How to Make a Chinese Finger Puzzle

Written by ryan long
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How to Make a Chinese Finger Puzzle
Using ribbon is an easy way to make a quick finger trap. (ribbon image by Albo from

Chinese finger traps can be found at carnivals, as party favours and even in vending machines. With this novelty, if you put your index fingers into both ends, you won't be able to get them back out until you relax. Chinese finger traps can be a fun at-home project for the whole family. Making them requires a little time, a little know-how and materials that most people have around the home.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Ribbon or construction paper or dried corn husks
  • 1/2-inch dowel
  • Clear tape

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  1. 1

    Cut four pieces of ribbon or paper to about arm's length. The ribbon or paper should be 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch wide. Wider strips will make larger finger traps.

  2. 2

    Tape two lengths of ribbon together at 90-degree angles and do the same with the other two lengths of ribbon.

  3. 3

    Tape one end of each ribbon pair to the end of the dowel. Braid the two pairs of ribbon together down the length of the dowel. For those who have braided hair, the technique is the same, with the dowel and the two lengths of ribbon making up the three pieces you will braid. Drape the right-hand ribbon over the dowel and under the left-hand ribbon, then drape the left-hand ribbon over the right-hand ribbon and under the dowel. The ribbons should crisscross in a lattice pattern down the length of the dowel.

  4. 4

    Trim the ends of the ribbons even once you reach the end of the dowel, and tape them together. Remove the tape from the end of the dowel and slowly remove the dowel from the ribbon. The ribbon should remain in a crisscross pattern and maintain a cylindrical shape without falling apart.

  5. 5

    Insert index fingers into each end of the finger trap. If you try to pull your fingers apart, the trap will expand and tighten around your fingers. To escape, relax your fingers and remove them gently from the finger trap.

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