Project:Swinging Puffin

From CoMakingSpace Wiki


Swinging Puffin

Swinging puffin.jpg
Status: in progress
Release Date: April 19
Initiator: Ignaz
Team: Ignaz
Materials Used: leftover plywood (8 mm thickness), acrylic paint, nylon string
Tools Used: scroll saw, drill press, sandpaper
Software Used: N/A
Approx. Cost: low

As a child I always had one of these swinging birds in my room, made by my dad. As generations follow some of my friends became/will become parents this year. I figured that such a swinging bird is a nice present for them.

Now there are lot of different manuals and cutting masks out in the web. But for what ever reason I wanted to have a puffin. But sure, the only ready available mask / template which you couldn't find, was of course a puffin. So I draw the one you can download on this page.

To find templates I figured out it is best to search the web for the german word "Schwingtier". For example:


  • some wood board thickness max 10 mm - should be kind of a heavy wood like beech wood - if the bird becomes to light it will only make one or two swings and move back to a balanced state (size of the wood board you need depends on the size of bird you want)
    • body (1 x )
    • swing (2 x )
  • nylon string, diameter 0.5 - 1 mm (approx: 2 m) - old guitar strings work very well
  • paint - whatever you prefer - best would be to use some paint that is childproof
  • small wooden rod to fix the strings (I used 8 mm diameter approx 20 cm length leftover wooden rod)

Steps to make

  1. Get some cutting mask or template for the body and swing or draw one on your own - If you want to make a puffin you can use this: Media:Mask_for_swinging_bird_puffin.pdf
  2. If the template shows the position of drilling points don't just drill the holes in there. As the bird needs to be balanced, it is better to use the final parts and find the position subsequently by balancing the bird.
  3. Cut the body and two swings out of the wood board and sand them.
  4. Paint the parts and let them dry
  5. Balance the wing for example on a round pen - mark the balanced position at the body-side of the swing and find two positions for the linking holes, that are at the same distance from the balancing point.
  6. Tighten the two swings together and drill the holes through both swings (diameter = diameter of your nylon string)
  7. Find the center of gravity of the body part. Drill two holes with the same distance as the ones at the swing, in the upper part of the body. (It is important that you find the center of gravity - otherwise the bird will strongly "fly" downwards or upwards, as well as to drill the linking holes in the upper part of the body - that ensures a more balanced behavior when swinging.)
  8. Now use the nylon string to assemble the swings to the body. The clearance between the swing and the body should be wide enough to allow the swing to fully move down and up. I just thread the nylon string through the holes in the wing and fasten it with a knot. Then thread to the body and the fasten it the same way on the other side wing.
  9. When both wings are mounted the body use two books or some scrap wood the balance the bird on the two wings. It takes some time but eventually you will find a position within both wings, at the same distance from the body, where the bird is balanced in a nice way.
  10. Mark the found positions and drill two holes equally distant from the gravity center line of the wing.
  11. Cut two pieces of string with approx. 40 cm length (the larger the bird, the longer) of the same length.
  12. Now thread each string through the two holes on each wing and tighten them with a knot. You can use some glue if you are unsure whether the knot is enough to fix it.
  13. Use your rod and link / fasten each string from the wings on one side, equally distant from the mid of the rod.
  14. Now hang the bird at something where it can move freely. You can now adjust the strings in length and position to get the behavior of the bird as you want it.

==> I know the description is a little bit confusing and I will add some pictures of the steps later on. If you have any questions or if you want t build one I would be very happy to meet with you in the space and discuss the project.

==> If you ever build one it would be nice if you add a picture of yours to this page.