DIY Ellipse Maker

As a designer from way back I have ellipse guides from when drafting was done by hand.  Even though I don’t use them for drafting anymore they are a nice to have craft items.  I won’t suggest you run out and buy some as they are a tad expensive and and come in so many projections as well as sizes that you’ll never have the exact one you need.

By now you are probably have a project in mind or maybe you just have a strong urge to draw a perfect ellipse.  Well don’t fear!  Your crafts needn’t suffer!  I am going to show you how to make an adjustable ellipse tool with a popsicle stick and a piece of embroidery floss.

It is mostly easy to make, semi easy to use, and teaches you about the geometry of an ellipse at the same time!  It’s a win, win, win!

How to Make an Adjustable Ellipse Tool

What you’ll need…

  • Drill and small bit
  • Popsicle stick
  • 12 inch piece of Embroidery floss

Here’s how…

  1. Drill a small hole in both ends of a popsicle stick; these holes are the ellipse’s foci.
  2. Thread the embroidery floss through both holes and knot the ends.
  3. Place knot side down on paper, pull string to desired length (slack), press down with one hand and follow the string in a loop with the other

A couple tips…

Angle the pencil out to keep the string from falling off and after drawing half the ellipse lift you hand to pass the sting under it, while being careful not to move the stick, then draw the other half.

This tool works because if you make a triangle between the two foci and any point on an ellipse the distances of the three sides always always add up to the same number.

Could you just print out an ellipse from your computer and trace it?  Sure!  But where is the educational value or fun is that?!

Read more about ellipses at Wikipedia.

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What is your favorite shape?  Please share!

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This post is linked up with Home + School = AfterSchool at Mama Smiles.  Check it out!



I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


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