Erich Schatt’s Incredible Wooden Machine
Woodworking has been Erich’s hobby and passion since he
wasa child. At a very young age, he was already scavenging
through condemned houses salvaging timbers and flooring.
Some of this beautiful wood
he used in his own woodworking. The rest he sold to others to
help fund the purchase of new woodworking tools for himself.
Old-fashioned joinery and antique furniture continued to
fascinate him as he began his woodworking career as a
furniture maker and machinist.
Is it a sculpture or a machine? For the past several years,
woodworker Erich Schatt of Zurich, Switzerland has used his
free time designing and building an exquisite machine built
entirely of wood. What exactly does the machine do?
Well, mainly it causes people’s jaws to drop whenever
they see Erich sitting in the driver’s seat pedaling away
on this amazing contraption, spinning the dozens of wooden
gears whose movements are intricately intertwined
using wooden chains (that resemble the drive chain
on a bicycle). It even features wooden universal joints
and a wooden transmission.
Eventually he made the restoration of antique furniture
his specialty. For the last several years, Erich has devoted
about six hours each Saturday to building his machine.
It had its genesis in 1998 when his interest in sprocket
wheels and chains led him to successfully build a bicycle
chain entirely out of wood, a process which required
numerous complex calculations to get all the parts
to fit together and function correctly.
This led to the idea of building a wooden machine which
eventually grew to occupy more than 400 cubic feet
of space. Using his considerable skill as a craftsman, he
completed the machine in 2002 and successfully exhibited
it at the annual convention of the Swiss Sawmill Association
in Schaffhausen where it drew considerable interest from
members of the timber industry.
Since then he has continued showing and demonstrating the
machine at European conventions and exhibitions. The wooden
machine is of course not the only thing he has built out of wood.
Besides furniture of every type, he has also built toys, games,
lanterns, attache cases, a guinea pig stable and six-foot model
of an American truck. He has turned down offers from people
who want to buy the truck. Instead he hopes to complete a
second trailer for the truck equipped with two chambers from
which red and white wine can be dispensed at company
celebrations. Erich never lacks for ideas. He is already
underway building a second machine, which though not
as large as the first, will be considerably more intricate,
featuring a planetary gear system nearly three feet in diameter.
It is driven similar to the first machine using a wooden chain.
The operator sits on a wooden saddle which slides backwards
and forwards along „a swallowtail butterfly guide rail.“ He
expects to work on building the machine for another three
years before it is ready to exhibit. More photos of Erich’s
„holzmaschine“ can be viewed on his website
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