Upgrading the Doodle Desk – now with added Spirograph

by Stephen Hobley on September 16, 2010

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I’ve been looking for ways to extend the “doodle desk” I put together for Sarah Jane over Christmas this year. One of the ideas I’ve been playing with is adding a large scale Spirograph-like drawing tool.

A friend who is an expert in Autodesk Inventor was able to use the spur gear design accelerator tool to create some nested (internal and external) spur gear patterns, then export them as DXF files. I was able to scale them up to the right size and generate some G-Code cutting paths to drive my CNC router.

I was able to cut out all the gears in about 10 minutes – the stock was some 1/2″ particle board and I used a 1/8″ spiral upcut endmill to do the cutting.

The outer (blue) gear attaches to the base using two wooden dowels, this keeps it in position, and also lets you advance the paper underneath – without using real [“You’ll have someone’s eye out with that!”] pins like the 1970’s version of the toy.

There was always a bit of a knack to using the original Spirograph, and so a large scale one takes a bit more concentration. Sarah Jane is only 2, and I think it’s a bit beyond her at the moment. She does enjoy watching the patterns form, and then coloring them in afterwards.


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Nate September 22, 2010 at 3:14 pm

great idea! how much would you charge to make one of these?

Stephen Hobley September 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Nate: The actual desk portion is quite easy to make and assemble, so I never really thought about making them for sale – I could put together some plans and possibly sell the pre-cut gears for the add-on.

I’ll post an update if I when I’ve put something together.

Lars September 23, 2010 at 2:48 am

Impressive, my niece would love it.
Wound you provide the DXF/ G-Code ?

Stephen Hobley September 23, 2010 at 6:45 am

Lars: Yes I would be able to provide that – I actually have another version of the desk in the works with better paper management and built in storage. I will let you know when I get it finished.

poodull September 23, 2010 at 9:44 am

I have a blacktoe 2×4 as well. great cnc.

I’m also interested in the dxf/gcode, though it seems pretty straight forward. you using cambam for CAM? trying to decide which to buy.

Stephen Hobley September 23, 2010 at 9:48 am

I have used Cambam – it’s pretty good, although my buddy uses ArtCam and that impresses me a lot, although rather expensive.

BARBARA HENNINGER April 13, 2011 at 8:21 pm


Roman Titus November 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm


I know this is an old post, but I’d love to get the dxf/gcode if you still have it. I’m making these for a trip to an orphanage in India this December.



Michelle Schaffer November 13, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I am (an artist) trying to make some large SPIROS for my husband and would love to make on e of these. Can you sell me the info I would need to provide a woodshop to make one?
Or sell me the cut out disks??? that would be unbelievable!

Abby January 2, 2014 at 3:33 am

hi, ive spent the last few days obsessing over a spirograph, and then i found you.
thats is amazing.
i would also be interested in buying the discs, or the info to print them myself.


Nathan April 3, 2014 at 9:33 am

I would also be interested in buying the discs. Do you sell them?


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