Knex Vertical Jigsaw Lift




About: On my page you'll find lots of different Knex projects, from ball machine lifts to useful items. I hope you enjoy!  _______________________ Current avatar: Target of my skeeball machine Past avatars...

Hey everyone! This is a lift that was originally in Citadel, the Vertical Jigsaw Lift! It's much like a normal jigsaw lift, except it's going straight up instead of diagonal, which saves space and time. A rotating center section which looks like a jigsaw blade goes around with the help of a counterweight, and the balls go up a freefall step by step.

The design for the main parts of this lift were invented by Tornado96, who gave me permission to complete the design (adding the motor and tracks) and post the instructions.

This lift can be made taller than the one in these instructions; just make sure to extend the driveshaft in the back (more info on this in Step 5).

Here's a video of the lift in action: (direct link)

Note: This lift only works with the older Knex balls (the ones that come in two halves), since the newer balls are too big to fit into the freefall without modification. You'll have to change it to work with the newer balls.

If you want to build it, let's move to Step #1!

Step 1: Get the Pieces

Like most first steps, you'll need to gather pieces for the lift before building anything. The parts list for my version of the lift is below, which will be covered in these instructions. If you don't have enough pieces, you can modify yours to use less. For example, you can use all red gears if you don't have yellow ones (like in the second picture), and you can also place the counterweight in different locations so that part doesn't use gears at all (as seen in the third picture). You can also leave the counterweight out altogether, but the lift movement will be less smooth. I'll say more about these modifications later, in Steps 5 and 6.

Rods: 297

green- 104

white- 68

blue- 92

yellow- 23

red- 7

rigid tan- 3 (not required, but recommended)

Connectors: 242

dark grey- 27

light grey- 8

red- 43

green- 16

yellow- 53

orange- 28

white- 9

blue- 14

purple- 44

Other: 113

blue spacer- 53

silver spacer- 22

tan clip- 8

Y clip- 10

small blue/brown gear- 1

medium red gear- 3

medium yellow gear- 3

small wheel- 5

small tire- 5

medium wheel- 1

medium tire- 1

newer-style battery-powered motor (green)*- 1

Total: 652

*You can use a different motor if you wish, but you'll have to modify the motor section.

Step 2: Main Tower

Did you get some pieces? Excellent! If you don't have them all, you may want to double-check the checklist. And, after doing that, triple-check the checklist to make sure you were correct when you double-checked the checklist.

Anyhow, let's begin the lift by building the main tower. It's a freefall with little holders along the way so the ball doesn't fall back down. Though it's a freefall, the ball doesn't actually do any falling... so I guess it could be called a freerise?

With all the pictures, there's an image note that explains the particular picture, rather than a list in the step description. This way you won't have to constantly close full-screen mode to read the explanations. Let's get started shall we?

Step 3: Base and Entrance Track

Now that you've completed the main tower, it's time to strengthen the base. You'll also add the entrance track, which is simple; no gatekeeper on this one, the balls can go right into the lift without a problem. I suppose he's on vacation to go guard the shifting arm lift instead.

Step 4: Supports and Exit Track

More supports! These will help prevent the tower from getting too wide or narrow, since there's an open side. If the tower were to get too wide, the balls would fall down out of the holders, which would be disastrous. Who knows what could happen, they might implode or something. In addition to these tower supports, the exit track will be added. After all these supports you'll finally be ready to build what you've been waiting for: the jigsaw! (Unless you like to build supports more).

Step 5: Jigsaw

This jigsaw sits in the middle of the tower and rotates, so make sure it can rotate freely and not slide on the crank rods. The light grey connectors should also be kept straight, so they can assist in the lifting of the balls of the machine.

After inserting the jigsaw, you'll link up the top and bottom crank with a driveshaft. You can use other methods to link up these two cranks, such as a geartrain or chain (an example of the geartrain method is in the last picture). I just like the drivehaft method since there's less friction and it's easy to extend. If you're making your lift taller, be sure to connect more than the top and bottom cranks to the driveshaft (you'll probably want to connect to the driveshaft every 2 red rods). As stated in the first step, you can use only red gears if you don't have any yellow ones. Go to picture 20 for how to use red gears only.

Important: After building the linkage of your choice, you'll have to adjust the cranks that are linked up. To do this, slowly turn the jigsaw from the bottom crank by hand (turn it in the direction that it will be moving when finished, not backwards), and make sure the jigsaw runs smoothly all the way around. You especially want to watch out for when the jigsaw reaches its highest point and starts lowering. If it jumps past the top, adjust the timing of the gears so that one crank is at a different time than the other. The reason you have to do this is because of twisting in the driveshaft.

Sorry for the wall of text; there's a bug with using the enter key. At least it's not velociraptors.

Step 6: Motor and Counterweight

Now that the jigsaw is finished, it's time to add in the motor. If you adjusted the jigsaw well in the last step, you won't have to adjust very much things in this step. When turning on the motor (which you will likely do right after installing it), press the switch towards the jigsaw. Just keep in mind that, if you switch it on before adding a counterweight, it will strain to lift the jigsaw more than Tornado96 strains when he tries to do push-ups.

Step 7: You're Done!

Hooray, the vertical jigsaw lift is now complete! Now just press the motor switch towards the jigsaw, add some balls, and watch it go! As always, if you have any questions/comments/concerns, leave a comment below.

Thanks for viewing, and happy building!


2 People Made This Project!


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32 Discussions


12 months ago

I finished the lift, but the jigsaw isn’t picking up the ball. What should I do?

1 reply

Reply 11 months ago

Does the jigsaw stay centered or does it shift to the side? You should check the entrance track, since it may be too low. Does it work if you load two balls into it?


2 years ago

That's pretty awesome. Nice to see you're still going at it.

Whenever I come back onto here every 6 months or so I always check out the new Knex stuff and part of me wishes that I had the time to just buy a huge bunch of Knex and start building again. I'm sure I could materialise much more complex ideas than I could 5 years ago, but I don't see that in my future to be honest :(

Good work.

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks man! I didn't expect to see you comment, haha. The best way to collect Knex is gradually, as the large lots are usually too expensive anyway. Are you busy with school?


2 years ago

I might put this in my ball machine. It looks cool, but it uses a bunch of pieces. If I use it, I will give you credit.

5 replies

Reply 2 years ago

Alright, keep in mind you can take many "shortcuts" to reduce the pieces used.


Reply 2 years ago

I made it and it works awesome! I quit making the ball machine. It was too normal (normal=boring). I have some ideas for weird ball machines and I might use this lift in one of those.


Reply 2 years ago

That's too bad (about quitting the ball machine), but I'm glad the lift works well!


Reply 2 years ago

True. I will probably make this instead of a boring micro chain lift.


2 years ago

Hmm. Is it possible to make this out of the mini pieces? :D

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

It should be possible, there'll need to be modifications though.