Five Clock Designs archive

Monday 14 November 2011

Nick Arnull presents five different ideas for turned clocks, each using a different timber and clock movement

Gallery

Over the years I have made several clocks - some very simple and some extremely complicated. This month I am going to give you some simple ideas and show you the basic techniques involved when making clocks.

They can be classical or modern mantle, wall or free standing clocks - they can even incorporate other materials such as Perspex, steel rod or aluminium. These are another project that, like last month's table lamp, can provide great enjoyment for many years to come.

When choosing timber for clocks it is not always necessary to use highly figured timber, but on occasions, it can really add great visual impact. The most important part when making clocks is probably assembly, and you must ensure that the clock movement is truly vertical. There is a range of clock movements available, which present you with a variety of design choices. Inevitably some are better quality than others; price usually dictates the quality of movement.

Tools used: Spindle roughing gouge, fingernail-grind spindle gouge, parting tool, side-cut box scraper, round skew chisel and square-grind bowl gouge

Classic wall clock

Time taken & cost

Time taken: 30 mins

Cost: £5 (clock movement - £4)

Step 1

The first clock design can also be used for mounting barometers, as they need to have an open back. Alternatively, it could even be adapted to create a simple picture frame or mirror surround. Begin by centring and mounting the blank on a screw chuck. True the face using dividers, then mark two lines at 90mm (3 1/2in) and 100mm (4in) from the centre of the blank

Step 2

Using a 6mm (1/4in) parting tool, create a flat recess 3mm (1/8in) deep - this is where the clock will sit in the frame

Step 3

Now true the outside of the blank and create a radius on the outside edge

Step 4

Using a 3mm (1/8in) parting tool, plunge part way into the blank on the waste timber at the centre of the blank; this is where the body of the clock movement will sit into and finally be fitted

Step 5

Sand and, if required, stain the project at this stage, finish with spray satin lacquer and allow to dry

Step 6

Use masking tape at the back of the frame and then continue to carefully plunge right through the blank. As the cut gets deeper, the note of the tool will change until it just breaks out at the back. Stop the lathe at this point and remove the frame from the lathe, then clean the edge of the cut at the back with abrasive. You can now fit the clock

Step 7

The finished clock fitted with a simple wall hanger should look like this

Quartz movement wall clock

Time taken & cost

Time taken: 1 hour

Cost: £6 (clock movement - £6)

Step 1

Take a piece of English oak (Quercus robur). The design could easily be adapted to use a chapter ring rather than a raised section on which to fix the numbers. As work progresses, at each stage the clock needs to be finished with sanding sealer and spray lacquer. Mount the blank using a screw chuck and true the back. The opening you create depends on the size of movement you use. Avoid making the hole too tight here. Create an opening 80mm (3 1/8in) wide and 25mm (1in) deep using a long-grind spindle gouge followed by a square-ended box scraper

Step 2

Reverse chuck the blank using the recess created to house the movement, and chuck jaws of the appropriate size. Create another recess 5mm (3/16in) deep and 55mm (2 1/8in) diameter from the centre. Open the centre hole to 10mm (3/8in) to allow the shaft of the clock to pass through the back using a Jacobs chuck mounted in the tailstock. Measure out a further 35mm (1 3/8in), 90mm (3 1/2in) from centre. The minute hand will point to the centre of this area and it is where the numbers will be attached. Or, you could turn a recess and attach a chapter ring instead of having to attach the numbers

Step 3

At this stage, you can now true the edge of the blank

Step 4

Measure 15mm (9/16in) from the back of the blank and create a shallow cove between the side and face. You can then add a detail at both ends using a 3mm (1/8n) parting tool. Sand, seal, lacquer, then allow to dry

Step 5

You will need a hanger plate, which is fitted by drilling a 25mm (1in) hole on the drill press and screwing it in place with two smaller holes below. This will allow the screw head to seat and you can use this to ensure that the clock can be hung without any visible method

Step 6

Simply install the clock movement from the back and secure in place using the locking nut supplied. Fit the hands, set them to the 12 o'clock position and apply your first numbers. Next, rotate the minute hand one full rotation; this will move the hour hand to the 1 o'clock position. Continue for the remainder of the numbers, ensuring they appear vertical by pressing each one onto the face carefully

Step 7

Finally, install a battery, and then the clock can be hung on the wall

Classic mantle clock

Time taken & cost

Time taken: 90 mins

Cost: £6.50 (clock movement - £4)

Step 1

Drill the blank with a 60mm (2 3/8in) hole, 25mm (1in) deep, then use this hole to mount the blank onto the chuck. True the face and use CA adhesive to apply a sacrificial spigot that is suitable to fit into your 50mm (2in) spigot jaws. Use the tailstock to centre the blank, apply pressure, then you can allow to dry

