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Wooden Machinery & Sculpture

Updated 11/12/15

1. Transporters Trains, automobiles, trucks and trailers.

2. Airplanes From the past to the future.

3. Siege Machines Trebuchets, mangonels, catapults and even a free plan!

4. Torture Machines The Tower of London rack, and a set of stocks.

5. Execution Machines Electric chair and three gallows plus instructions to build one yourself.

6. Character Sculptures Self-portrait and others.

7. Boats All sailboats in a "half hull" style.

8. Other projects Wooden book, back scratchers and guns! Oh my.

Click here for Guillotines.

Transporters

My buddy Lil T was missing his father, who was away when I arrived to visit. He was playing car garage out of a cardboard box with his collection of miniature cars. We talked about what was good about the box and of course, the things that could be better and eventually I would build him Big T's Automotive Enhancement. Two bays with rising self storing doors, overhead lighting, a counter/work bench and even a list of prices. It was nice but now he needed a tow trailer to retrieve broken vehicles to haul in. Money was an object at this time so ordering one off the web was out, and none of them tipped anyway. I built him this maple model inspired by the old days designs but with modern rims and tires supplied by the new owner so the would look cool.


Now of course the boy needed a floorjack. He showed me one from an internet catalog which resembed the standard 4 wheeled lever action floorjack. It did not actually work and they wanted a bit of money for the very realistic "looking" model. This one puzzled me for awhile and then it hit. So simple and yet...

The lever and arm are one piece wedged tight enough into the frame to be difficult to move, but only difficult enough to hold up the weight of any model he has.

The wheels do not rotate, but he does not mind because the wheels did not turn on the plastic alternative either.

The final design addition was the hinged pivot that holds the surface underneath the vehicle at uneven levels. It is self righting, and has been held together with birch pins for added strength and flexibility under severe play.

Please enjoy the images below of toys that I never had time to showcase.

The first image is of a formula 1 racer in solid birch. I gave it away as a birthday present to a neighbor kid and replaced it with the next one made of rosewood and rock maple. I still have this one. I played with the idea of building a teardrop trailer and got as far as tech drawings and no further. Here is a small example. Old Number 5 was the inspiration for this sculpture although I used no actual images to help me with this design. I started to build a Peterbuilt traictor and ended up with this humidor. Go figure. I found that wheeled trebuchets throw further. Built quite a few of these and passed them all along to children of nervous parents.

Airplanes

Aaaah, high school metal shop back when kids could be trusted not to destroy everything given to them. I loved working with metals of all kinds but did not care much for the projects we were assigned. Boooring.

I would take my projects home and finish them at my friend's dad's shop. Then after getting my C or whatever I would go into the school shop and create scores of quick projects that got me As because of extra credit. In my senior year I was in Metal shop 4 and taught metal shop as a student aid in three more classes.

Anyway this is a Fokker Dr1 or dreidekker ein. It is made from steel pipe, strap steel, various welding rod and a couple of washers. All brazed together because I loved the color contrast. My teacher resented the fact that I could ace his class while not really adhering to the philosophy of his agenda.

I also made a Sopwith camel, and a 24" wide interpretation of the Kitty Hawk Flyer.

When my boys were growing up they also showed an interest in aircraft as so many children growing up in the Antelope valley have, and so I made for them a collection of sorts, not all of which are available to share.

This is a figment of my imagination spaceplane inspired by Werner von Braun's original space shuttle design, which was suppose to fly independent of external tanks, boosters, etc. It uses some kinda new fangled gravity drive to get around and is armed with Star Wars laser blasters. It is made of maple, rosewood and mohagony. Missing from the collection are an F-18 hornet and an F-16 fighter jet.

The favorite, hands down by both my boys, was the RS-71 also known as the SR-71 blackbird recon jet. The model shown here is only 2 1/2inches long and made from goncolo alves and mohagony.

Siege Machinery

As promised, allow me to introduce Leonardo da Vinci's siege catapult, none of which were ever actually built. As you can see, this mini siege cat is under siege by this cat. This should negate the need for dimensions. If you need more proof, please click the cat.

Construction is of maple, walnut, brass, steel, cotton thread, sinew, and a long iron screw.

