The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Dynamo Men Lamp _ Nov 2016

I originally did this project back in 2016.  I did a web page back then illustrating how I did the project, but later my photo hosting site went out of business.  This a re-creation of that web page with all photos.

The original magazine article appeared in the Dec/Jan issue of Woodcraft magazine.

Parts Kit

I ordered the parts kit for $42.50 from the john hutchinson web site.

My understanding in 2021 is that John Hutchinson died. So you will have to figure out where to get the electric motor required for this project.  His web site is up for sale and his email is extinct ([email protected]).

Baltic Birch

I don't have a nearby source for Baltic Birch plywood, so I ordered online from Rockler.........

Improving the design plan from the magazine

I almost always put a design into Google Sketchup. It familiarizes me with the project design, and there is usually at least one error in every magazine plan.

I input this design into Sketchup. I found the bottom RH shaft hole was just too close to the RH edge of boards.  I added a 1/4" onto the width of all the appropriate boards to give a little bit of clearance for the 3/16" drilled hole.

Baltic Birch

At this point, I am still waiting for the Baltic Birch to arrive.  I am going to go ahead and make the major base pieces shown above.  I now have the parts kit and can install the motor and other electrical items.

I am probably going to make the very back piece removable, to allow access to the electrical items on this project.

Wood selection

I am going to make the base pieces out of maple from Menards.

I chose to use purple heart for the men's lower body, then yellow-heart for the upper portion of one man, and padauk for the upper portion of the other guy.  It should be colorful when done!

Assembly of Box

Somehow you have to glue the 4 pieces that are 1-7/8" wide to the biggest front piece.  I chose to set the big front plate upside down on my workbench, then glue and clamp the pieces to the front piece.  This worked basically ok. But the last step is to fit the back piece into this box. I think I will try using carbon paper to mark the exact outline of the back of the box, then cut the back piece to try to get the best fit.

1st I tried putting a blank piece of white paper on the back, then the carbon paper.  I tried to mark the edges with a pencil. This did not work, there was not a distinct line.  I then used the butt end of a small screwdriver and rubbed along the edges. This worked great and gave distinct lines.

Checking Assembly fit

2 support pieces for back cover

The magazine plan does not give any method for holding the back cover in place.  I chose to add 2 pieces of 3/8x3/8" maple and super-glue in place.  I may add a couple of screws later.

1/8" Round-Over radius using the router

I rounded over the edges of the box on the front and the back. I also rounded the edges on the front face piece.

Drilling hole for light fixture

Problems with square drive

The magazine said to keep the little pin on with a dab of super-glue.  This did not work at all.  In my cotter pin set, the smallest one just fit the hole fine!!

Trying out the Assembly

After getting everything assembled, I had to try out the motion.........You can use this link to watch this video.

Luan versus Baltic Birch Plywood

Since I was waiting on my order of Baltic Birch to arrive, I went and and glued up two thicknesses, of 3/16" thick Luan, and made the gears from them.  The final thickness was 3/8" versus the 1/4" in the plan, but I figured it would work.  When the baltic birch arrived, I used it to make the 4 spacers each 1/4" thick.

I really don't see any difference between the 2 materials.  If your design can handle multiples of 3/16", then Luan should work.  If you need multiples of 1/4", then 1/4" thick baltic birch works. I prefer Luan because it is cheap, and is available in 4x8 ft sheets at Lowes :)

Progress so Far 

The model functioned pretty well before varnishing.  The lower RH gear center is a little far away from the big gear, but it still functions.

I initially glued on the front pedestal, and the Dynamo man on the RH side to the base.......but then I found out I could not remove the bolt that holds in the lower RH gear.....the bolt hits the Dynamo man :(  So, I was able to unglue it, then use 2 screws from the bottom to attach it........and it is removable from now on.

On the gears, I used a light oak stain, followed by 2 coats of clear satin poly.  My clear satin poly has some brown color on it, so I did not want to use that on the colored men or I used clear gloss instead on those parts. I used 10 minutes round in the oven at 120F to cure the poly quicker.  If you leave it longer than 10 minutes, the poly starts to bubble.

Special Light Bulb

I went ahead and bought the special light bulb, with a mirror on the top half, from Amazon.......

Completed Model

Youtube Video

I made a Youtube video showing the model in action. You can use this link to watch the video.

Closing Thoughts on This Project

This was a fun project to build. You should screw the RH man to the base, versus gluing it down, so you can get the lower RH gear bolt in and out of the main body.  I made the main body a 1/4" wider to give some more clearance for the lower RH gear bolt.

Jan 2018 Update

I don't remember who sent it to me, but another woodworker that built the  model, had trouble getting the gear drive to work ok.

Now that my model has sat for over 1 year unused, I fired it back up, and the electric motor wants to stop, then change rotation a little while........then stop and change direction again.  I assume there is too much friction in the model.  I found a little binding on the LH man because of the spacers on the inside of the drive bolt.  I removed the little wood ball, and used some metal washers.

I also rounded all the gear teeth, versus a rectangular edge.  I applied Johnson Wax to the gear.

Now it runs without changing direction, but the motor movement is jerky??   I think the motor does not have enough power for the model.  The motor info is........

Kingston 120VAC 3.5W
Mod 60-38
50-60 HZ

F130 Class B

Amb 80C

I googled it, but could not an exact replacement.........nor could I find if Kingston offers a motor with more power.

I crudely timed the main gear, it took about 3 seconds to make 1 this is about a 20 RPM motor.

I went on Amazon, and they do sell some 4w, 20 RPM motors.  If I get one, the drive shaft connection will probably be different, and so will the mounting method.  I guess for now I will live with the jerky motion.  If I was doing this model over, I would probably first get a stronger motor, then revise the wood design to match the new motor.

I found 1 tooth that was a little long and creating some binding..........Dremel sanded it down..........seems to work ok now.  I made a video of it working ok now.  With this small motor, there is no margin for error on the gear engagement!!

May 2021 Update

My model has been setting for about 2 years since I ran it last in 2018.  Surprisingly, it started right up, and did not reverse ran fine!

I took some more photos to help people build one, and they are shown below.

One trick with respect to wood gears that I learned years ago, then forgot, and I recently relearned it in the last year.  I typically print out the teeth pattern from Sketchup, glue it to the blank, drill the center hole in the drill press, and scroll saw out the gears.

No matter how hard I try, I never get the axle hole exactly in the center, and my axle hole is never perfectly perpendicular to the face of the gear.

One easy way to fix the run-out of the teeth with respect to the axle hole, is to mount the gear on a scrap piece of wood, put it into drill press.....clamp the scrap piece to the table and lock the table.  Use a sanding drum to "fuzz sand" the OD of all the teeth by rotating the gear slowly by hand. This reduces the run-out of the OD of the teeth to the axle  hole almost perfect.

The only way to make a more perpendicular axle hole than using the drill press, is to chuck the gear in your lathe, put the bit in the tailstock.......and move the tailstock and bit into the rotating gear.

On other wood gear models, I usually end up with the 2 axle holes being 3/32" farther apart than the theoretical distance.  I usually try this out on a scrap piece of wood to verify it works before I drill the axle  holes in the model.

Additional Photos taken in May of 2021