Glue Stick + Servo = Linear Actuator

glue stick linear actuator

What do you get when you cross a glue stick with a hobby servo motor? A linear actuator, of course! Although this could be done with other household implements, the form factor of this glue stick seems perfectly suited to sit on top of a servo horn.

The servo, as you might have guessed, has to be converted to rotate fully instead of the 180 degrees or so that is typical of these types of motors. The trick to this, and what really makes it shine in our eyes, is that instead of attaching two resistors in a normal continuous rotation mod, the potentiometer is used on the glue stick allowing for position feedback.

The resulting force from this gear-reduced actuator is quite impressive, giving an “err” (over 3 Kilograms) on the scale used for testing. [Gareth] or [Chiprobot] gives a great tutorial of how to make one of these after the break, but if you’d rather just see it in action, skip to around 8:20!

Thanks [Jason] for letting us know about this hack!


  1. ino says:

    smart one ! I like it !

  2. steve says:

    Haha, how more hack can something get? Good one!

  3. Eventhorizon says:

    Now that is a hack! Homemade stuff from household items.

  4. pcairic says:

    Love the glue stick!

  5. Praetor says:

    Is that a hacked and modified gluestick/linear actuator servo in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Ingenius in its simplicity. Love the homemade tape dispenser puppy…now that’s a primo hack! Wait, your not using the portable/butane solder gun to solder, I’m apalled! Also, everybody should wear Crocs when hacking, specially the steel toed versions. but cool hack.

  6. smoketester says:

    Master Hacksmenship! Look at my deodorant dispenser and Chap Stick now in a new light.

  7. Rob R. says:


    The link should be to:

    as the current link just links to the comments because of the #comment-82230 at the end of the url, which scrolls the entire page to the bottom

  8. Matthew Wiebe says:

    …From the department of “Why didn’t I think of that?”……


  9. Thopter says:

    Shouldn’t that be an “erg” rather than an “err”?

  10. Hirudinea says:

    Now that is clever, I purpose we call it the Viagra Actuator.

  11. hockeyrink says:

    Hey, this looks familiar… (albeit without the linear feedback). But what’s less repulsive – glue stick or stick deodorant? Hrm…

  12. skater_j10 says:

    Dang! Looks like I was before my time with the Axe Effector :)

    I like that positional feedback was added, something mine lacked.

  13. arfink says:

    Cool stuff! I am not entirely sure how accurate his scale reading is, it seems he did that a bit backwards IMO, but all in all looks like a great build. I need me a hot knife. :)

  14. Don Koeher says:

    I used a Mennen Speed Stick screw in much the same way in my Borg costume, Back in 1994.

  15. Havel says:

    Now… Turn it into a CNC machine. Very nice. One a scale of 1-10, I give it “Friggin’ MacGyver”

  16. Microguy says:

    Nice little hack, but use an old floppy drive if you need more accuracy or smooth motion.

  17. Aaron says:

    Cool idea. But that isn’t a good way to measure the force. Since the drive train is not back-driveable he could accidentally be pushing on the scale when he is trying to hold the glue stick in position. It’d be more accurate to have something rigid holding it in place.

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