 

This lil beauty to the right, here is a trebuchet, a counterweight catapultlike seige machine devised by many different cultures over time, and it is soo very small that it is an trebuchette.

At barely 6 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 6 inches tall when unloaded, it may not be the smallest treb ever made, but can that one hurl an unarmed push pin over most cubicle walls with great acuracy?

Constructed of rock maple in just over 4 hours, it uses a one ounce fish sinker for a counter weight, and a trigger of my own devising that only lends itself to miniature machines. Sewing the leather pouch was quite an experience as it was barely 3/8 of an inch by 1/2.

The definition of onager is kicking donkey or horse. The onager family of siege machinery include any spring loaded weapons that kick from recoil after firing.

This example is a roman mangonel. It is an ancient weapon which utilizes the energy of ropes or sinews which are wound tight by means of levers or winches, the resulting force being used to propel a wooden bar toward the target.

A similarity between this weapon and the treb is the sling located at the business end, which when flipped, adds a whole lotta extra physics to the shots. A basket, net or metal cup could also be used in place of the sling, giving a more familiar look to the machine.

 

 

 

If anyone should know the name of the machine shown at right, please respond.

If it never existed before, it should have, because it looks impressive. The bowstring is drawn by winch as the throwing arm accompanies it down to the firing position, where it is locked in the safe position. Projectile is loaded into cup. Lever is drawn, freeing firing mechanism. It is fairly accurate, and kicks when fired, so belongs here whether it ever existed or not.

 

 

 


Free plans for a tiny office sized trebucet (a trebucette, if you will)

This plan was originally intended to render a trebuchet to the dimensions 4x4x4", but it can be enlarged to include weapons in the 8" range but no larger due to trigger mechanism wimpy torque limitations. Mill lumber to 1/4x1/4" thicknesses. Cut to desired lengths.

I construct all min-evel machinery using treenails to secure all jointery. It not only adds strength, but adds character to the overall look. I use a special jig which holds the pieces securely in the finished position before drilling treenail holes. Note: to those without said special tooling I would suggest allowing preglued joints to cure before installing treenails and as always, WATCH THAT DRILL, through safety glasses of course.

Most of the time, treenails will be sanded flush with their jointed members. The two in center must protrude through the top of the joint so that the two uprights can be slid down the treenails in the next step. If you have decided to stick with the treenail process you will already have noticed the remarkable stiffness of the cured frame.

Chose the length of your uprights carefully as they are of suprising importance when it comes down to range and trajectory. Not tall enough and your instrument will be wimpy. Too tall and the whole thing begins to gyrate uncontrollably upon firing. The main priority in the smallest treb design was size, therefore we gave up alot of performance to achieve this design. The holes in the upper ends must be significantly larger than the pin that will soon rotate within them. Do not glue uprights in place at this time. Wait until all braces are made in the next step.

The braces for the smallest treb are set at 45° at each end. This makes for a squat but strong design, but if you make your uprights tall enough you will need to make the braces with ends of 30° and 60° respectively so that you may increase their effective height. You will need three for each upright. Glue and treenail all joints.

In order to get a clear shot, your projectile must overcome all of those pesky little frame cross-members. To do this we will need to make a stage. This will be made of very thin material and must be made in such a way as to fit snugly against the rails and sit flatly upon the aforementioned cross-members. It can, but does not have to reach all the way to the trigger area as the projectile is usually airborne by the time it would reach that far, but you can if you want to.

Now for the moving part. The traditional ratio for arm length is 1/5. That means that if you lay out the arm and sling, there will be five times more length at the long end from axis, than the short length, but you can do whatever you want. If the arm is too long, add more weight to the short end and vice-versa. Make the parts in a. and construct them as in b. Install axis pin snug but removable. Sling pin is made from brass, but any soft metal will do.

For very small trebs, a full sling should be used to minimize the need for miniature sewing. I use denim, but soft kid leather will do. a. shows the method for securing metal loops. b. shows two samples of the various objects which can be used as counterweights. c. shows how to secure sling to throwing arm. The sling pin can be bent forward and backward to allow for early or late release of projectile, a useful ranging procedure.

