Thursday, 1 June 2017

A Chair for an Automaton!

Hello good fellows. I'm sorry It's been such a long while since my last post. I've had busy few months and am excited to share what I've been up to!

In the middle of the sword build, I was commissioned to make a chair for an automaton. The House of Automata are based in Edinburgh and they buy, sell, repair and supply the film (and lots of other industries) with automata. I was asked to repair a chair that belongs to a 100yr old gymnast automaton, much like the one you see in this video:

It was a fun project that required lots of precise and detailed work. 
 I started by visiting the House of Automata and saw the gymnast working, I was also given a tour of their huge automaton collection which was so incredible! The intricate mechanics behind an automaton's movements is something I find completely fascinating - an incredible feat of engineering and design. 
Once I had the specifications and measurements for the chair I began the build.

The chair had to be very lightweight as the automaton picks it up so I decided to use balsa wood as the construction material. I'd never really used the material before and I found it a joy to work with. Very easy to cut and shape and relatively strong considering how light it is.

 I didn't have any strips of balsa wood, only sheets. I was expecting it to be rather tricky to cut the long legs from the sheets, however the material is so forgiving and easy to cut through I had no problems at all.

Here you can see the back of the chair all cut and ready for gluing.

 The spindles needed to sit in the middle of the leg so I drew some marks onto the wood to help ensure I got them directly in the centre during the gluing process.

Here you can see I used styrene pieces to keep the spindles in the correct position while gluing. 

I made four of these 90° braces to ensure that the chair would be kept straight while gluing.

I gave the chair a quick coat of white paint (Someone at the House of Automata was going to spend some time directly color matching it with the other chair). I used wood glue to stick the chair together and I found this worked very well. I know you can buy glue specifically for balsa wood, but have never tried it myself. I do know that it's pretty expensive so was wondering if anyone knows weather it's worth the extra money?

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