How To Make A Simple Toy With Lever Wedge And Screw

Let's build a simple toy using a lever, wedge, and a screw. All we need are three simple machines. Quick simple machine refresher: Lever, incline, wedge, pulley, screw, wheel. These are the things that make work easier; the very things that allowed concepts like "leisure time" and "toy" to come into being. And thus was civilization born.


  • Wooden ruler (ideally with binder holes already in place)
  • Push Pin (the regular plastic flat-headed kind)
  • Key Rings (about a dozen in different sizes)

The key rings are the screws. A screw is basically a round incline. You can see this in action when you thread a key onto a ring. The key moves up or down and moving things up or down is pretty much what a screw does. But we're not using keys, just the rings. Ideally you've got a dozen or so key rings in various sizes. At least one of them needs to be large enough to spin loosely once it's threaded through the hole in the ruler. That's the anchor ring. Thread the key rings together to make a chain.

The ruler is the lever. It's a third-class lever, to be exact, with a human hand as its fulcrum. Since the whole idea of simple machines is making work easier, save yourself some work and use a ruler designed for sticking in a three-ring binder. These come with four holes-three evenly spaced and an extra near the end, between the eleven and twelve marks. The fourth hole is where we attach the key ring chain so thread the largest key ring right on through.

The push pin is the wedge. It's the wedge's job to get all up between stuff and inert itself and…Yeah. You've probably got the wedge concept down already so let's move on. Push (or wedge, heh) the pin firmly into the end of the ruler. The end with the key ring chain, not the other end. Now the simple toy is complete. Let the playing commence.

To play, pick up the ruler. Flick it and catch a ring from the chain on the pin. For scoring, assign points to the rings according to size or position in the chain or whatever makes you happy. Because making us happy is the work toys (simple and otherwise) are designed to do.

show comments

What Others Are Reading Right Now.