Make Your Own Gragger

Instructions for constructing a Purim noisemaker

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Reprinted with permission from The Jewish Catalogue: A Do-It-Yourself Kit, edited by Richard Siegel, Michael Strassfeld and Susan Strassfeld, published by the Jewish Publication Society.

For kids, try putting some stones or hard beans [or jelly beans] between two paper bowls or aluminum foil cups. Seal the circumference with staples and decorate.

It may be possible to buy a large wooden gragger (much noisier than the metal ones) that is just like one of those that were used in the old country. These often disguise themselves as "police rattles" (which were used to call other policemen) and hide out in antique stores.

If you are a bit more ambitious, you might want to make a Franklin Gragger [designed by Leon Franklin, member, JCC, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania]. This was another of the crafts projects undertaken at the Wilkes-Barre Jewish Community Center under the direction of Sy Hefter.

Tools Needed

Electric drill with 1/2" and 1/16"bits

Coping saw, jigsaw, or band saw to cut gear

Hammer, plane, sandpaper

Hand saw

Supplies Needed

One dowel 1/16" x 1" (for locking pin)

One tongue depressor 3/4" x 6-1/4" (available from doctor or drugstore)

One dowel 1/2" x 5-1/2" (for handle)

Two pieces soft white pine lath 9-3/4" x 1-3/8" x 1/4"

One block soft white pine 3-1/8" x 1-3/8" x 3/4"

Four brads

One hardwood wooden spool 1-1/2" diameter and 3/4" wide with a 1/2" center hole (for gear). Available from shoe factory, usually discarded, called the center spool from a 3/4" shoe gear.

Procedure for Making Franklin Gragger

1. Cut two pieces of lath to length.

2. Mark center line and drill 1/2" hole through both lath pieces.

3. Mark spool and cut for eight teeth. Use jig, coping, or band saw.

4. Position spool on dowel and drill 1/16" hole through both.

5. Insert 1/16" dowel in hole to pin gear to 1/2" dowel. Cut off excess.

6. Mark center on 1-3/8" side of block and cut 1-1/2" slot with hand saw (to hold depressor).

7. Insert tongue depressor into slot. Force fit. DO NOT NAIL.

8. Assemble:

a. Place lath pieces on both sides of gear through 1/2" holes. Check for free movement. If too tight, ream 1/2" hole.

b. Place block with tongue depressor between laths and adjust so that the gear will turn with the tongue depressor at its maximum.

(1) Be certain that tongue depressor is perfectly centered.

(2) Hold in this position and put 4 brads through each side into base block.

9. Finish by planing or cutting off excess wood edges, sand to fine finish, paint or stain. Design and colors can be as original as possible.

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Rabbi Michael Strassfeld

Michael Strassfeld is the rabbi of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Manhattan, co-author of The First Jewish Catalog, The Second Jewish Catalog, A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah, and author of The Jewish Holidays: A Guide and Commentary.

Sharon M. Strassfeld is co-author of the Jewish Catalog series.

Richard Siegel

Richard Siegel is the Interim Director of the School of Jewish Communal Service at HUC-JIR. He worked for 28 years at the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, the last 16 as Executive Director.