Walnut Mantle Clock/Etched Copper Face

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Project by splintergroup posted 02-11-2020 02:36 PM 1912 views 20 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project is more about the clock face than the clock for me. The clock is based on a previous project with some improvements.

top 13-1/2”W x 5-1/4”D
face 7-3/4” x 7-3/4”
body is 4”D

Walnut, jatoba accent, poplar back.
finish is Danish oil and satin precat lacquer.

The back lifts up and tips out for access to the clock motor (quartz electronic). The arch on the bottom is removable to allow the glass to slide out if it ever needs to be replaced or the motor needs attention.

The jatoba accent around the face is to cover up for a mind fart where I mixed up the top/bottom and sides and exposed edge grain 8^)

Every thing is at a slight offset from everything else. This keeps it interesting.

I’ve made copper clock faces before as described in my blogs and projects. Basically I like to make them like printed circuit boards are made. Create a design, use the design as a mask on photosensitive acid resist applied to standard FR4 copper plated fiberglass, etch away copper to expose the design.

The technique is easy and very precise, producing crisp lines and shapes. One feature of this method is the color of the backing fiberglass is exposed where the copper has been etched away. With black fiberglass, the copper contrasts beautifully as long as it is polished and sealed to stay that way.

The problem is I like to patinate the copper to get the cool effects and colors. The black fiberglass no longer works as a secondary color since it is, well, too dark 8^)

A limited set of other colors are available, but something like yellow just doesn’t work with my design.
Another problem is doing the patina and trying to keep the background colored area clean. It just ain’t easy!

Here is a former projects clock face. Black FR4 with a slight patina. It looks ok, but kept getting darker and darker over time.

The solution?

Only way is to etch completely through a solid copper plate, then I can patina the copper anyway I like and place it over a suitably colored background.

The results are much more satisfying:

This is an ammonia/salt patina which produces some vibrant blues and is easy to create. The background is a layer of polished copper.

I used an 8” square piece of 24 gauge copper. It needed to be flat and rigid for the photo resist film to be easy to apply and not crack from flexing.

The problem is with this added thickness, the etching solution (muriatic pool cleaning acid and hydrogen peroxide) begins to undercut the design as it eats its way to the other side. This has the effect of blurring details, but I was happy on this first try.

Copper is expensive so I’ve though of some ways I can use thinner material (possibly 30 gauge) and get better results.

I’ll report back when I’ve ironed out some of these details.

Till next time!

39 comments so far

View DnD's profile


93 posts in 2206 days

#1 posted 02-11-2020 02:45 PM

Absolutely beautiful! I really appreciate the clean lines. There is no doubt that the face is the focal point! Outstanding job!

-- Brian in Texas

View splintergroup's profile


5275 posts in 2337 days

#2 posted 02-11-2020 03:05 PM

Wow, quick on the trigger Brian 8^)

Thanks for the comment!

View JimYoung's profile


409 posts in 2702 days

#3 posted 02-11-2020 03:05 PM

Beautiful craftsmanship and design. Your copper techniques are very interesting and set this apart.

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

View splintergroup's profile


5275 posts in 2337 days

#4 posted 02-11-2020 03:15 PM

Thanks Jim, always looking for something unique to put on my shelf at the gift shop and also test some crazy ideas 8^)

View therealSteveN's profile


8009 posts in 1689 days

#5 posted 02-11-2020 03:21 PM

AWESOME CLOCK. I do like the face a lot, but also really like the woodwork, very nice.

My slow boat from China just arrived yesterday, I went with the blue. I’m in the middle of playing with several other things right now, hopefully I get to mask some circuit board soon. My only hope is all of my mind farts come off looking as planned as those little cubes of Jatoba did on this clock, jeesh, even his mistakes are awesome.

Thanks for posting. Great motivation.

-- Think safe, be safe

View splintergroup's profile


5275 posts in 2337 days

#6 posted 02-11-2020 03:29 PM

Thanks George!

The best satisfaction of using the jatoba was I got to use some incredibly-stupid-to-consider-keeping scraps I had squirreled away 8^)

The jatoba just required a quick pass over a slightly raised table saw blade for a crisp rabbet, then a flush up with a router. I was mostly relieved I didn’t make it worse 8^)

Hope the blue works well! I’ve been thinking about it again for non-flat surfaces, perfect solution once thinned out a bunch and sprayed on.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8528 posts in 1828 days

#7 posted 02-11-2020 03:36 PM

just as Steven said the face is very beautiful but the wood work is also excellent GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4609 posts in 4224 days

#8 posted 02-11-2020 04:21 PM

That is truly beautiful! I love the patina on that clock face.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View PaulDoug's profile


2569 posts in 2819 days

#9 posted 02-11-2020 04:41 PM

Beautiful keeps coming up. It really fits because it really is….

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View sras's profile


6171 posts in 4244 days

#10 posted 02-11-2020 04:55 PM

You’ve taken the face to another level on this one!

Beautiful clock.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View bondogaposis's profile


6000 posts in 3466 days

#11 posted 02-11-2020 05:07 PM

That is one beautiful clock! Love the dial face.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View observer100's profile


476 posts in 2225 days

#12 posted 02-11-2020 05:08 PM

Super beautiful project and the photography is top notch.

-- Seeing is believing.

View teetomterrific's profile


120 posts in 1477 days

#13 posted 02-11-2020 05:30 PM

Very nice. I love what you’ve done.

This gives me some ideas for another way to collaborate with my wife on a piece. She is a potter that hand builds textured pots and hangings. It would be cool to build a clock carcass using a hand crafted clay clock face.

-- Tom, Adams, TN

View Jerry's profile


3488 posts in 2763 days

#14 posted 02-11-2020 05:38 PM

You don’t put your pants on one leg at a time, do you?! Everything you make seems like magic! This is outstanding, beautiful does not even begin to give the proper credit, it’s magnificent. An instant favorite for me. I am instructed, and grateful for it. Well deserved DT3!!!!

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2774 posts in 662 days

#15 posted 02-11-2020 05:40 PM

It is always a joy to see your latest, Splinty. This a really fine piece of work here. All the rounded-over edges take it a whole other level. And of course, the copper work is brilliant. You say it is easy, the copper patina thing, but I seriously doubt that. The walnut/jatoba combo is working too, subtle.

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

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