The Chinese finger trap is a novelty toy which traps the index fingers of an unsuspecting victim inside a small cylinder. The harder the victim tries to escape, the more the finger trap tightens. Chinese finger traps are normally made of bamboo, a material that does not stretch, but they can also be made with fabric, ribbon, or even paper. The trick to escaping the finger trap is to push the ends of the trap inward, toward the middle, thereby enlarging the openings.

Things neededEdit

packing ribbon

a small, round wooden stick (approx. 10 inches (25.4 cm) in length, and half an inch in diameter

scotch tape


  1. Cut four strips of ribbon, each about an arm's length.
  2. Tape the ends of two ribbons together with scotch tape at approximately an 80 degree angle. Repeat with the other two strips of ribbon.
  3. Tape each pair to the end of a wooden stick. This will greatly facilitate the braiding process.
  4. Start braiding to get a lattice effect. Continue until you reach the bottom of the stick, or you run out of ribbon.
  5. Trim the ends of the ribbons, and scotch tape them together.
  6. Remove the tape that is still attaching the ribbons to the top of the stick, and pull the finger trap out.If you've done everything else correctly, it should hold together, and the ribbons should be braided in a criss-cross effect.
  7. Understand that the pattern in which the ribbons (or bamboo) are woven is a bi-axial braid. By trying to pull your fingers outwards, the braid is lengthened. At the same time the length of the cylinder increases, even though the total surface area of the finger trap remains constant so the harder you pull, the more the cylinder tightens making it even harder to escape!

Tips & suggestionsEdit

  • Chinese finger traps are very inexpensive to purchase if you prefer to buy them. However, it is fun to make if you enjoy creating things.
  • Get the victim to push their fingers in both ends of the trap. Watch the fun as they try to get them out. The trick to escaping the finger trap is to relax, push the ends of the trap inward, toward the middle, thereby enlarging the openings
  • Share this with your children, and watch their eyes open wide in delight
  • A second form of escape is to push one's fingers together and then grab the ends of the trap with one's middle fingers and thumbs. The fingers can then easily be pulled out
  • Be careful and make sure you know how to get your fingers out of the trap before you do this!
  • Be careful, some of your friends may get angry with you if they get stuck and you won't tell them how to get out.

Everything elseEdit

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