Here they are! FREE PLANS BELOW FOR REALISTIC GUILLOTINE! Read 'em or steal 'em.
The guillotine was prompted by Dr. Guilotin, but was actually built by Tobias Schmidt, a German harpsichord builder.
Latest Guillotine Creations! Updated 08/23/12
Click hereto see the drawing of the first large model I ever built. It was constructed for a Halloween haunted affair, showcased at dumptv.com. The affair is showcased, but precious little is dispensed in the way of information in regards to the aforementioned machine of death. Heck, I never even photographed it myself so what's to say? At least I did photo the new one which is better. Just click next to the photo.
It actually only took a weekend to produce. I design as I build, and so you can figure that it couldn't be all that hard right? It isn't. Step #1, find an image of a guillotine. Step #2, convince yourself that if some Frenchman from hundreds of years ago could make one of these, then so can you! Step #3, build it.
Kiln dried Douglas fir 2x4s were used throughout this one, either as stand alone structural members or bonded into 4x5s which constitute the two uprights. I finished it off with a plywood tabletop.
FRONT VIEW This diagram shows the sliding frame and hardware SIDE VIEW Diagram showing side framing and sliding table.
This one had a trick table utilizing an oval shaped hole to allow access for the actor's head which is located as close to the business end as possible to help with the illusion. A wooden shield segregates the actors head from the blade area and guides the blade safely past.
Since our head was obviously a rubber copy of Saddam Hussein, (or Pop Racer, take your pick) all audience members assumed the impossibly thin, rumpled, cheap looking body with feet akimbo was fake as well.(make sure your actor wears loose cotton gloves to make the hands seem less real.)
The blade falls, and slams with a horrible chunk! The head tumbles into the basket. Needless to say the audience came unglued when our beheaded body begins to jump around, tied as he still was to the table.
I played the executioner who, at first confused by the crowd reaction, becomes equally alarmed upon seeing the calamity taking place and determines that something must be done to calm the spectators. I retrieve the head from the basket and smack it hard with a club, immediately calming the recently deceased. I admonish the body, apologize for any unpleasantness and send the crowd on their way, so we may prepare for the next show which usually happened within seconds of each other.
Due to space constraints, mine was roughly 10 feet long by six feet wide and nine feet and two 1/2 inches tall. It had a plywood table top and bottom, steel hardware, and a soft masonite blade. I chose masonite for the odd chance that if the blade might act up in any way it would shatter instead of splinter and all that implies. Construction was executed with #6 2 1/2 inch drywall screws.
The blade assemby is held in firing position by means of a large spike or dowel slid through a hole in the top of the upright into the blade weight. Friction holds it in place until such time as a lever which is attached to the spike is activated and down she comes.
Slats on either side of the blade act as guides to retain the blade during it's trip. To avoid catching on the way down, I found that the slats should be installed only at the top of the blade weight assembly. If your parts don't fit too tightly and are sanded decently you should have no difficulty getting a big slamming chop.
The reason 2x4s were bonded with 1x3s for the uprights was so that grooves would not have to be carved to guide the blade. Big labor saver, that.
One trick was attaching the dummy head to the machine in a way which would allow the blade to seperate it reliably. An adaptation of a screen door hook latch was made from thin nails, and was used upside down so the passing blade would simply knock the latch from the hook
Another trick is to attach the actor's coat to the very edge of the neck holder, so that no matter how much squirming is done the shoulders appear still attached to the neck. The victim is still very much held to the machine until released. Add newspaper to the shoulder area as needed for fullness.
To see my fully functioning miniature guillotine, well you know what to do.