Small Projects #39: Zebrawood wall clock with Valentines hearts joints

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Blog entry by Madmark2 posted 02-13-2021 02:51 AM 1421 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 38: PC Router bushing storage box Part 39 of Small Projects series Part 40: Easter Shrine »

SWMBO requested a new wall clock, “Honey can’t you make me a clock?” and the answer is “Yes. Dear.” (I’ve been married a lot of years.) As things worked out all the needed pieces arrived just in time for St. Valentines day.

Got a nice shipment of wood in today, some wenge, yellow heart, walnut, cherry and zebrawood. Being well versed in how to try to help marital bliss, I told her to pick and zebrawood it is!

This seemed like a great project to use the Fast-Joint Mini joinery jig. I used the Heart template and the Freud 3/16” x 3/4” solid carbide cutter.

The sides were 1/2” and the top and bottom 3/4”. These were resawn from some full 1” thick stock. This gave me the pieces I needed and some useful offcuts. There was no need to plane as the TS resaw didn’t leave a ridge.

I routed the four sets of pins with little effort. I put their spacer against something solid, slide the jig tight an the the wood. Lock it down and its ready to rout.

None of the tails had any chipout (except for one little bit that was my fault when I moved suddenly).

The tails cut even easier. Once set all four ends can be cut without any adjustment.

Anyway here is how far I’ve gotten after about three hours of work. One hour for material prep and the balance routing. Notice the St. Valentines day hearts in the joints.

The hearts look nicely romantickle

One trick with the jig is to nibble. The tails will fill with shredded strands of wood and you’ll want to clear the shreds often. Fortunately the jig is rigid enough so that nothing moves if you lift it clear to blow the chips out.

Patience is key. Especially with the tails. Make several clean up passes and a final slow clearing pass to insure the best fit.

HEART pattern fit is very tight.

After only two projects the jig is producing really tight joints with minimal setup. This was one of my original requirements and this jig has exceeded that.

Test fit.

I was testing the fit and found that one of the tails wasn’t fully cut. It was simple to reclamp and clean up the missed spot without any adjustments. Quite the pleasant surprise.


The clock dial is 7-1/4” square (thank you KLOCKIT). The mechanism is quartz with a chime box and 2” speaker. Since the clock is designed to hang the back will be a slider to allow access to the batteries (AA x3) and the chime settings.

… Time Passes …

Back at it. I fiddled around and figured out which side was up and which face was front. I marked all the pieces so I could reassemble it the same way.

This clock has a sliding back with a hanger hole. This will allow access to the clock works for battery changes and such.

The 1/4” back fits into a set of 9/32” W x 1/4” D dados on the sides and top. The bottom was trimmed 1/2” to allow the back to slide out. Since gravity seldom fails the hole in the back will support the clock yet allow easy access when needed

Inside back with 1/2” hanger hole.

The clock mechanism consists of three interconnected pieces, the clock, the chime box and the speaker. The kit came with a mounting bracket and grill cover for the speaker. We’re going to use the mount but not the cover (didn’t have the right sized Forstner and couldn’t wait to order one.)

Clock innards. Clock, chime module and speaker came pre-wired.

Had to trim the dial a hair, but everything dry fit together.

Dial, 1/4” backer and clock ticker all fit!

Having an Incra its a surprise when something doesn’t quite fit. I’d cut the ends 1” wider than the dial to allow for two, 1/2” sides. Imagine my surprise when the interior came up 1/8” short.

I traced the error to the resawing operation. Since I cut in from both edges I often get a small ridge. Anticipating the ridge I resawed at 9/16” instead of 1/2”. The cut was so smooth I said these are fine as is, no need for planing. (Doh!)

I used the sides to set the cut depth and adjusted the bit to just cut thru the 9/16” pieces and that took the extra 1/16” off each end of the top and bottom rails making the interior 1/8” too small for the dial plate. No bother, just a quick 1/16” trim from each side and all is both hunky and dory.

Moral of the story: Exact thickness is important!

To mount the 1/4” ply dial board I made a bunch of 1/4” x 1/2” thick cleats. These are mounted to each of the four sides.

Cleats in clamps.

The bottom cleat was split to give the 2” speaker some clearance.

The overall dimensions are snug.

The clock shaft is 1” and that sets the location of the rear cleat. Then the speaker needs 2” and the sliding back takes 1/2”. So the absolute minimum spacing is 1” + 2” + 1/2” or 3-1/2” total. Given that the full pattern space for the Fast-Joint Mini Heart template is 3-9/16” I had cut the pieces to 3-5/8” to give me all of 1/16” to spare.

Here you can see the cleats on the bottom being clamped. The speaker opening is flanked by the mounting clip screw holes:


Once the pieces came out of the clamps the box was assembled without glue due to the snug fit of the joints.

The front cleats were installed and clamped. While the glue was drying I mounted the clock works, all but the hands.

Front cleats being glued.

Clock works and speaker installed.

Final assembly is mostly getting the chime and the hands aligned. It has four sound options and a volume control.

Here is the completed clock without any sanding or finish.

All that’s left is finishing.

Just in time for St. Valentines day. Love you dear! :)

  • Clock works – $16
  • Dial – $6
  • Zebrawood, 2 BF – $41
  • 1/4” ply – stock on hand

Total outlay: ~$63

Total Labor: 8 hrs @ 20 / hr = $160

Suggested sale price: $225

She was delighted!

Although she said she liked it as-is, something about unsanded/finished wood bothers me so I slathered on a couple of coats of Johnson’s Paste Wax. While I was at it I glued the chime box down with a dollop of quick grab construction adhesive.

She put it up on the wall for now.

The wax really popped the zebrawood grain!

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

3 comments so far

View Rich's profile


6850 posts in 1674 days

#1 posted 02-13-2021 03:56 AM

Looks good MM. You’ve got that jig figured out. I’m looking forward to seeing the final result.

(No “can it be used as a square” jokes)

Nice work.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View sras's profile


6117 posts in 4214 days

#2 posted 02-13-2021 04:23 PM

Nice work on the joints! I’m going to have to look into that jig…

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View WoodenDreams's profile


1301 posts in 995 days

#3 posted 02-14-2021 10:02 PM

Very nice. The heart joints add to it.

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