Introduction: Cat & Mouse - Automaton

An automaton is a machine or control mechanism designed to automatically follow a predetermined sequence of operations.
In this one, the sequence works around a lazy cat trying to catch a mouse which just keeps on running while dodging cat's paw. It is an example of a simple machine which can also aid students in learning how gears work and how different shape and size can effect the output movement.

Step 1: Material & Tools Used


  • 5 mm Plywood 2'x2'
  • 8mm Tie Rod 12"
  • M8 Nuts
  • Super Glue
  • Sandpaper - 220 Grit
  • Wood Dowel


  • Laser Cutter
  • Dremel with Metal Cutter Attachment

Step 2: Laser Cutting Parts

Picture of Laser Cutting Parts

The vector file of the pattern that I have used is uploaded here in Adobe Illustrator ( .ai ) format.

The plyboard sheet is cut using laser cutter. Now if you have never used a laser cutter before let me tell you its the most amazing tool for the makers and very easy to use too.

You can sign up for Instructables Laser Cutting Class. Its very well designed with lots of information and projects.

I placed the ply-board on the platform, exported the file to the laser cutter with appropriate settings. It took about 15 minutes to process all parts in laser cutter.

Step 3: Assembling Cut Outs

Picture of Assembling Cut Outs

After cutting all the parts I first assembled the box containing them using super glue.

  • I first assembled the box leaving one side to fix rotating mechanism afterwards. It was joined using super glue.
  • Once the box was done I super-glued the stationary part of the cat.

Note - Gear tooth are required to be smooth before they can be used to drive the mechanism or else the movement will be jerky. I used 320 grit sandpaper and sanded the gear tooth.

  • There are two shafts working here, one rotating horizontally which is responsible for the motion of cat's tail and pow, other is rotating vertically which is fixed with round disk on which mouse is glued.
  • I didn't have dowels so I have used pencil instead which is moving up and down according to the shape of the gear placed underneath which in turn is moving tail and pow.
  • Horizontal shaft in the end was fixed with a handle to rotate it which I sized with dremel .

You can watch the video here to see the mechanism in action which will make it clear to understand.

Step 4: Mouse

After fixing everything last thing left to make was the mouse. I made it using two part epoxy compound - M-Seal - which can be shaped, drilled, filed, sanded, and painted upon.
I mixed two parts in equal amount and shaped it into a mouse manually and left it to cure for 20 minutes. then super-glued it on to the round disk. It is placed such that the mouse dodges the pow and passes underneath it every-time.

I hope you like this project. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel- Canvas of Dreams if you like my projects.
I will come back soon with another project of mine :) Happy making :)


mrwonton (author)2017-10-02

it has a steampunk feel!

yes :)

_-Kai-_ made it! (author)2017-10-09

Hey, thank you very much for uploading this piece of art. I changed the design a bit and used 3 mm thick MDF boards. The gears are still not smooth enough but the build itself was great fun.

Is there some way that I can share my design too (my first little project here)?

Canvas of Dreams (author)_-Kai-_2017-10-30

This is so awesome :)
Yup wood or MDF gears are not smooth. I will replace the gears with acrylic soon.

You can write an instructable for your project a well :)

nemalim (author)2017-09-28

this is so beautiful!

Canvas of Dreams (author)nemalim2017-09-30

Thanks for appreciating :) Your Octopus Scarf is my favorite. Its pretty awesome :)

nemalim (author)Canvas of Dreams2017-10-02


bishops1101 (author)2017-10-02

too good man!!!

laith mohamed (author)2017-09-28

Nice idea

Thanks man :) You are awesome :)

Todd Davis (author)2017-09-28

I'll be doing this one with my scroll saw. I like the relaxation of just sitting there and cutting thing out.

Cruiserman92 (author)Todd Davis2017-09-28

in that case go here for the original free design there are many more interesting designs available on his site also.

Jasmine Productions (author)2017-09-26

That is soo abdorbs I love it1

Glad you liked it :)

inconceivable1 (author)2017-09-20

thats really cool!

Thanks :) You are awesome !!

Swansong (author)2017-09-20

That's adorable!

Thanks for appreciatng :)

beul (author)2017-09-21

Good job, i like this, thanks for shared

Canvas of Dreams (author)beul2017-09-21

Thank you :)

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Utkarsh and I am an electrical and electronics engineer by training, a maker by passion. When I am not pouring over circuit ... More »
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