It is a rare opportunity that a master Technic Lego builder shares the “tricks of the trade” in an easily accessible book form. Sariel is such a master, well-known and respected for his amazing Lego Technic creations which he documents on his website http://sariel.pl. Sariel’s creations are the most-viewed Technic model videos on YouTube, and his work has been the basis for many great vehicles built by others.

Sariel’s book is published by NoStarch press, and you can order a copy online at http://nostarch.com/technicbuilder.

As soon as he announced that he was publishing a book I pre-ordered a copy for myself. I was lucky enough to receive a pre-publication copy for review and also the physical copy I ordered myself. Below is my review…

Unofficial lego builders guide

Overview of the book

The book is of a very high quality, with colour graphic images interspersed with text. This is a big improvement over a black-and-white printed book. Sariel has broken the material down into five core sections:

  1. The basics (always good to start with this!). In this section the chapters cover the basic geometry of Lego, both studded and stud less. This is familiar territory for anyone who has been building Lego for some time, but it’s good to see it given an in-depth treatment. I tend to build stud-less, and it was valuable for me to see an analysis of the pros-and-cons of studded vs. stud-less building.
  2. Mechanics. Making stuff go is what makes building Lego fun! To achieve this you need to understand the principles behind transmissions, gears, pulleys, levers and linkages. This was one of my favourite sections, especially the chapter on levers and linkages.
  3. Motors. Lego has released many motors over the lifetime of the product and it’s important to know what is the best motor to choose for a given task. Sariel has done a nice job of summarising the torque and speed of each motor available.
  4. Advanced mechanics. Ah you knew the word “advanced” had to show up at some point right? Now we get into the material like how to build steering systems, transmissions, gearboxes and chassis. If you’ve followed Sariel’s work you’ll know that he understands how to push Lego Technic to the limit, and the chapters in this section let this show through. The full-colour illustrations really help in this section given the level of detail presented.
  5. Models. Don’t expect building instructions for huge models here – in this section Sariel explains how he approaches the design and scaling of a new model, giving us an insight into his thought processes.
There is a lot of material here, some of it is covered in great depth and some at a high level. No matter how long you have been building Lego you will learn something. Pick the area that you find yourself struggling with and then study that section in the book. Building instructions are given for some of the concepts shown to help you get started.

What I liked

  • A full colour production – and the paper is of high quality. This is a book that will stay close during my Lego building.
  • Breadth of the subject material – a lot is covered.
  • Good discussion on transmissions and gearboxes.
  • Addressing the pros-and-cons of studded vs. stud less building.

Conclusions

In every field there is a well-thumbed copy of a book that sits besides every workbench or table; this is the book for Lego builders. Alongside Isogawa-san’s amazing Toro-no-maki this book is going to be a reference I’ll use during every building session.

Good job Sariel – play well!