Monday, June 01, 2009

Galloping dinosaur vintage mechanical toy plans

Galloping dinosaur vintage mechanical toy plans
The folks over at The Modern Mechanics blog have scanned and typed up the plans for this animated wooden dinosaur pull-toy.

From the original article:
A TOY saurian from the far-away past proves to be a refreshing novelty to the youngsters. The toy is extremely simple to make, as there are only six major parts. In addition to these, four wheels and some wire complete the whole thing.

Here is the article with photographs and drawings of the dinosaur on The Modern Mechanics blog.

[ Thanks deanS! ]

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Free gear theory manual PDF from Boston Gear

Free gear theory PDF courtesy of Boston Gear
Boston Gear offers an overview of gear theory in the form of a free 5.5MB PDF file.

From the gear theory download page
This engineering information explains gear nomenclature, tooth formulas, backlash, tooth strength, torque and horsepower requirements and other standard gear selection formulas. Our Gear Theory Manual is a must for anyone who frequently deals with gearing in mechanical components.

Here's the link to the free gear theory PDF courtesy of Boston Gear.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Building a real woodworker's workbench

Here is a great Instructable on how to build a high-quality woodworking bench based on a set of plans originally published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (the best magazine of its kind, in my opinion).

The design used here is simplification of a bench from Sam Allen's book Making Workbenches.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Tom Haney a highlight of the LA Art Show

Tom Haney's work was a hit at the Los Angles Art Show based on the following quote from a recent article.

From the article:New Orleans based Red Truck Gallery featured apple-crate sized works by an awesomely intricate inventor-sculptor-artist Tom Haney. If you click the photo (right) you can see a movie of this piece which showcases the street-seller opening and closing his jacket to reveal his wears, looking indeed quite dubious. Haney says on his site that most of his time is spent behind the scenes orchestrating the mechanics that move his pieces.

Here is a link to the article Highlights from the LA Art Show.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

MAKE Halloween Special Issue - DIY Halloween

It may have hit the newsstands last year, but the MAKE Special Halloween issue is still full of excellent Do-It-Yourself Halloween goodness. You have got to see the headless Marie Antoinette costume!

What does this have to do with automata? This is the issue that features a humble contribution of my own -- an article on how to build a mechanical top hat with a little monster pop out of the top on command. This is the alternate cover; my hat project can be seen in bottom center of the page.

Here's were you can get the MAKE: Halloween Special Edition (Collector's Alternate Cover).

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Art in Motion, Profile of Artist Dug North

I had the great pleasure of being interviewed recently by writer Drea Kane. The University of Vermont Alumni Magazine, The Vermont Quarterly, has published an article she wrote, which is now available online.

It's a great article that tells a bit about me, the history of automata, and their more recent trajectory. I am honored to have been a part of it.

Here is a link to the article ART IN MOTION by Drea Kane.

[ My thanks to Drea Kane and The Vermont Quarterly. ]

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Patent for Greeting Card with Motion System

I've done a bunch of post this year about Hallmark's new line of hand-cranked animated greeting cards. First, there was the batch I bought and posted. Another gallery of animated cards came courtesy of a kindly reader. A video of one of the best cards also turned up. Thanks to Joe Freedman, The Automata / Automaton Blog was first to offer an online exclusive look at the inner workings.

Joe's thirst for knowledge uncovered another fascinating item: the patent for the animated greeting cards. Titled GREETING CARD MOTION SYSTEM WITH MODULAR DESIGN, the patent is full of diagrams...many depicting card designs I have yet to see on the store shelves. (Note: There are some new designs out for Halloween, 2008!)

Some automata of old were patented, but it must not have proved to be worth the effort. Many designs were not patented and the European makers of the last century copied each other with abandon.

Check out the full online version of the patent for the GREETING CARD MOTION SYSTEM WITH MODULAR DESIGN.

[ Thanks to Joe Freedman of The Sarabande Press! ]

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Article on "Automata: A Fascinating Woodcraft"

Charles Mak is a woodworker, automata-maker, writer, and true friend of The Automata / Automaton Blog. The first of his two-part article on automata is now available online at the Lee Valley Tools web site.

In the article, the author describes contemporary automata, gives an overview of their history, and introduces the reader to the process of making wood automata. He concludes this first installment with some great suggestions for further reading and some useful online resources. Stay tuned for the second part of the article in an upcoming woodworking newsletter!

Here is the link to the article Automata: A Fascinating Woodcraft, by Charles Mak.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Dug North Featured as Artist of the Month

I am honored to have been chosen to be featured as Artist of the Month by For Art's Sake -- a community association that celebrates art in Harvard, Massachusetts.

There is a nice article about me, my sorted past, my influences, and why I think automata are among the coolest things on the planet.

Here's a link to the article about Dug North on the For Art's Sake site.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

How to Make a Circle Cutting Jig for a Router

Circle Cutting Jig for the Router
Perhaps you've been inspired to make a wooden machine with some rather large pin-wheel type gears. There are many ways to cut circles including freehand on a scroll saw or band saw. You can also make or buy a circle cutting jig for the bandsaw. Additionally, you can consider using a fly type circle cutter or using a hole saw in a drill press.

Here is a complete article on how to make your own adjustable circle-cutting jig for a hand held router.

Unlike many a circle-cutting jig for the router, this one overcomes a common limitation -- cutting a circle with a radius shorter than the distance between the router bit and the pivot on which is spins.

John English came up with the ingenious jig you see in the photo above. It doesn't rely on a pivot point, which means it can be used to cut range of circle sizes.

Here is the article on How to Make a Circle Cutting Jig for a Router

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Build Hidden Compartments into Wooden Drawers

How hidden wooden drawers workThis post may seem a little off-topic, but I'm going to justify it because a) it's about woodworking, b) it's mechanical in nature, and c) it's just plain cool.

Who doesn't love trap doors and hidden compartments?

This is a short, but useful article describing a few different ways to build hidden compartments into chests, bureaus, jewelry boxes, or even cabinets built into a wall.

Here's the article on Building Hidden Drawers courtesy of

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Scroll Saw Joinery

Scroll saws are great for cutting curves and complex shapes. Did you know you can also use the scroll saw for joinery?

Here's a really interesting that article shows you how to cut a variety of interesting joints on the scroll saw.

Read the article: Scroll Saw Joinery originally published in Scroll Saw Workshop magazine

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

WoodCraft Magazine Bundle - Automata Plans -- one of my absolute favorite woodworking stores -- is offering a bundle of the first year of its self-titled woodworking magazine.

This is a great deal for two reasons:
  1. You get 7 issues of a great woodworking magazine for $9.99
  2. You get Woodcraft Holiday 2005 with my article on how to build a contemporary automaton of your very own. That's worth the price alone!
Check out the Woodcraft Magazine Issues 1-7 Bundle

If you are a hard-core Dug North fan and just want the issue with the automaton plans, you can get Woodcraft Holiday 2005

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