Tesla Coil Winding: the Easy Way




If you have ever wanted to make a Tesla coil, but have been too daunted by the process of hand-winding the secondary, then this Instructable is for you. In this instructable, I will show you how to wind a Tesla coil using an easily built machine, not a lathe, and how protect the windings. The video below will visually show you how to wind it. Lets get started!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

For this project, you a few tools and materials.


  • PVC Pipe (Whatever diameter you want for your coil, I chose 2 inch)
  • Enameled wire (Whatever gauge you want, I chose 32 gauge)
  • Spray lacquer
  • Tape


  • Hacksaw
  • Tesla coil winder (See step 4)
  • Sandpaper

Step 2: Calculating Wire and Pipe Length

To calculate the amount of wire you will use and how long the pipe is that will be used, you first need to know that you will need approximately 1000 turns. You can then plug in the variables into the equations below to find out how long your coil will be, how much wire you will need, how many turns you will have, wire gauge, and wire diameter. Many coils have different wire gauges and lengths. You can use these equations to find specifications for your coil.

totalWire = pi*pipeDiameter*turns

coilLength = wireDiameter*turns

Step 3: Preparing the Pipe

To prepare the pipe, you will first need to cut it. Cut it to the length that you determined using the equations in step 2, and add about 2 inches. Then, use a wet paper towel to clean all of the dirt and pipe shavings off the coil. It is important that you keep this very clean. Impurities on the pipe can cause arc-over when this is used in a Tesla coil. Wait for the pipe to completely dry before continuing to the next step.

Step 4: The Winding Machine

This is the most important part in winding the Tesla coil. The winding machine allows uniform windings at relatively high speeds. A Tesla coil winding machine can be built relatively quickly and easily. I built my winder using aluminium bars, rubber wheels, and a geared motor, but you can build it out of anything that works. This kind of tesla coil winder uses 4 wheels to rotate the piece of PVC pipe around its center axis. One wheel has a geared motor attached to it which lets the pipe be rotated automatically. This can also be built using an upside-down RC car and something with wheels, but because every reader has different materials, I will leave building the winder up to the readers imagination. Ask questions in the comments for help with building the winder. To control the motor, I used a variable power supply.

Step 5: Winding the Coil

To wind the coil you will first need to take your pipe, and tape one end of the wire to one end of the pipe. This will hold it in place during winding, then tuck the wire inside the pipe. Then, put the spool of wire vertically on a bolt so it will be able to rotate while the wire unwinds from it. After that, use an empty spool as a guide for putting the wire in the right place while using your thumb to compress the wire together. This step is better explained through the above pictures and the video referenced in the intro. This step takes about an hour to perform because of the about of turns needed for a tesla coil.

Step 6: Protecting the Windings

One of the final steps in winding the secondary of a Tesla coil is protecting the windings. To protect the windings, use spray on lacquer. Just spray the coil and give it at least 4 coats. This protects the windings from arc-over and dust.

Step 7: Testing the Coil

To test your Tesla coil, first you need to test the resistance of the windings. I used a multimeter to test resistance to make sure the wire had not broken. It should be >50 ohms. To test the resonant frequency of the coil, attach a top load(pie tin) and build a slayer exciter circuit(in my upcoming instructable). Then measure the frequency with an oscilloscope. The resonant frequency of my coil is 380 kilocycles.

Step 8: The Final Product

The coil should now be done! You can use this for any Tesla Coil/ Slayer Exciter circuit. This is a really easy way to wind a coil without the trouble of winding it by hand.

Good Luck!



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    15 Discussions


    Question 9 months ago

    Hey! I was wondering if it is possible to wind the coil without the machine. I understand it will take much longer but is it possible?

    Thanks a bunch!

    1 answer

    2 years ago

    would it double the power if you apply 2 layers of windings, (i.e. Say by applying One1000 wraps/2 layers of Lacquer/tissu paper/2 layers Lacuer/another 1000 wraps of wire, and the ends of the winding would be connected at there respected ends, top to top bottom to bottom.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    No it will light on fire and destroy itself


    2 years ago

    In the photo you have the magnet wire contacting the aluminum member while winding the coil. You should avoid having the wire contact anything other then itself, wood, or other soft materials or your skin, as you may scrape the insulation. Anything it contacts should be rounded. In your case a strip of masking tape over the metal edge will fix this.

    When cleaning the pipe, use acetone after your other cleaning. This will soften the pipe a little and enhance adhesion. You may want to pre-coat the pipe with the spray before winding.

    Also be sure to check the inside of the pipe for dirt, and prepare the means of end-termination before starting the winding.


    2 years ago

    I find it easier to fit 2 wood plugs into the ends of the pipe with 1/4' holes in them, and insert a 1/4-20 all-thread rod through with nuts on the ends. A wood crank handle is affixed to one end of the rod with nuts. a frame made of a piece of 2 x 4 (the "lathe bed") and 2 scraps of plywood on the ends (for the "headstock" and "tailstock"). because you are hand cranking, you have more control, and can recover from crossed turns, etc. Also advisable is to add a friction brake to hold things in position when not holding the crank. This can be built on any scale, but for really large coils, 2 people work best. The spray painting can also be done while the coil is on the 'lathe".


    2 years ago

    I'm guessing this would work equally as well to make crystal radio coils.

    2 replies

    2 years ago

    I used my sister's potters wheel. It had great foot-operated speed control and a centering devise for the pvc pipe.


    2 years ago

    what is the name of the frames you used on the winder?


    2 years ago

    Very good and insightful idea for this complicated coil. I used to may regenerative radios and this device would have been very useful. Check out the radio board forum. Maybe you can sell some of these.