About: Professionally I have been a summer camp counselor, a Draftsman/designer, salesperson, bicycle mechanic, laminate flooring machine mechanic, teacher, and designer of the OP Loftbed. Personally I am a human...

Buttons serve an important wardrobe function.  Although they can be found in interesting places, the life of a button is probably boring to the button.  This is a way for the button to have a bit of fun and reach speeds unknown to most buttons.

This simple toy has been around more than two and a half thousand years.  Easy to make and fun to play with.  They have been known by different names;  button whirligig, string button toy, button spinner, buzzers, and now.....THE SPINNING BUTTON OF CHAOS!

Step 1: Tools

You will be using strong string.  Teeth would do, but you only have the one set, and you should take care of them.  Scissors or a knife will work best.

Step 2: Materials

A button and a strong string are all that is needed.

The button should be the flat style (not shank or stud style) and should have at least two holes equal distance from the center of the button.  A bigger, heaver button will be easier to use, but will result in slower speeds.  A disc made of almost anything could be used in place of the button....USE CAUTION!

The string should be strong and flexible enough to twist onto itself.  I used one of the inner yarns of 550 parachute cord, cut to about 30 inches in length.

Step 3: Thread the Button

Thread the string thru the button and then back thru on the hole opposite the center of the button.

Step 4: Take Care of Loose Ends.

Tie the two ends together.  I used a square knot.

Step 5: Ready,

With the button in the middle, hold the bights of the string in each hand.  You can use one or two fingers, or your thumbs.

Step 6: Set,

Holding the string loose, spin the button to wind up the string.

Step 7: GO!

Put tension on the string by pulling your hands apart.  The string will unwind, spinning the button.  Loosen up on the tension and the momentum of the spinning button will wind the string the other direction.  Do not give up if it does not work the first try.  Once you get the rhythm right, the button will spin and the string will make some interesting sounds.  Repeat until you get bored or injured.  Do not let it fool you, the spinning button can reach speeds in excess of ten thousand RPM (if your technique is perfect).  If you get the string near hair or if the string breaks, the results can be catastrophic!

As with all instructables...Enjoy.

Thanks for reading,




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    8 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    take a metal bottle cap. smash it flat. nail two holes in it. string it. and fight with your friends who could cut there opponents string first.

    2 replies

    6 years ago on Step 7

    ah, childhood memories -- of the noise this thing would make when you would sneak up to a neighbor's bathroom window, at night (seeing that the neighbor was sitting on the 'throne') and let this toy loose on the glass window. Great instructable.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This was one of my favorite toys as a child. I spent countless hours playing with it but never fully appreciated the physics of it all. Thanks for the reminder!

    1 reply

    We both probably didn't appreciate that our mom was making them for us to keep us out of their hair so they could sew.


    Thanks. This is one of those things that jars your brain back to your childhood. If you look at the first picture, you can see the vibrations in the string.