Back in October I was thinking about what to make my daughter for Christmas. I Bing’ed wooden gifts and after several refinements to the search I managed to find an image page that had a good assortment of ideas. In that collection of pictures I found this:
I liked the proportions and symmetry of the design. What I didn’t like was that the grain on the face of the clock ran in one direction only and that accents weren’t added at all the hour points of the clock. So I got to work in SketchUp and came up with this:
The Clock Build
Once I had the clock designed I began to think about what type of wood to use. I looked on eBay and even bought 3 pieces of 4 quarter Red Cedar. But when they arrived I began to rethink and put them aside and found a chunk of 5 quarter Sycamore, also on eBay. Sycamore is a blond wood with a nice grain that resembles oak. The saw dust smells sweet. I liked the wood and the price so I bought it. That, along with a piece of scrap walnut I had lying around and I was ready to go.
The first step was to print out a full size pattern of the Arm.
Then using some light cardboard from the recycle bin I made patterns of the Arm, Bottom and an Isosceles Right Angle Triangle with the long side measuring about 6 3/8”. Using these templates I laid them out to get 4 triangles with the grain running with the long side of the triangles, 2 Arms & 1 Bottom.
At this point I cut all the pieces out using my band saw being careful to leave plenty of wood around the lines.
The Clock Face Build
The clock face is the most complicated part of the build. Not counting the clock works it has 18 parts to it.
I started with the triangles. The triangles were cut so that the grain runs with the long side. When the 4 triangles are assembled the grain will run around the clock. To make these triangles perfect I need two things, first a pattern of the desired triangle that is thick enough to safely run through the jig and second a Table Saw Pattern Cutting Jig.
Table Saw Pattern Cutting Jig
A Table Saw Pattern cutting jig allows you to cut any shape item so long as the sides have straight edges.
In “SC Figure 8” the parts labeled A & B form the stationary part of the jig. “A” is the Pattern Guide Board and “B” is the Jig Support Board. I dado’d A into B as shown using glue and a few flush set screws. You clamp the jig to the rip fence then position it so that outer edge of A is flush with the outside left leaning tip of your saw blade and you position the blade height so that it is as close to A without touching it, See “#1”.
At this point you get a couple scraps of wood, one with a straight edge, which will be the pattern, see “C”. Using double sided tape attach the other scrap so that it over hangs the Pattern, see “#3” & “D”. With the pattern on top, run the assembly through your table saw running the pattern against the guide board, see “#2”. Once through check your results. What you want is the cut piece and pattern on the same plane. If this is not the case make adjustments by moving you rip fence left or right slightly as the case may be. Your Table Saw Pattern Jig is now made, set and tuned. Now on to the Clock Face.
We start by attaching the triangle pattern to a piece of stock. Make sure that stock extends beyond the pattern on all 3 sides and make sure the grain is running with the long side of the triangle.
Then run the pieces through the Table Saw Pattern Jig. I used the paddles from my Jointer. If you have, “The Gripper” that would do the job perfectly. Make sure you keep the work piece firmly down against the table and against the guide board as you run them through.
SC Figure 11 shows the 4 pieces arranged as I intended and it show clearly how the grain runs around the face. The next step is to glue two pieces together to form 2 half’s (SC Figure 12), then glue the two halves together (SC Figure 13). I used 2 part 5 minute Epoxy as this was end grain to end grain gluing and I felt better about it. When you glue the 2 half’s together be extra careful to align where the 4 parts meet into one point. Note the arrow in Fig 13.
After the glue is cured I measure my now resulting square and decided that I could get a 6 ¼” square out of it. I made 6 ¼” pattern out of a scrap piece of wood and using the Table Saw Pattern Jig I cut out my final square. When you attach the pattern to the piece of the square stock you must be careful to align the points of the pattern with the lines formed by the intersection of the 4 triangular pieces. SC Figure 14 shows the resulting glued up square. Note the bit of misalignment at the one corner, arrow on SC Figure 14”. This should be avoided but is not overly problematic as all that matters is that the square pattern fits. You’ll cut off the misalignment with the pattern jig.
The following 2 figures show the square stock with the pattern attached after I was done with it using the pattern jig, Figure “P”. Figure “Q” shows the completed square. At this point I flattened both sides using a Random Orbital Sander (ROS), with 40 grit.
