0 items in the shopping cart
  • No products in the cart.



Paper Universal Joint to Download and Make


Categories: , ,


The universal joint is a mechanism used to add a joint into a drive shaft, with the universal joint in place the drive shaft can be flexible.

Here is a quick to make model so you can see how the universal joint works. As a member you can download the parts at the end of this post, non members can download the model for a small fee.

Print out the three parts sheets onto thin card. Score all the and cut out the holes before cutting out the parts. Both these jobs are easier on whole sheets of card. Only cut out one hole in the support piece.

Glue the two dials into place on the fronts of the support pieces.

Once the glue is dry, cut out the hole fold round and glue the support together.

Glue together the two drive shafts…

…and glue on the end caps.

Glue the joiner plate onto one of the drive shafts

Add the other drive shaft to the other side with the tab at ninety degrees.

Thread the tabs from one base plate through the hole on the other base plate, don’t glue it though, it needs to be free to move.

Using the grey areas for alignment glue the two supports onto the base.

Thread the drive shafts into the supports with the washers in place on the outside of the support. Note that the washers with the arrows are used on the dial side of the supports.

Assemble the handle in three stages as shown above.

Glue the handle to the end of drive shaft.

Once the glue is dry the model is complete!

Turn the handle and the driveshaft turns along its full length. Experiment by bending the base, see how the shaft still turns with a bend in it. There is a short-coming with the universal joint though.

Try this. Rotate the shaft at a constant speed at one end. While the shaft is straight the other end rotates at the same speed but add a bend and the shaft after the bend speeds up and slows down. Use the pointers and dials and you can see how angles change in a complete rotation. You’ll notice that the greater the angle, the more noticeable the effect.

Car drive shafts use constant velocity joints rather than universal joints to overcome this problem. That’ll have to wait until another model.

2 reviews for Paper Universal Joint

  • Congratulations on providing

    Congratulations on providing an easy to make demonstration model of one universal joint.

    Prior to the invention of constant velocity joints it was mandatory that two universal joints be connected in such a manner that the second joint compensated for the non-linear rotation of the first joint.

    • Neat, I didn’t know that. So

      Neat, I didn't know that. So I guess the two joints would be rotated 90 degrees to each other and that would cancel out the variable rotation rate. Clever stuff!

      • ay Rob!!   long time….

        ay Rob!!   long time….

        as you could guess from my lack of forum input, i'd taken a break from automata to get back to some golf..   but lately i've been doing some re-thinking about the Swing Bridge..   came across a hurdle that couldn't be overcome and had to go back to the drawing board..  


        anyway, i was brushing up on some mechanisms here, and came across your U-joint project..   having read the reply addressing the dual joints, i was wondering if maybe a double u-joint project is in the works?…


        as for the bridge, my biggest problem was scale..   some of the parts go detailed (and small), that the tolerance for execution became far too tight..   enlarging the project will ease the perfection required to build this thing to where it'll work..    expect to see NEW progress in the coming months..   this is gonna be SWEET!!!

        hope all is well..     Bob

  • A further restriction was not

    A further restriction was not mentioned previously. The input and output shaft are essentially parallel, and the intermediate shaft between the two universal joints or the output shaft will accomodate a modest amount of telescoping. 

    Whenever you have an opportunity to examine an antique automobile such as a Model T or A Ford or other makes from the 1940's or 50's you will find the universal joints in pairs

Add Review

Add Review

Add a review