I designed this triggering mechanism and it is only intended to be used on very small trebs. Use the same drill and axle materials used in the securing of the throwing arm to the uprights. Cut a small notch in the center of the trigger pin. This will allow the sling pin down until the trigger pin is revolved, thus holding it down. Revolve it in the other direction and, well you get it by now. Add a cool handle and you are ready to lock and load. For those as yet unclear, attach the free end of the sling to the sling pin and ease the throwing arm down until the sling pin goes through the trigger notch. Move the folded sling down the stage and sneak a projectile through the braces and into the sling. Make sure projectile is resting comfortably in the center of sling. Place the weapon on a flat surface, and fire. Have fun.

Torture Machines

The inquisition, what a show...there is little in the way of illustrations to go by but this free interpretation of a relic housed in the Tower of London can take your imagination on quite a ride.

To see a larger and nicer image, click here.The rack that sits, idle these centuries past in the Tower of London was never actually used for several reasons. First of all, the church had rules for extracting confessions and breaking the skin was forbidden. Therefore, this would have only been useful during criminal proceedings...of which it was also, never used. You see, it was so frightening to see that signatures were furnished and final execution of sentence could take place much quicker.

Working toy torture rack constructed of oak, maple or birch. This small model is 30cm x 12cm x 7cm tall, but can be ordered to size. Includes leather wrist restraints, movable nail-studded rollers, hinged and sliding foot restraints, all wooden axlepins, and locking roller release mechanism. All jointery is by ancient period treenail construction assuring a durable showpiece which after all was meant to be played with. Sorry, no victims available here, but many small dolls on the market can be condemned. Prices start at $175USD and go up from there. It all depends on your desires. E mail for more info.

 

Here is a set of stocks. They were made from my imagination and produced from some well figured and very old oak.

They were built to hold an eight inch action figure still for as long as you like. Not like they were going anywhere anyway.

All the steel fittings and hinge pins were cold smithed by me. The space between the floor planking added the last bit of realism.

Please click the image to see more angles and up close shots.

Execution Machines

 

 

 

 

 

Here, at last is my eclectric chair. It is a whimsical combination of existing and fantasy devices. Made from highly figured oak, steel, brass, aluminum and leather.

All of the actual chairs were not as menacing as the ones shown in the old movies. This is where I got the idea for stretching some dimensions and shrinking others from existing examples.

The restraints are accurate, although I cannot remember which chair I used as a guide. That was probably the hardest part for me to fabricate.

It was a labor of love and I really have alot of experience now in miniature leather restraint construction.

The platform is joisted and planked from a maple board, which was popular for flooring during the old day. Gives it that last bit of realism. This one went for $600USD and the next one will cost the same.

 

 

 

I was approached by an executive from the National Security Agency located in Maryland via email. He was looking for someone that could execute a complex order that had never been done before.

I was intrigued. "Please go on." He needed a set of miniature gallows that could execute three victims at once, and he already had an idea what the victims would look like.

The machine itself is a thing of beauty with hand smithed steel fixtures throughout, even including the release lever. The bulk of it is made from rock maple.

For security sake, only one of the victims is shown here as he is the most generic of the characters and looks like a hick.

To see a video of the finished set at work, check it out. Just scroll down to Hang 'Em Low.

The ingenius thing about this project was wringing the necks so that the bodies would dangle correctly and not off at an angle, all fake and stuff.

The neck is a sliding toggle that pops up from the torso before arching via a clever channel which is hidden in the end by the noose.

Very unnervingly realistic, and a copy with three victims will cost you well over $1000USD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kill multple felons with this working and historically accurate old western era gallows.

This model occupies a space roughly 1 and 1/2 cubic feet in overall dimension. All jointery is mitred and glued but can be treenailed for extra charge. Materials used are poplar, which in this case looks just like walnut and nylon. The floor planking and stairs are made from the same stock, and all floors are framed and joisted to scale.

The release mechanism is a pair of latches activated by wooden cogs and linkages which lead to a lever assembly, sitting at the top of the kill-floor.

This model will cost about $600.00. No victim(s) with this model.

 

 

 

 

Working and marginally accurate old western era prison gallows.

This model occupies a space roughly 1 cubic foot in overall dimension. All jointery is by treenails, luck and patience. Materials used are douglas fir, maple, and nylon. The floor planking and stairs are tounge depressor stock, and all floors are framed and joisted to scale.

