A “wobbler” consists of two intersecting circles in perpendicular planes. When you roll it along the ground, it wobbles left and right as it moves forward. I saw these 18″ diameter pine disks for sale at a lumber store and thought they would make a wonderfully large wobbler.

wobbler wood hand 2 Math Monday: Giant wobbler

The construction simply involves cutting a slot in each disk and forcing the parts together for a friction fit. These disks are 1″ thick, so the slot is exactly 1″ wide. It can be shown that if the depth of the slot is 29% of the way into the center, then the center of gravity remains at a constant height as it rolls, so it will wobble down the slightest incline.

wobbler wood parts Math Monday: Giant wobbler

I wrote a description of wobblers made from coins in MAKE Volume 15.


On a smaller scale, CDs also work well. Simply slot them on a saw and friction-fit them together. For all surfaces to be reflective, put two CDs face-to-face to make each circle.

See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Supplies at Maker Shed


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 28,770 other followers