My friend and yours, Gareth Branwyn, heard I was testing the Epilog Zing laser cutter and asked if I could cut him the parts for a 4Volt Jansen Walker. Gar is a robot master and a steampunk to the core (check out his Lost Knowledge issue of MAKE magazine for more proof) so I figured clear acrylic wouldn’t do it. He needed a wooden walker! I’m going to convince him to purchase brass nuts and bolts for the build, and maybe he can use small steam engines instead of servos and swap in a Babbage Machine for the Arduino…

I downloaded the parts files from Thingiverse, pulled them into Corel Draw, prepped them on a single 16″ x 12″ page, and fired it off. After about 20 minutes of cutting (OK, I was just sipping a cocktail watching it cut) the parts were all done. If you look closely there are some strange curves that became segmented or non-tangent. It turns out a single bolt in the laser optics assembly had wiggled loose. I paused the cutting, tightened the bolt, and the remaining cuts were perfect. I kind of hope these anomalies will enhance the organic nature of the design.


We’ll have to bug Gar to pick up the story from here once I ship the parts to him!

Here’s the original, inspiring, wonderful, otherworldly Jansen Walker that inspired Mr. 4Volt.

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He works at Disney Research and writes for Make and Boing Boing. He is training for American Ninja Warrior. You can find him at and twitter @johnedgarpark — if you like that sort of thing.

  • 4volt Jeremy

    It’s cool to see more of these in the wild, I would love to see picture when you get it all put together. I like the idea of having a wooden walker.

    Since your version will be heaver then the plastic version (probably), you may also want to get the 1:1.8 ratio gears for more drive power over at my project page:


  • Gareth Branwyn

    Whoa, that’s really awesome, John. Thanks!

    On my robot panel at the Faire, I didn’t get a chance to say that the moment that I emailed you, and casually asked you to print me out one of Jeremy’s walkers, was one of the first moments where I felt I was actually, finally living in the 21st century.

    Re: being steampunk to the core
    THAT I don’t know about. I do loves me the alt.Victoriana, but I don’t think you can *be* a steampunk if you refuse the tophat and goggles. I HAVE a nice tophat and a killer pair of goggles, but they’re mainly for display purposes.

    That said, I’m already thinking of how I can finish this bot off with an enclosure for the Ardunio, etc. that does the wood justice. I’ll definitely use brass hardware.

    And thanks for the tip about gearing for a heavier bot, Jeremy.

  • John Park

    I should know better than to try to fit a guy as original as you into a particular slot! Gar is Gar.

  • Ron

    Funny you mentioned steam engines instead f servos. A few years ago, I read about a prototype prosthetic arm that used miniature hydraulic pistons powered by a catalytic hydrogen peroxide steam generator. The article claimed the actuators were much more powerful than similarly sized electric actuators.