The Scissor Lift automata series

The first of the ‘Jim’s Gym’ series of automata, this active little automata is a pleasure to operate and to watch.  As the crank is turned the biped raises and lowers handles which, thru a scissor-like mechanism, in turn, raise marbles to the top of the automata.  Powered by gravity the marbles then descend back to the bottom where they arrange themselves and prepare for another trip.


This automata is constructed primarily from wood (basswood, baltic birch plywood, redwood, myrtlewood, and oak).  It also includes stainless steel shafting, many ball bearings, and quiet poly tubing. Finish is either natural, spray enamel, or acrylic paint. This automata does have a marble ‘drop’ counter, and does not include an electric motor.


Jim’s comments: This is a good automata, however with shortcomings.  For example, I have found that 1” marbles are not all created equally.  After designing and creating much of this automata beautiful marbles were sourced.  When they arrived I found that some of them wouldn’t fit.  And other marbles were not ‘round’, rather they were oblong…so they did not roll well.  I’m also not satisfied with the biped.  This is a complex automata that works pretty well, but it could be better.  Future Scissor Lifts will be better than this one.

Scissor Lift #1, completed July 2018.


Dimensions (approx)

Height: 18″
Width: 25″
Depth: 9″
Weight: ~8 lbs.


Allow me 3 months to create.

#2, hand-cranked is available now.

#3 (which will be motorized) is the next available for commission in this series.


Scissor Lift #2: $1,500
Scissor Lift #3: $4,000
Commission Info



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Scissor Lift #1 Project Sheet

As I create automata I attempt to update the Project Sheet weekly with narrative and images.  These project sheets are available on my website.  The project sheets give viewers a sense of what I’m working on and how I work.


 Scissor Lift #1  Construction Journal

After an automata has been initially assembled and is functioning it is then disassembled and painted.  This Construction Journal document is important to me.  It helps me to re-assemble, and it helps me remember ‘how I did it’ for future builds.  The Construction Journal documents with photographs a teardown and then the painted reassembly.  These documents are sometimes 50+ pages long.  The link above will take you to the Construction Journal, which you may download if you wish.


YouTube Video 

Scissor Lift #1 before being painted.