In the last article, we looked at how to make pulleys for automaton projects. We also made belts from O-ring gasket material. Custom-sized belts can also be made from urethane belting material. Joining the ends of this material is one of those jobs that seems to require three or four hands, but it doesn’t have to. Let’s take a look at an easy method that produces a strong welded joint. Read more
Pulleys and belts are incredibly useful to the automaton maker. They can transfer power from one axle to another and change the speed, direction or plane of rotation! Check out Cabaret Mechanical Movement for more information about pulleys.
In this article, we will use a simple approach to make a pair of pulleys and make a belt from O-ring gasket material.
Often an automaton figure without jointed arms and legs will work just fine. But, if you want to create a character pedaling a bicycle, those knees will need to bend! To depict a realistic human motion, it is helpful if the figure’s joints only bend the way real humans bend. Joints that only move in the correct way give you more options for providing the necessary input motion also. This, in turn, creates a greater range of resulting motions from which to choose. In this article, we will create a basic wooden knee joint that is easy to make and has dozens of uses. Read more
Building the Boxes for Wood Automata
There is no rule that says the mechanism for a wood automaton must be contained inside of a box, but the practice does have some advantages. A box makes a sturdy base, provides even surfaces for mounting mechanisms and figures, and can make the construction process easier. While there are dozens of sophisticated woodworking joints, a basic one will do the trick!
The high-speed rotary tool can do the work of dozens of other tools. With the right bits and accessories, this little powerhouse can cut, carve, engrave, drill, grind, sand, brush, and polish a variety of materials! Here are some tips to help automata-makers get the most from a rotary tool. Read more
A Man of Many Faces: a Prototype Wooden Head from Basic Shapes
Creating interesting characters is an important part of making a wood automaton because they are often the actors on the mechanically-driven stage. In this article, we will make a generic male head that does not require woodcarving skills or special tools. This head can be modified to create countless different characters for your projects.
This is a list of related books, materials and tools which may be helpful when reading articles from our blog series Dug’s Automata Tips, Techniques and Tricks.
Art S. Buck Artist’s Model – Female
Art S. Buck Artist’s Model – Male
Tools for Doweling
Commercially made dowel pins come in a variety of diameters for joining different thicknesses of wood.
The 1/4” diameter dowels will serve your needs if you are using wood that is at least 1/2″ thick.
Amazon UK – US
Dowel centres are little metal caps that go into a set of holes that have been drilled for dowels The dowel centres have points that are used to mark the locations for the dowel holes in a second piece of wood. Sets include pairs of common dowel sizes.
Amazon UK – US
Collar stops are rings that are temporarily attached to a drill bit. The bit will drill only as deep as the collar permits. This is handy for drilling the faces of board that will be blind-doweled.
Amazon UK – US
Rotary Tool Bits
Rotary Tool Carving and Engraving Bit Set – Amazon US
Structured Tooth Tungsten Carbide Carving Bits – Amazon US
Emery Impregnated Polishing Disc – Amazon US
Attaching Cams, Pulleys, Cranks, Gears, and Handles to Wooden Shafts
To get things moving in an automaton, some parts must be attached firmly to round wooden shafts. But how? And which way is best for your project? Read on! The techniques discussed below apply to cams, pulleys, eccentrics, cranks, gears, handles, and other parts. I’ve used the term “cam” throughout to simplify the descriptions.
Pinwheels – Gears for the Masses
Gears are very useful to the automata-maker, but they can be tricky to make depending on your knowledge, skills, tools, and patience. Enter pinwheels: gears almost anyone can make! Read more
So Many Circles!
Circles are found in dozens of mechanisms including cams, eccentrics, cranks, pin wheels, collars, followers, and flywheels. Circles may also serve as the foundation for gear blanks, pulleys, or animated parts of an automaton. But how can you obtain this vital shape in wood? Read more