This article proposes a method for optimally approximating real values with rational numbers. Such requirements arise in the design of various types of gear sets, where integer numbers of gear teeth force individual stage ratios to assume rational values. The kinematic design of an 18-speed gearbox, taken from the literature, is analyzed and solved using the proposed method. The method, called sequential exhaustion, sequentially considers each stage of the gearbox design, exhaustively examining each stage. Examination of 94 solutions leads to a pareto-optimal set containing 11 solutions. Further, although the layout of the gearbox is predefined for the kinematic design problem, certain solutions of the problem exhibit “non-reducing” gear pairs, revealing previously unforeseen changes in the gearbox layout.