If you have found your way to this blog and have yet to find a gift for that mechanically-minded person in your life, here's a list of books that should solve all of your problems! Need more choices? Stay tuned for more in the coming days!
Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements: Embracing All Those Which Are Most Important in Dynamics, Hydraulics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Steam Engines
Coming in as the top selling book by the readers of The Automata blog is Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements is a great resource for interesting mechanical solutions. It is an affordable book that can provide a lot of education and inspiration. The left hand page of each spread shows 6 to 9 mechanisms or "contrivances" as they were called, while the page on the right side gives a short description of each of the mechanisms and what it does. The mechanisms are presented in a concise, interesting manner. There is something compelling about the vintage line drawings and old-fashioned phrasing. I love this little book as will anyone who finds mechanisms fascinating.
Published in 2010, Making Things Move: DIY Mechanisms for Inventors, Hobbyists, and Artists is one of the most comprehensive, easy-to-understand, and fun books on the topic. Author Dustyn Roberts covers every aspect of making things move, from fabrication techniques, to motors, CAD, and Arduino micro-controllers. If your interest in kinetic sculpture includes more than wood and brass, this book is fantastic resource.
There is no doubt that Rob Ives is a master of paper engineering. This glossy softcover book contains all of the printed color patterns needed to make four excellent paper automata: a pecking hen, a flying fish, three bounding sheep, and a bowing jester. If you or anyone in your life wants to try their hand at making an automaton -- and I mean right away -- paper is the way to go. You only need some white glue, scissors, a hobby knife, and this Paper Automata book. I've watched someone with no prior mechanical training complete one of these models in an afternoon. A gift of this book is like giving four kits. Priced at just over $10, it is a very good deal.
In Creative Kinetics, author Rodney Frost provides a brilliant introduction to the making of kinetic art. The book does an especially good job of explaining the mechanisms that typically make up the core of a wood automaton: levers, cams, cranks, eccentrics, pulleys, and gears. The projects are fun and wildly diverse. You won't find complete plans in this book, but if you are interested in learning to make kinetic sculptures in wood, this book provides all of the fundamentals in a fun and easy-to-read way.