3D Pantograph




This instructable is to build a 3d pantograph. A pantograph is a device that is used to copy pictures by tracing the original picture and the device draws a copy.  The pantograph can change the copy size to larger or smaller, depending on how it is designed.

This pantograph will let you carve or engrave a picture into a medium such as glass, metal, or wood.  You can also trace a carving and reproduce it. It uses a rotary tool such as a Dremel to carve. Think of it as an old fashioned 3d printer.

This pantograph can cost between $15-$50, depending on what kind of rotary tool you buy.

Parts needed:
  • 1 - 1"x4" by 10 foot pine board.
  • 1 - 3/16"x36" metal rod
  • 1 - Rotary tool (such as a Dremel).
Remember a 1x4 board is not exactly 1x4 but about 3/4 by 3 3/4. I will refer to the board as a 1x4. for simplicity.
Tools needed:
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Hole saw 1" and 2" or depends on the size of your rotary tool. rotary tool.
  • 3/16 drill bit
  • Hammer
  • Hacksaw
  • Wood Clamps
  • Nail Gun or Wood Glue
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate.
Time to build: 5 hours.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Cutting the Wood and Metal Rod

Cut 5 1" wide x 24" long boards from the 1x4. (1x1x24)

Take one of your 1"x24" boards and cut in half to make two 12" long boards.

Cut one 1"X24" board down to 18"

I rounded the corners, which makes it look nice but it is not needed.

Cut 2 24" boards from the 1x4.  On each one, mark the middle of the board and draw a square 5" in the middle.  Cut down to 1 inch wide on either side of the 5" square, as shown in the illustration.  Save the cutout parts as you will use them later.

Cut from the 1x4 several pieces.

    4 -7" Pieces
    1 - 17" Piece
    3 - 2" pieces

Using a hacksaw or rotary tool, Cut the metal rod into
  • 4 - 7" pieces
  • 1 - 9" piece

Step 2: Drilling Holes

Pair up the boards of the same size.  One will be the top and one will be the bottom of each piece of the pantograph.

Drill in the end of each wood a hole 1/2" from the end

On the 18" and 24" board, pair them together and drill the holes 1/2 " from the end and 11 1/2 " from the end.

Step 3: Drilling Holes for Tool

On the bottom board, depending on the size of the rotary tool, drill a 1" hole in the middle, 1" from the side. The hole will need to go all the way through the wood.  The tip of the rotary tool will go into this hole.

Depending on the size of the rotary tool, on the top board drill a 2" hole in the middle, 1" in from the long side. It will cut through the side of the board and needs to go all the way through.

Later you may need to size these with a knife (or the rotary tool) to make the rotary tool fit.

Step 4: Assembling the Boards

Take the 17" board and secure it to the middle of the 2 24x1 boards. I used a nail gun, but you can glue them together as well. 

Assemble the 12" and 18" sections the same way.

The open area at each end is necessary so the pantograph can move around when assembled.

Step 5: Making the Pantograph Pivot

The trick to allowing the pantograph to work with various types of material is to build a holder that can pivot around.
  • Cut one of the remaining pieces from the 9.5" by 3 pieces into
    • 2 - 6" piece
    • 2 - 2.5" pieces
    • 2 - 1" pieces
  • Build a U out of 1 6" piece and 2 2.5" pieces. Nail or glue them together.
  • Drill a hole 1/2" from the edge in the middle of the U on both end pieces.
  • Drill 1 hole through the bottom of the board all the way through on one end piece.
  • Drill a hole in the end of the two 1" pieces

Place one 1" piece on each side of the U where you drilled the hole.  Connect the three pieces together by hammering a 7" rod through the hole. The fit should be tight.

Using some screws connect the 1" piece to the final board.  This would be one of the scrap boards (9.5"x3") left from when you cut around the 5" square.  The end where the rod is sticking through needs to hang over the board so it can move around.

Step 6: Assembling the Tool Board

On the 2 boards the rotary tool will be in, take the 2" boards and connect them vertically around the cutout.
Place the final 2 7" boards horizontally on the sides of the cutout.

Step 7: Assembling the Pantograph

Push the 9' rod through the drilled holes in the pivot assembly and the 12" and 24" pieces

Use a hammer to push a 7" rod into each remaining piece.  The fit should be tight, but the pieces should be able to move around.

Once all connected, it will look like this.

Step 8: Building the Tracing Stylus

Build a tracing stylus by shaping a piece of wood (I used a 1/5 dowel) to have a point.

In the section that has a 18" top and 24" bottom, drill a small hole in the end of the long arm and screw in a 3" screw.  Place the pointed wood into the end of the screw.

