Simple Animatronics (robotic Hand)




About: Name: Bård Lund Johansen Engineer, Materials Technology

I made my first animatronic hand when I was about 10 years old using stuff I found around the house. Now I want to share with you how to easily make your own at home!

 This hand is made from readily available materials and is perfect for your Halloween haunted house, scary pranks, as a movie prop or just good old fashion fun. It also serves as a good starting point for further work that might include the use of servos, remote controlling and more advanced animatronics. There's a few videos at the end of this instructable that shows the building process and some of the movement of the hand. Here's one;

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Step 1: Parts and Tools You Need

Sharp knife
Hot glue-gun
Marker/ pen
Plastic or wooden clothes hanger

The two latter can be replaced by other materials as you will find out later.

Step 2: Making the Template

First off, draw an outline of your hand on a sheet of paper.
Mark off the joints of each finger including your knuckles. If you're lazy, just print out the last picture:)

Step 3: Creating Some Fingers

For this hand I used a plastic tubing that electricians use when they route wires trough walls. It is easy to cut and have a nice "spring" to it. Almost any kind of tubing will do so just take whatever you can get.

Cut the tube at a length equal to that of the distance from your finger to your wrist. Do this for all fingers.

From the template, mark off the joints and then cut a V-shape in the tube at each joint. Make sure the to check the angle of the bend so that it closely matches your fingers.

Step 4: Mounting the Fingers

Get your string and insert it into the tube. I used nylon string so that it doesn't frizz. Use a few feet for each finger as you can always cut it later.
Tie a few knots at the end as depicted and secure it all with some tape to hold it all together.
At the other end (wrist-side), pull and tape the string. This makes the next step much easier!

Step 5: Mounting the Fingers -continued

Make use of those old CD-covers that clutters your desk and snap off a piece of plastic. Cut it to size and power up the glue gun.
Glue the fingers to the plastic strip (just below the knuckle joints). Make sure the right fingers are in the right place!

Step 6: Thumbs Up

Depending on the diameter of the tubing, you might want to tape the fingers before gluing the thumb in place. It might seem a bit tricky placing the thumb, but study your hand and you'll work it out. Use a big blob of glue and hold it steady until it cools.

Step 7: Wrist

Remove the tape from the wrist-end of the tubes and insert them in a foot or so of tubing.
To stiffen things up a bit, attack that old CD-cover again and snip out one or two pieces as per picture. Glue it all together leaving an inch for the wires. Some extra tape might also be in place here.

Step 8: Controlling the Beast

To get things in motion we need to make a bracket of some kind. A plastic clothes hanger is about to be hacked.
Make a square by taping and gluing the pieces together.
Secure it to the end of the tube by using even more glue and tape.
Tie loops for all fingers. The thumb is a bit tricky to control at first but with time you'll get the hang of it.

That's basically it! The next step is really not necessary but more depending on the usage.

Step 9: Bringing It to Life

To add a more human touch, I glued some cell foam to the tips of the fingers and palm. This helps if you plan to use a glove for further realism.
On the other hand*, if the aim is a skeleton look, this might be redundant and you'd be better off with some spray paint. This is where your creativity should take over:)

Here's a quick video I made of another hand. I used my stiff MC glove so the movement doesn't really show on that one.

This is a low quality video I made during testing. I will replace it with a better one later!

Thanks for viewing my Instructable. Now, go and scare someone:)

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297 Discussions


Question 6 months ago on Introduction

Do you still have the videos? I would like to see it in action. They appear to have been removed


Question 1 year ago

how much can i buy this for?


2 years ago

For some reason videos are not showing up for me on neither my desktop nor my mobile browser. Any ideas why I cannot view?


8 years ago on Step 3

Dx I've been to several large hardware stores and can't find (even after asking) any of the tubing. Any help?

Thanks :)

2 replies

Reply 7 years ago on Step 3

Try an automotive store. I work for Napa and we have a bunch of that stuff for wiring cars. Its called wire loom. Make sure you dont get the split loom because it has a slit down the center.


Reply 2 years ago

in my point of view sure but yah don't have to?


Reply 7 years ago on Step 7

Hi! I don't see why not. But wouldn't it be very skinny? Also, it might not be as strong.. but give it a go! Let us know how it works out:)


5 years ago on Introduction

thank you so much for this. My little brother was born without a hand and you gave me an idea on how to effectively make him a working hand. Thank you soooo much.

1 reply

2 years ago

The videos don't seem to be loading. Is there another place like Youtube where you could post them?


3 years ago

On step 7... in one of the pictures there is a small triangular grey piece. What is that and what is it for?

3 replies

Reply 2 years ago

I think its a piece of the CD case he/she was talking about. Maybe its there to guide the strings?


Reply 3 years ago

Looks to me like you hot glue it to connect the fingers to the arm tube.


2 years ago

Just add few or one motor(s) on the wrist and set it up to pull the strings, now you have a mechanical hand, im willing to make this with motors , and it can be controlled by a glove.


3 years ago

It is very nice


3 years ago

um.. False title.. Says robotic hand, animatronic? But this is cool and i love these. Have a great day