rod front and back sides, to the top of the Jib rod.

I drilled 2mm hole in the wood, which will give enough movement to insert the rod, put glue, and inserted the rods.

Step 26: Woodworking - Painting With Clear Protective Top Coat

After the woodworking build was done, we painted everything with a clear protective top coat.

Step 27: Accessories - Magnet Holder

I made 2 accessories which we can use with the crane.

My kids asked for an option to use a magnet.

So the first accessory was a magnetic holder.

I took 2 cm rounded wood profile, drilled 10mm hole in it, and inserted a 10mm cylinder magnet inside the hole.

On the other side, I drilled and connected a metal hanging hook.

This magnet is very very strong. You will be able to see the results of working with this magnet, on the next parts videos.

Step 28: Accessories - "Basket"

The second accessory was some kind of a "Basket"

This will help with lifting multiple things together, while playing with the crane.

I took a plastic plate, drilled 4 holes on its edges.

Then, I cut 2 parts of flexible rope. Each rope, was inserted from the top of the plastic pate to the bottom, and I tied each side on the bottom.

After the 2 parts were tied, I connected both with another piece of rope loop, which will be connected to the crane's shackle later.

Step 29: Just Hello From My Partner...

This is my big kid, 7 years old. Say hello :)

Step 30: The Video - 2st Part

Step 31: Electronics Mechanism - Where Will I Find an Motor in This Lock Down???

So, as I mentioned before, this project didn't start from the woodworking part.

After watching how we made the woodworking structure, the next steps are regarding the electrical parts of this project.

When we planned the crane, and knew that we have limited accessories at home to work with, during the corona lockdown, I planned to make the crane's lifting, manually.

Later, while looking in my boxes of junk parts, I found an old wheel of our Robotic Vacuum Cleaner (iLife A4).

This wheel includes a box with a DC motor paired with a gearbox. The gearbox helps to reduce the motor's speed, and increase the torque of the motor.

This wheel was actually faulty. I replaced it before on the vacuum cleaner, since it was a bit loose, but I decided to keep it.

It's not mentioned what is its operation voltage on it, or officially, but I searched the net and found on a forum a mention that it's 15v dc motor.

Step 32: Electronics Mechanism - Testing the Motor

I didn't have 15v power adapter, but 12v.

I assume that using lower voltage shouldn't damage the motor, but I didn't get the motor's full power unfortunately.

I connected a DC female adapter to the power wires of the motor, and to the 12v power adapter.

I seemed that the motor had pretty good resistance, when I tried to hold the wheel with my hand, so we decided to use it in our project, and hopefully it will be able to raise stuff reasonably.

Step 33: Electronics Mechanism - a Remote Control Crane???

My kid asked, will the crane work with remote control?

I wondered where can I find now, a remote control and receiver that will work with this motor...

So, finally I asked my kids - "Where is the broken red remote control car you had long time ago?"

After searching in their play room boxes, we found it!

The batteries were filled with corrosion, so we removed them and cleaned the batteries case on both the remote and the car.

I replaced the batteries, and saw that the car works with the remote!

Step 34: Electronics Mechanism - the Remote Control Receiver

We opened the car cover, and took the remote control receiver.

This receiver was connected to the car's battery case, with total voltage of 4.5v

How did I use this 4.5v receiver it with the 12v power adapter & DC motor I had? It's complex :)

See the full electronic scheme and my explanation later, in the final step of the electronics steps.

Step 35: Electronics Mechanism - Making a Shaft the Motor 1

OK, so now we have a motor and a remote control.

Continuing with the motor - we removed the wheel from the motor.

I took 2cm rounded wood profile, drilled on one of it sides, and connected it to the wheel with the original screw.

Then, the wheel was put back to it's place on the orignal motor hex shaped shaft of the motor.

So using the wheel hex connection, It was easier to connect a longer shaft.

Step 36: Electronics Mechanism - Making a Shaft for the Motor 2

I drilled in the middle of the new 'wooden shaft' of the motor, and inserted the flexible rope through the hole, and tied it.

I drilled a hole on the other side of the wooden shaft, to be used later.

Step 37: Electronics Mechanism - Box

I found an electric plastic box, with size of 22*14 cm.

If you saw previous steps of the woodworking, you saw that I connected it from the cover, to the horizontal wooden part of the crane.

So, this box will contain the motor mechanism & electrical parts, but due to it's location on the crane, it will also be used as some kind of the crane's counterweight, that exists on real cranes, and should counterbalance the crane and improve stability.

I'm not sure how it plays it's role as a counterweight in this wooden build, but any way, it gives the crane better look :)

Step 38: Electronics Mechanism - Making Hole for the Rope

I made 2 large holes on the side of the plastic box, using cone drill bit.

