DIY Projects: Cam and Crank Toys

Back To All Projects

Toys powered by cams and cranks, known also as automata toys.

Some of them are very easy to make but others require high level of precision.

Learn more about the science behind the cam and crank toys.

Understanding Automata and Motion

Understanding Motion
High-level but good guide explaining how cams, levers and gears work. The information is fine for beginning. Has nice photos.

See here.

Wood Profits Banner

Cardboard Automata

Very nice PDF guide about building automata from cardboard and materials on hand. 10 pages, very detailed, with good pictures.

Download the PDF guide here.

How to make your mini "Crank Shaft"

Mini Crank Shaft
A little crank shaft, excellent for making cam and crank toys.

Obviously you may want the pistons at different positions or more/less pistons.

Go to the guide.

How to Build a Crank and Slider Mechanism

The basics of building automata - how to make crank and slider. This powers most cam and crank toys.

If you haven't yet made any mechanical toys yourself, you can start with this guide.

The Automata Maker Kit

The Automata Maker Kit Site
This is an item for sale. The kit is a bit pricey but seems like the dream of the DIY automata maker, especially if your time is limited.

The folks from Cabaret Mechanical Teatre are making great stuff so if we can make similar automata with this kit, I'm all for it.

See it here.

How To Make a Hatching Cam Toy

This is a simple toy that I made from paper. I don't classify it as papercraft however - it's better to make it from cardboard or wood.

Go to the guide.

A Simple Cam Mechanism

Simple Cam Mechanism Site
This is a very cool and little interactive guide on building a cam mechanism.

You can play with it to get a better idea how things work.

Check it here

Ginger Cat

A very funny and simple crank toy. There are no templates to print and cut but you can figure the shapes yourself.

See the Gignger Cat here

Mechanical Boxing Toy

Mechanical Boxing Toy
A fairly toy is described here in US patent paper. I'm not sure if the information is enough to build the toy yourself, but it's very interesting.

See the paper.

Cowboy Animated Weathervane

Cool detailed PDF plans and templates to build this automata. Grab them free here.