Toy Automata to Whirligigs….The 10 Best Books

Woodworking caterpillar Automata

Automating models and toys has fascinated generations from the Ancient Greeks to the present day.

CaptureThis short video by Stuart King called ‘Catch Me If You Can‘ illustrates the humour, design and craftsmanship that is required to make an automaton.




Many books have been written about creating automated toys in wood… are ten of the best.

1. Making Moving Toys and Automata

book on automata by Robert RaceLots of different construction methods are explained including oscillating shafts, links and linkages. levers and fulcrums, balance and movement, springs. shafts amd cams, momentum and control. Many illustrations, including how to make this dragon on a stick.


2. Automata and Mechanical Toys

Automata and Mechanical ToysHow mechanisms work

The history of automata

How to get started

Tools, materials and techniques

Step by step instructions


3. Making Simple Automata

Making Simple AutomataHow automata developed over the centuries

Discussion about materials and mechanisms

How to design and construct small scale, simple mechanical devices,

Illustrated with step by step instructions


Take a look at this amazing automata by Keith Newstead

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4 How To Make Animated Toys & Whirligigs

How to make animated toysFull size patterns and step by step instructions

for making 20 unique automata projects


5 Action Whirligigs

Woodworking automata Action WhirlygigsEasy to follow instructions and measured drawings

to create 25 wind driven toys.

Excellent woodworking projects, which are straightforward to make, inexpensive and fun.

Over 90 illustrations with step by step instructions



6 Wood Automata…….Tips and Tricks

Wood Automata Tips and tricksDescriptions of most of the common movementsand how to put them to use.

Project design considerations are discussed.

Tips on how to make each of the mechanical movements out of wood.

Detailed instructions on how to build your first wood automata.

7 Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood

Making mechanical marvelsThe projects are desgned to perform mechanical stunts with marbles that move, wheels that spin and pistons that pump.

Step by step instructions, many detailed illustrations and drawings.



8 Creative Kinetics

Crerative Kinetics 1Teaches the basic techniques of kinetic art….art that moves.

Fun projects like weather vanes and mobiles powered by air currents

Simple toys you manipulate with strings

Art mechanised by levers, cranks, cams and cogs.



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9 Making Mad Toys & Mechanical Marvels

Making Mad Toys...Full size schematics and drawings plus detailed written instructions.

Make Grandad’s Night Out and Mr Muscles and Little Miss plus many more…….


10 Making Animated Whirligigs

Making animated whirligigsHow to make more than two dozen traditional and original models.

Patterns include animals with spinning wings, people with waving arms and much more….


Here is another video which demonstrates how to make an orca using a Dremel and turning it into an automatum……The Mechanical Orca

All of the books are available through Amazon. Just search by the name of the book.

You may like to read other posts on this site…..

Wooden Toys…The Top Ten Sites To Self Build Them 

My Love Of Woodworking

Get even more inspiration by visiting my Pinterest boards and Instagram site……..

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