DIY prayer wheel

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Miroku
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Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:18 am

DIY prayer wheel

Post by Miroku » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:39 pm

Hi,

since most prayerwheels are quite expensive and because I saw this video:



I have started thinking about making my own prayer wheel. It would be made from a newly baught can that is usually used for paint. However, being a stupid humanities student I cannot wrap my head around the problem how to make it spin. Does anyone know how big hand held prayer wheels are spinning or does anyone have any idea how to make it spin? The can would probably be one that can hold 0.1l and is 55mm tall and the width is 56mm.
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

pemachophel
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Location: Lafayette, CO

Re: DIY prayer wheel

Post by pemachophel » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:46 pm

I've made just such prayer wheels. You role your mantras leaving a small hole in the center. You then drill a small hole in the center of the bottom of the can and another the same diameter in the lid of the can. The diameter should be just slightly wider than the diameter of the central rod you are using. This central rod can be brass, copper, or steel. Imbed one end of the rod in a wooden dowel as your handle. Place a metal washer (or several) over the projecting rod on which the can will sit. Tibetans traditionally used discs of conch which I have also made in the past. Then thread the projecting portion of the rod through the base of the can, through the central empty space in the mantra roll, and out through the central hoe in the lid of the can. Screw the lid of the can down tight or hammer it on if it is a press lid (which yours probably is). If you are able to thread the projecting portion of the rod, you can then use a nut screwed down to just above the top of the lid. If you cannot use a threaded nut, simply make a finial out of wadded-up duct tape or a piece of wood you have drilled the same diameter as the projecting rod. This finial is to keep the body of the prayer wheel from falling or spinning off the projecting axis rod. Now you need to make a weight to move the wheel. This could be some nuts held together with wire. Attach these to a length of light-weight chain or even a piece of heavy-duty twine. Depending on the diameter of the can, you will need a longer or shorter piece of twine or chain for this swing weight. I don't know a method of telling you how long this should be. There probably is some sort of mathematical formula, but I think you're gonna have to use trial and error. If you have access to an already existing and well-working prayer wheel, you could use that as a guide. In any case, you need to firmly attach this chain or twine to the central belly of the can. If using heavy duty twine, you could simply tie the twine tightly around the can and then duct tape over the twine so it cannot move or work its way loose. If you're using light chain you can also wrap this snugly around the can and duct tape over it. (There are other, more elegant ways to secure the chai, but I get the sense that you don't work with tools much.)

If possible, sew your mantra roll into a yellow silk covering to protect it. Be sure that the mantra roll is facing upward when you put it into the can. You don't want your mantra spinning the wrong way (unless you're a Bonpo :lol: ). Usually the mantras face out and the roll is rolled to the right, just like the prayer wheel when in use. There are also some other fine points about mantras at the top and bottom of your mantra roll, but first tell me if you can visualize my directions. Sorry I don't have any pics of the prayer wheels I have made. But I've definitely used the new small paint can method.

Good luck and best wishes.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: DIY prayer wheel

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:29 am

Sounds like I have a project :)

Is there any special mantra or ceremony to consecrate a home-made prayer wheel?
Specifically that non-Vajrayana practitioners can do?
Amitābha Buddha!

The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have unobstructed vision in all directions. Everything is in their presence; and I stand in front of them. -- Shantideva

Free Pure Land Buddhism resources

Miroku
Posts: 842
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:18 am

Re: DIY prayer wheel

Post by Miroku » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:25 am

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:29 am
Sounds like I have a project :)

Is there any special mantra or ceremony to consecrate a home-made prayer wheel?
Specifically that non-Vajrayana practitioners can do?
AFAIK there is a small mandala to be put inside and you can put even amida mantra in. FPMT has pics of mantrasto fill prayer wheels and of the mandalas too. Maybe even sth about consecration. It is always a good idea to let a vajrayana teacher bless it tho. :D
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

