Wooden Mechanisms

March, '06: Yikes! Talk about sidetracking!! Further down the page you'll see when I started on this project; looks like I missed the deadline! Anyway here's a shot of the finished item, the first of several, but...

Photo #6: Leading off with the last photo, cuz I'm busy doing a zillion other jobs at present. No telling when I'll get the rest of them done. Sloppy PhotoShop job, but I'll take better photos when they deserve it.

November 24, '02: I've been machining metal for nigh on thirty years (yikes!) but when it comes to woodworking I've always been a plywood-and-biscuits kinda guy. On the occasion of having a few months off, due to the cancellation of the last Battlebots tourney I decided to take the great leap by putting aside the metalworking tools and picking up the woodworking ones instead. After much contemplation I found a pretty neat book: Raymond Levy's "Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood" which has some small, but fairly challenging projects that are very well thought out.

Keep in mind that I don't know one species from another and that I don't have much of an artist's eye either; i.e. the woods I have selected for the various components may look terrible by the time I get the things done; it's a learning experience, as they say... Below you'll find text and photos describing my first attempt to build one of these wonderful contraptions.

Photo #1: The bottoms of theCrosshead Guides had to have two slots cut into one side. Due to their small size this looked like a dicey job to accomplish on a tablesaw, so I made this set-up for a bandsaw. The slots are slightly wider than the kerf on the blade, so the stops that locate the pieces side-to-side are a little loose. Depth of cut is controlled by positioning the clamped bit of aluminum scrap, lower right in photo, which limits travel of the T-square's long bit.
Photo #2: At first I hoped to finish one component batch per day. All went as planned until the Connecting Rods. Here's a half-finished pair, made of lacewood. First the holes are drilled on each end, then a couple of aluminum tool buttons are pressed into these. The tapered scrap of aluminum rests on these buttons and gives me an indication of where to cut a taper along its length. In this photo the tapers have been cut on the bandsaw, then ends and tapers have been smoothed on a belt grinder.
Photo #3: Bottom to top: some of the steps needed to get the Conn rods roughed out. Next the 3/4" thick stock will be bandsawn in two, making a pair of 3/8" thick pieces.
Photo #4: Next a sanded shape is bolted to an aluminum jig (top) which is then clamped in my milling machine vise. Using a flycutter I relieve opposite sides of the center section 1/16 in. Once removed from the jig the tedious part begins: sitting in front of the TV with the aid of a sharp chisel and some 320-grit sandpaper I remove all the burrs and radius the edges of the center section (bottom).
Photo #5: Various components and the woods I've used to make them:
-Mahogany Cylinders "castings";
-Crosshead Guides have bottoms made of Bocote and sides of Cocobolo.
-Purpleheart Eccentric Straps (got the grain running the wrong way; oh, well; will do better next time) and Birdseye Maple Eccentrics.
-The Connecting Rods (not shown) are made of Lacewood.

Next up: tackle the Rod Ends, which I plan to make from Honduran Mahogany. Once these are done I can begin, at long last, to connect the dots and get a feel for what the mechanism will look like. Assuming there are no horrible color clashes I'll press on from there. Expect more photos next week!

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