Introduction: The Secular Telescoping Yad

About: College graduate with a degree in religious studies, and an engineering major drop out.

A Yad is a pointer used to read the Torah, or the Jewish bible. A Yad is used because one is not allowed to touch a Torah scroll with his hands, and the pointer helps the person follow along the line when reading. Yad, in Hebrew, literally means hand, and traditionally, the end of a Jewish Yad is in the shape of a hand.

I realized that this traditional pointer needn't be used only for reading the Torah. A pointer could be useful for reading secular books, or even books of another religion. I find that a pointer is especially useful when reading something technical, because it is very hard to concentrate on technical text, and sometimes the words seem to move around and rearrange themselves, or leave the page altogether at their own accord!

Also, my Secular Yad extends in length, so that it could be used as a more general pointer. It is very entertaining to watch others as you randomly pull a pointer with a tiny hand on the end, out of your pocket, and start pointing at things in the book the person across the table is reading.

Here are some examples of Jewish Yads:

Step 1: Get Supplies

These are the supplies I used when making the Secular Yad:

Two male pins from a power connector
Two terminals (like the ones in the pictures)
A telescoping antenna from a radio
A silver jump ring
About a foot of chain


Escapement files
Dremel and diamond cut off disk
30 watt soldering iron
30 gauge enameled wire
Philips screwdriver

Step 2: Remove Pins

First I cut off the wires attached to the plug to make pulling the pins out easier. Then I used a pair of pliers to firmly pull the pins, without squashing them, out of the plug. Then I removed the small bit of wire still attached to the pins.

Step 3: Prepare Terminal and First Pin for Soldering

Remove the insulation from terminal with the flat wide surface. Then squash the end of one pin (the end that the wire was connected to). This is the pin that will be the thumb. Place the pin left of the terminal for a right hand, or on the right for a left hand. Adjust the pin until the thumb is proportional to the rest of the hand. I included a diagram of hand proportions to help with this. Once the pin is in the right area, secure it in place temporarily with some 30 gauge enameled wire by wrapping it around the whole piece several times, and then twisting the ends together to secure it in place.

Step 4: Add Second Terminal

Cut the end with the insulation off of the terminal (the kind of terminal with two fork like prongs). Then place the fork like terminal in the flat and wide terminal. Then solder it all together, trying to avoid melting the enamel off of the wire and soldering it to the piece.

Step 5: Add Pointer Finger

Take the other pin and place it on the piece, slightly overlapping the thumb pin, and to the slightly right of the thumb pin (for right hand) or to the left if you are making a left hand. I slightly bent the pin to create the slight appearance of a knuckle. This can be done after soldering, but doing so before soldering helps you figure out how best to orient the pin. the tip of the thumb should come up to the "second knuckle" of the pointer finger. Refer to the diagram, if this is confusing. Wrap with enameled wire again and solder in place. This may cause the solder for the thumb pin to melt again , so make sure the enameled wire is wrapped around the whole piece.

Step 6: Add Some More of Solder

I realized I needed to add more area to the hand to make it look correct, so I just did the easiest thing possible, which was to melt some clumps of solder to in certain areas. This was inexact at best, and I just added and removed solder until it had the right shape. It doesn't have to look perfect, because in the next step you file in the details.

Step 7: Carve Details

Use escapement files and other tools, if needed, such as a tungsten scribe pen, to carve the three remaining knucles. Also, file the shape of the piece until it looks like a hand, referring to the example here, and any other hand you may encounter. Also, at this point, I cut off the excess metal at the wrist, from the terminal.

Step 8: Prepare the Antenna

Remove the end of the antenna where is pivoted on the radio, so that there is just a hole. Thread a jump ring throught the hole, and then thread both ends of a chain on the jump ring. Close the ring with plier, and (optionally) solder the jump ring closed.

Step 9: Glue Hand Onto Antenna

Center the wrist of the hand onto the tip of the antenna, and super glue it in place. Wait for it to dry completely before pointing.

Step 10: Point!

Hang your secular Yad on the spine of your Dawkins, or your Torah (or something else entirely). Extend antenna to point at a distance, or keep short to read your own book or put in your pocket!