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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.

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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.

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

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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.

More:
See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.