Simplicity Wooden Clock #1: The Plan

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Blog entry by CaptainSkully posted 02-20-2010 08:39 PM 15657 reads 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Simplicity Wooden Clock series Part 2: Back to the Old Drawing Board... »

Since I can’t afford a bunch of quarter sawn white oak to finish the dining table right now, I thought I’d look for a project that requires less materials. Having just read “Longitude” by Dava Sobel, I’ve been fascinated by wooden clocks. Being a Mechanical Engineer, I also have an affinity for anything with gears. I found few years ago and have been fascinated by the stuff he makes. I’ve also looked into building some kind of kinetic sculpture like the Quadrapult as seen here on YouTube. BLitwin was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions I had about his marble catapults. Obviously, I have never gotten around to building any of these monstrosities, but it gives me something to think about when I’m stuck at the in-laws without a shop.

A few weeks ago, I saw the wooden clock posted by btbam87. It really inspired me to do a little research into Clayton Boyer’s designs, in addition to other Googled wooden clock plans. Clayton’s designs were much more attractive and diverse than any others I’d found online. The elegance is what really caught my eye. I grew up with clocks, so I figured I could get used to the ticking sounds that most of these clocks emit. Clayton has a great sense of humor, and an interesting business model. In order to buy some of his more advanced plans, you must first submit a photo of an easier clock that you built. I think this is great, as it reduces the probability of a disgruntled first time clock maker floundering around with a celestial calendar. BTW, if I actually pull this off, guess what I’m ordering next…

Anyhoo, I ordered the Simplicity clock plans a few days ago, and they showed up in the mail in a manilla envelope. The package contains over 20 pages of instructions and templates for the gears. It’s pretty intimidating. He recommends making a copy and using the originals to spray adhesive onto the proper thickness baltic birch plywood to cut and sand the parts exactly to the line. Since these were all drawn in AutoCAD, I may extend the exercise and try to reproduce the design. He suggests not using the copies as the template, as some copiers might skew the image, throwing your gears out of round.

I think the only tool I’ll need to buy is a cheap 1” belt sander from Harbor Freight to sneak up on the lines. I’ve already got a scroll saw, but surprisingly he recommends using the band saw. I ran by Ashby Lumber and MacBeath’s yesterday to get an idea of what plywood is available. I’ll probably go with something contrasting and exotic because you’re not supposed to use finish on the gears, as it can gum up the works. I’ve still got a bunch of mahogany that I’ll probably use for the dial face and possibly the pendulum bob. I’ve also thought about inlaying a compass rose on the pendulum bob just to try it for the first time and to add some visual interest. Maybe not, as it’ll be moving constantly (hopefully).

I’m going to try and be extra careful about blogging during this process, as it’s rather time consuming and difficult looking. Hopefully, I can help someone else if they’re inspired by this project. Wish me luck! It was about time to start another project anyway…

Simplicity Clock

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

5 comments so far

View KMJohnson's profile


165 posts in 3350 days

#1 posted 02-21-2010 12:53 AM

Good luck.

-- Let's do it in the wood pile!

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4406 days

#2 posted 02-21-2010 02:45 AM

good luck is an understatement!!! what a cool clock…good-good luck…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 4026 days

#3 posted 02-21-2010 03:08 AM

This is genius we can tell that KM is in construction.
Sorry KM you should have another look.

View Jim's profile


150 posts in 3651 days

#4 posted 02-21-2010 05:17 AM

Good Luck! As soon as get my “To-Do” list whittled down a bit more I planned on buying the plans myself… of course I screwed up and mentioned this at the family Christmas party, and now I guess while I’m at it, I’m supposed to make an extra 2 more clocks too lol. I like that idea of the compass rose on the bob, too bad it wouldn’t show well enough to do it on the face also, but with such a large cut out in the center it would lose most of it’s design that makes it so recognizable.

Let us know how it goes!

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

View Eric's profile


34 posts in 3728 days

#5 posted 02-21-2010 05:18 PM

Have you used some of those scroll saw sanding “blades”

Great project. I’ll put one on my list to do.

-- ED

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