How-To: Make a “do-nothing” machine


Here’s an unusual goal for a project – nothing. Though designed for apparently no productive results, the simple hand-operated Do-Nothing (aka Kentucky Do-Nothing) is capable of drawing ellipses if outfitted with a writing implement – plus it could definitely teach those new to basic woodworking a thing or two. In fact making a do-nothing is quite definitely doing something! Yah, anyways –

This is a fairly easy machine to build. Takes a few hours to cut out the pieces and a few more to glue together and let dry. I have chosen a simple layered design so that those without a router or other means of cutting a T slot could easily complete this project.

So, don’t just sit there – go make nothing err … something.

13 thoughts on “How-To: Make a “do-nothing” machine

  1. I was just thinking about one of these two days ago. I was in a conversation about science museums for children. I remember one of these from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (at least that’s where I think the one I’m remembering was). It occurred to me that I should make one sometime.

  2. I made one of those in high school wood shop. The book I found it in called it a “rectilinear reciprocater”. I actually had to call it an ellipse drawing jig to get it past the teacher. “Do-nothing” projects weren’t allowed.

  3. Ahh. The BS grinder, a useful tool for twiddling while you tell your stories. At least that’s the local nomenclature.

  4. We called it a BS grinder in Metal Shop. The goal of the BS grinder was to teach everyone all the basics of the shop. Aluminum forging, drilling, Welding, etc. Great project!

  5. I saw a giant (maybe 50 feet “turning diameter”) one of these as part of a art installation at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, a few years ago. It was quite heavy and had an interesting feel to turn. It slid on what looked like ‘kiddie train’ rails.

    (if the artist is a Make reader, speak up!)

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