How to build a wooden robotic arm

Robot arms are typically used in dangerous or tedious task to take the place of human labour. More often than not these devices are constructed out of durable components such as metal. However, wood can be used to create prototypes or mock-ups of real robotic arms. Furthermore, robotic arms made out of wood are good learning tools for students and amateur robot builders who do not have the expertise to build actual robotic arms. The primary power source for these devices are hydraulic syringes which can move the arm up and down.

Construct the wooden base to support and anchor the rest of the robot arm. This can be in the shape of a square depending on preference.

Secure a piece of wood vertically to the base to form the tower of the robot arm with wood glue and nails. Attach the ball bearing turntable to the top of the tower with screws.

Attach a smaller piece of wood at one end horizontally to the ball bearing turntable with screws. Affix a piece of wood at the opposite end of the arm so that it is pointing down with wood glue.

Duct tape one of the syringes with the plunge facing up so that it supports the horizontal arm.

Attach the hinge with screws to the end of the horizontal arm, on the underside of the arm just before the vertical piece of wood . Affix a small piece of wood fashioned into the form of a pincher to the other half of the hinge with screws so it swings into contact with the vertical piece of wood.

Affix a syringe to the underside of the horizontal arm with duct tape so that the plunger faces the hinged robot pincher.

Attach the surgical tubing to the two syringes. Insert the ends of each piece of surgical tubing separately into its own second syringe. Fill only one syringe from each connected pair with water.

Pressing down the plunger on the unattached syringe will cause its partner to move the robot. Pulling the plunger will cause the motion to be reversed.


Use soft woods that are easily shaped and facilitate easy fastening. Pre-drill your screw holes if you have difficulty with fastening pieces together. Make sure your syringes are properly connected before filling the system with water.


Be careful when making holes in the wood not to inadvertently injure your fingers and hands.

Things You'll Need

  • Light wood
  • Duct tape
  • Wood glue
  • Metal hinge
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Ball bearing turntable
  • Plastic syringe
  • Plastic surgical tubing
  • Water
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About the Author

James Orbesen has been published on since June of 2010. James is now a full-time freelancer and graduate student based in Chicago. He is working on his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing after securing his Bachelor of Arts in English from Roosevelt University.