We are down to the wire in terms of holiday shopping. If you still need ideas for those mechanically-minded folks on your list, here are 5 more books I recommend personally. You have plenty of time to order them from Amazon in time for Christmas. Problem solved.
Kaden Harris is one of those fascinating people who seems to know how to make just about everything. His skill and eclectic interests come across loud and clear in his book Eccentric Cubicle. Ostensibly, the book is full of projects for you to make for your cubical at work, but the book's title understates how badass some of these projects are. In the book, you will be shown how to build a working miniature guillotine, a small torsion-powered crossbow, a mechanical golf machine, a bass guitar built into a desk, a fog machine, a mechanical percussion machine, and more. The construction of each project is described in great detail; it is probably MAKE's longest book. As if that weren't enough, each chapter has a sub-theme that covers an essential tool, material, or fabrication technique. These alone could form a book that would be worth the price. The book is written in a playful, irreverent style, which makes for good reading. This thing is full of gems, and one of my personal favorites.
Among all of the books on how to make wooden mechanisms, two of the best and most advanced are the two by Alan and Gill Bridgewater: Making Wooden Mechanical Models and Making More Wooden Mechanical Models. Originally published in 1995 and 1999, respectively, they have become increasingly hard to find, especially the second book which now fetches high prices in the used book market. So, it was good news to learn that the two books have been combined into Building Wooden Machines. The new combined volume features 28 ingenious woodworking projects with visible wheels, cranks, pistons and other moving parts made of wood. Each project has step-by-step instructions and plan drawings from which to work. It does assume the reader has woodworking skill and tools, so this outstanding book may not be the best choice for beginners.
This book also features plans for 15 handsome wooden mechanisms such as the cam and follower, the Scotch yoke, the fast-return actuator, and the geneva wheel. Unlike Building Wooden Machines far fewer of projects in this book require access to and experience with a wood lathe. This makes it useful to a greater number of people. If you are a less experienced woodworker, or do not have a lathe, then then you'll want to chose Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood over this title.
It is certainly no surprise to find Automata and Mechanical Toys on this list. In the past I have said that if you were to have just one book on contemporary automata that this should be the one. Both a how-to book and a showcase of the art form itself, this book attempts to cover it all. If you love automata, want see examples by well known automaton artists, and want to learn more about how to make these wonderful devices yourself, then this book is a must-have. Here is where you can read a more extensive review of Automata and Mechanical Toys.
Rodney Frost strikes again with his book titled Making Mad Toys & Mechanical Marvels in Wood. Previously published as Whacky Toys, Whirligigs & Whatchamacallits, this book has long been at the top of my recommendations. This book features fourteen complete projects -- one of the only ones to do so. Each project has a bit of text, a photo, and many nice vector illustrations detailing the project's construction. I wouldn't call them formal 'plans' -- they are too colorful, assorted, and playful for that name. People determined to build an automaton, but short of ideas, are sure to find a project in this book that speaks to them. The projects have a wonderful vintage feel.