Monday, March 16, 2009


This little guy is one of my very first attempts at "automata". He was inspired by the blue crabs that we have fun catching when visiting family in Maryland, near the Chesapeake Bay.

Part of the process of building these "toys" often involves prototyping. I wasn't really sure how I'd get the legs to move, so I made this "leg box" to see if a crankshaft approach would work.

As usual, I drew up lots and lots of sketches to see how elaborate this final version would be. To help me figure things out, I did a good bit of research on the web, and checked out books from the library about basic machines, woodworking, toymaking....there are so many talented folks out there doing incredible things!! I repeat...I am NOT an engineer...but part of the fun is in trying to figure it all out. Since then, I've started to collect my own books so I can refer to them often at home.

The mechanism I ended up with was about as simple as I could make it...sort of like piano keys. As you press each lever, a string pulls a pair of legs upward. You can make the crab "dance" by "typing" quickly. One lever makes the claws go up in a "defensive pose"...just like the real ones do, just before they pinch the crud out of my fingers when I try to pick them up!

Til next time...


oub said...

I love this piece. Well done for your first time and including the sketches is a real treat for us folks who aren't even sure how to get started. Thanks for sharing this!

b piper said...

Someone sent me a link to this because I have a movie about a giant crab coming out tomorrow. He thought I'd appreciate it and I certainly do. It's a wonderful piece of work.

paulo.simoes.leiria said...