Making a Fixed Axle Throw

Through an unexpected set of circumstances, I have some access to tools and some nice wood.
So I’m going to tinker around and try and make a fixie.

Will a wooden oak dowel work for the axle, or do I need something fancy?

I’m trying out the hole saw and router method…

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Walnut is the standard for wood yo-yos like TMBR and OUT (No Jive doesn’t look like walnut). I would think oak would work well because of its open grain, but I’ve never knowingly used a yo-yo with oak. TMBR has made oak axles for non-woodthread models.

Just some babbling from someone who has never made a wood yo-yo but is very interested in what you come up with! ;D

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I have used teak with little success because the weight is not even and vibes a lot. Mahogany in the other hand is great, cuts more smoothly, even weight.
It was a one piece though, haven’t had any experience otherwise.

I think oak is too rough for an axle. My personal choice would be one of those hardwood dowels from the hardware store. I think they are maple. I’ve used one in the past to repair a broken one.

Thanks guys!

I just realized there is a woodworking shop not far.
I called and they have: Birch, Cherry, Walnut, and Oak.

Any of those sound good?

I have mahogany and oak for the actual yoyo if that makes any difference.

Birch, now that you mention it. I think that is what they normally sell in the hardware store. Not maple.

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Since you have the options I would just make a few from some different woods and see which you prefer, can’t hurt.

Here’s the description from the TMBR Replacement Axle page if that helps any:

[i]WALNUT is tough, slightly open grain wood. It is typically very smooth and long spinning, with very little tendency to burn out. Walnut is the stock axle material (for the most part).

OAK is very tough, with an open grain texture. It is long spinning, and the open grain gives a level of feedback on the string.

CHERRY is medium hardness, with a fine close grain. It spins smooth with a bit more response.

BIRCH is medium soft with a very close grain. It tends to be the most responsive species. It spins super smooth, but is subject to burn out over time. [/i]

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I’ve turned a few In my day. Maple makes a good fixed like the No Jive. It’s a fairly light wood. Cocobolo is probably my favorite wood. It will get you a weight more like a metal yoyo. Osage Orange will also make a good weighing yoyo.

Both maple and walnut make good axles.


Funny thing is, TK-16 kendama used birch as the ken and cherry tama. The birch ken is stronger than the cherry tama. I also own an Ozora keyaki which uses the same wood for the ken and tama, and it was the ken that got beat mostly.
With these evidence I’ve always thought that birch is stronger than cherry, though I could be wrong, or it could be that either the birch or cherry is vastly different each other.

Maybe they are measuring strength differently?

Concrete can support a lot of weight, but can chip if hit the right way.
Just speculation, I have no idea.

Birch is hard to explain. It’s “internally” hard, like the tip barely bluntened at all, but kinda soft when touched. I agree that it might be more responsive and easy to burn. Cherry seems hard when touched, but after being used for a while as the tama, it got beaten by the birch ken.

I much prefer walnut to maple for axles. For woodthread TMBR, with maple I didn’t get near as much response as I wanted; I had to wax the string. When I swapped in walnut, it was perfect as-is. Could be a fluke, but that was my experience. Depends on what you’re after of course.

Thanks for all the help so far.

As an update, I’m currently trying to find just the right router bit, and determine ideal axle diameter.

It was 6 mm, as Ed said iirc.

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Tool for a drill press:

An article by a guy who made one with a router:

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I had bad luck with the hardware store dowels on the one yoyo I attempted.

Careful drilling the hole, mine chipped out a little, ate strings.

I’d also recommend not gluing the axle in real well at first, like a drop of superglue. That way you can somewhat easily get it back apart of you need to (like when it’s eating strings).

Also FYI, wood hardness:

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Hope this helps a little in your endeavors

:D :smiley:


Nice presentation.
Did you build the jigs/holders for the router work?

Excellent video! New goal for today = get an out at VA States.
What do you set the gap to?

They are custom made jigs and I use an 1/8" thick piece of plexi glass to gap them