Numechron digital clock

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Project by DickB posted 06-11-2014 08:37 PM 5642 views 17 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My Numechron Digital Clock design was inspired by the Pennwood Model 1364 digital clock. Clocks of this type originated in the 1930s, and were built for many years by the Pennwood and Lawson companies in many different wood, metal, and plastic case styles.

I really liked the Art Deco style of the Model 1364 case and chose to emulate it, although my clock is considerably larger than the prototype. While mimicking the original style, I employed considerable open space in the case design so that the clock’s internals would be visible.

A Pennwood employee, F. Greenwalt, patented the mechanism for this type of clock in 1935. He developed an ingenious set of wheels, cams, and levers to flip the numerals and operate the clock. I consulted the original patent to design the mechanism for my clock.

All of the wooden parts were designed using Carvewright Designer 1.187 and machined with the Carvewright machine.

The hours and minutes numerals are made of 1/4” poplar sourced from Home Depot. The numeral segments were a two-sided carve, the mitered top and bottom edges of the numeral rectangles carved to the proper angles on the back side. (These could have been cut with my table saw, but the Carvewright makes an easier job of machining these relatively small parts that would be a challenge to hold safely while sawing.) Centerline text was used on the front. The seconds wheel segments were made of 1/2” poplar, also sourced from Home Depot. Again, the mitered edges were carved from the back. The Designer 3D tools were very useful to create the miters and the curved face of the seconds segments. Centerline Text and Conforming Vectors were used for the seconds numerals.

Red oak was used for the supports, motor mount, and other parts. Red oak was also used for the bottom of the case. Select pine was used for the clock’s base, and the ribs that make up the case sides and top. The front was made of 1/4” Baltic birch plywood. While it could have been cut in one piece, Model 1364 had an interesting arrangement of veneer, so I made the front of multiple pieces to emulate the original. The pieces were laid out in Designer and cut by the Carvewright with rabbets to make nice lap joints for easy and solid assembly.

In addition to the wooden parts, some brass tubing, springs, and a few ball bearings were used for the mechanism. A 1 RPM synchronous motor powers the clock and keeps accurate time. Motors of this type are used in time card machines and may be readily sourced as replacement parts for about $30.

I have seen photos of many different wood clocks, but I think it is safe to say that Numechron is unique.

Here are links to a couple of short videos:

Video - Numechron

Video - Designing and Making Numechron

-- Dick,

17 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30619 posts in 3455 days

#1 posted 06-11-2014 08:46 PM

Very cool. Unique.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Todd's profile


421 posts in 2794 days

#2 posted 06-11-2014 10:59 PM

That’s really cool!

-- Todd, Huntsville, AL

View neverenougftackle's profile


195 posts in 2963 days

#3 posted 06-11-2014 11:28 PM

Hi Dick, My mind says there has to be a way to say this, Todd’s expression above is hits close to home,,,, but it seems as Monte put it “Very Cool, Unique” brings your efforts closser to what I have in mind,,,,,,I also am a fad of the 30’s Art Deco, along with the artist visions/designers in that era. That is for sure a conversation starter…..

View gepatino's profile


217 posts in 3241 days

#4 posted 06-11-2014 11:43 PM

awesome! I always dream of making some kind of clock using wood.

Thanks for the info, and for stealing my sleeping time by puting this ideas in my head. ;)


View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4264 days

#5 posted 06-12-2014 12:15 AM

Man that’s a cool looking clock! I love that the working parts are wood!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View Mork's profile


307 posts in 3892 days

#6 posted 06-12-2014 01:32 AM

I’m putting this at the top of my impressed scale. Very cool! Nice work.

View MrFid's profile


910 posts in 3021 days

#7 posted 06-12-2014 02:07 AM

Wow definitely cool. Really like the look of the clock and great job on the videos!

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4451 days

#8 posted 06-12-2014 01:33 PM

Love this!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

426 posts in 4184 days

#9 posted 06-12-2014 01:40 PM

Wonderful project. Absolutely outstanding.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View 489tad's profile


4009 posts in 4129 days

#10 posted 06-12-2014 02:03 PM

That is an amazing job

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4711 days

#11 posted 06-12-2014 06:42 PM

WOW thats way kewl I love it,,, I love clocks

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View leafherder's profile


1982 posts in 3069 days

#12 posted 06-12-2014 07:02 PM

Absolutely stunning! Great choice of woods, beautiful design, and excellent craftsmanship. Thanks for showing us how versatile wood can be.

-- Leafherder

View Ivan's profile


16848 posts in 3985 days

#13 posted 06-14-2014 06:53 AM

Trully unconventional work! Real art!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Schwieb's profile


1917 posts in 4578 days

#14 posted 06-15-2014 11:19 AM

I really like this. Classy, artistic, and functional. Well done!!

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View KnBuzz's profile


3 posts in 2756 days

#15 posted 06-15-2014 05:12 PM

Very nice! I really like the 1930’s style.
Can I ask you for your source of the sync. motors?
Do you see a heat build up issue with the enclosed sync. motor?

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