Harnessing Translational Kinetic Energy

Posted: September 1, 2014 in Anodizing projects, Garage projects, Machining projects
Tags: , , , , , , ,


So it would appear that I have got myself into a groove of machining projects that can be completed in an evenings worth of time. They allow little commitment on my part yet yields decent amounts of satisfaction, in today’s world I think I have dialed in what we are all looking for. I typically live by the words “a well planned project is a project half done” however in this case a “project that is winged is a project that that wasn’t planned but turned out alright”.

I got myself into a yo-yo groove. A number of years ago I researched yo-yos and came to learn that the technology has advanced since I was a kid. Now the pro yo-yos are all ball bearing-ed, housing friction discs, and strung with your choice of left, or right hand, wound string. Really I just wanted a yo-yo like the yellow wooden one I had when I was lad. So I got my hands on a typical, non-pro, yo-yo. Took some dimensions, weighed some weight, and went to spinning on the lathe. Would you like to see?


I do not have very many build pictures to post. All the units where built from 6061 aluminum. I made 2 different versions, an adult version using 2.250″ stock and a child’s version using 2″ stock. The milling machine digital readout was dialed in to hog out some holes to lighten the overall weight.


These are the rough machined blanks. The centers are threaded to accept a stainless steel 6 mm threaded rod that is housed in a 5/16″ aluminum axle.


These are the finished machined spinners. I set the blanks up on the lathe and then tapered down the sides until I achieved the weight that I wanted.


Time to toss on some color. Some of the units got anodized and then dipped in some colorful dye.


All the colors hung to dry after coming out of the dye tank.


This one was built for a good friend of mine, Dave, who is always around to help me out when needed (except when he is in Disney World). He wanted his favorite sports team colors so this yo-yo went copper and blue.


This 2 tone unit weighs in at 72 grams and sports an orange poly string.


This was the child’s version I built and dyed florescent pink. I left it in the dye tank a bit too long so the “florescent” doesn’t pop as much as it should. The smaller 2″ diameter, along with the larger holes, brings the weight down to 47 grams.


The original plan was to dye both sides pink however I ran into a slight issue with the anodizing. I ended up having a poor electrical connection while soaking the yo-yos in the acid bath and the 1 side of the pink yo-yo never anodized. Because it didn’t anodize I couldn’t get it to take on the dye. I decided to throw it back on the lathe and brush finish the failed side. I think it looks better this way with the two tone.


This purple one was built just because. It is built to the same dimensional spec as the copper/blue one. I have logged some decent spin time with this one and I am pleased with the performance level. Good weight, good feel, good whip, good spin.


This was my original prototype. In weighs in at a hefty 104 grams! Yes, it is not for the weak fingered but it works. It does, however, start to take it toll on the digits. I used the specs of this y-yo to machine my more successful anodized units from. The main difference is that I shaved down the thickness of the sides in order to achieve better weight.


You can see how thick this one is. I initially got the spec from an original yo-yo.


  1. Fab Tessaro says:

    Way too cool!!! I wish I had a funky Yo-Yo like that when I was a kid. Now it’s just like……Yo!!! That is awesome!

    • gordsgarage says:

      Good to hear from you Fred. The yo-yos worked out well. The anodizing adds a significant amount of time to the project but the results are worth it.

      Thanks for the comment!


  2. Shain says:

    Been following your blog for a while and this is my first comment. I enjoy getting your blog updates via e-mail. Always pleasure to see what you up to. Gets my own creative juices flowing. How did you bevel and remove the anodized finish around the holes. Very nice touch.

    • gordsgarage says:

      Hi Shain, thanks for checking out the blog and dropping me a line, I appreciate it. The bevel around the holes of the anodized yo-yos is super easu, super quick, and adds the finishing touches. All I do is use a chamfering bit in my hand drill and take off just enough material to give me a nice silver ring. I attached a picture of the bits here.

      Thanks for taking the time


      • Shain says:

        Very cool. Thank you. Going to be doing some anodizing this fall. Really liked you your previous posts about you setup. Super simple and portable.

  3. Luis Rodrigues says:

    Things of beauty. Thanks for sharing.
    You should think about doing some Youtube videos with a back to back process of your buildings. That would be bun to watch too.
    Those Yo-Yo look like gun barrels. Just stick some bullets in them, spin them around and you get a Gatling gun ;).
    Keep’em coming!

    • gordsgarage says:

      Thanks Luis, I gave your video idea some serious thought and figured I would give it a go. I make no promises though. I spent the weekend doing a new project and I video recorded almost the entire process, it was about a 10 hour build however the recording slowed me down a bit. I have a lot of editing to perform so it may be awhile before I post it. Stay tuned…


  4. Randy Smith says:

    Do you have any photos of the axle? I didn’t quite follow the sleeve description but it would appear you made a 5/16″ sleeve with a 6mm ID and pressed the bearing onto the sleeve. Did you use a little bearing like an 1810, or something else?

    • gordsgarage says:

      Hi Randy, sorry but I have no pictures. I did not bearing the axle. All I did was thread the 2 yo-yo halves with a 6mm thread, cut a stainless 6mm threaded axle, and then machined an aluminum spacer as the center bushing. The aluminum bushing just gets sandwiched between the 2 halves. The bushing/axle is polished so it gives the yo-yo some fairly decent spin time. Does this make sense?


  5. Del Walker says:

    Any of the yo yo’s steam powered? I hear Rube Goldburg made yo yo’s 😉

    • gordsgarage says:

      Hey Dell, fantastic idea! Need a life sized yo-yo with a steam engine attached to the side of it. Make a total steampunk steam powered elevator. You collect the material, I’ll sweep out the garage and we will get started.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s