Make New Games From Old CD Spindles

Don't throw away plastic CD spindle cases after burning your stack of discs because you can have a lot of fun with them. Follow these simple directions to make three different random selectors based on the spinning a wheel. Many popular games use the throw of the dice or the spinning of a wheel to give a random numerical value. We also pull pieces of paper out of a hat or draw lots to choose a random outcome. Now we can try something completely different!

Random selectors from CD spindlesCredit: Sue Visser

Using a plastic CD with a built-in selector such as a ball or a cursor makes the game compact and portable. As you know, dice often land up on the floor and people still try to read the numbers on the floor. See how easily the spindle bases rotate on top of each other using a simple dynamic rule, based on reducing the contact area of the two surfaces. Simple science like this is fascinating for children of all ages to explore because it has useful applications.

The spinning top

You need a small 10 x CD spindle base, an empty ball point pen and six picture pins for this gadget. Make a hole through the top of the peg and insert the pen. Place the pins opposite the ribs inside the base. Make stickers with numbers from 1 – 6 and insert them in the middle of the spaces between the ribs. You can spin this top on the blunt end of the pen or on its point depending on how much activity you want.

Collect the used itemsCredit: Sue VisserPush in pinsCredit: Sue Visser

Another variable is the length of the pen. You can experiment and make a variety of tops and even gyroscopes. The top will always land on two of the pins to clearly define the numerical result. To restrain the movement on the floor or table I place the end point of the top in the plastic lid of a drinking bottle. If you need two numbers you can spin the dice box at the same time. To make your new toy more colourful you can paint it with brightly coloured nail varnish. As you can see, I paint bright colours on the clear plastic discs that are usually discarded. When these spin they make pretty patterns.

The dice box

Find a medium-sized spindle base that contained 20 – 50 x CD or DVD discs. Take a smaller lid from a 10 x CD or DVD spindle made from clear plastic. Make a hole in the centre of the lid. If you are not a handyman with an electric drill use a sharp-pointed knife. Turn and push the point of the knife to produce a small hole. Work the knife around the hole using firm backwards and forwards half turns to enlarge it. Fit the cover over the longer spindle so it protrudes to make the top handle.

Get to workCredit: Sue Visser

Remove the lid and write numbers from 1 – 6 on round stickers. These are easy enough to find on the base sheets of labels for printing CD’s. Arrange the stickers around the base of the spindle. Make sure you place them in the middle of each segment at an equal distance between the ribs. Find a small ball or a bead for the marker and place it into the box before screwing on the lid.

Make a hole through the top of the peg of another spindle base. This is for inserting an empty ball point pen. It must fit in securely with the point at the top. Now balance the top section on top of this base and give it a spin. You can then shorten the pen so that the top box hovers on top of the ball point pen and can wobble. To activate the device first roll the handle backwards and forwards a few times with your finger and thumb so the ball is not fixed in any place. Now give it a spin.

The wheel of fortune with interchangeable discs

Make the base the same way as the dice box. Use a 10 x CD spindle base with an empty ball point pen firmly fitted into a hole you make at the top of the shaft. For the top section use a spindle from a bigger CD spindle so you have more grip on the handle, making it easier to spin.

You can make more stickers with numbers for the 6 segments in the top spindle. Or try something different like painting the same dots they have on real dice.  Give the wheel a few trial spins to decide how high you want the wheel and then trim down the pen. To make the cursor cut a strip from a plastic yoghurt tub or beaker. Attach the cursor with a ball of press stick to the base spindle. You now have another random number selector.

Cursor from a cupCredit: Sue Visser

Make up your own board games or betting boards

There are plenty of different games we can play with this selector. This device can be loaded with any set of options that you write on plastic discs or ruined CD’s. Divide the CD into segments and write names, messages, tasks or forfeits. The selecting process is great fun. It will show who is going to make tea, go home early, win the jackpot, etc. Bets can be placed on a board marked with your name, for instance.

Board games are fun to invent and scraps of paper or waste cardboard can be used. Numbers or pictures cut from magazines make interesting options for the blocks. Add colour to the board with magazine cut outs. Then paste down the row of numbered squares. These can be cut from the tabs of carboard cartons. Children enjoy making their own rules and inventing exciting things that can happen in the game. When they like what they do their attention span is doubled!

The only problem with a perfectly balanced wheel is that it takes a long time to grid to a halt. So it will depend on how you spin it. Imagine the tension when there is a monthly competition on the go!

Change the discsCredit: Sue VisserSpin the discCredit: Sue Visser

Other ways to use CD spindles and even sell the things you make

I hope you use these ideas and some of you may feel inspired to make a few of these items for special gifts. There are also opportunities to earn extra cash by making and selling them. All of these are better options when compared to throwing the CD spindles into the trash.

My other article on Info Barrel shows you how to make a feeder for sunbirds with CD spindles.

Making attractive jewellery boxes with CD spindles is also a great project.