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I make lots of stuff that needs springs. I have always hated trying to find the right spring for the job in a hardware store, then having to pay up to 10 dollars for it. When I was learning to make chainmail I came up with this method for winding rings and realized it could be used for making springs as well. It is insane how quick and easy this is.
Video makes this easier to follow and shows just how ridiculously fast it is, so I included a podcast with me doing this. The spring segment is at 5:19 but don't be shy about watching the rest of the video afterwards, not to mention other episodes. also, don't forget to check out my other instructables.
Step 1: Materials
A Drill, one with a little bit of torque.
Heavy duty gloves, not gardening gloves. I use welding gloves. If you try this with light duty gloves, call an ambulance before you start so it will arrive in time to stop the bleeding.
An arbor- just a fancy name for a rod to wind the spring on, round is common but not required. Match the arbor to the diameter of the spring you want to make.
You may need a piece of square steel (I used 1/4" keystock) if you want to make a compression spring. More on this in a minute.
I have 3/32" stainless steel tig rods for welding sitting around. Each rod only costs a few cents and they seem very suited for doing this kind of hand bending. while still being stiff enough to be a spring.
Step 2: Expansion Springs
Expansion springs are ones that stretch, like a spring in a screen door or a gate.
Bend the rod at a 90 degree angle leaving an end as long as you need to create a hook after. Slip the end into the chuck of the drill between the teeth.
Hold the arbor in your hand grabbing the wire at the same time. Slowly start the drill and squeeze the arbor tight to control the wire. It may take a try or two to get the knack of how to hold it.
Stop the drill before the wire gets to the end because the tip will whip around the arbor in your hand. If your hand is not well protected when this happens, this will be the part where you will be picking up chunks of skin off of the ground.
Slide the spring off the arbor and bend the ends into hooks with pliers.
Yes! it is that easy.
A friend emailed me and told me about a limited travel extension spring. It took me about 2 minutes and a set of needle nose pliers to make these clips to add to my compression spring. (see pictures) The idea is that under heavy loading, an extension spring can deform and straighten right out. This spring can handle much higher loads stopping at a fixed point. Pretty cool concept and super easy to make.
Step 3: Compression Springs
Compression springs are ones that squish, like the spring in a ballpoint click pen.
Making these is almost as easy. Start the same way and make a few turns of an expansion spring (wire touching itself). Then wrestle the spacer (keystock) in between the last turn and rest of the still straight wire. Spin a bunch of turns with the spacer and then finish it with a few more expansion turns. Slide it off the arbor, clip the ends and you are done.
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