Induku Wooden Models – Strandbeest

Induku Wooden Models, New Item, Shop Stuff

Ever since I can remember I have been intrigued with mechanical models that have gears. One of my first experiences with gears, that I remember, was of my cousin who had three Lego gears in sequence. I was fascinated by this simple gear chain where all three would turn together when one of them is turned.

Now I am a bit older and I am still fascinated by gears. When I ordered a laser cutter I knew that some mechanical models with levers, pulleys and gears will be made on it. And now the first model for a new line of items (Induku Wooden Models) has been completed and made into a kit format: The Strandbeest – a mechanical beast that has a very cool walking motion.

A video with some instructions to make assembly easier is available HERE:

My interpretation of the Strandbeest:

The Strandbeest was developed by the Dutch artist, Theo Jansen using a evolutionary algorithm. While working as a scientist I wrote a few evolutionary algorithms and it is an extremely interesting and powerful method to solve very complex problems – I personally think it is underutilized (read more about genetic algorithms here). For the Strandbeest Theo Jansen used an “optimal walking motion” as the goal. Many different legs were evaluated and the best were used to make new variations until the leg that best fitted the motion was “found” (read more about it here). This is the essence of the Strandbeest motion and I used the leg parameter (scaled down) to develop a wooden interpretation.


Wooden Strandbeest Model.

Making a whole kit from a few leg parameters is a bit of work. The first thing I did was to test if I could make a leg that would actually work. This was reasonably easy and quickly afterwards the first model was born.


First step – needed a leg for it.


First version.

This first Strandbeest model was too small to have large enough gears to have a good gear ratio. The wind required to drive the small beast needed to be very strong for it to move (note: another solution would have been to make the small gear smaller and have more small teeth on the large gear BUT working with wood has some limits – and decreasing the teeth size would make them break to easily). I thus made a second version of the beast and it worked much better.


First four gears in the sequence – images from assembly instruction booklet.


Closeup of large gear (c.a. 4 cm in diameter) – freshly cut.

After a bit of tweaking, the third version was made and the parts were ready to be placed in kit format. I also made a jig to cut all the dowels required as connecting rods and axles.


Dowel cutting jig – ugly but functional.

Once this was done I spent quite some time on the packaging. This I found to be a whole science on its own. Luckily I can cut my own cardboard boxes on the laser and each Strandbeest kit, with all the parts, dowels and booklet ships in a box that fitts perfectly.


Quite proud that I could design these – rock just to hold it flat.


Small box with all the dowels for one Strandbeest – folded and ready to be packed.

As mentioned, a booklet is included (digital version here). This contains the assembly instructions and I completely underestimated the work required for this part of the project. I thus spent almost as much time taking photos of each step in the assembly, editing the photos and writing the description, as developing the Strandbeest model. But finally it was completed and I am happy with how the whole project turned out.


Assembling booklets – multi-page, back to front, double-sided printing is hard.


A complete kit.

The Strandbeest models are now for sale as kits (here).

But I am also working on the next model. It will be based on the whirligig that I made last year (see it here) and will also be sold as a kit. I am quite excited about this and it will have a few gears, crankshafts, levers and maybe even a shark!

Stay tuned to see how it turns out…







Leather Wallets

Competitions, DIY, New Item, Shop Stuff

After making a card holder for my wife (here) I thought that I should upgrade my own wallet (see below). My confidence in working with lasers and leather is slowly growing and I thus decided to make, not only one, but 7 wallets. Below I will show all the steps for making one of these. I am happy with the final product and will keep the first (the prototype) for myself.

Photos of the finished product:

I will also give a wallet or card holder away – more information on the give away here. You are of course welcome to buy one, they are available here.


One of these currently up for grabs!

Steps to make a leather wallet (the steps I took – not necessarily by the book):

A with everything the project begins with an idea. I also spend a fair bit of time on looking at YouTube videos of making wallets and looked at many many many wallets online. I could not find something that exactly fit what I wanted to make and created my own design. I make some ugly scratches of this to ensure that all the dimensions are right.


All the planning done.

I wanted a wallet with card slots and a place for money but only wanted to have 2 layers of leather. I also wanted it to be a bi-fold wallet. Most of the designs I looked at had more than 2 layers of leather. I thus created this design (this it probably not new I just could not find something made in this way).

Since I wanted to make a several wallets simultaneously I spend a day getting all the images and quotes. I had some help.


Kameel – helping out??

After the designs were ready I cut the leather.


I love this rotary cutter – best way for me to cut leather.

This is followed by engraving and the cutting of the individual pieces.


Closeup of cutting laser cutting.


First one engraved and cut.


The prototype worked – now 6 more.

A quick cleanup (just wiping the edges with towel paper) is followed by staining. I made a light red stain a long time ago. This means that I do not know exactly how much the original red stain is diluted. Some people may think this is sad. I think this is awesome since these wallets can never be reproduced exactly and will be unique 🙂


Just a light bit of stain.


I stain the inside where the satin is stitched also – this way no unstained leather will show.

