Picture of Do-nothing Machine
Do you like to do nothing?

Introducing the Do-nothing Machine. As the name suggest it does absolutely positively nothing useful. Sure it may entertain some people for a few minutes, last about an hour on me, but it still does nothing.

This is a fairly easy machine to build. Takes a few hours to cut out the pieces and a few more to glue together and let dry. I have chosen a simple layered design so that those without a router or other means of cutting a T slot could easily complete this project.

I used Pro/Engineer 4.0, a CAD program, to draw up my design and to determine the dimensions. The drawings are provided as a .PDF at this step for download. They will also be provided as pictures in the next step.

Step 1: Cut Everything Out.

  • 1/4 inch plywood. I found some cabinet grade scraps in my shop. Any type will do it just depends on how well you wish the finish to look.
  • 4X 1/8 inch washers
  • 2X 1/8 inch by 3/4 inch long pop rivets
  • 1/2 inch by 1/8 inch steel, brass or other strong material to make a lever.

Cut out all the required pieces any way you find easy. I used a miter saw so that I could keep them a square as possible. You could use any assortment of tools such as a miter saw, table saw, jig saw, hand saw, mill (if you really like things square) and any other type of saw. How they are cut out is not as important as the parts and dimensions themselves. The important thing is that you keep as close the the dimensions as possible, especially the slider parts and lever. See step four before you cut out the slider pieces. Also refer to this step and step six before cutting the lever.

The pictures provided are exactly the same as those in the .PDF

If you find any of the drawings unclear please point that out to me so that I may correct them.
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snowclover27 days ago

cool machine! now at least i have something to accompany me to do nothing.

mrmerino3 years ago
I do a lot of nothing already... It's great that now I have a machine to help me with doing nothing!
domshmom3 years ago
Just has a quick look through the comments, but a few people have got it right - its for drawing elipses as it turns rotary motion into an elliptical path - if you ever see an old mirror or window thats elliptical, chances are it was cut using one of these
dsman1952766 years ago
thanks for the idea, i just made a knex version with a motor ;-)
LeumasYrrep (author)  dsman1952766 years ago
Ooo... Very nice. I want to hear it sing!
well, if you want to try to hear knex rub each other over the motor then i could post a video...(and i put more powerful motor on it to make it go faster ;-)
I made a version out of Legos that has a 5:1 gear ratio so if you turn the handle 2x per second, you can get 600 RPMs!
I rememer making on of these machines out of Lego's form this one little book. It really is entertaining!
Same here I believe it had 4 pieces that moved instead of the 2 here.
yeah i remember that lego book
It was the Klutz book of lego... i loved that book.....
i have that book
Did it have like a lego candy machine? Thats one of the book's projects.
yeah it had the m&m dispensor
dodo91 Dev59946 years ago
how did ALL of you have that. me myself LOVE to build with legos. i invented a lego gun. what year did the lego book you guys are talking about come out?
I got mine at a target, like 2 years ago.
It's called Lego Crazy Action Contraptions. It's by Klutz and it comes with all the necessary pieces. There are actually two versions of it. The older one is better though.
http://www.amazon.com/Lego-Crazy-Action-Contraptions-Inventions/dp/1570541574 (older)

http://www.klutz.com/book/Lego-Crazy-Action-Contraptions (newer)
i see a fellow gimper :)
What, you mean my avatar? I made in Photoshop =]
oh lol im to broke to use photoshop
hintss 1424004 years ago
GIMPer! (you do know its an acronym, right?)
YES!!! Lego Crazy Action Contraptions by Klutz!!

>Huge grin here<

[Insert chuckle of laughter here.]
FrozenIce3 years ago
u do realize that this does nthn, right? haha 5 stars love it :)
Kysmach4 years ago
Well done ! Good Instructable :D
zack2474 years ago
these things are quite interesting, when i was younger i had always wondered how they worked, but isnt it surprising that it can be so fun to do nothing?
NastySpill4 years ago
I made one too out of wood.. Its excellent to play with!

I call mine the "Fascination Grinder" I also added some walking gears to the pivots.. because its not interesting enough already.. :P


Without reading your instructable at all I will give the following tip.. If you lightly sand the pieces in the direction of the travel of the shuttles. Then you shouldnt need lube. Also after about an hour of use mine is now much easier to turn. Just needs to bed in a little I guess.

Wally_Z4 years ago
I suggest adding some sort of lubricant. It will slide easier. Some kind of grease or something.
durgledoggy4 years ago
Apparently it is called a "Trammel of Archimedes".

Wikipedia confirms that, and they are never wrong.
sometimes wikipedia is wrong
Did I forget to sign my post with /s?
Trurl4 years ago
This is not a do nothing machine. It is a mechanical computer. You could use it to determine orbits, vectors, curves, and ellipses.

Click Here
J-Five4 years ago
I made one something like this in shop a few years ago, except it was square block of wood with two perpendicular  grooves in it and two slightly smaller corresponding parts attached to a handle.
Aerospaced4 years ago
I had one of these from many years ago. It was from the Redding Railroad Museum in California. It actually has a purpose. It was a demonstration of converting linear motion to elliptical. Break out your old model train set and have a look.
akkudakku5 years ago
 It can draw elipses :D so its not a do nothing machine ^^
Aliasmk6 years ago
Lego made a set similar to this I think.
see-saw6 years ago
One of my customers had one of these and showed it to me asking if I could if I could figure out what it was for. After playing with it for a few minutes he showed me the label on the bottom - it said "Bullshit Grinder"
that is seriously coooooooooooooool........
Oblivitus6 years ago
I have one of these, they are an antique toy.
jomaro6 years ago
Absolutely marvelous machine! I have to make one for myself and know already that I will spent countless time playing with it.
I googled for do-nothing-machine and found this link on wikipedia.
I just love the name "bullshit grinder"....
Thanks for posting!
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