Wooden machine belongs in Willy Wonka’s factory

Behold the wooden machine (translated) that is used for… well it does… it was built because… Okay, this is a case where asking what it does or why it was built is the wrong question. [Erich Schatt] began building the piece that he calls “Wheels” back in 1995. It took just seven years to complete, and is made entirely of wood. The video after the break shows a multitude of moving parts.

The chains were modeled after bicycle chains, which are used to transfer motion from the “rider” throughout the machine. The gearing for each segment was meticulously calculated, then perfected through trial and error. The complexity even calls for a differential and universal joints. It’s mesmerizing to watch and for that reason it’s made appearances at conventions and been featured in art exhibitions.

It’s also worth mentioning that this comes from a very humble-looking shop. [Erich] posted some pictures of his studio and aside from the abundance of bar clamps, it’s just your average garage or basement setup.

[Thanks Michu]


  1. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101 says:

    Wow…and I was proud of the workbench I built…this is phenomenal.

  2. Hackerspacer says:

    “The gearing for each segment was meticulously calculated, then perfected through trial and error.”

    Then it wasn’t calculated properly :)

  3. kevin says:


    I imagine the need for trial and error came not from the calculation, but the implementation. The numbers can be perfect, but translating those numbers into perfectly cut wood without using a CNC machine would be pretty difficult to get right on the first try.

  4. Colecago says:

    If he had wheels on that thing to drive around it would be so epic. Pretty damn awesome as it is.

  5. The DON says:

    The oddest bit I see in this is the off center round cogs…
    They mesh together nicely, except for the spindle of the upper (slave) cog rises and falls.
    I couldn’t see why, but then again, this purpose of this piece appears to be ‘because I can’.
    Nice engineering
    I think the creator must love old techni-lego

  6. jmicz3d says:

    What’s the gear ratio?

  7. dmcbeing says:

    Thats one hell of a stationary training bicycle you got there.Amazing work!

  8. Skitchin says:

    @First comment: Hi dave!

    This thing is freakin weird, to say the least. Watching it in action adds to the weird scale – I wonder if humidity throws the machine out of wack?

    Was reminded of


    and this http://hackaday.com/2010/11/12/building-a-wooden-vespa/

  9. Delmar says:

    Well that’s the wildest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Great job, plain and simple great job.

  10. blakepro says:

    Kind of reminds me of this awesome video http://youtu.be/WYcqJ5HdxA4

  11. Chambers says:

    WOW! Now thats a incredible wood machine! That makes me wish my shop was up to average.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. Miller says:

    Dr. Suess would be proud of that thing.

  13. andrew says:

    It’s a little like “the machine” from the princess bride.

  14. CB4 says:

    Awesome machine :)

    Inspiring :)

  15. Ren says:

    I would like to see the other sides. And more detail such as the differential. But awesome it is.

  16. Tom the Brat says:

    I’m impressed! Way cool.

    To ask “why” is simply inappropriate.

  17. XiuiX says:

    I hope they put these in my local gym. Outside of a great workout what does this do?

  18. MikeK says:

    He need to put it on wheels and drive it around like a Dr. Seuss vehicle.

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