A few months ago someone asked me if I would make a Yo-Yo, so here is my approach to making one!
To begin I drilled a 5mm hole in the centre of two blanks, which I will be used to turn the body of the Yo-Yo, the heavier the wood the better! The holes are to accept an 6mm screw chuck.
The blank measures 70mm square and roughly 20mm thick, so lightly over-sized.
Next, one of the two blanks is mounted to the lathe using a screw chuck.
I don’t have a 6mm screw chuck so I made a homemade one just for this! First a flat face is turned on a piece of hardwood, then a 5mm hole is drilled through and it is finished off by screwing a short M6 bolt through that hole, from the other side.
Turning one half of the Yo-Yo to shape. The Yo-Yo can be of any (cylindrical) shape you like, in fact, hollowing out the centre slightly should increase the performance of the Yo-Yo by concentrating the mass on the outer edge.
Measuring the diameter of the turning. You can certainly experiment with different sizes but a diameter of roughly 60mm or 2 1/4″ is quite common.
Once it’s sanded it can be screwed off and the second half turned to the same shape.
When watching a video by Frank Howarth, he suggested weighing the two halves of the Yo-Yo to ensure they are fairly similar, in order to achieve a balanced Yo-Yo which runs smoother.
When I weighed the halves one was ~0.5g heavier, this is EASILY good enough for a Yo-Yo! Nevertheless I was easily able to re-mount the heavier one to the lathe and give is a really quick sand to remove that tiny amount.
In all honesty this step is not all that necessary, if the diameter of the two halves is the same that should be close enough! However, in this instance I decided if the project was worth doing, it was worth doing right!
Following turning the next stage is to make an axle. Commonly wood is used, but as I had some spare 6mm steel shaft in the workshop which I thought might work well instead.
What ever material you do decide to use I would suggest a diameter of between 6 and 8mm. (Note:If you go larger you might need to re-drill the holes for the axle to fit.)
One of the most important factors in getting the Yo-Yo to work correctly is setting the distance between the two halves of the Yo-Yo’s body.
Here I am using playing cards as a guage. Frank suggested a distance of ~10 cards. The axle can simply be sanded a little at a time until the ideal distance is achieved.
When testing the Yo-Yo I found this particular one was slightly more responsive with a narrower gap, the final setting being ~8 cards. I suggest starting out with 10 and then decide if you need to go any further.
Once a few coats of finishing oil (or your preferable finish) has been applied the string can be attached.
If the string is tied tightly the Yo-Yo should easily bounce up and down for you. However, if you want the Yo-Yo to “sleep” at the bottom of its travel (in order to perform tricks) it needs to be tied much looser.
I attached the string by tying a small knot in the end of it, then by untwisting the very bottom of the string I was able to slide the string over the axle. (This is the most common way in which Yo-Yo strings are attached.)
Finally the two halves can be attached together. If you have a really tight fit you might be able to simply push them together, if this is not the case, like with mine, a single drop of CA glue in the holes should hold it adequately. This leaves the ability to pull the Yo-Yo apart if needed.
Be sure to watch the following video which covers the explained steps above as well as demonstrating the Yo-Yo in action! If you enjoy the video be sure to visit my YouTube channel and Subscribe to my channel to hear about future videos.