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Unbelievably-shaped Wooden Gears That Really Work
October 27, 2010 6:00 AM   Subscribe

These Gears Really Work? Strangely soothing video of wooden, non-circular gears lovingly crafted by Clayton Boyer (YouTube Channel), talented designer of Wooden Clocks (YouTube Video, Flickr Photo Set). Via jwz and BoingBoing.

If you have access to a laser cutter, Thingiverse has free, public domain AutoCAD DXF files of Oval Gears and Square Gears by Billy "Billion" O'Neil
posted by stringbean (26 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
The gears are cool -- the clocks are absolutely amazing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:07 AM on October 27, 2010


awe. some. i especially like the the sound of the chickens in the background.

note: if those aren't chickens making the noise in the background, please don't correct me. it's the sound of chickens in my mind.
posted by msconduct at 6:09 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the same guy, How to make Organically Shaped Gears
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:14 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I came in here to mention drill bits that produce square holes.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 6:43 AM on October 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


His gears are well trained.
posted by Tube at 6:56 AM on October 27, 2010


I came in here to mention drill bits that produce square holes
Except, that it doesn't. The corners are rounded over; this is a problem with the Watts rotor design.
True square holes like you are after require a mortising bit.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:15 AM on October 27, 2010


This is what Amish Vulcans must do in their spare time.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:18 AM on October 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


amazing. I really want to follow a tutorial and make some of these.
posted by milestogo at 7:21 AM on October 27, 2010


I love kinetic sculpture in all its variations. See also: Papercraft Geared Cube, Geared Heart.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 7:21 AM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you liked this, you'll love this indescribably awesome nutty device.
posted by usonian at 7:24 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


usonian, that thing is amazing. I thought we didn't have craftsmanship like that in American anymore. *single tear

I can't imagine any better toy to give a 4-year-old nephew/niece. The horrible industrial squeaking noise can bother his mom and dad, and not awesome Uncle Saturday_morning. And then I get to play with it sometimes.
posted by saturday_morning at 7:40 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


To see a bunch of odd geartrains and mechanical linkages, go to the Boston Museum of Science! and find the Clark Collection.
Video sample
.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:41 AM on October 27, 2010


Retirement is heaven: the luxury of spending 5.13 minutes watching the twirling of little strange shapes with teeth is la dolce vita. If you are ever in Florence, visit the Galileo Science museum, full of antique instruments all hand constructed from wood, glass or metal.
posted by francesca too at 7:41 AM on October 27, 2010


Just got a reprint of the 1901 book 507 Mechanical Movements that someone in Mefi world mentioned at one time or another. Now I can finally see how some of these weird gears actually work. The nutty devices link shows a large number of the 507 movements.
posted by eye of newt at 7:51 AM on October 27, 2010


I would've thought Rhino and a laser cutter, but that's pretty impressive that he lays them out and cuts by hand.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:00 AM on October 27, 2010


This guy is a frickin' genius. I have wanted to order one of his clock designs and make it for a couple of years now, but I haven't had the time, and they are a bit daunting for my skill level.
posted by rikschell at 8:48 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


The orrery that rikschell linked to is jaw-dropping... Will somebody please give Mr. Boyer a grant to build a 3D one?
posted by usonian at 9:17 AM on October 27, 2010


What beautifully machined gears! Needs a soundtrack by CNC Music Factory.
posted by Eideteker at 9:41 AM on October 27, 2010


Love the gears, but really love the fact that these are all hand cut, no laser cutter.
posted by Marky at 10:14 AM on October 27, 2010


Why is it that the truly bizarrely shaped gears seem perfectly understandable, but I can't quite wrap my head around the square ones?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:16 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Henry Brown book is out of copyright and available on Google Books.
posted by MisterMo at 10:24 AM on October 27, 2010


Why is it that the truly bizarrely shaped gears seem perfectly understandable, but I can't quite wrap my head around the square ones?

These gears don't seem all that strange to me. Here, I think, is why.

Gears themselves are kind of strangely shaped; that's how they work. The jutting edges of each one interlock with those of the adjacent gears, and that's what causes them to mesh and turn each other. The non-circular ones simply rely on more profound levels of interlocking.

I think circles became the default shape for gears as convention in industry, convention that became so ubiquitous that people now take it as mandatory, convention established because of practicality more than anything else. Notice the square gears had to be put in a certain way, so the corners lock with the edges of the adjacent gears. Circular gears you can put put them in however, so they're easier both to maintain (no special orientation needed) and to use in design.

Another reason to use circles: As the non-circular gears turn in the video, you might notice them seize up a little as they turn. That's because the torque needed to turn them is not constant, because they press against each other in places. It might be possible to make smoothly-turning non-circular gears, but it's harder than just making them circular.
posted by JHarris at 11:02 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


As the non-circular gears turn in the video, you might notice them seize up a little as they turn. That's because the torque needed to turn them is not constant, because they press against each other in places. It might be possible to make smoothly-turning non-circular gears, but it's harder than just making them circular.

That's it! That was what was bugging me. The guy does a fairly good job at compensating for that, which is what threw me.

The later Cthulhu gears are essentially ratchets as envisioned by the Old Ones, but the square ones are the truly odd beasts.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:28 AM on October 27, 2010


Not only does the torque change, but the speed of the driven gear changes. I'd love to see a plot of the final shaft speed for some of the complicated ones.
posted by 445supermag at 12:24 PM on October 27, 2010


rikschell: "This guy is a frickin' genius. I have wanted to order one of his clock designs and make it for a couple of years now, but I haven't had the time, and they are a bit daunting for my skill level."

That is amazing. It looks like it requires you to manually advance it every day though? Wonder why he didn't attach it to a simple clock that would advance it every day at a specific time.
posted by that's candlepin at 12:26 PM on October 27, 2010


This is my favorite type of gear.
posted by zephyr_words at 1:43 PM on October 27, 2010


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