Wood is an amazing material — it's strong, malleable, and it literally grows on (or should I say, in?) trees. Depending on the type of tree, wood can be light and heavy, stiff and flexible, soft and hard. It can be carved, steamed, pressed and shaped in ways limited only by the technical prowess and imagination of its shaper. Humans have used it as a building material since the advent of tools, and contemporary designers often choose it in place of more modern substances like metal and plastic. Here are eight of the craziest things made of wood.
22 left, 42 right, 13 left. Most of us had our first experience with combination locks in high school with lockers. Those locks were made from metal — the better to keep out unwanted visitors. Matthias Wandel took another tack and built his lock using wood. You wouldn't want to use his lock to protect your valuables, but it's great for understanding how a combo lock actually works.
Compared to a bicycle, a motorcycle requires an added touch of genius to pull off in wooden form. This wooden motorcycle is a replica of an 1895 design by famed automotive engineer and industrialist Gottlieb Daimler.
This Hungarian-made bike is built with mostly wooden parts, even the wheels. I can't imagine it's very efficient mileage-wise, but it is mostly biodegradable. Plus, this wooden hog looks a lot more functional and rocks plenty of steampunk appeal.
You wouldn't take this calculator with you to a math test, but it does a fair job of adding up numbers — if you don't mind entering your calculations in binary. This calculator uses marbles and switches to add the numbers together.
Let's be honest: this machine doesn't actually accomplish anything practical, but it sure is fun to watch. Designer and woodworker Matthias Wandel built this machine in 2000. It's made mostly of wood and comes with the dual (green) benefit of being human-powered — just turn the crank and watch the marbles tumble.
Let there be (wooden) light! This bulb turns the conventional glass bulb design on its ear with a beautifully executed design that warms the light while protecting it from bumps and shocks. The wood is laser cut from plywood sheets, which gives it a great blackened edge. The bulbs are available for sale from SUCK UK for about $158 (£100).
When it comes time to protect your laptop, you can go the conventional route and buy yourself a neoprene or vinyl cover or you can try one of these wooden bad boys. These beautifully constructed cases will keep your computer free of the dings and knocks that seem to be a part of daily digital life. Constructed by designer Rainer Spehl, these cases are available for sale by contacting Spehl directly via e-mail.
The original Gatling gun was forged out of hardened steel and was designed to rain hot lead down upon the target. This wooden Gatling gun is more gentle and will only throw a wave of rubber bands toward whatever is in its sights. Made from wood, this awesome gun won't draw blood but is guaranteed to send your enemies scurrying.
The original trebuchet was made from wood. Showing up on European battlefields around the 12th century, trebuchets were used to batter castle walls during long sieges. The trebuchet uses offset weight to hurl stones and other objects violently through the air. This small play version, available for just $24.95, will sit neatly on your desk and allow you to bombard your work mates with grape-sized shots.