How do they move?

 Hamsters! Not really. Each of my kinetic sculptures is a wooden machine powered by a constant force spring which must be wound. While visually interesting sculptures when still, they become truly fascinating when in motion. After a simple winding they entertain with motion and soft sounds for varying lengths of time. Increasing run times has always been a goal. Some will run for 1 1/2 hours while others keep moving for up to 15 hours! That is quite an increase over my original designs which stopped after 20 minutes.

Click here for more information on my use of constant force springs.

My earliest work was powered by descending weights. I have also designed several electric pieces.

What type of wood do I use?

Solid birch plywood is the main material in the sculptures. It is a solid hardwood plywood with the interior plys being of as high a quality of wood as the surface veneers. I use a plywood verses a plain hardwood because of its stability. For the sculptures to keep moving in all environments, the wood must be as stable as possible. This type of plywood is imported from the Baltic region either from Finland or Russia.

What is a Limited Edition?

My designs are made by me in limited editions. That means I only make a predetermined number and no more. I sign each piece and number it. My large editions are of 150. Others have only 36 and some designs are one-of-a-kind. The smaller the edition, the more a sculpture costs because design time is a significant factor in the creation of each piece. I limit the edition to maintain the value for collectors but also to allow for variety. I have many, many design ideas and only so many hours and I need a change.

Are the sculptures hard to install?

View Sample Directions

The sculptures are designed to be unpacked and installed by the owner. (You?) Every sculpture comes with detailed mounting, operating, and care instructions. A mounting template is included with all sculptures in which the orientation is critical. Screws and wall anchors are provided. It is imperative that they be installed in a location that can be reached. Remember, you do have to wind them!

Where do you get the sculpture names?

This is a tough one because Marji and I are not word people. We collect words that might be good sculpture names. Science museums are a good source as well as yacht names. You'll also notice we rely heavily on music vocabulary and dance references. We often live with a sculpture for months before a name sticks. And we have family contests as well. Have any good ideas?

Are your sculptures guaranteed?

Guarantee:• My kinetic sculptures are guaranteed to the original owner for a period of five years. All warranties expire with transfer of ownership from the original owner. Damage of the sculpture from exposure to extremes of high or low humidity, or to adverse hot or cold temperatures, or damage caused by normal wear and tear, accidents, misuse, or modification will not be covered by the warranty. Shipping and insurance to and from Wood That Works is the responsibility of the purchaser. 

• I will charge a reasonable repair fee if the sculpture was damaged by misuse or needs refurbishment from normal wear and tear.

Where did you learn to do this? Are there any books you used?

The best description of how I started designing and building kinetic sculptures is in the History section of this web site. I didn't study in any formal manner to learn to build kinetic sculptures. I have found one book that has some great mechanism drawings.

Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements by Henry T. Brown copyright 1868, 1896

I also recommend beginners check out Dustyn Roberts book Making things Move

Do you sell plans for your sculptures?

I make my living designing and building original pieces in strictly limited editions. I freely provide quite a bit of information about my work and the process I go through creating it on my web site. I encourage others to try their hand at a creative endeavor. 

I never sell plans for my sculpture. It would be a betrayal of my loyal customers, collectors and galleries. I enjoy creating and building, not publishing. Maybe someday, when I can no longer spend my days in the studio, I'll write a book. Hopefully that is many years in the future.

My advice to those who would like to make mechanical kinetic sculptures is to start simple. Try making a simple escapement from the book above or check out the links section of this site for sites that do sell plans.