Saturday, March 31, 2007

Roundup of Paper Automata Sources

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Wooden Gears Supplier Online

I've been reminded by fellow automaton-maker Dan Torpey over at Barking Dogs Automata that wooden gears can be purchased from Patriot Mill Cogworks in New Hampshire, USA.

I ordered some of these a few years ago, but had lost track of their website. I'm glad to have found it again and to share it with my readers.

The cherry gears I ordered have mineral oil finish and are still beautiful.

Though their site features educational kits composed of wooden gears, axle pegs, and pegboards, I believe you can order individual gears, as I did.

Happy Cranking!

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Science & Technology Auction, March 24th

I have posted a few times about the automata to be auctioned off by Skinner Auctioneers. The auction is this Saturday, March 24th.

Here is a round-up of my previous posts on this auction showing many of the automata that will be available.

There will also be many scientific instruments and orreries.

The auction details:
Preview Dates/Times: March 24, 2007, 8-9am
Auction Date/Time: March 24, 2007, 10am
Address: 63 Park Plaza Boston, MA
Location: Auction #2355

To view the items online or download the catalog, visit Skinner's Science and Technology section

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Featured Maker: Anatoly Zayaruzny

Magician AutomatonI have had the great pleasure of learning of another fine automaton-maker here in the States. Anatoly Zayaruzny makes automata that look very much like antiques, but are a bit more modern mechanically.

Check out his site, where (unlike many of us) the artist is happy to show you the mechanisms that bring the automata to life.

One of my favorites is a upgraded version of the magician doing the cups and balls trick. Anatoly Zayaruzny's version incorporates a novel mechanism to allow tall items to appear.

The monkey lute player has a video that shows that the figure plays, then stands up, and bows!

Here's the link to the magician automaton by Anatoly Zayaruzny.

Here's the link to the magician's internal mechanics.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Featured Automaton Maker: Wanda Sowry

Wanda Sowry is an automata maker from the UK. I really love her style -- the different unfinished woods, imaginative themes, and attention to detail.

Be sure to click on the image at left to see a larger animated image of her self-portrait automaton. (I've been meaning to do one myself.)

From her site:
I have a small workshop on a farm near Bath. I partake in various exhibitions around the UK and I also make many personalised commissioned pieces.

My automata designs are quite simple and light-hearted. I like to use the different colours of natural wood.

Visit the site of the talented Wanda Sowry.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Box Joint or Finger Joint Jig for Wood Boxes

WOODSMITH Aluminum Box Joint Jig at Woodcraft.comI am experimenting with something similar to this jig to make the boxes to hold automata mechanisms. While hand-cut dovetails are the joint of choice, box joints -- or finger joints as they are sometimes called -- offer an interesting alternative.

Box joints are very strong once glued because there is so much surface area for the glue to bond to. I think they look good too because the end grain alternating with the regular grain creates a nice pattern.

I'll let you know how my testing goes. If any of you have experience with box joints or box joint jigs, let me know. This one is used in conjuction with a table saw and dado blade or a router table.

This is one option, the WOODSMITH Aluminum Box Joint Jig at

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Clocks with Wooden Mechanisms Roundup

With the recent post about the wood pocket watch, I thought I would share some information about wooden clock resources I've found online.

While not strictly automata, the mechanisms and material make wooden clocks a worthy topic in my book.

If you know of other sites, leave a comment or send me an email and I'll add it to the list.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Amazing Pocket Watch with Wooden Movement

I have seen many nice all-wood clocks, but this was beyond my imagination...a pocket watch made entirely of wood.

I am not talking about the face or the case, but nearly all of it -- gears, escapement, ratchets.

They were apparently made in Russia around 1900. I wish I knew more about it, especially the size, type of wood, how many were made, and if it still works.

I learned of this amazing bit of artistry via a long series of links. In order of discovery they were: to...

The Watchismo Times blog to...

Odd Watches

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Carving Set with tools, book, and slipstones

WOODCRAFT Carving Set at Woodcraft.comDeveloped for hand or light mallet use, this assortment of tools are made in the USA of high carbon tool steel. They feature hardwood handles with a metal ferrule. Comfortable 6-1/4" to 6-1/2" lengths make them easy to control for detail carving.

Complete set includes the 12 carving tools plus coarse and fine India slipstones, and the popular book "Woodcarving: 20 Great Projects for Beginners & Weekend Carvers" by John Hillyer. Factory sharpened and ready for use.

Here's a link to this Carving Set from WoodCraft. They have many to choose from.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Valentine's Day Automaton by Dug North

I realize that this comes about a month too late, but I thought you might like to take a look at another recently completed wood automaton of mine.

The automaton depicts a poor fellow in search of a Valentine's day card. To his dismay, there are many options, but none match the sentiments he feels:

Which card says 'I love you' as much as I really do?

When the crank is rotated the carousel of cards on the right spins to display all sides. The attention-grabbing heart display on the left jumps up and down. Our protagonist is overwhelmed and madly scans the choices by swinging his head back and forth.

See additional picture of The Valentine's Automaton by Dug North

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Clown Automaton - Additional Photo

Here is another photograph of the clown performing a magic trick. This piece is among several that will be going to auction in Boston on March 24th. (See Skinner Auctioneer's web site.)

This photo show two stages of the clown's performance.

On the left, we see the figure at the start of the routine with his head where you would expect it to be. During the next stage (not shown) the clown covers his head with the fan held in his right hand.

On the right, we see the automaton in mid-performance when the clown has lifted the front of the box with his left hand to reveal that his head has magically moved from his head to inside the box. He has also pulled the fan from in front of his face to show that his head no longer sits on his shoulders.

You can see the coin slot on the left edge of the wooden case.

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Locate Rockler and Woodcraft Retail Stores

My two favorite woodworking stores sell online and have many retail locations. While shopping online is fun and easy -- handling the tools and selecting your own wood can't be done over the internet. I recommend you find a Rockler woodworking store or a Woodcraft woodworking store near you. Here are some links to help you. - Helping You Make Wood Work
Woodcraft has a great selection of hand tools, especially for carving. In most stores you can handle the tools. They also host courses and demonstrations.

Locate a Woodcraft woodworking store Woodworking Superstore
Rockler specializes is jigs and accessories for you power tools. The retail location near me has a fantastic selection of choice woods.

Locate a Rockler woodworking store

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