I burnish the slots with a small burnishing tool that fit exactly. The top of both inner and outer parts were also burnished. This is where the wallet will open. The other sides will be glued and stitched together and burnished after this has been done.


Adding some soft wax just between the slots prior to burnishing.


Slots and top edge burnished.

My small set of burnishing tools is increasing in number. I should note that these are all home made. It is merely a stick with a nail glued in place (or in the case of the small one – just a stick). Grooves are sanded into them as wide I they need to be for the specific project.


Home made burnishing tools

I love cutting silk using the laser cutter – which was the following step.


Silk to make pockets and line the inside.

With all the pieces ready the slow process of assembly begins. I start by making the top 2 card pockets (the lower pocket is created by  stitching the outer and inner pieces together – I explain how these pockets are made in more detail here or have a look at this video).


Enter a caption

The inner silk is glued and then stitched in place. It is only partly stitched. The rest of the stitches follow when both outside and inside pieces of the wallet is stitched together.

The process is similar for the outer part. The silk is glued in place and the top and bottom stitched where the inner and outer parts do not overlap.


Silk lining glued in place – outer part and inner part


The sewing machine I use – Singer made around 1910.


Silk stitched in place

The nylon thread is cut and melted to stay in place.


Melting the ends of the thread.

The outer and inner parts are then glued and stitched together. First the one side then the other.


Glued and clamped.


One side stitched.


View from the inside.

Here I had a small problem with the sewing machine. The upper thread kept on breaking. Initially, I solved the problem by first making holes with the sewing machine without thread and then sew a second time with thread. Although this worked it was of course not optimal. After some searching I found the user manual and I was able to correct problem. The tension of the top thread needed to be adjusted and the problem is now resolved.


Short term solution.


Better solution – read the manual.


All stitching done

I lightly sand the glued edges (not the sinlge edges that have already been burnished). This is followed by burnishing of these edges.


Beautiful edge.

The wallet is in essence now completed and the last thing is to treat it with some leather conditioner. I add a liberal amount to the outer inner leather and leave it on for 10-20 minutes. This is wiped off with a clean cloth and the wallet is lightly polished.


Wax on.


Wax off.

I was planning to make a new wallet for myself for over a year now. I would have done this even without the laser cutter or the sewing machine. These items just allowed me to make a different type of wallet than I otherwise would and I do not feel that any specialized machine is needed to make stuff. This said, as soon as you start making stuff tools seem to increase around you.


The reason for this project – my old worn wallet, falling apart a bit.

A brand new wallet


There are a few small things I would change if I were to make these again. First, I would move the stitches closer to the edge (from 5 to 3 mm). I will also change the arch of the line where to to be exactly the same as the arch of the corner itself. This is something very minor and would probably not be noticeable. I will also try different staining colors – just for fun.






Coleoptera Backpack

New Item, Shop Stuff

For a while now I have been working with wood and wanted to make bags using it as the main material. I found inspiration from the Japanese lamellar body armor used from the 4th century. Thus designed the bag to have around 60 pieces of wood all stitched together. It worked better than I thought and after a one prototype (see below) I was able to make a fully functional backpack. The stag beetles makes it an ideal bag for any professional or amateur entomologist (it is currently for sale here).


Since I like insects I decided to display some stag beetles on some of the wooden plates in a similar fashion that insects would be displayed in a collection. Stag beetles are quite amazing animals and this is the closet I would get to ever collecting any.

On the inside of the lid I added some additional information of these creatures.


Inside of bag – some information on the lid.

The lid lid and latch is my second attempt (see below). The multiple panels of the lid allows it to follow the curving top and the whole bag looks less like a box. The latch is very simple and locks in place with a small wooden spiral that is attached to the lid.


Beetle drawing for inside of lid


Stitching the lid


Simple latch and lock

The images are engraved on the bag and were partly inspired by a simple beetle from the first backpack I made. There are 16 beetles in total on the bag.


Scroll saw beetle from previous bag – see below


Engraving all the beetles at the same time




The bag is lined with a tough brown fabric. The straps are made from leather and attached with 4 mm leather cord. I left this quite long and can be shortened and adjusted to fit anyone.

The bag is approximately 36 x 27 x 14 cm (14 x 11 x 5.5 inches) in size and has an approximate volume of 10.7 liter (28 gallon). This will comfortable fit A4 sized books and laptops.

The wood is 4 mm Baltic Birch (some places – such as the bottom – I use 6 mm). Each piece has several coats of lacquer. The bag weighs just over 1 kg (2.2 pound).

There is one hidden image on the bottom that might evoke a smile from some. A few additional beetles might be found on other places in the bag.


My first lamellar backpack was made mostly using a scroll saw to cut the images. The is square and the latches are not very easy to operate. It is also over 2 kg, twice as heavy as the Coleoptera bag. I am still pleased with it and will probably use it myself.


First lammelar bag


Second attempt

Below are a few more images of the Coleoptera bag.

I still have still many plates left and will make several bags from these. Any suggestions (or commissions) of what themes I should use on these bags are welcome. The next one however is already decided – hominid skulls. Follow this blog to see when it is done and if it is successful.