Liam had an assignment to create an historical diorama for his 6th grade French class. He chose the beheading of Marie Antoinette and designed this guillotine to be the centerpiece. It turned out fully functional and fantastically macabre.
I did the power tool work and helped figure out how to actually “decapitate” Ms. Antoinette, but Liam did everything else. Ms. Antoinette is actually a piece of wood cut into two pieces, with a magnet in the top of one and a bolt (as the neck) in the bottom of the other. When the rope is released the blade drops and breaks the weak magnetic connection, the head drops to the ground, and all the wooden revolutionaries cheer.
Yet another use for standard wooden shims. Here are a couple interesting links: