Gear Light Switch

I finally put the final touches on my new gear light switch today. Cut from from black walnut and finished with linseed oil.

This isn’t the most original idea. I have seen several variations online but wanted to make my own more complex layout.

At some point I would like to make another (or remake this one), now that I have the process / kinks worked out. For starters I would make the pieces all .25 thick instead of .125. There is a slight bit of warping in the gears over time due to the thinness and the added thickness would also make everything feel a bit more stable.

I would also redesign the face plate so that mounting would be a bit easier. I ended up changing the original face plate from my original design since once I added all the gears I was unable to get to the two original face plate screw holes. I ended up adding a second layer to the face plate. The first layer mounts to the switch using the two standard face plate screw positions. The second plate has all the gears mounted to it and is then attached to the first plate using a screw in each corner.

Video Here of some On/Off action.




Easel project :smile: ?


Agreed! Video would be great so we can see the gear reduction in action. How much cranking does it take to flip one way?

That is really cool. A gaming room (D&D type) would be a great place to display this.

I want to use something like this with an even more complex rube-Goldberg style setup to turn the lights and fans on in my shop. I’m thinking pendulums and counter weights, maybe a marble machine and the geared light cover is the last piece that is triggered by all the other goodies…

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Very nice! This is also called a light switch complicator, which we briefly discussed on another thread somewhere. It’s definitely on my short list. There are a few versions we bandied about, using various gear arrangements.

Definitely needs video, Also plans/files if you are feeling generous. If not, I understand. You have a bit of work invested there!

This is awesome. I have a suggestion - skip .25 ply and go ALUMINUM! Also, add a “tooth ticker” to one of the gears so it makes a lot of noise. (my wife hates this idea :))


Thanks everyone.

@NAM37 Video here. Also edited the post and added a link there.

@DarrylKegg Sorry. I dont have an Easel project for it. Actually I have never used it. Maybe for version 2.0 I will make it with Easel.

@Paul It doesn’t have a very crazy reduction ratio. Semi planned, but I regret it. Another feature for version 2.0. I wanted to keep it compact so I overlapped the gears as much as possible. To show the most movement at the same time I stuck the large “driving” gear in the back, causing its rotation amount to be limited once a handel was added. I was also concerned that too much turning would get redundant. After playing with this one, I think I over thought that. More turning would be more fun.

@MidnightMaker " light switch complicator" I didn’t know there was a name. I like that better than what I came up with.

@JkWestphal I’ll organize my .svgs and share them. I ended up making a couple of different versions of a few of the pieces and got pretty sloppy keeping the files organize and knowing which versions were the final ones.


Looks great . Will you or do coat the linseed oil layer with anything ?

With clocks, you have to be very careful about what, if anything, you put on the mating surfaces of the gears as it will stick/bind. With something like this that’s driven manually, I don’t think you have to worry.

Nope just plain boiled linseed. I pretty much only use linseed oil. For no particular reason other than that’s what I have around and I like the final results. I bought a huge can of it years ago and it’s still half full. Occasionally I’ll follow it with wax but for this its just the oil. I actually just bought my first can of lacquer yesterday.


My girlfriends mother collects light switch cover so I’ve planned to make something like this but simpler. Good inspiration, thanks for sharing.