The first step is to think up the idea and sketch out design possibilities.
I buy beechwood in 8 foot long planks (2+meters), usually about 2 inches thick.
Beech is an excellent wood for automata making as it has strength in all directions and has an even consistency and a fine grain.
It is a hard wood though so I use lime for carving.
I cut the wood to approximate size on a bandsaw
I use a very precise Proton thicknesser to plane the wood to a tolerance of 0.1mm.
Some pieces are delicate and the wood is brittle across the grain so care has to be taken that it doesn’t split at this stage.
The thin parts are sandwiched together and they become much stronger in all directions.
Similarly for gear wheels I make 3 ply with the wood for extra strength.
I press the wood between wooden formers while the glue dries. Plastic film protects the formers from the polyurethane glue.
For smaller parts I make small pieces of ply from the beech.
Here the dog tails are being cut from 2 ply on the fretsaw.
I used to use a home built copy carver to get identical carving blanks. Now I have digitalised them and use a computer controlled router.
The parts are routed on both sides.
Front and back are glued together.
The parts are then carved and sanded.
I use gesso to produce a smooth surface.
The gesso is sanded between coats.
Acrylic paint and lacquer is then applied.
Other parts are finished with wax acrylic varnish, sanding between coats.
The brass parts are made on a Sherline lathe. Brass actuators are milled.
Mechanism parts being prepared
Counterweights for the cam followers. Made in 2 parts and glued together for strength.