The release mechanism is pure serendipity, and is composed of a series of guides, a sliding release blade and a lever assembly, as seen in the clickable image, which sits at the top of the kill-floor.

This model will cost about $400.00 to get me to make another. Of course it comes with a rough carved victim which you can complete yourself to look like anyone you wish.

Build your own tabletop gallows floor.

Using a tablesaw, rip 3/4x3/4 timber stock. This will be used for main framework. I use alder for the trap frame and douglas fir for all other framing.

Using a bandsaw or mitersaw, cut to any length, so long as they are the same length, four pieces for the trap frame.




Lay out the four pieces and draw a line 3/4" from the ends.

Draw lengthwise 3/8" from the edge to the lines you drew previously. Do this on all four frame members and saw out the enscribed waste.




All four frame members must be identicle. You may have to try out each joint for fit and precision and file until consistency is achieved.

Your finished trap frame should look like this when tried out. When you are satisfied with the fit, use frame clamps and small c-clamps to secure the glued joints. Your steel hardware, made in the next steps, will be secured to this frame.


Step #2. Release hardware


Using 1/8" steel stock and a hack saw, manufacture, file and drill until you have two of each of these parts shown in the insert. Hole size will depend on your wood screw and rivet thicknesses.

Cut four pieces of coathanger wire the same length as your frame sides. This wire is soft and takes a hammer blow fairly well. These will become the linkages between the parts you just made.




Using a ball peen hammer while holding the wire with pliers, over an anvil, bang on the end with the flat part of the hammer. Be careful not to hit too hard or you may rip the steel. Do this on one end of each wire piece.

The ends should look like this when you are done. If they don't, you can use a file or sander to make them nice and smooth.




Drill rivet hole at the end. I use 3d finish nails as rivets, because they flatten easily.

After measuring out the lengths you will actually use, repeat on the other ends. You will end up with a list of parts like this. Lever has been added.




These images are used as examples for measuring and laying out your hardware.

After mounting is fixed, it is best to remove it all for the remaining construction to reduce the risk of damage to the links.

Next step, Framing the Floor




Frame the rest of the floor with 3/4" timbers and 3/8x3/4" studs. There were no safety codes at the time, but use your head. Safety must be considered in all capital punishment scenarios.

Next step. The Doors.




Using the ripsaw, slice off 1/8" "planks" for your floorboards and door parts.

I made mine from an aged cedar board for a darkened edge effect.

Construct doors as shown.

Here you can see the angle used to support the "top" door on the "bottom" door.

Notice the frame at the edge of the bottom door. This keeps the doors from sagging and contacts the hardware.

Note also the steel pins protruding from the sides. These are the hinge pins and should be centered down the thickness.




Remove the steel pins and mock up the doors into their frame.

Clamp planks firmly on the top and bottom sides of the door frame. Construct two short planks to go up and down along the door frame. These will be the hinge tops.

Clamp the hinge top into a vice and using a dremel, make grooves that corespond to the hingepin locations of the doors, as shown


Next step. Planking the Floor.


Glue down planking in a manner that allows the hinge tops to be easily removed to service or remove doors.

Be sure to include a slot to slide the release lever through.

Reinstall your hardware and doors and use countersunk screws on your hinge tops.

Remember, in the world there have been many different designs for the gallows frame and the beam the ropes hang from.

This floor however can be used on all of them. This hardware design can also be used with little modification to open two single doors at once if you should prefer group executions.

Character sculptures

A treasured creation(right) was returned to me and now I can share with you the very second thing I ever carved from wood.

Los Angeles county, California, and I, very much into hiking at the time, with the Pacific Crest Trail just beginning to be planned and built.

The section in our area was just a series of dirt truck roads joined haphazard until a permanent trail could be built. We were an impatient bunch, however.

We climbed the Moody Truck trail during the hottest time in memory, and where we encountered Perspiration Point, with this sculpture being the result of all the time I spent thinking.

It is carved from one slab of walnut which, in hindsight, is not the best wood to use for this particular application, but youth and ignorance are an expected blend at that age. I mean who else would execute such a hike during the summer in the first place? The eyes are made from ivory nut and after these decades, still contrast the walnut well.