The holes should be on the side that the motor & it's shaft are placed.

The bigger the hole, less chance that the rope will touch the plastic, in order to avoid friction of the rope.

Step 39: Electronics Mechanism - Final Connection of the Motor Shaft

I drilled on the box, opposite to the center of the 'wooden shaft' I made before.

Then, I put some plastic discs to fill the gap of the shaft, but not too tight, and connected a screw to hold the shaft on the box.

Step 40: Electronics Mechanism - Placing the Parts on the Box

I started with placing the DC female adapter, and an electronic switch, on the rear side of the box.

I drilled the relevant sizes, and connected both using the hot glue gun.

Step 41: Electronics Mechanism - Soldering

I soldered all parts together, using a soldering iron.

See the full electronic scheme and my explanation later, in the final step of the electronics steps.

Step 42: Electronics Mechanism - Led Lights

I had a short leftover of a 12v led strip.

I connected it to the electronic circuit, and then connected it around the box, using the hot glue gun.

Finally, I drilled some holes, on both sides of the box, so the light could be seen.

See the full electronic scheme and my explanation later, in the final step of the electronics steps.

Step 43: Electronics Mechanism - Adding Some Weight

As I explain before, the plastic box will be used as some kind of the crane's counterweight, that exists on real cranes, and should counterbalance the crane and improve stability.

I decided to add some weight, in the limited place I had in the box.

I took a concrete block part, and glue it inside using the hot glue gun.

Final Weights in the crane:

  • The woodworking structure parts - 3.8kg
  • The rear plastic box and its contents - 0.6kg
  • Total - 4.4kg

Step 44: Electronics Mechanism - Red Light Covers

In order to hide all the mess inside, from the light's holes, I covered the holes with some red parts of a plastic bag.

So now we have red light.

Step 45: Electronics Mechanism - First Test of the Mechanism

Everything is connected.

We checked that the whole thing functions correctly - The remote control operates the motor, and rolls the flexible rope over its shaft correctly.

Step 46: Electronics Mechanism - Full Scheme & Description

I mentioned before, that the electronics scheme is complex, and I left the full explanation to this step.

Please read the full explanation to avoid risk!

The reason for the complexity, was due to the different voltage inputs that each part I had.

  • Power adapter: 12v
  • Led Strip: 12v
  • Motor: 15v
  • Remote car receiver board: 4.5v

There was no issue with the providing 12v for the 12v led strip and the 15v motor.

The problem started with the remote car receiver board. The receiver PCB was on the remote car, it was operated by 4.5v batteries.

I'm not a electronics pro, but I assumed that connecting this board to the 12v adapter, would burn it.

I thought of a way to operate the board with another smaller voltage adapter and only the motor with the 12v, but I needed additional parts for this connection, maybe a relay, or other options which I couldn't reach during the lock down. I guess, you can also find receivers with different voltage input.

I decided to take the risk

I put my safety glasses, and connected the 12v power adapter directly to the receiver input.

After about 5 seconds, the capacitor that was connected on the board, was blown and flew like a rocket...

I thought that this is the end of this board...

Anyway, I connected one of its outputs, to my DC motor and tried to operate it. Guess what? It worked.

And it's still working after 2 months, without getting hot.

So, what was this capacitor for? If you can share your knowledge on the comments, I would love to learn.

Anyway, I don't recommend to make what I did. Find the correct components and use them.

Now, you can look at the scheme picture and understand the connections I made.

Step 47: Done! Some Tests

After finishing the project, my kids played a lot with the crane.

My big kid, wanted to test how powerful is the crane... and suggested to lift different stuff with different weights.

We tried to lift things like:

    • Different car toys
    • Cutter & Plier - 0.5kg
    • Garbage truck toy - 1.0kg
    • Silicone gun & tube - 1.1kg
    • Clamp with 2 hammers - 1.2kg
    • Fire truck toy - 1.6kg
    • The uncle of the crane's motor :) - The vacuum cleaner - 2.2kg

    Some were connected using the Shackle, some using the magnet. Some succeeded, some not.

    You will be able to see the lifting results, and how strong is the magnet, on the 2nd part video, below.

    Step 48: The 1st Part Video & Next Parts

    As I mentioned in the intro, since this project was pretty long and contained many steps and some domains, I decided to divide its video into 2 parts:

    1. Part 1 - Crane's woodworking + mechanism + accessories.
    2. Part 2 - Crane's electronics (motor + remote control) + test results - leverage of different items and weights.

    You're welcome to visit my YouTube Channel and subscribe, so you won't miss the next parts, and also watch my additional projects.

    Don't forget to click the 'bell' button in order to get new videos notification.

    Thank you!

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