Miroku
Posts: 842
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:18 am

Re: DIY prayer wheel

Post by Miroku » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:07 pm

pemachophel wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:46 pm
I've made just such prayer wheels. You role your mantras leaving a small hole in the center. You then drill a small hole in the center of the bottom of the can and another the same diameter in the lid of the can. The diameter should be just slightly wider than the diameter of the central rod you are using. This central rod can be brass, copper, or steel. Imbed one end of the rod in a wooden dowel as your handle. Place a metal washer (or several) over the projecting rod on which the can will sit. Tibetans traditionally used discs of conch which I have also made in the past. Then thread the projecting portion of the rod through the base of the can, through the central empty space in the mantra roll, and out through the central hoe in the lid of the can. Screw the lid of the can down tight or hammer it on if it is a press lid (which yours probably is). If you are able to thread the projecting portion of the rod, you can then use a nut screwed down to just above the top of the lid. If you cannot use a threaded nut, simply make a finial out of wadded-up duct tape or a piece of wood you have drilled the same diameter as the projecting rod. This finial is to keep the body of the prayer wheel from falling or spinning off the projecting axis rod. Now you need to make a weight to move the wheel. This could be some nuts held together with wire. Attach these to a length of light-weight chain or even a piece of heavy-duty twine. Depending on the diameter of the can, you will need a longer or shorter piece of twine or chain for this swing weight. I don't know a method of telling you how long this should be. There probably is some sort of mathematical formula, but I think you're gonna have to use trial and error. If you have access to an already existing and well-working prayer wheel, you could use that as a guide. In any case, you need to firmly attach this chain or twine to the central belly of the can. If using heavy duty twine, you could simply tie the twine tightly around the can and then duct tape over the twine so it cannot move or work its way loose. If you're using light chain you can also wrap this snugly around the can and duct tape over it. (There are other, more elegant ways to secure the chai, but I get the sense that you don't work with tools much.)

If possible, sew your mantra roll into a yellow silk covering to protect it. Be sure that the mantra roll is facing upward when you put it into the can. You don't want your mantra spinning the wrong way (unless you're a Bonpo :lol: ). Usually the mantras face out and the roll is rolled to the right, just like the prayer wheel when in use. There are also some other fine points about mantras at the top and bottom of your mantra roll, but first tell me if you can visualize my directions. Sorry I don't have any pics of the prayer wheels I have made. But I've definitely used the new small paint can method.

Good luck and best wishes.
Oh yeah I can follow. Thanks Pema! :D And you are right I dunno how to use tools.
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

Miroku
Posts: 842
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:18 am

Re: DIY prayer wheel

Post by Miroku » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:11 pm

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:29 am
Sounds like I have a project :)

Is there any special mantra or ceremony to consecrate a home-made prayer wheel?
Specifically that non-Vajrayana practitioners can do?
https://fpmt.org/media/resources/microf ... yer-wheel/
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: DIY prayer wheel

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:04 pm

Excellent info from FPMT, thank you! I plan on filling mine with nembutsu and a copy of the Amitabha Sutra.
If anyone knows, FPMT recommends wrapping the “Tree of Life” mantra around the central staff.
The homemade prayer wheel from the video doesn't have a central shaft inside the wheel. Would it be sufficient to simply put a roll of that mantra in the center?

Regarding the question in your first post, I have two prayer wheels that sound more like what you're trying to make than the Altoids tin type.

One sits on a base like this one, for a desk or altar. It spins freely on an approx. 4" long thin metal rod attached to the middle of the base. The rod is inserted into the wheel, which rests on the tip inside. Since the tip is lubricated, that makes me think all you need is a divot or set of washers in the top of the wheel, something like that, to act as a guide. It can be tricky to guide the rod straight in.

The second design is for a wall, like this one. I wouldn't try to make this design at home. It seems more complex.
There are two short rods: one going into the top of the wheel, and one at the bottom. The bottom rod angles out, then is bent at 45 degrees or so, to become vertical.
This allows you to insert the wheel at an angle, then sort of snap it into place so it can spin. It sits on the angle formed by the bent rod, so that's where I put the lubricant.

For the lubricant, I use white lithium grease. A little goes a long way, and lasts a very long time.
Amitābha Buddha!

