If you’re unfamiliar with a finger trap, it’s traditionally a tube woven from bamboo that “catches” the fingers of an unsuspecting person who puts it inside. While the origins of the finger trap are controversial, a person’s simplicity and joy never grows old.
Weaving newspaper strips in a circular shape creates this classic gag puzzle. The basic over-under pattern is the same as that used to weave a basket or placemat, but you will be weaving in the round.
Create this simple practical joke will test your skill and maybe add a few giggles to your weekend. For an added challenge, you can find different colors in the paper that you want to weave with.
Start with two pages of newspaper and fold each page in half along the horizontal fold. The finger trap weaving is much easier when one of the leaves is solid color and the other is mostly text.
Using a ruler, measure and cut a 1.5 cm wide strip from each side. Make sure the strips are evenly wide along their entire length.
Cut both strips you just made in half at the fold. You should now have four strips, two mostly newsprint and two solid colors. In the future these will be your “text” and “color strips”.
Make two “v” shapes with the strips of text on the left and the strips of color on the right, and glue the ends together to make a neat point with the edges. The colored stripe should be on top of one “v” and the text stripe should be on the other. Set aside to dry.
Use the leftover newspaper from one of the sides to roll a small tube. The tube needs to be slightly smaller than your index finger for the finger trap to work. Tape each end and seam in place to secure the pipe.
Paper clip one of the “v” points up on the end of the tube, then do the same with the second “v” on the opposite side.
To make the finger trap, weave your four strips together in a circular pattern. Start by crossing the colored strip on one side over the text strip.
Turn the tube slightly clockwise and wrap the text strip on the right under the color strip on the left and over the lower color strip. Continue working the over-under pattern around the pipe, making sure that the strips lie flat against the pipe and are tightened.
If you do it right, it will create a diamond pattern with no space between the strips. Keep twisting the pipe and weaving it around. Continue the over-under pattern until you reach the bottom of the stripes.
Tape the ends together where they meet in the same V shape as the top and let them dry. The ends should be woven as tightly as the barrel of the finger trap, otherwise it won’t work.
Remove the paper clips and carefully pull out the tube. Cut off the excess paper at the bottom of the finger trap and leave a “v” on each end.
To use the finger trap, place your index fingers as far as possible on each side of the tube and gently pull them apart (or better yet, have an unsuspecting friend or family member do it). If the trap isn’t working, it could be because the strips are not tight enough or the ends are looser than the barrel of the trap. Try again For an added challenge, you can find different colors in the paper that you want to weave with.