This Page has some details about our automata and a few answers to frequently asked questions.

All Fourteen Balls Automata are made by Matt Smith and over the last few years his wife Sarah has been helping with the painting .                                                                                               

The Automata are designed by either Paul Spooner or Matt Smith and are made in Falmouth in the UK.                                                                                                                                         

The Automata are all made from raw materials and with the exception of a few things like nails and screws all the parts are made in Matt's workshop.                                                                  

All the carving is done by hand the majority being done with surgeons scalpels ( and plasters ).   

All the dovetails are cut by hand ( they look much nicer than machine cut dovetails ).

Where they are painted they usually have one coat of sanding sealer up to three coats of gesso and then finished with Liquitex paint.                                                                                           

The list of materials usually consists of the same few woods and metals I've listed them here with a description of each and why it's used.                                                                                        

1. Douglas fir : I use this extensively for boxes it has a very fine grain and ages beautifully to a deep orange / red colour .                                                                                                               

2. Lime : Used for carving , this can be very finely textured and carves very easily , when cut is very smooth and paints easily.                                                                                                       

3. American Walnut : this I use for boxes and mechanisms mainly for it's colour although it does machine well.

4. English Elm : now in very short supply a lovely timber with many colours running through it I use it for boxes.

5. Beech : used for levers etc.....

6. Yew : a very stable timber it does not move with changes in humidity , used for sliding parts and bearings . Unfortunately it is very difficult to find.

7. Other timbers such as Ebony , Box wood , Mahogany and Rosewood I use when I come across a reclaimed source. ie. Piano keys , broken furniture or in the case of Rosewood an old dance floor ( from Warwick castle ).

8. Birch plywood : good for cam and pin wheels.

9. Brass : used for  bushes , followers , bearings , pins etc.............

!0. Stainless steel : mainly used for shafts.

11. phosphor bronze wire : used for links and wire parts , very springy.

12. Tufnol : A great material ( resin bonded paper or cloth ) used for cams and parts that need to be strong and light.

13. Plastics : I don't use plastic much but you will find Delrin and P.T.F.E used on occasions.

14. Bellows leather : for bellows ( thanks to Bebbingtons )

I Hope I have not bored everyone stupid with this list but I do get asked often !

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