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Making a wave machine

Wave machine

Preparing Wave pieces:

This wave device is created using sheet P-407 and D-044, plus miscellaneous wood pieces and hardware. Sheet P-407 has the waves and ocean horizon pieces, and sheet D-044 has a rocky beach or a sand and rocks beach.

Do not cut out the pieces before mounting to cardboard! See Tips and Tricks - Cutting out scenery and figures for details on mounting and cutting prints.

Mount all the wave and beach pieces on cardboard, and cut them out. The shaped edges need to be cut with a sharp craft knife, and the bottom edge should be straight along the printed edge, so that it will sit along the edges of the wooden block or floor.

Building the machine:

You will need a square dowel rod, about 1" (2.5 cm) square, and at least long enough for the wave pieces to be glued on - one wave to each side. you can see this in the illustration to the left.

You need a thin board for the base of the machine, which is longer than the dowel by at least a few inches - long enough to mount the upright structures to hold the dowel piece, and any devices to turn the waves on the dowel.

Fritz has used metal L-brackets to hold the turning piece, rather than eye screws as illustrated – it gets the height up there – unless you can find some eye screws or make something to use to hold and support the “axel” of the dowel. Then the “axel” and handle are created of firm wire or other hardware and assembled, drilling pilot holes into the ends of the square dowel rod.

We have searched around for a little motor that could be used with pulley wheels to run this very slowly, but have not found one in our area that can be controlled to go slow enough. We are sure something could be found on the web, or those who love to tinker with electronics could create a device to slowly rotate the wave machine!

Once the dowel rod with the waves is mounted on the base board, attach the beach piece to the front of the base board, to hide the workings of the dowel and to give the appearance that the waves are rolling in onto the beach. Note that the wave sheet, P-407, is an "F" size sheet, and will be narrower than the normal Large size width. The beaches on sheet D-044, is a Large size, so the beach piece will extend further on the base. You will need to use wings when using this wave machine on a Large theater.

The ocean horizon piece can be mounted to the back of the machine, facing forward, or it can be used like a set piece, with its own stand, placed further behind the wave machine, as in the two illustrations above.

Like everything else in model theater – the imagination is  the limit!


If you have a model theater tip or trick you would like to share here, please email it to us, and let us know that it is alright to share it, and if you want your name, and/or email included.