New York Construction Worker





Introduction: New York Construction Worker

About: I have been making a full time living from automata for the past 25 years. Before that I spent 10 years as a motorcycle despatch rider. I prefer making automata, it's warmer.

Last year I was asked to make an automata for a cruise liner on the theme of 'New York'. It had to be hand operated and funny. I remembered an old black and white photo I had once seen of construction workers taking their lunch break whilst sitting on a steel girder hundreds of feet above New York. I decided to use this image as my starting point. 

Step 1:

I decided to use two movments. The worker would lift his sandwich to his mouth, his mouth would open, his arm would drop down again and he would appear to chew. This would be achieved by connecting the arm and mouth to two levers in the base, via thin string. The two levers would be operated by cams, round, slowly rotating discs of plywood on which imformation can be stored. The arm linkage was rather complicated but gave a good movment.

Step 2:

The girders are made from wood which is then sprayed with red oxide primer.

Step 3:

The base of thhe automata is basicly an open box with two supports for the cam shaft (srainless Steel)

Step 4:

The control strings are guided behind the girders using pully wheels. I could have used metal hoops but this would have cause too much friction

Step 5:

The finished automata.It has been painted with a primer and four coats of acrylic.



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    I've seen some of your stuff on Pinterest and its amazing. Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing this.

    omigosh .... TOO adorable!! ( :^D

    LOVE this! My husbands grandfather was in the photo Lunch Atop a Sky Scraper (3rd from the left) - this is so amazing!

    Really like the model ,would it be possible to buy plans from

    Can you please give a few measurements to give us a sense of scale? Or maybe a photo with your hand or dollar bill.

    Fantastic, really enjoyed it!

    Concept to execution to ible, strong work.


    your work is so much much beauty, i realy felt in love with it.
    i'd become a fan of your work.

    thx for giving the world these art, it shows all, that the brain could be used for some other thing than war, corruption and hate.


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    Nice work! He looks like a Spooner...
    Here's one of mine.

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    It is so rare to find somebody with your talent willing to make this project available to the public. I love designing as well as making automata. I have never used a design from someone else but your project just looks like something I would like to experiment with. I have in the past tried to restrict my projects to woodworking only but your use of wires just seems to open up a whole new section of automata for me. What are the approximate outside dimensions of this project and did you do your own painting? Thanks again for sharing your skills.

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    The automata was about 16" high and yes, I did all of the painting. I got my degree in illustration so automata was a sideways leap. Thanks for your comment.

    Absolutely brilliant: I love it but cannot make it because I have no woodworking skills or tools. Well done .

    Hey thanks for making an instructable of an "easy" one :)

    I really like this one as well but reading through your ible I can't really say I could make my own :(

    Perhaps you could insert some drawings and measurements of the wheels you made for this and how they were build or something?

    Perhaps you could make an automoton (is that how you call this?) 101 guide explaining the basic principals and workings that would be hugely appreciated :)


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    Hi Michel I plan to do a very easy up and down movment soon. I dont like to be too exact as it discorages experement so I will concentrate on the principal rather than giving a plan to follow. I had a big amount of feed back from Indistructables for which I am very geatful and see it as a perfect way of getting my work to the public
    All thje best

    Hey Keith,Thanks that would be good :) I'm all for experiment but for my first try I generally like to make something somebody else already made and when that's finished I usually start making my own variations but never the less I'm looking forward to your next ible :)

    And yes instructables is a great place to get feedback, getting your work to the public or questions you want to ask other handy people. It's one of the main reasons I love this site so much, there's so much to find in one place :D


    I'd be glad to give a little plug to one of the most brilliant automata artists of all time. There's an embedded YouTube video of the piece at -- great stuff.

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    Cool! Great to read tips from you on building automata here! Why did you make hinges in his knees? Are they connected to a mechanism too?

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    Hi. I thought that the legs might swing in heavy seas.