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harmonograph free plans: how to make a
Large Harmonograph
Basic Description

watch the
animated intro
A harmonograph is a pendulum-based drawing board that produces beautiful curvaceous drawings. After you give the large hanging platform a gentle push, gravity works its magic while a pen records the results. Each swing is almost identical to its predecessor: the minute discrepancies are responsible for the remarkably sinuous curves. The version that we have detailed in the plan below allows you to make drawings on paper or on an erasable whiteboard. You can set up the harmonograph in a garage or basement and hoist it out of the way when not in use; it ends up taking virtually no space at all. We love to enjoy the mesmerizing action, but it makes a great conservation piece at a party and kids absolutely love it! It takes some patience to get everything working right, but it is definitely worth the fine tuning that this project requires; as always, we will walk you through all of the steps.
Materials pine lumber, plywood, bolts, wingnuts, smooth tileboard, screws, string, hinges, bricks or other counterweight, dry-erase markers. A complete material list is listed below.
Tools jigsaw, table saw, miter box saw, drill, clamps. A complete tool list is listed below.
Cost The plan itself is free! Estimated materials cost: $55
Time 10 hours
Difficulty Challenging
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the project plan begins here

step:     1                  

The first step is to acquire all of the necessary materials and to make sure that you have all of the proper tools. It is best to get everything prepared before commencing because then you can work without unnecessary interruptions.

We are listing the materials for the version of the harmonograph that we chose to make. You can alter the dimensions as discussed in the plan and in the design considerations section at the end of this plan. If you are going to make any changes to our design, it is imperative that you thoroughly read through the plan to ensure that you are considering everything.
overview of harmonograph

Material List

Item Qty. Description
#1 5 3/4" x 4" x 8' (19 x 100 x 2430mm) pine or similar
#2 1 3/4" x 10" x 8' (19 x 250 x 2430mm) pine or similar
#3 6 1/2" x 2' x 4' (13 x 600 x 1200mm) birch plywood or similar
#4 - various colors dry erase markers, fine tip works best
#5 ~ 20 #8 x 1" (M4 x 25mm) drywall screws
#6 ~ 30 #8 x 1 1/4" (M4 x 32mm) drywall screws
#7 4 #10 x 1 3/4" (M5 x 45mm) wood screws
#8 ~ 24 #8 x 1 1/2" (M4 x 38mm) wood screws, preferably without threads below screw head
#9 1 3' x 3' (1m x 1M)smooth white tileboard or dry-erase board (whiteboard)
#10 50' (15m) 1/8" (3mm) diameter nylon cord
#11 ~ 20 3/8" (1cm) I.D. fender washers
#12 4 5/16"-18 (M8) wingnuts
#13 1 5/16"-18 x 5" (M8 x 13cm) bolt for pen holder counterweight
#14 3 5/16"-18 x 4" (M8 x 10cm) bolt for pen clamp and for vertical adjustment on pen holder
#15 8 bricks or similar weights
#16 4 rubber furniture glides
#17 1 wood glue, preferably polyurethane glue because it is faster drying than yellow glue
#18 2 small butt hinges with mounting screws
You can make any of several alterations to the dimensions and design that we are using. Before you make any changes or purchase materials, we recommend that you read through the entire plan and, in particular check the design considerations section at the end of this plan.

Tool List

hand drill  more info and various drill bits  more info
table saw  more info
square  more info
miter saw  more info
various clamps  more info
jigsaw  more info
drill press  more info recommended
level  more info recommended
thickness planer  more info recommended

We have omitted the most common tools from our tool list. Furthermore, some of the tools on the list are not necessarily required. If you do not have everything on the list you may be able to use an alternative but you will surely need to read through the entire plan first.

step 2►

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