Make a Clothespin Switch

Kit Supplies (per switch)

  • Wooden Clothes Pin (Plastic might work) You can find wooden clothes pins for as little as $1 for 50.
  • 4 ea 1/2" #40 bolts
  • 4 ea #4 washers
  • 4 ea #4-40 nuts

Optional Class Supplies (per group)

  • Battery and Battery Holder
  • 3 Alligator clips
  • Light

(See trainer section on wiring class for ideas for a DIY battery holder and lights)

Prep work

  • Pre-drill the holes in the clothes pin prior to the class. Use a 7/64" drill bit on a small drill press to drill the holes. Look at the picture to determine where to drill the holes. You can drill both holes in the clamp end of the clothespin at the same time. Alignment is not critical. Take a small piece of wood that holds the clip end of the clothespin open enough to force the back of the clothespin together and you can drill those holes in one shot also.
  • Bag up the kit supplies
  • Optional: Partially assemble the switches for the youngest teams.

Find a local bulk supplier of bolts in your area. Do not go to a local hardware store (such as Ace, Home Depot or Lowes) or you will pay as much as 10 times as much for the supplies.

An alternate version of the switch can be made using paper brads in lieu of the bolts. The holes will have to be larger. You may need to drill a small pilot hole in the clothespin before drilling the larger hole for the paper brads because you may have trouble with the larger drill bit causing the clothespin to split.