At about my 16th year, a travelling wise-man-fool gave me my first dremel tool and a piece of ivory. Both were broken, but usable. Many projects later I still remember him saying that he was not a special man and that anyone should be able to carve these. At that time he produced a buddistic scene carved in-the-round from an identical slice of ivory to the one he gave me. It depicted a sleeping man under a tree with his dog and hawk at his side, campfire burning. As you progress around the piece you see the fire become a dream of the man which is of a fiery bird-dog which then becomes the tree the man sleeps under. He called it a netsuke from the Japanese.

The skeleton you see is from the same tradition, albeit much limited after the scene I just described. It invites the observer to go around it, and to handle it. I have since given up carving ivory in favor of the risky but suitable ivory nut. The vegetable variety is so close in consistency and substance to the real thing that they even smell like the dentists office when you burn them a bit.

Award sculptures

On occasion I am asked to produce awards for different clients. You know, trophy figures and the likes. Following are several skate board grand prize original one of a kinds. First off is the Thrashsaurus Wrex, the shreddingest monster to ever terrify it's elders, which went extinct for obvious reasons, but being captured here below at right for the first time in many epochs.

This example (right) at 12"x7"x5" was crafted from bocote, zebrawood, ash, rosewood, maple, bubinga and walnut, and was composed of so many parts that I cannot recall their number.

The sample on the left is a mid-eighties style shredder made from a single block of wood whose name I cannot remember for the life of me. This one came mounted on a half pipe, while the Thrashasaurus came with a sliding handrail.

I have photos of the presentations. One shows a pride of ownership while the second photo showed a subject seemingly confused by the award.

Speaking of awards, a client commissioned me to sculpt a light-hearted illustration of hang gliding to present to one of the great pioneers of the sport, a shy guy who will go unamed at this time. While this was going on, I dabbled into the sport a bit myself and got a feeling for what kind of stuff goes on in a pilot's head. Here it is, presented in bubinga, bocote and muslim cotton.

It was about 10 inches wide and about 8 inches tall. About the size of the illustration on a 25 inch tv monitor.

Boats

Then there were the boats. I nearly drove everyone mad during my sailboat craze. Fortunately we met boat people who always need crew and I am okay without ever having had to buy one. However I did amass a collection of one-of-a-kind models from scratch distributed as gifts of course.

They say every wooden boat modeller should begin with the schooner U.S.S. Bluenose, a coast guard cutter and Americas first commissioned military ship. Here is my rendition, simplified. It is composed of birch, rosewood and walnut with ironwood blocks for the rigging and measures about 12 inches by 12 inches by 4 inches wide.

The example at the right is, as you can see is a friendship sloop. It has no romantic connotations and is simply a sloop that was constructed during a short time period in the port of Friendship, Maine. They were common on the east coastal waters and plied many different trades and functions, as well many were outfitted as yachts.

This 10 by 10 inch one has an ash hull, rosewood fittings and roof. Birch stovepipe and bulkheads and ironwood blocks as before. I added brass rings and a cotton sail set.

Other boats in the set were a rendition of the first America's Cup winner and the craft the award was named after, and the 3-masted H.M.S Endeavor, which was destroyed by one of my cats, quite by accident.

Stuff that didn't fall into any other catagory

This is my woodworking archive of photos. I figured if anybody was going to have a book completely made of wood it should be me. The three ring style binder is made of birch and bocote for the covers, and bocote alone for the medallion and hinges. The hinges are three jointed and dovetailed for toughness. And the rings slip out of their guides so additional pages may be added. 25 years and miles of travel, yet no sign of aging.

I wasn't certain wheather to put this piece on this page, the toy page or start a torture device page. One Christmas I must have made 25 of these and the skin was flying all season! All were and most still are greatly enjoyed during those times when total destruction on a wide scale is the only course of action. Oh man, where'd I put mine?

 

Aww now, nothing quite says the great outdoors like shooting stuff.

These tiny replicas are of a Remington pump shotgun of who's gauge I have long forgotten.

The example underneath was my best shot at a Winchester 1873 .30 caliber repeating rifle. Both simulations are made of bocote and rosewood and the rack is made of walnut as it should be.

The pump on the shotgun as well as it's trigger can be manipulated. On the Winchester, only the trigger and hammer articulate any realism outside of appearance.

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