Over the past few years making automata,I have found making a working test model to be the best way of designing a mechanism and piece in general.it gives you a nice way to try things out, drill bits in different places etc, without the worry if wrecking a final piece.
To do this I use the following..
-Foam board-it’s got structure, but easy to cut.
-cereal box card
-steel pins from one of those 80s games where you push your hand into and leave the print.
-crimp beads-ideal for string, quick fastening
-hot glue gun-strong and quick
-galvanised garden wire, 1 and 2mm. Straightened with a clamp and power drill
Some bits will be used in the final thing.such as the gear made from tin plate..the hot glue will be removable… I’ll do a post on these gears..I haven’t seen them done before, so it’s my finest hour. Done right they work well!