Step 2

Reverse chuck, then sand, seal and lacquer the back before allowing to dry

Step 3

Reverse chuck, then you can lacquer the back before allowing to dry

Step 4

To create the cushions for the clock body to sit on, mount the blanks between centres and turn to the round. Create a spigot at one end then true the blank, turn the centre bead followed by the outer bead before sanding and lacquering. Measure 50mm (2in), part off, then finish the ends, as before. You can now repeat the process for the second cushion

Step 5

Create the base using a piece of board cut from the same blank. Sand and finish as for the rest of the project. At this point, I often wonder why the base is a different colour to the rest of the components. This is because the wood often needs time to change colour - oxidise - and this can take a few days. Mark the base as per the drawing and drill small holes - I used short pins to help locate the cushions in place - apply glue, then allow to set

Step 6

Once the glue is set it is time to attach the body of the clock. Position the part as you want it to be displayed and then lightly mark the back with a soft pencil before applying a bead of glue to the bottom sections. Place the body onto the bottom sections then leave to dry. Set the back of all the components in line and ensure to leave a small reveal at the front. When the glue is dry, you can install the clock

Step 7

The mantle clock is now complete and can be displayed

Offcentre freestanding mantle clock

Time taken & cost

Time taken: 50 mins

Cost: £10 (clock movement - £4)

Step 1

This clock is made using figured poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). This project is not finally finished until the very last stage, as there is some risk to the finish as the hole is made towards the end. Therefore, it is better to leave this until the work is completed. Begin by centring the blank and attaching it to a backing board using hot melt glue. With the tailstock in place, create a spigot then sand and seal the outside area of the blank

Step 2

Reverse chuck and true the outer edge and face. Sand and seal before allowing to dry

Step 3

Reverse chuck the piece and take care to protect the finished face. Use the centre to trap the piece between centres, remove the spigot, then sand and remove from the lathe. Remove the last remnants of the spigot by hand and finish to a good standard

Step 4

When dry, mark a straight line across what is to become the base then cut this off with a bandsaw before sanding and sealing the base. Use a large sawtooth bit mounted in a drill press to drill the hole to house the clock, then clean the debris and spray with satin lacquer

Step 5

Here is the completed off-centre freestanding mantle clock

Simple skeleton clock

Time taken & cost

Time taken: 90 mins

Cost: £8.50 (clock movement - £18.95)

Round the outside shape and create a base using the interior from the clock surround. The movement is retained by using small screws in the back flange and a locking ring at the front. Start with a screw chuck then reverse chuck into an expanding dovetail recess, then create a flange to fit the clock movement onto. Allow enough space so the retaining ring can be installed from the front. Don't make the opening too tight. When complete, part through and drill a 12mm (1/2in) hole for a dowel to be installed in the centre of the side; this will join the base and clock body together. Mount on a chuck, and create a conical shape which will become the base. Drill a 12mm (1/2in) hole at the centre then sand, finish, and glue the two pieces together


Tegan Foley

Tagged In:

Nick Arnull , Clock , Woodturning , designs

About The Author

Professional woodturner, author and demonstrator Nick Arnull produces decorative turned wood art and also turns spindles for furniture makers, cabinet makers, joiners and builders. He has demonstrated at symposiums all over the world and also offers tuition to those who are looking to improve their woodturning and explore decorative techniques.
Email: nickarnull@hotmail.co.uk

Sizes Required

Classic wall clock: 125 x 250mm (5 x 93/4in)
Quartz movement wall clock: 230 x 35mm (9 x 1 3/8in)
Classic mantle clock: 110 x 50mm (41/4 x 2in); cushions: 2 x 60 x 40mm (2 3/8 x 1 5/8in); base: 1 x 180 x 80 x 10mm (7 x 3 1/8 x 2 3/8in)
Off-centre freestanding mantle clock: 255 x 50mm (10 x 2in)
Simple skeleton clock: 200 x 50mm (8 x 2in).
The centre that is removed is used to make the base

Timber Requirements

Classic wall clock: Sapele/mahogany substitute
Quartz movement wall clock: English oak
Classic mantle clock: Tasmanian blackwood
Off-centre freestanding mantle clock: Figured English poplar
Simple skeleton clock: English walnut

Handy Hints

1. Use good quality wood adhesive when you are gluing various parts together
2. Take your time at the final assembly stages
3. Take care when you are hand finishing
4. Use scrap wood to add sacrificial chucking methods
5. Measure carefully when creating openings for clocks
6. Staining the timber adds a classical feel to a piece
7. You should always allow glue to dry before fitting the clock mechanisms

Diagrams Click an image to enlarge