Idahoan Dean Williams used to make a living by repairing vintage mechanical cameras. If you’ve ever pulled your hair out trying to replace a small spring that hasn’t been manufactured since the factory was bombed by Göring’s Luftwaffe, you may be interested in his well-documented DIY method. Dean’s trick for annealing them inside a wad of steel wool in a toaster oven is worth a click all by itself. His entire site, in fact, will likely be of interest to those who appreciate close mechanical work.

How-To: Make Springs

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

  • Ffaelan

    you don’t need a lathe for this.

  • Fuzzy

    Sorry, just to clarify: he’s not annealing the springs, he’s re-tempering them to relieve some stress without killing the temper completely. It’s certainly a good way to go about it, as these are tiny springs!

    • Sean Michael Ragan

      Thanks! I guess I’m pretty naive about metallurgy. My thought
      process was: slow cool = annealing, fast cool = tempering.

  • Björn Jahn

    Since i don’t have a lathe i use a very old technique.
    Make the arbor from thick wire bent into a crank shape, at the end of the shaft i cut a slot for the thin music wire.
    To use it, put it between two pieces of soft scrap wood in a vice, insert the thin music wire and start cranking in the angle you want, One advantage of this is that the wood works as a angle guide ones you get started so the spring will be uniform.