How To Make a Circuit Block: Binder Clip Toggle Switch


In my previous blog post on making circuit blocks I showed you how to construct a power source block and a light block. Another integral part of exploring circuitry is exploring switches. A switch can be used to turn components on or off, and in some cases cause other changes to your component. In this post I will show you the steps on how to create a simple toggle switch using some simple tools and materials.


First things first, what are the tools and materials you will need for this project?

You will need:

  • safety glasses
  • a hammer
  • a drill (either a power drill or a hand drill)
  • clamps
  • wire strippers
  • a staple gun
  • a screwdriver (phillips)
  • two nails
  • a glue gun
  • a small block of wood (1″x4″x4″)
  • a length of insulated wire (6″)
  • binder clip and brass fastener, or a screw and nut

For this example I will be using a small screw and a nut.




Once you have gathered your tools and materials you can start constructing your toggle switch block. The first step is to prep you wire.


Cut a couple of short (3″) lengths of wire and strip the plastic off of both ends.


Next, attach one of the wires to the binder clip. You can twist the wire around the metal loop on the binder clip. The metal from the wire needs to be touching the metal on the binder clip to allow the electricity to flow from one piece to another.


The other wire (3″) is going to be attached to the screw and nut. First drill a small hole for the screw in your block of wood (somewhere near one of the corners).


Place the wire into the hole and then insert the screw and nut on top of the wire into the hole.  Make sure that the exposed wire is making contact with the metal screw and nut.


Now we need to use the binder clip to create a bridge to the screw and nut. First you need to figure out the correct area on the block of wood to place the binder clip.


If the binder clip is placed too far away then you will not be able to complete your circuit with the switch. The metal from the binder clip needs to be able to rest on top of the screw; therefore, creating a metal “bridge” for the electricity to cross.


Once everything is in place you can then use a hot glue gun to secure the binder clip to the wooden block.


Now you are ready to add some nails to block so that you can connect your switch circuit block to other circuit blocks.


First you need to mark some spots on the block of wood where you are going to drill holes for the wires and nails to go into. Use the wires that are attached to the binder clip and screw to figure out precisely where your holes need to be. Be sure to measure to the end of the plastic on the wire and not to the end of the exposed metal.


Once you have made your two marks clamp your wood to a sturdy surface.


Use a hand drill or a power drill to make a two small holes where you made your marks. The size of the drill bit that you use is dependent on the size of the nail you are going to put into the hole. Only drill a short way into the wood, not all the way through.


At this point you can staple down your wires if they seem like they are coming loose off of the wooden block.


Now place the exposed wire into the hole and then hammer in a nail on top of the wire. The nail needs to be making a connection with the wire to let the electricity to flow through it. Just give the hammer a couple of gentle taps and be sure to not drive the nail all the way through to the other side of the block of wood. You don’t want a point nail sticking out of any project that you make.


And with that your binder clip switch is finished.


Now be sure to test it out with your power source block and light block. You will now be able to toggle a component on or off depending on the position of the binder clip.


What other conductive materials can you use to make a switch. Paper clips and brass fasteners are great materials to explore with.



Kevin is a teacher by trade. He loves dinosaurs, sloths and magnets.

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