How to Make a Chinese Finger Trap

The Chinese finger trap is traditionally made of bamboo, but this amusing toy can be easily crafted from an ordinary sheet of paper. Put your finger in this pretty paper tube and then try to pull it off. The harder you pull, the tighter the weave becomes. You’re trapped! Even the Star Trek character Data was ensnared by this ancient toy. To escape, all you need is a soft touch. Push it gently off your finger, rather than yanking on the other end, and it slips right off.

chinese-finger-trap
This traditional toy is also very quick and easy to make! You can download free, printable instructions buy clicking on the button below, or scroll down for online instructions.

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How to make a Chinese Finger Trap

Materials:

  • Standard sized paper (letter or A4) in contrasting colors if desired.
  • Glue
  • A wooden dowel, rod, or pencil which is just a little narrower than your finger. You can also roll a sheet of paper and tape it to create a stiff form of a suitable width.

Tools:

  • Ruler
  • Thumbtacks or tape
  • Scissors or skalpel knife and cutting mat

Steps:

  1. Cut 4 strips of paper, 1/2” wide (or 13mm) along the long edge of your sheet of paper.Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 5.43.45 PM
  2. Make two L shaped pieces by gluing two strips together at a 90° angle.

 

make a Chinese finger trap3.

Temporarily attach the L shaped strips of paper to the opposite sides of your dowel using thumbtacks or removable tape.

 

4. Weave the strips together as shown below, tightening them lightly around your form as you go.

make a Chinese finger trap

5. When you have woven the finger trap to the desired length (about 5 1/2” or 14cm), glue the strips together, on two opposite sides, where they overlap.

6. Remove woven paper from the form, and cut off the excess paper strips.