Does this kind of swivel fastener exist?
January 12, 2013 3:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to make a prop for a show. The basic idea is a dowel rod-cum-sword that swivels 360 degrees.

I want to take a 1" dowel rod, cut off about 10 inches for a handle, and then rejoin the handle to the rest of the rod using some kind of swivel or miniature lazy susan so that the handle and rod can spin freely and independently of each other.

I was able to make a proof of concept today using the socket from a 3/8" caster wheel and a threaded rod, but because the rod is not shaped like the caster pin, it doesn't stay in the socket. Do they make caster pins and sockets without the wheel part? Or something like it?
posted by starvingartist to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
A cheap and elegant solution might be a PVC swivel fitting. You could turn down the ends of the dowels to fit inside, and glue them with epoxy. Threaded PVC might be better than a smooth glue joint, because it would give the epoxy more surface to bond. Note that the two ends of this PVC fitting swivel independently--others may look similar but they won't do what you want. If you don't absolutely need wood, then you could use PVC pipe instead, and use PVC cement to bond it to the swivel.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:29 PM on January 12, 2013

Are you wanting the blade of the sword to spin on a common axis with the grip, like sort of a straight drill? Or to spin perpendicular to the grip?
posted by xedrik at 7:04 PM on January 12, 2013

How durable does this need to be?

You could bore a hole, say 5/8" dia by 5 or 6" deep, right down the center (like drilling a gun barrel) of each piece. Then take a 10" or 12" piece of 5/8" dowel, and maybe a half-inch from either end, run a groove about 1/4" wide by perhaps 3/16" deep, all the way around the dowel. Into your blade and grip pieces, at the appropriate place, drill a 3/16" hole clear through it, perpendicular to the bore hole you did first. Slide your 5/8" dowel into the blade, and use two 3/16" dowels from either end of the just-drilled hole to pin it in. Coat the sides of the 3/16" dowel with glue before setting it. Set it deep enough so that it's fully into the groove, but not binding. Then, slide your grip over the remaining end of the 5/8" dowel, and pin it with 3/16" dowels as before. It'll give you a basic wood-on-wood swivel.
 grip section            blade section

--------------|║|------|  |------|║|----------------//---
|        -----|║|----------------|║|-----                \
|        |    |_|                |_|    |                 \
|        |          5/8 dowel           |                  \
|        |                              |                  /
|        |    |¯|                |¯|    |                 /
|        -----|║|----------------|║|-----                /
--------------|║|------|  |------|║|----------------//---
               ^        ^
               |        |_gap between grip and blade
               |_ 3/16 dowel pins in these four gaps
Not to scale, and you'll want to run the 5/8" dowel deep enough into the grip and the blade to bear the weight of the blade, a good 5 or 6 inches into either end. It won't spin crazy freely like a ball-bearing, but as long as you don't set the pins so deep that they bind, it will turn fairly freely. Might want to slip a large washer in between the two halves, but make sure to account for the washer's thickness, it'll offset the location where you set your pins. All basic carpentry skills, but requires some precision. All the workings are internal, so the swivel is totally hidden. The trick is setting your pins deep enough so they fully catch the grooves in the 5/8 dowel and keep it all from sliding apart, but not so deep that they bottom out and bind on the center dowel, making it difficult to swivel.
posted by xedrik at 7:41 PM on January 12, 2013

Or you could try a roto-hinge like this, but they are a little on the short side, and I'd worry about it coming apart under stress, in your application.
posted by xedrik at 7:48 PM on January 12, 2013

If the whole thing doesn't need to be wood, you could just take your long dowel, and find a length of PVC pipe however long you want your grip to be, that is large enough to loosely slide over the dowel. Screw an oversize steel washer to one end of the dowel (large enough to keep the PVC pipe from sliding off), let the pipe slide all the way to that end, and then run a couple screws just ahead of the pipe to keep it from sliding the other direction. The dowel will spin fairly freely inside the pipe, and the washer and screws will keep the grip section in place. Would that work?
posted by xedrik at 7:55 PM on January 12, 2013

Full marks to xedrik! I was not thinking in that direction at all, but that is indeed a much better way to do it. I was worried that whatever fastener I used to join the two pieces would take a lot of stress perpendicular to the axis of the blade, and that it would snap, but now I don't need to even have a weak joint. Thanks!
posted by starvingartist at 8:46 PM on January 12, 2013

If you want it to spin really freely, you could use the same concept and incorporate a couple of skateboard wheel bearings.
posted by flabdablet at 11:48 PM on January 12, 2013

« Older Help us name our cats.   |   Contemporary Poem about Loss Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.