Featuring the Woodworking of Jim Voss



Mechanical Marvels 1 & 2

By Jim

I bought a book a while back called Making Mechanical Marvels in Wood and I finally got around to actually building some of them. I’ve made the first two – the cam & follower and the eccentric drive.  They’re quick to make, you can use scraps and people love to play with them.  I also finally got to start using the fifteen pound box of hardwood scraps I got from Eisenbran’s.

The bases are red oak.  The cam is purpleheart.  The follower is ebony (I think).  The pillow block is maple burl (again, I think).  On the eccentric drive, the disc is kingwood.  The ring is lacewood.  The piston and crank handle are chakte-kok.  The rotating pillow block at the top is, um, uh, I don’t know.

These projects call for a lot of dowels – some as small as 1/8″.  So, I remembered hearing about how to make your own dowels on the cheap.  I took a piece of scratch stock (sheet metal) and drilled a hole for each size dowel I wanted to make.  Leave the burr on the exit side, as this will be used to cut the dowel.  Cut a strip of wood square slightly larger than the diameter of the dowel.  Chuck up the square in your hand drill and push the stick through the hole while rotating it with the drill.  You can hold some sandpaper on the dowel while spinning it in the drill to make it a bit smoother.  I did turn some of the larger diameter pieces on my lathe, but the smaller ones were quick to make with the method described above.

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