Introduction: Happy Gear Table

About: I am an author and a maker. My current project is Santa's Shop. I'm working on a science fiction type book--more later. @EngineerRigsby

While on vacation, my wife and I saw a large "moving gear executive
desk" that was a marvelous creation, but it cost around $35,000.

To create my own smaller plastic version, all I had to do was learn how to design gears, bearing supports, leg brackets--create files for laser cutting--3d print for 150 hours--and change my concept a few times.

Step 1:

The gears started out rather plain--looking like . . . gears.

As the process unfolded and I had a few gears to play with, I found that
spinning the gears by hand was somehow satisfying, so I abandoned the idea of motorizing the table and pursued the idea of interactivity.

Here's the bearings and the suction cups:

Suction cup replacements
for table top

42 bearings Bearings 6mm x 19mm x 6mm

My wife, Annelle, designed the happy faces for the gears and the shape for the acrylic top. Our daughter, Tia, and a friend, Brian Watt, assisted in creation of the vector file needed for cutting the acrylic and plywood.

Step 2:

The large gears each take about 5 hours to print--then the supports have
to be removed. The bearing holders take another 2 hours. Take 21 gears at 5-7 hours each and the investment in printing time is notable.

The acrylic and plywood were laser cut at Just for
information, the cost to laser cut appears to be: $10.00 setup per file; $0.15 per linear inch (1/4 inch depth); material cost; shipping

For the acrylic, this is the way to go. For plywood, maybe you can do an adequate job with a sabre saw, but I would use the acrylic as my template. For legs, I used 17 inch long, 1 1/2 inch diameter round wood rods. I attached them to the plywood using printed brackets.

Step 3:

The gears were designed using Autodesk Fusion (look at add-ins, spur
gear). The gears were WAY too big for my printer, so I imported them into TinkerCad (at 20% size), then made the gears 10mm thick. I added the bearing hub in Tinkercad also.

I set the table up using the little men for supports--just to be sure that there would be no gear conflicts regardless of arm positions on the little men.

Step 4:

The table looked like this before painting, then I added the cylindrical supports.

Step 5:

The legs mount using 3/4 inch screws.

Step 6:

Every gear has a bearing support lower, upper and a printed nut to secure them together. The bearing supports have two screw holes and wood screws secure the gear to the table. Each gear must be placed and checked for ease of motion before securing the screws.

Step 7:

The wood and acrylic (laser cut at arrived well packed and covered on both sides with sticky paper (easy to remove).

Enjoy the table!

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