The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have unobstructed vision in all directions. Everything is in their presence; and I stand in front of them. -- Shantideva

Free Pure Land Buddhism resources

Fortyeightvows
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Re: DIY prayer wheel

Post by Fortyeightvows » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:56 am

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:04 pm

One sits on a base like this one, for a desk or altar. It spins freely on an approx. 4" long thin metal rod attached to the middle of the base. The rod is inserted into the wheel, which rests on the tip inside. Since the tip is lubricated, that makes me think all you need is a divot or set of washers in the top of the wheel, something like that, to act as a guide. It can be tricky to guide the rod straight in.

The second design is for a wall, like this one. I wouldn't try to make this design at home. It seems more complex.
So you see how in those two pictures the outside is metal with the mantra written,
I have a friend who built a few prayer wheels- I got to see how he did the mantras on the metal outside.

He took a piece of wood and drew the mantra in an outline first. Then he used a regular power drill to carve the mantra into the wood, so that the mantra is like grooves in the wood.

after he had the mantra written out in the wood- he out a metal sheet on top of the wood. He used a small wooden stick and a hammer to then press the letters into the metal.

I thought I had some pictures, but can't find them.
Hope that makes sense

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: DIY prayer wheel

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:11 am

That's good to know, thank you!

I immediately ran into the problem that Altoids sours seem to be discontinued. I found one can on Amazon for $400 :rolling:

I found some gold tins online that should work. Ignore the prototypes I was considering in the pictures :)

So far, I've followed the directions of the FPMT document. It's clear in every detail. I recommend giving it a shot to anyone who is interested. I've been really enjoying this process.

I was uncertain on the arrangement of the colors for the Five Buddha Families. Luckily I was able to find an example image online with the colors in horizontal stripes, like =, so that's what I did.

I changed the document scale of the Earth and Sky Mantras in Adobe, so it fit the size of my project. It was something like 40% scale. It increased the DPI automatically so the letters remained crisp and clear.

The text itself is 4 rows of size 6 font. It ends up being about half an inch tall, leaving spaces between for cutting.
I reduced the page margins in Word to fit as many as possible per page. Ended up being 22 sets of 4 rows of 11 mantras.
I printed enough to total 2,160 mantras (20 * 108).

The finished roll contains the Life Tree Mantra per FPMT, the Amitabha Sutra, then three pages of mantras and dharanis.
All told, a paper cutter was a must. I couldn't imagine doing this with scissors.

I wrapped the mantras in plastic wrap for protection, then secured it with white tape.
I layered five colors of electrical tape on parchment paper then cut it thin enough to fit.

I'll share the rest of the project as I work on it. Just to be clear, I've already cut the pen down to about 1" so it'll fit inside a tin :)

I'd also be happy to share the Word documents I made if anybody wants them. Pure Land oriented.
Attachments
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Amitābha Buddha!

The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have unobstructed vision in all directions. Everything is in their presence; and I stand in front of them. -- Shantideva

Free Pure Land Buddhism resources

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: DIY prayer wheel

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:22 am

I got a garage door roller for the handle, as suggested in the video. I don't know if mine is for industrial use or what, but it feels like solid steel! It's heavy with a lot of resistance to turning.
I'll go to a hardware store and see what I can find. Maybe a cheaper one will have looser bearings. Something to be aware of.

The top part of the wheel is finished. I found a 10-pack of aluminum cosmetic/spice tins for $10, about 2.5" diameter 1" tall.
I glued the Sky Mantra to the top, the Earth Mantra to the bottom, and secured the wheel inside. In order to ensure the HUMs of the Sky and Earth Mantras were aligned once shut, I marked the tin.

I'll decorate the top some when I get ideas :smile:
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Amitābha Buddha!

The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have unobstructed vision in all directions. Everything is in their presence; and I stand in front of them. -- Shantideva

Free Pure Land Buddhism resources

Tenma
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Re: DIY prayer wheel

Post by Tenma » Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:32 am

For putting in sutras on rolls, must it be an entire sutra in one really, really long line, or can it be something like:
"Tadyatha Om Anale Anale Vishada Vishada Bandha Bandha Bandhani Bandhani Vaira
Vajrapani Phat Hum Bhrum Phat Svaha"
in several passages if the printing pushes back your words and mantras, etc.?

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