Using a three inch screw will allow you to change the height of the rotary tool for cutting/ tracing different types of material.

Step 9: Placing the Roatary Tool

Place an engraving bit into your rotary tool and put it in the Pantograph.  You may have to widen the hole to make it fit snugly or add some tape or O-rings if the hole is too big.

Step 10: Setting Up the Pantograph for Use

Clamp to pantograph to a piece of plywood.  The wood I used was about 3'x4' in size.  I added a second piece of wood under the pivot to raise the height of the Pantograph.  Depending on the bit you use, you may want to have a couple of pieces to raise the height. 

Move the pantograph around to get a feel of where you want to place your pattern and your material you will be cutting.

Tape your pattern on to the board where you will be working.

Taking some scrap wood and screws, lock down what you are carving so it is positioned under the engraving bit.

My Folding Garage Counter was perfect to work on for this project.

Step 11: Start Engraving

I experimented with various speeds of the Dremel to see which worked best.  Depending on the bit and material, it will be different.
Here are some first pieces I cut.

UP! Contest

Participated in the
UP! Contest



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Metal Contest

      Metal Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge

    25 Discussions


    4 weeks ago

    best explanation i've seen yet


    5 months ago on Step 4

    I am a premium member and it will not let me download the pantograph plan. It keeps saying its a premium feature. need help

    1 reply

    Question 1 year ago on Step 4

    What is the height of that 17inch board to attach those 2
    24 inch pieces


    2 years ago

    OK. What is the final word on building this for 1:1 copy carving?


    2 years ago

    Can i use drill bit in place of router bit...


    2 years ago

    I just got a rotary tool kit including a flexible shaft attachment and this seems to be a great addition. I would think you could make the ratio adjustable by using a series of holes or a groove lengthwise on the drawing leg and moving the stylus towards or away from the dremel. This would allow you to make the engraving smaller or larger to fit the size of the workpiece. Of course, now that I've opened my big mouth I'll have to build a proof-of-concept.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    After a quick Google search I quickly learned that moving the pen along its arm creates distortion in the copy. The tracer, pen, and fixed point have to be in a straight line. The only way to change the ratio is to change the ratio of the distances between the pivot points. Here's an article explaining how the pantograph works and how to design for the desired enlargement or reduction. Often the pantograph arms have a series of holes for the pivot points, allowing you to change the ratio at will.



    3 years ago on Introduction

    "If your rotary tool is not variable speed and it spins to fast, you will want to consider this"? Where is it spinning to? Fast? Makes no sense.

    1 reply

    3 years ago on Step 1

    How are you supposed to get a 5" square on a board that you said was 3-1/2"?

    wood doctor

    4 years ago on Introduction

    this is cool i'"m gonna build one but mod the drem mounting apart from that you explain it well thanx for sharing!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Each part of the pantograph needs to be the same size to be a 1 to 1 ratio. A pantograph itself is a duplicator, the result size is the only thing different which will depend on the lengths of wood you are using.

    1 reply
    Patrick B1knorseth

    Reply 4 years ago

    Sorry but that is wrong, the only way to make a true 1:1 panto is to have no extention handle, and for that it doesnt matter about the side lengths. If you think about it mathmatically, having all side lengths identical and still using a handle will just change the ratio of any drawing youre trying to copy for example, if all sides were 10m and using a 10m handle trying to copy a 5m by 5m square, what you would end up with is a 2,5x2,5 m parralellogram :/


    4 years ago

    Just built this today, took about 2-3 hours working at a relaxed pace. Works really quite well. Much simpler design than the one from woodgears. One word of advice though, don't bother trying to fit the upper hole to your Dremel. Just center it 1" away from the edge like instructions say to, cut a hole slightly bigger than tool and use a quick clamp to hold it in place. Much sturdier and quick access for bit changes. Good job knorseth.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice. I like how this is designed for a dremel, and a heck of a lot cheaper than some other ones I seen. One question though, as you have it built, what is the scale ratio? Is it exactly 2:1?

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    This is 1/4 size. I have been carving wood and glass about 4" square of a pattern made on a 8x11 paper.

    Another one I have been working as part of a design refinement is a 1 to 1 ratio.

    Jakob HWknorseth

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I wood like to make 1, in a 1 to 1 ratio ... How do i figure out the length ...


    4 years ago

    What's the word on figuring out the 1:1 ratio? Would that technically be a duplicator?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Update: Skip the woodglue and countersync all the screws. I made this in about 45 minutes. Works fairly well, Im trying some modifications to control the Size ratio bettter as I would rather have about 3/5th ratio on mine.