Arts & Crafts mantle clock

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Project by splintergroup posted 03-17-2015 03:55 PM 6145 views 27 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I like making clocks. They are generally simple, smallish, the options for the face are endless, and everyone has a use for them.

For this clock I thought I’d try something beyond the typical wall hung round frame/round face thing I made in the past.

The availability of inexpensive quartz movements makes this all affordable. The case is a fumed White Oak frame with Walnut side legs and top. Behind the glass the dial face is made from Eastern Red Cedar wedges, stained a bit to tone down the redness. The dial pips are solid copper disks. A good layer of sprayed polyurethane on the face hopefully will keep the copper from tarnishing and blending in with the wood too much.

I try to anticipate “what can go wrong” and made the case such that the glass can be replaced by removing the bottom arch (held on by recessed screws) and sliding it out.

The rear of the clock is covered by a thin 1/4” panel captured in a groove, exactly like the glass. This can also be slid out the bottom by rotating a copper catch to allow access for time setting and battery replacement.

Even though this clock is made to sit on a fireplace mantle (or any shelf), I added a picture hanging wire to the back in case someone decides it needs to hang on a wall.

This was fun, I already have plans in mind for some copper dial faces with etched numbers and some Celtic knots for accent.

Thanks for looking!

21 comments so far

View Derek Oliver's profile

Derek Oliver

264 posts in 3167 days

#1 posted 03-17-2015 04:18 PM

I really like job you did on the dial face. Looks great.

View jburklow's profile


96 posts in 3689 days

#2 posted 03-17-2015 04:28 PM

wow!! this looks great. love the attention to detail the face looks awesome

-- Jeff Midlothian. Texas.

View Ivan's profile


16636 posts in 3883 days

#3 posted 03-17-2015 06:30 PM

Nice different wood colours, beautiful style.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View kdc68's profile


2992 posts in 3292 days

#4 posted 03-17-2015 09:29 PM

An absolutely gorgeous clock !.....Exceptional work !....

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 2886 days

#5 posted 03-17-2015 11:13 PM

Beautiful! Love the face pattern and grain.

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4163 days

#6 posted 03-17-2015 11:49 PM

Great looking mantel clock! I like how the different materials really complement each other!

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

View bondogaposis's profile


5953 posts in 3366 days

#7 posted 03-18-2015 01:45 AM

I like it, great design. I can see myself borrowing features from this design for some of my own. Thanks for posting.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View michelletwo's profile


2794 posts in 4031 days

#8 posted 03-18-2015 11:51 AM

the face is great!

View jpsexton's profile


25 posts in 2251 days

#9 posted 03-18-2015 12:05 PM

Simple, elegant design. Very beautiful piece of work.

-- There is an easy way and a hard way and I always seem choose the hard way. Figure it's the best way to learn.

View Sam Knight's profile

Sam Knight

21 posts in 2544 days

#10 posted 03-18-2015 01:41 PM

Very beautiful clock. One of the best I ever seen.

-- Sam

View splintergroup's profile


4715 posts in 2238 days

#11 posted 03-18-2015 02:30 PM

Thanks for the encouragement guys!

I have many large beams of the Eastern Red Cedar (aromatic) and I’m always looking for uses. The grain and color is very unique compared to what I can normally find locally. It is very prone to splintering and cracking so I usually laminate it to a piece of ply.
Cutting the 30 deg. wedges can be a pain (to get ‘perfect’ joints). I cut the rough shape and then double-side tape a drafting triangle to the wood. This gets me slightly closer to a perfect angle, better than my Incra miter gauge can get. If the angles are all slightly large, I glue up a half circle with tight joints and then trim the resulting, mostly straight. edge to a perfect 180. The two halves then glue up tight and nobody notices the wedges are really only 30.1 degrees…..

View JimInNM's profile


333 posts in 2232 days

#12 posted 03-18-2015 03:04 PM

I really love the Red Cedar wedges but don’t understand how you did it

-- JimInNM........Space Case

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4610 days

#13 posted 03-18-2015 06:07 PM

Great design I love it all, and I love clocks

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

View splintergroup's profile


4715 posts in 2238 days

#14 posted 03-20-2015 03:37 PM

”I really love the Red Cedar wedges but don’t understand how you did it”

Hard to explain with just words. I’ll be making another face soon and I’ll photograph the process.

The problem with miters is the difficulty in getting a perfectly tight joint. The more miters used in a frame/clockface/whatever, the more the errors compound.
What I try to do is get the angles as close to ideal as possible, then glue together sub-assemblies until I have an angle that my saw is actually good at getting ‘perfect’ (a straight cut).

The clock face needs 12 wedges with a 30 degree angle. I have an Incra miter gauge that can be set to fractional degrees and I can also use a square to align it with the blade before locking it down, but there is still that slop in the miter slot. Even this slight wiggle makes it impossible to hold a perfect sub-degree angle consistently.

This is where I turn to plastic drafting triangles. These things usually are very accurate and inexpensive. For cutting my needed 30 angles, I basically make a taper jig that incorporates the triangle as a reference.

When I get some pictures up this will all be much clearer, but what I end up with is a jig that allows me to use the triangle to hold the wedge at a precise angle to my table saw fence. Even with this accuracy, cutting twelve wedges will still compound any angle errors and I’ll end up with gaps after assembly.

After cutting the wedges, I next glue a half circle together (6 wedges) by stretching masking tape over the joints to pull them together tightly. This half circle now has a straight edge that is slightly off due to the accumulation of errors in the 30 degree angle, but all the glued joints are perfectly tight together. I true up this straight edge by running it past the table saw blade, removing the least amount of material possible while still making that edge perfectly flat.

Repeat the process for the other half of the circle and I now have two perfectly straight edged I can glue together without any gaps.

The same process works for any mitered object provided there are an even number of joints.

There are techniques for cutting 45 degree miters with a miter gauge where you cut each adjoining piece on opposite sides of the blade. This cancels out any errors in the angle setting. This doesn’t really work for my wedges since the angles are not 45 degrees and I still have the ever-so-slight slop in my miter slot.

View splintergroup's profile


4715 posts in 2238 days

#15 posted 03-23-2015 06:56 PM

I have added a write-up with pictures explaining how the clock face was made.

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