In SC Figure 17 you see the Clock Face sitting upside down on the cross cut sled. Because I used epoxy to glue this piece together the glue joints are very visible. To take care of this I cut saw kerfs from corner to corner and inserted strips of Walnut. I did this one at a time and cut the second kerf after the kerf was cut, filled, planed & sanded flush. I cut the kerfs using my old cross cut sled to which I tacked on a piece of ¼” luan plywood. I did this because this sled is 25 years old and while it slides in both table saw miter slots like the day I made it, the kerf in the sled no longer registers perfectly with the saw blade due to the many saw blades I’ve used over the years. After running the sled through with the plywood attached I now had a kerf that perfectly aligned with the blade. I then tacked on 2 stops that were 45 degrees off either side of the kerf on the sled. After I was absolutely sure I had the stops aligned so that the kerf would intersect the square stock corners I cut the first kerf.
Now that I had the kerf’s cut and filled I turned my attention to the hour points of the clock face. I decided all the points would be ½” x ½” Walnut. I first put my stacked dado blade on my table saw set for a ½” dado and ran a test piece through to check it. Once I had both the width and height set to ½” I moved on. I clamped a piece of 6 ¼” x 6 ¼” scrap wood to my rip fence at a point that was just a couple inches before the start of the cut. I ran a test piece through and adjusted the position of the rip fence and stop block until my test cut resulted in a ½” x ½” cut in the corner. Once I was satisfied I ran my work piece through creating the 4 corners See “A” in figure 19. Then I re-positioned the stop block so that if ran it through on one side and flipped it so that same side was still down and ran it again I had two dado’s cut that were equally spaced. See ”B” on SC Figure 22.
Now it was time for the Walnut Accents. I ripped a strip of walnut that was just a hair wider than the thickness of the side dado’s and cut 8 pieces that were a bit longer than the clock body thickness. Then I ripped and cut 4 pieces for the corners. The side pieces I sanded until they each fit their dado’s snuggly. Then I first glued the side accents then the corner accents.
At this point I sanded down both faces using the ROS with 40 grit. I then took the same 6 ¼” square pattern and attached it to the clock face and ran it through the Pattern Jig. I made a mistake here that you can avoid. The pattern was not “Perfectly” aligned with stock and the resulting piece left the corner blocks so that they are not square. At this point I just decided to live with it. What I should have done differently is to take the stock to my 1” strip sander and sand down the excess stock until it was just aligned with the sides. Live and learn.
With the Face essentially done I turned to mounting the clock works. I drilled a ¼” hole dead center where the walnut strips intersected. Then I inserted the clock works from the clock back and traced the outline of the clock works. I used a forstner bit and removed as much stock as I could to a depth of 3/8”. Then I used a chisel to clean it up. I then attached the clock works.
The Clock Base
Before I cut the Arms out I ran the stock for them and the bottom through the planner to reduce the thickness. After planning and sanding the Arms are 7/8” thick and the Bottom is 1” thick. I then took the Bottom piece, cut it to size 5” x 12 ½”. I then took the cardboard bottom pattern and made a gentle curve starting at the center of the long side and terminating such that it left the side about 2” wide once the pattern was traced and cut on all 4 corners. I then cut the Arms on the band saw using a ¼” blade. Then I sanded everything on my oscillating drum sander and finished off the sanding by hand where the drum would reach.
On the bottom piece I routed a ½” cove cut around the edges. On the Arm I rounded over both faces on the router table using a 5/16” round over bit with bearing. Where the round over bit would not get into the inside corner of the upper arm pad I carved it by hand with a razor knife.
Since the pieces had finish on them I didn’t want to have pencil marks so I used blue painters tape and used the edge of the tape as lines. I had originally thought to use ¼” dowels to join the parts together but I didn’t have any, I found 5/16” dowels and considering the thickness of the parts 5/16” would work fine. I aligned the center of the outward face of the upper pad of the arm to the center of the Clock Face sides. The 5/16” holes would be centered on the thickness of the pieces and aligned with the edges of the tape. I then drilled holes at each of the 4 points using the edge of the tape as a guide for the path of the drill bit. I used a brad point bit. Once I had the Arm assembled to the Clock Face (No glue yet) I placed tape to show where the dowels would go on between the Arms and Bottom. I measured the distance between the tape edges and then marked the location of the corresponding holes on the bottom taking care to keep it centered from front to back and from side to side. After this I assembled the bottom to the arms and took stock of the results. Then I took it apart and glued it back together.
About Donald Weber
Hi, I’m Don Weber, I’m 62 y/o and I live in Eastern North Carolina. I am retired. I have been a wood worker for 35 years. I started with an old cast iron table saw where the top tilted on a hinge to change blade height. Seems scary now that I look back on it. I make furniture, toys, shop projects and the odd commissioned job. You know the type, where you get paid for the materials but hardly anything for profit. It keeps me busy and I enjoy it.