The first week of august, I attended a course in carved mechanics at Sätergläntan, led by Per Helldorff.

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This was the view from our “glass veranda”, as they called it, in the dorms where my friend’s and mine room was. It’s up on the north side of a mountain, and the view, while mostly obstructed by trees, is still pretty amazing. The air is clear, the water is fresh, and… it’s cold. We left the rest of the world behind at the peak of summer, and arrived at a place with late autumn coldness that we had not expected. But it was perfect to work in.

My chosen course, in carved mechanics, started with making a singular “applause machine”, by kit and by copying the dual applause machine that the teacher has made before.

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“By kit” I mean that all the pieces were available at reasonable block and rod sizes already, but no fine tuning or drilling had been made. The first step was to carve this driving rod which joins the big outer cog – a task, the teacher said, not quite fit for beginner carvers, but the course was aimed at people who’d never carved before, so there you go, just get to it!

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There was a template for the big wheel, and we got the instruction to ring the cut out circle of wood with lines to carve the wheel down to points BEFORE cutting out the cogs. “It’s so annoying having to line a single cog instead of going all the way around at once, so when making these wheels you may get annoyed a LOT of times, as there are so many cogs.”

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There are no nails involved, only tight fittings, pegs, and in some few places, a bit of glue.

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The coziest part was to sit outside on the porch, in the sunlight, carving away at the details. That part I can get used to. Not having enough time and having to work through the entire evenings I had a harder time getting used to, because I got myself worked up a bit too much and ended up with serial migraines after a couple of days.

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The weather was a bit up and down though, but with amazing luck, it was never down when we for whatever reason wanted to be outside, except for that one time we visited the school library and got all but stuck there due to the rain. Or as in this picture, hail.

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The handiest trick he taught us has to be “the triangle”. Draw triangles on things and it shows you which way they have to face – ups and downs and fronts and backs. This is the first fitting, showing that the wheel and the rod fit together perfectly, and run willingly.

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Every night this beautiful view, more often than not ground soaked.

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It helps having a full workshop of tools available for this kind of work, which is why a course is nice rather than trying to set up shop in the apartment. The trick in the picture is that there is already a hole drilled in the upper part, then it’s attached, the whole thing rested on a good sized board, the drill stuck through the hole, and drilled in the bottom bit EXACTLY where it has to be.

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Eventually, halfway through day four, my applause machine was, in practical terms, finished!

It was just in time for the demo for the outer course attendees in other fields – mind you, the teacher had in mind that this should only take us two days, and with my three and a half I was still one of the quick ones!

That puts us just halfway through the course. And late with working on our second, personal, contraptions, that would never get time enough to be finished.

Some evenings treated us to perfect weather to sit and carve at the table outside our dorm.

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With amazing sunsets.

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But we in no way had time enough to finish even rather simple contraptions. I have all the bits at home, most heavy work done, so it just needs to be fitted, carved, and assembled.

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The magical suitcases of wood parts and machine templates will be missed, but can be managed without!

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These are all the applaud machines from the gathering on the last day. All individual in their own way, mine by being by far the one most like the teacher’s! Erhm.

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If I ever finish my second machine, I’ll make sure to tell you about it.

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