Makers continue to go crazy over fidget spinners, those little adult stress toys that you hold between two fingers and mindlessly spin while you’re on the phone, brainstorming, or planning to take over the world. The popularity of these adult shut-up toys has gotten to the point where people are starting to complain about how faddish they are, how useless, and how flooded this whole project category has become.
Honestly, I think all of that misses the point. Look at the diversity of the project category, as people riff on the form. There are giant fidget spinners, teeny-tiny fidget spinners, spinners made out of every possible material, in different shapes, fidget spinners that light up and make sounds. People have even weaponized their fidget spinners, adding spikes, knife edges, and other lethal pokey bits, and then spinning the toy up with compressed air.
Everyone is inspired to make them slightly differently, to put their own stamp on them. And in the meantime, people are learning woodworking, machining, metalwork, electronics, all sorts of useful skills. The fidget spinner form is just a simple design constraint for an approachable and fun project which is inspiring lots of people to try their hand at making one.
Here is a fine example of someone successfully riffing on the form. John Heisz of I Build It has turned a fidget spinner into a shuriken, AKA a 5-pointed ninja throwing star.
As you can see in the video, John uses very conventional garage shop tools (a drill, an angle grinder, a band saw) to fabricate his very lovely and lethal little spinner. The only hard part of this project appears to be the accurate laying out of the star shape for drilling and cutting.
There are a number of good tips in this video, such as adding a temporary stop block to your band saw table for getting the correct blade angle on the star edges and using a pencil and masking tape (seen above) to create a holder for installing the ball bearing in the center of the star without getting super glue all over yourself.
John also made a gorgeous wooden version of his shuriken spinner, which you can see here. See… different materials, different form-factors, different build challenges. Big fun!