How to Make a Simple Motor

Here is a fun way to explore the inner workings of a simple motor.  This is a great project for use in the classroom or at home.  Making your own Motor is an excellent introduction into the world of technology. 

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Step 1: Materials and Tools You Will Need to Create a Simple Motor

  • Copper Wire
  • Paper Clips
  • Wood (3" 1X2)
  • Neodymium Magnet
  • Battery (AA)
  • Insulated Wire
  • Sand Paper
  • Staple Gun and Staples
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Wire Strippers
  • Wire Cutters
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks


Step 2: Creating the Copper Wire Coil

  1. Cut a length of copper wire (between 2 and 3ft) using a pair of wire cutters.
  2. Use a AA Battery as a winding template; begin winding the Copper Wire around the AA Battery (Make sure to leave about two inches of wire trailing off one end of the coil).
  3. Continue winding the Copper Wire around the AA Battery; make sure that you wind a nice tight coil. 
  4. Leave a length of wire (two inches) trailing from your coil after winding the Copper Wire around the AA Battery 15 times.
  5. Wrap the trailing ends of wire around your coil two or three times.  This will hold the coil in place (its important to wrap the ends directly across from each other; balance is key in creating a good motor)

Step 3: Sanding the Ends

  1. The two ends that are trailing off the completed coil need to have the enamel sanded off of the Copper Wire (this is extremely important because the more enamel you remove the better electrical connection you are able to make between the AA Battery and the Motor).
  2. (This step is even more important than the first) Start by sanding only ONE SIDE of the trailing ends of Copper Wire. (Only ONE SIDE)
  3.  The other trailing end of Copper Wire needs to have all of the enamel completely sanded off.  (Remember, the more wire you expose the better the connection)


Step 4: Building a Rig to Hold the Coil (part 1)

  1. To begin building a Rig to hold your Coil you need to first creat two tiny shelves using two Paper Clips.
  2.  Bend one of your Paper Clips into an "L" shape.
  3. Using a pair of Needle Nose Pliers bend one of the ends of the Paper Clip up to form a shelf.
  4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3.
  5. Cut or find a small piece of wood roughly 3 inches long.  (3" 1X2 piece of wood seems to work the best)
  6. Place your Paper Clip shelves onto your piece of wood to see if they are stable and even (some adjustments may be required)

Step 5: Building a Rig to Hold the Coil (part 2)

  1. Cut a 1ft length of Insulated Wire.
  2. Cut your length of wire in half.
  3. Use your Wire Strippers to remove a small portion of plastic insulation from both ends of your Insulated Wire.
  4. Wrap the exposed end of Insulated Wire around one of your Paper Clip shelves.
  5. Use your Staple Gun to mount your Paper Clip Shelf with attached Insulated Wire to the Block of Wood. (You may have to use more than one staple to secure the Paper Clip to the wood)
  6. Repeat Steps 3 through 5. 

Step 6: Attaching the Magnet

  1. Be careful mounting your Neodymium Magnet to your Rig, they are very powerful magnets.
  2. You want to Mount the Magnet directly in the middle of the two Paper Clip Shelves.
  3. Use your Hot Glue gun to attach the Magnet in the ideal spot.  This will keep the Magnet in place.

Step 7: Testing Your Motor

  1. Rest your Copper Coil onto the Paper Clip Shelves (make sure that the exposed ends of the Copper Coil are making contact with the Paper Clips).
  2. Attach the ends of your exposed insulated wires to the ends of your AA Battery (Be careful with this step because the Battery can sometimes get Hot, it helps to tape the exposed wires to the Battery).
  3. The Copper Coil may start spinning on its own, but it may require a nudge before it starts spinning.
  4. If your Copper Coil does not continue spinning you may need to sand the ends of the Copper Coil better, you may need to adjust the Coil to be more balanced, you may need to adjust your Paper Clip Shelves to place the Coil closer to the Magnet, you may need to attach the Exposed ends of the Insulated Wire to the Battery, you may need to etc...Adjustment while Testing is the key to creating a proper working Motor.
  5. Do not give up, keep trying till it works.

Step 8: Resources

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31 Discussions


Question 1 year ago on Step 6

I have tried all different types of ways to make the coil spin but it still does nothing. Please help me.


Question 1 year ago on Step 3

while doing all the steps the coil did not spin. HELP!


1 year ago

In which direction does the motor spin


2 years ago

dose it have to be wood


2 years ago

nice project


3 years ago

Hey! I had a question. If the copper wire is insulated, which it must be for you to have to sand it, how does the current pass from one end of the coil to the other?


In the points marked 'x', the coil is connected to two pieces of copper wire, but since it is insulated, current should not pass, right?

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

Actually the wire is made of copper just coated with an insulating material (or dielectric) typically polyimide I think (just a polymer/plastic). The current passes through the copper wire, but if you fold it on itself so that it's touching it doesn't short circuit (current passage through the touching junction instead of around all the loops of the wire.) Insulated wires are useful in making solenoids too where short circuits are really bad.

Hi! Thanks for the explanation. I didn't understand why we should sand only one side of the cable end. I don't get why and how we should do that. I sand one side but the other must not have insulation? So I need to sand both sides?

3 replies

Reply 3 years ago

A trick you can do if you sanded both sides is rub a candle on one side, or use some nail polish.

Ok, you must sand 1/2 the circumference of BOTH sides of the wire ends.. let me elaborate why. When you hook up the battery to the wire coil, the electric current flowing through the coil gains a magnetic field. The permanent magnet inside the motor also has a magnetic field and these two magnetic field have an equal and opposite effect on one another; meaning that there is no stability in the reliability of the the coil spinning in one direction. When you insulate only 1/2 of the wire connectors you are allowing the coil to spin in one direction as the magnetic fields lose communication with each other every time the coil rotates around the insulated half. Hope this helps you!

It is confusing. For one of the sides you need to sand half of the enamel off. Imagine that the wire has a top and a bottom. You only want to sand the bottom side and not the top. The bottom will become shiny and the top will remain red.

I hope this helps.


3 years ago

Is there anyway to make this motor go faster, to about 5000-8000 rpm?

5 replies

Reply 3 years ago

I've clocked over 20,000 RPM it by making motors that rotate on the vertical axis. As the Author mentioned, higher rpm horizontal-axis motors need a sturdy support system...or parts will fly!

I'm assuming this instructable was designed mainly to provide a very clear and consice introduction to the relationship between electrical current flowing through a wire and inducing a magnetic field (electromagnetism), not to mention the Author's account is for a Children's Museum so the motor probably has to be relatively "safe" :) I remember making my first motor exactly like this about 20 years ago when I was only 4 y/o!

Anyways, If you are still interested in building
high-rpm or high-torque motors, send me a message or reply here, and I can link you some great resources to get you going!


Reply 3 years ago

hey man!

I was interested on how you gothink such high result. It would be great Ifor you could send me a link for you resources


Reply 3 years ago

i want to make a motor of 20,000 rpm....can u please help me


Reply 3 years ago

when it comes to gyroscopic motors , it really takes a lot of effort to construct a multi-motor rotatory circuit with arduinos and tranducers . At the age of 10, I constructed a drone with a quad-scoped motor board for extra propellance and power . It won the 2012's national military science fair:)


Reply 3 years ago

hello hheidermann

I am very interested in how you got up to 20 k rpm

if you could send info or link would be greatly appreciated