Intro: Make Your Own Fidget Rings - DIY Wood Gear Rings
This is a simple design I came up with back in 2011 well before the whole fidget spinners fad. Now that the fad for fidget spinners is finally fading - in part because of all the teachers banning them from their classrooms - I decided to bring the gear rings back out of retirement as a more subtle and less distracting way to "fidget". [ I could also see this somehow being used for Steampunk decorations for those of you who are into that. ]
Rather than something that spins around a single point (as the fidget spinners do) the Wood Gear rings require two pieces that work in conjunction to rotate. Each gear is a ring that you wear adjacent to each other-- lock them together and when you turn one the other turns. Pretty simple mechanics and pretty easy to make using the template below. The only difficult part of this is figuring out your ring sizes for two adjacent fingers, and making sure to not make them too tight so you can spin it easily.
Step 1: Get Access to a Laser Cutter
I use to sell these Gear Rings in my Etsy shop but I'm offering the design here for free. The first major step is getting access to a laser cutter (if you don't already own one). Most areas in the US and abroad have Maker Spaces that often have a laser cutter available for community use. If there isn't one where you live try a service like Ponoko which lets you upload your files, choose a material to cut from, and have it shipped to you for a fee. They can be pricey but if you've never used a laser cutter before and don't have access to one, it's a very convenient service.
Step 2: Choose Your Material and Prepare Your File
Although I have my own laser cutter (An Emblaser 2 from Darkly Labs which I highly recommend), I haven't been able to source a certain type of thick bamboo that I prefer to use for these rings. So when I've made these I've used Ponoko's laser cutting service and the material they provide. The bamboo I've used is a 3 ply Amber Bamboo that is roughly 1/4 inch thick (or 6.7mm) because I wanted the ring to have a certain thickness. Too thin of a ring will make it harder for the gears to lock and turn. I would imagine that you could use a different kind of wood for this as long as it's comparable in thickness, but I've never experimented with anything else.
For whichever options you choose, just be sure to laser cut the sizes you need -- or cut a bunch of different sizes and see which ones fit best. I've provided a pdf here that has a template with different ring sizes and an EPS file - if you need to make any adjustments - is available on my website (scroll down to the bottom of the linked page). I have full and half sizes on the template but you should keep in mind that with laser cutting a certain amount of material will be burned away. So if you want a ring that is exactly size 7 for example, you will want to scale the drawing up slightly (or offset the inside circle a certain amount). You will also want to keep text and lines that won't be cut in different colors, layers. or line weights. This really is dependent on the laser cutter software or the service you will be using so I've just made the dimensions/text, engraved lines, and cutting lines different colors.
Note: I use an old copy of Adobe Illustrator for my laser cut work but there are free graphics programs you could also use for preparing the files. Again, the format needed will depend on the laser cutting software used or what the service (like Ponoko) requires.
Step 3: Prepare Your Rings
Now that you have prepared your files and laser cut your rings the last step is optional. After popping the laser cut rings out of the material you may want to lightly sand them, then coat with a clear lacquer -- especially if the cuts aren't super clean. Once that is done put two on adjacent fingers and you're good to go.