25 January 2020: The Scroll Saw

One of the important tools in my studio is my scroll saw.  It’s a Ridgid brand.  I bought it used for $50.00.  Immediately after it arrived in my studio I took it apart…inspected it…lubed it…put it back together…and have used it happily for the past four years or so.  It’s a very nice tool.

I had more difficulty with blades.  First is the issue of blades with pins in each end, or pinless.  Next is the issue of how many and what kind of teeth.  And lastly is the ‘which brand?’ question.  I’ve settled on Olson, 18.5 tpi, pin end (p/n 42401).  I’ve tried about 4 brands.  To me Olson is clearly the best.  18.5 tpi works well for the materials that I cut which are usually between 1/64 and 3/8″ thick.  And pin end because they are much easier for me to install.  My old eyes struggle installing the plain end blades.  I try to keep 10+ blades in my studio at all times.  It is not a good day when a scroll saw blade breaks and there is not a replacement at hand.

In the image you see the two new version 2 side frames being installed into the Drive Frame.  Hopefully I’ve thought this through enough that there won’t need to be a version 3.  Side frames are critical components that require a lot of time to fabricate.

I use french curves to help me with the layout of these frames.  I prefer gently curved lines to straight lines.


Side frames, Version 2, are being fitted into the Electric Chair drive frame.



17 January 2020, 4 Motions are Linked

First let me report that my brother came through open heart surgery with flying colors…what an era we live in!

There are six cams in the campak.  Of those six four have been connected to their components…and all is well.

Remaining to connect are the two motions that will utilize the ‘pulse’.  I think I know how I’m going to do it…now I just need to build what is in my mind.

It’s at this stage of the project that things are coming together and that more ideas start flowing into the mind.  Some of these new ideas are valid and I will take action.  Others are just part of the creation process noise.

I’ve been reading a blog about a 47 foot trawler that is exploring the southern tip of South America.  The story is very interesting.  I doubt that Cheryl and I will ever get that far down…but it’s pleasant thinking about it.

Part of the process of creating automata is having what you need at hand.  I’ve spent thousands of dollars and about three years building adequate stock.  It’s paying off.  I am able to create much faster than I used to be able to.  Not that speed is the goal…it’s not.  What I mean is that there is less stopping to wait for something.  I’ve got a spread sheet that I utilize for keeping track of inventory and parts orders.  The spreadsheet helps a lot.

Sorry that the image does not have more detail.  The detail is hard to photograph in a manner that makes sense.  What you should notice is that the Drive Frame (the lower part) is filling up.


Four of the six motions are now linked to the campak.

9 January 2020, The Cams are going in…

Happy New Year everyone.  Time sure goes fast as I get older.  Time seems to be flying.

My brother is going to have open heart surgery next Monday.  Imagine that.  They are going to open his heart and repair it.  What an age we live in!  And then there are some of us who create these little cranky machines that we hope might make someone smile.  There is lots of breadth and depth to life.

Regarding the Electric Chair #1, I’ve made two decisions that I’m very pleased with:

  1. I wanted the top (the automata proper) to be removable from the bottom (the Drive Frame).
  2. I wanted to be able to easily remove and replace the CamPak.

In hindsight…I’m glad that I made these two decisions.  The build is going well.  I’m in the finicky stage of the build…the part where I actually make the things that move…move.  This is the time to ‘take your time’, to go slow and lovingly, to care about every little detail.  Proper motion is so important.  Improper motion seems to sort of wreck things.

Our President continues to stress me out.  I feel guilty because I am trying to just “shut it all out”.  I know that’s wrong to do.  But it eats me up inside if I think much about it.

The Cams are being installed into Electric Chair #1