Introduction: Giant Paperclip Coat Hook

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Remember those carefree, halcyon days of middle school? Bending paperclips to your every whim? Well, now you're grown. And your paperclips should grow, too. But a giant paperclip on it's own only has limited use, it really needs to serve a function beyond the obvious

By bending the top of arc of our novelty-sized paperclip we can make a giant paperclip coat hook, the perfect stationary accouterment to keep your coat and hat stationery. 

Making your own crazy-huge paperclip is easy; you just need a long aluminum rod (found in most hardware stores), a paperclip for reference, and a calculator to work out some numbers.

Enough talk, let's make!

Step 1: Tools + Materials

  • calipers
  • calculator
  • marker
  • aluminum rod
  • cylindrical objects to bend aluminum rod around 
  • mounting brackets

Step 2: Measure, Measure, Measure

Using calipers measure a paperclip for reference. Here's my data:
length 1.25" 31.66mm
width 0.275" 6.97mm
unwound length               3.89" 98.81mm
bend sections:
  • length 1
  • length 2
  • length 3
  • length 4

  • 1.00"
  • 1.304"
  • 1.506"
  • 0.645

  • 25.4mm
  • 33.1mm
  • 38.3mm
  • 16.4mm
I marked the apex of each bend and then flattened the paperclip, using the marks as guidelines.

Once we know the proportions of our paperclip we'll measure the length of the aluminum rod. The ratio of the aluminum rod length against the unwound length of the paperclip will allow us to calculate the proportions of the lengths of each section and where the bends should be. The aluminum rod I used was 8' (96"/2.44m) and the unwound length of paperclip was 3.89"/98.81mm.

96"/3.89" = 24.68
This means that based on our length of aluminum rod we can make a paperclip roughly 24 times larger than our reference paperclip. We can apply this ratio number to each of the measurements taken and apply those new measurements to the aluminum rod, this will give an indication on where the bends should be.
I ignored the paperclip thickness as I couldn't find an aluminum rod at the hardware store that was 24 times the thickness of a 0.032" paperclip [0.79"]. That would mean we would need an aluminum rod that was roughly:
3/4 = 0.75
4/5 = 0.8
11/14 = 0.7857142857142857
15/19 = 0.7894736842105263
86/109 = 0.7889908256880734
703/891 = 0.7890011223344556
789/1000 = 0.789
Aside from 3/4 being a common dimension, the rod would have been too thick to bend effectively without some serious tools

I also measured the interior dimensions of the paperclip so I could figure out what the bend circumference would be.

large bend: 0.212"
middle bend: 0.161"
small bend: 0.119"

More on bend circumference in Step 4.

Step 3: Transfer Measurements

After applying my ratio number of 24.68 to my measurements I transferred the new measurements to the aluminum rod, making small indications on the rod with a marker. 

Step 4: Bend

The marks on the aluminum rod now represent where the apex of the bend will be, but does not indicate how large to make the bend. I chose to measure the interior dimensions of my paperclip and apply the same ratio to determine the bend circumference.

After calculating I went hunting around for solid cylindrical objects that roughly matched the circumference I was looking for. I ended up using a peanut butter jar lid and two different sized paint cans. Anything that is solid and cylindrical should  work.

I started with the smallest, inside bend first and then moved outwards. It helps to have another set of hands help you with the bending.

Step 5: Works Just Like the Real Thing

After bending I wanted to see if I could use it as a real paperclip. I gathered some scraps of cardboard we had lying around and easily slipped the giant paperclip onto the sheets and they were neatly organized and held together!

Step 6: Anthropomorphize, Just Like Clippit (or Not)

Not content with leaving the project there, I decided to have some more fun. I made some eyes and eyebrows from some paper and a marker and then taped them to the paperclip, now he looks just like everyone's favourite Office Assistant, Clippit!

Clippit, being the helpful annoyance that he is, loves interrupting people while they are working on things. It looked to me like Randy was deep in concentration, working on his latest project, and could use a hand. Clippit proffered assistance, but being a pro robot maker Randy did not require any assistance.

Step 7: Add Bend, Then Install

After some fun it's time to finish this coat hook. In order to hold coats I added a bend to the top portion of my giant paperclip.
I sandwiched the top curve of the paperclip between two sheets of scrap plywood and clamped them together. Then, grabbing the sides of the paperclip, pulled the paperclip upwards, thereby adding a bend.

The last step is to add the mounting brackets to the sides and install somewhere you need a coat hook. I put mine next to my desk.

Step 8: Put to Use

The giant paperclip coat rack is an amusing conversation piece when not in use (because who's ever seen such a large paperclip before?!), but the real trick to this paperclip is for holding coats and making your workspace much tidier.

Have you made a larger or smaller version of an office supply? Post a picture in the comments below.

Happy making :)

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