I don't know about most of you, but I have a TON of old VHS tapes sitting in my basement that I just can't bring myself to throw out. I decided to put together a little machine that would twist the VHS tapes together and be as neat and easy to use as possible.
This uses 4 cassette tapes at a time and I seem to get about 70 feet of string from 20 minutes of tape. That equals about as much string as you could possibly use from a box of VHS tapes.
There are two main parts to this.
1. The gears that drive the entire process. I made them using the template generator from woodgears.ca
2. The arms that hold and secure the individual tape spools.
I also put up a YouTube Video of the build which shows it working if you are interested.
You will need the following materials
6 flange bearings "I used replacement hand cart bearings as they were cheap"
3/4" lath screws which have very wide heads
scraps of plywood, 1/2" would be best for the gears but 3/4 would work too.
a maple or other very hard wood dowel for the shafts that the tape spools ride on.
1/2" dowel for the arm shafts that will fit into the bearings.
some thin metal to use as springs, I used an old hand saw plate that I easily cut using a cold chisel.
4 finger bolts, or eye bolts would work too.
1 automotive hose clamp that is easy to remove and won't cut the string.
Step 1: Make the Gears
Attached is the gear template I saved. You will need 4 small gears and 1 large gear.
for reference, each square is 1 inch
I am using some flange bearings so they can fit in a tight hole and not pull through.
Lastly, I am using some lath screws to hold the bearings in the holes.
When mounting the gears, make sure you leave a little space between each as wooden gears do not work well if they are too tight.
Step 2: VHS Spool Holder Arms
The arms that hold the individual VHS cassette spools are designed to securely hold them and also allow you to easily release them so they will unravel to pull more out to make a very, very, very long string.
oh, and they also spin around in circles to twist the tape into threads as you then make a string from the threads.
Step 3: Time to Spin and Twist
I threw together a spot to attach the tape to while you are spinning it into string. It has to be able to twist, and it also needs to move so I made the platform big enough for a paint can which seems like a good weight.
Pull out enough tape that you can reach as far as you are able to go. for me it was only about 9 feet at a time as I have a small workshop. I secured it to the end using an Automotive hose clamp that I can pinch with pliers to remove so I can add more easily as I go.
You also need to insert a separator onto each of the tapes which is easily made by drilling 4 small holes then cutting down from the corners into the holes. Slip the tape into the holes and slide it down to the end. I didn't need to do too much with this as it seemed to move along mostly on it's own while I spun the end part to twist up the string.
Now you just need to spin the crank many many times to turn that tape into threads. It would be best if you had a buddy to help so one could turn the main crank while the other turned the end piece so it will turn into thread.