"Archimedes Trammel"

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Project by gfadvm posted 02-08-2012 09:39 PM 8402 views 33 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project was a little different for me. A lady asked me to make one of these for her son’s birthday (from a poor picture). Of course I said “no problem”! Then the problems began. These are not as easy as they appear but with a lot of help from my LJ friends I got it done. Pictures 3-4 show the prototypes with different ‘works’. I researched the links my buddies provided and found that this thing actually had a purpose in ancient times (used to create an ellipse). The finished one is hard maple, Brazilian Cherry, Ipe, and black walnut with no metal other than 2 washers under the handle. Thanks for all the help and links. EDIT: I added pics of the FINAL version made using Jonathan’s Sketch Up thingy.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

32 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3809 days

#1 posted 02-08-2012 10:02 PM

congrats andy, i know this was a real challenge , but you did it buddy, i know you got help, but we all need that, im proud that you overcame and got this down, yours is a beautiful toy…wish i was close i would come over and let you teach me how this is done….great job…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Smalltimer's profile


7 posts in 3399 days

#2 posted 02-08-2012 10:02 PM

Very cool!

And I don’t think their application is completely restricted to ancient times. In various woodworking books I have seen several jigs for routing ovals that use the same mechanism.

View beamrider's profile


24 posts in 3496 days

#3 posted 02-08-2012 10:10 PM

Ah yes, the fabled Ozark Bulls**t Grinder….A fine example of a classic timewaster, they’re actually quite relaxing to just sit and play with, and you did this one proud, looks very nice!

View JoeyG's profile


1275 posts in 3131 days

#4 posted 02-08-2012 10:23 PM

I knew you would figure out. I may have to try to figure it out myself and make some for my kids the next time they tell me they are bored. They already hate to twiddle their thumbs. Maybe if they help make some of these the will like to play with them.

I love the walnut maple combo. Looks great

-- JoeyG ~~~

View shipwright's profile


8378 posts in 3303 days

#5 posted 02-08-2012 10:48 PM

Very nice Andy.
There was never any doubt here that you wouldn’t succeed.
After reading the links in your blog I think I’m going to make one to draw my ellipses.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View a1Jim's profile


117721 posts in 4083 days

#6 posted 02-08-2012 11:10 PM

I guess I lucked out ,The first time I made one it worked, that was maybe 20 years ago. BTW they still use them to make ellipsis. Yours still looks a lot pretty than the one I made.

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2811 days

#7 posted 02-09-2012 12:08 AM

Very nice, you need to try it out and make sure it works.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View patron's profile


13653 posts in 3847 days

#8 posted 02-09-2012 12:33 AM

well done andy

i saw your prototype the other day
but my neck hurt so much
i went and laid down
and forgot all about it

this one came out nice
all polished and smooth

well done

here is a jig for the router
that is adjustable for different size elipses or circles
they have a larger base for it too

Now you can easily create perfect circles, ellipses and sweeping arcs! With your router and this handy, easy-to-use jig, you’ll be able to make picture frames, mirrors, signs, tabletops and more in just a matter of minutes. Compare to other ellipse/circle router jigs that cost $100 more.

there are video of its use
(but i don’t know how to show it here)

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3814 days

#9 posted 02-09-2012 12:49 AM

That really is nice Andy…Once you have the process down it looks as if it wouldn’t be too time consuming to make…Maybe you should make some to sell at some shows.

View vonhagen's profile


547 posts in 2870 days

#10 posted 02-09-2012 01:02 AM

nice job andy and yes it will make eliptical cuts with a router, mine is made of mdf and maple guides and i wax the ways for smooth operation. yours is pretty fancy. if you can make that you can make anything.

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3196 days

#11 posted 02-09-2012 01:48 AM

Thanks guys. I didn’t realize this design was used in those router jigs. They are pretty cool. I put the handle on the underside of mine as I think that makes a better toy. Now I need to build something else but I’m out of ideas at the moment. I have some Osage Orange/Hedgeapple I sawed that I’m dying to use. Grizz, Read the post in yesterday’s woodworking skill share for a LOT of good info on building these. The rabbited one may be simpler and works just as well. They really weren’t that hard, I’m just a little slow and have a hard time visualizing stuff like this. Blaine, Thanks, but you have way too much faith in my abilities!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View T. D. Reid's profile

T. D. Reid

275 posts in 2850 days

#12 posted 02-09-2012 02:07 AM

Very nice sir! You have to love a project that makes your head hurt and that turns out like its supposed too when your finished. Cheers

-- Head to the shop its calling you – Todd

View patcollins's profile


1687 posts in 3371 days

#13 posted 02-09-2012 11:47 AM

Wow this brings back memories, I had a professor in college that called this a do nothing machine. He and another one of my professors created an engine out of this concept, its called the Stiller-Smith engine.

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 3591 days

#14 posted 02-09-2012 02:12 PM

Looking at the prices of the Rockler and Woodhaven versions, I may have to make one of my own. Thank
you for sharing the prototypes and final version, as usual you did a great job.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View stefang's profile


16722 posts in 3840 days

#15 posted 02-09-2012 02:51 PM

Great work. I wish we had your first name (unless it’s Sue) so we could address you properly/easily.

I usually get ellipses just by trying to make circles!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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