Friday, February 22, 2013

Thread spool toy

Some boys in my high school class had made a toy that would move upon winding.  It was created out of stuff that were otherwise 'waste'.  The toy had only four main components.  A wooden thread spool, ball pen refill,  rubber band and a piece of candle. A few rotations of the refill to wind the rubber were all that were needed to make the spool move.  The candle piece would slowly release the rubber band tension as it unwound inside the hole. Simple mechanism!

Everyone was tempted to make one for himself.  I did it too, but only after much trouble in procuring its main component, which was the wooden spool which I did not find at home.  The sewing threads we had at home were on cardboard tubes.  So I had to go to our tailor's shop was close by to ask for an empty spool.  He would not part one saying "See, all of them have threads on them"!  Since he was our tailor, I resorted to persistent pestering to which he finally gave in and handed me a spool to me.  I was so happy.

The toy needed a thick slice of wax candle with a hole in the centre for creating that bit of friction needed for it to move slowly.  I used a razor blade to cut the slice carefully out from the base of a candle. Once this was done, the toy was ready.

I had taken my toy to a relative's wedding.  I would wind and leave it on the floor to see the fun when it touched people's feet under the chairs! In classrooms, racing competitions were held on desks during the short breaks. Pure fun!

I wonder how, where and by whom these little ideas originated!  This was a classic!


For this post, I relived the old days in making one.  I had a similar wooden spool but I had forgotten I had wound the soldering lead to it and kept in some box.  When I found this yesterday, the joy I derived was similar when the tailor handed over to me!

It took me just 15 minutes to do.  See how it works - *click*.

Actually when the rubber band is a good one, the thing moves along steadily and more quickly than the one I got in the video.  Here are some images:

The spool I found now.

All materials ready.  Paraffin candle, rubber band, empty refill and knife.

Candle piece cut out. 

Ready!  The rubber band goes through the hole and is held by another piece of stick - here I used a folded card.  I also rubbed some candle for it to grip on the surface.


  1. Dinu, Instead of candle I used a soap cut into a square piece. I also made a similar type for flat surface. But my elder brother showed me how to use this on a gradient surface by cutting teeths on the wooden spool wheel.

  2. Thanks Krishtraairay. We too 'drove' them up gradient by keeping the exam-clipboard which had a rough surface on the back.


Your comments will be published only after the author of the blog reads them. Thanks.