How to create a chinese finger trap

The Chinese finger trap is traditionally made of bamboo, but this amusing toy can be easily crafted from an ordinary sheet of paper. Put your finger in this pretty paper tube and then try to pull it off. The harder you pull, the tighter the weave becomes. You’re trapped! Even the Star Trek character Data was ensnared by this ancient toy. To escape, all you need is a soft touch. Push it gently off your finger, rather than yanking on the other end, and it slips right off.

How to create a chinese finger trap
This traditional toy is also very quick and easy to make! You can download free, printable instructions buy clicking on the button below, or scroll down for online instructions.

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How to make a Chinese Finger Trap

  • Standard sized paper (letter or A4) in contrasting colors if desired.
  • Glue
  • A wooden dowel, rod, or pencil which is just a little narrower than your finger. You can also roll a sheet of paper and tape it to create a stiff form of a suitable width.
  • Ruler
  • Thumbtacks or tape
  • Scissors or skalpel knife and cutting mat

  1. Cut 4 strips of paper, 1/2” wide (or 13mm) along the long edge of your sheet of paper.How to create a chinese finger trap
  2. Make two L shaped pieces by gluing two strips together at a 90° angle.

How to create a chinese finger trap3.

Temporarily attach the L shaped strips of paper to the opposite sides of your dowel using thumbtacks or removable tape.

4. Weave the strips together as shown below, tightening them lightly around your form as you go.

5. When you have woven the finger trap to the desired length (about 5 1/2” or 14cm), glue the strips together, on two opposite sides, where they overlap.

6. Remove woven paper from the form, and cut off the excess paper strips.

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  • Paper craft


  • paper toys

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How to create a chinese finger trap

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Catherine Miller, the show’s prop master, talks about how her team sourced and made the eerie objects that define Lumon.

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How to create a chinese finger trap

It’s hard not to notice the stuff on the Apple+ series “Severance”: the bulky old computers; the Chinese finger traps that mock modern office incentives; the phones that are, for once, not iPhones.

“We’re doing our job if you don’t notice it,” Catherine Miller, the prop master for the series, said in a phone interview last week. “We’re doing our job right if you’re just following the story and you’re growing attached to the story itself.”

But Ms. Miller has a knack for identifying unforgettably strange objects that help to build onscreen worlds. (In a previous life, she was a professional dancer.) She has worked on productions including “Uncut Gems” (the bedazzled Furby was her creation), “Russian Doll” and the upcoming FX limited series “Retreat,” all of them linked by the sense of foreboding they inspire.

“Severance,” likewise, centers on a mysterious company called Lumon, where some employees have undergone elective brain surgery to separate their work selves from who they are off the clock. Most of the show takes place within Lumon’s Macrodata Refinement department, where Mark (Adam Scott), Irving (John Turturro), Dylan (Zach Cherry) and Helly (Britt Lower) spend their days grouping “scary” numbers on vintage monitors for reasons unknown to them.

Lumon’s brightly lit midcentury-style office presents an eerie contrast to the dreary outside world. And the objects within it — including the branded pens and erasers, as well as the crystal cubes laser-engraved with employees’ faces — underscore the entrapment the “severed” workers begin to feel as they learn about the company’s shadowy practices.

“We wanted to curate that world to be slightly off — not fake, slightly off,” Ms. Miller said. Here, she explains her process for sourcing and making some of those items.