Meet the Maker: George

The “Colibri” humming bird automaton

George is a maker, craftsman and retired engineer. You may have seen some of his hand crafted items under the name “Dunblane Woodcrafts” regularly on sale at Weigh Ahead and the Museum in Dunblane high street. 

He has been involved with the Makerspace since its early inception and has trained many of our Makers (including me!) on the CNC router. He currently leads on the development, training and maintenance on the CNC along with other members of the team.  Since joining the group, George has learned how to use CAD packages to produce work on both the CNC and Laser cutter as well as operate the machines themselves and made a large range of pieces.  One of his recently completed projects, Colibri, is a great example of what can be achieved when technology, creativity and craftsmanship come together (not to mention patience!). George explains this fascinating example of what our machines can be used for in the post below. 

The “Colibri” project

by George

Colibri is an automaton of a humming bird in flight that I made from the excellent plans I purchased from  Derek Hugger,  the original American designer. 

The following is Derek’s description of the humming bird. 

“Colibri is a wooden kinetic sculpture that simulates the motion of a hummingbird in flight. Every element of motion is  completely mechanized, from the beating wings to the flaring tail. Intricate systems of linkages and cams bring the sculpture to life with a continuous flow of meticulously timed articulations.” 

I bought the plans in January 2023 and started the machining process on our CNC machine the following month…here you can see the CNC in action with some of the first parts to be cut.

Below is a video of the CNC machine cutting some of the humming bird parts.

It took approximately 2 weeks of CNC machining to complete the cutting of all the parts which you can see below. Over 100 wooden components cut from various thicknesses of high quality birch plywood. 

After a lengthy period of hand finishing of all the parts I set out to source  and acquire the materials required for the metal components, Brass, Aluminium and Stainless Steel tubing for bushes and supports, needle bearings, mechanical rod ends, shaft collars, weights etc etc. 

Once all the metal parts were manufactured and other bits of hardware assembled (over 60 individual parts in total) I started the process of sub assembly , final assembly and fine tuning which took about 7 months intermittent work. 

The image below shows the individually handfinished parts labelled and ready for assembly to begin.

The project was finally completed and the humming bird was flying in January 2024. 

See the Colibri in action in the video below.