gary's clocks


Do I have to use exotic woods for the gears?

Where can I get Baltic Birch Plywood?

Do You have plans for a Cuckoo Clock or a mechanism to strike a bell on the hour?

Can I get a set of printed plans from you?

Why are the plans in Autocad?

All of the parts aren't shown on your ACAD file?

Do you have plans for kids?

The animations don't animate?

  • Do I have to use exotic woods for the gears?
  • This is the most asked question.

    You don't have to use exotic woods to build this or any clock.

    Using fancy wood is an easy trap to fall into.

    Been there.

    Built some projects myself out of some of the fanciest wood you can find that didn't turn out as nice as I'd like.

    Many of the wood clocks you find displayed on the web are made from a variety of exotic woods. They do look nice but the choice of wood may not be the best.

    I suspect the reason we see so many clocks made from fancy woods is because the guys using every day woods are a little intimidated to share their work.

    Please send in a picture of your clock, regardless of the wood you choose to use.

    The wood you choose for the gears should have no checks or splits, be strong across the grain and with the grain, not warp too much and be light in weight, easy to machine with a scrollsaw and ideally not cost a whole lot.

    Aircraft grade plywood is strong,light, easy to work with, is uniform in shape and looks really good. I used a 7 ply baltic birch plywood that only cost 30$ and had enough wood for 5 clocks.

    What throws most people off when they think of plywood is that the common grades of plywood used in house construction don't look all that good. The plywood I'm suggesting probably isn't available at Home Depot or other large hardware stores. But I bet they could get it for you if you asked at the supply desk.

    Some technical reasons for plywood

    Suggest getting your hands on a reference book about wood and its mechanical properties. Found a few at my local library.

    The main reasons for using plywood for the gears:

    *-Solid wood strength varies with the grain direction

    *-Solid Wood moves and warps as the humidity changes through the year

    *-Easier to use commercial plywood rather than try to make my own

    *-Once you carve away most of the material for the web arms and stain the wood you'd be hard pressed to tell it apart from some of the exotics (don't paint the contact faces though!!)

    *-No surprises like splits, checks, voids or knots

    Wood has grain or fibers running along its length. It is real easy to break along the grain but tough to break across the grain.

    Since gears are round you'd have strong teeth on one half of a gear and weak ones on the other.

    Plywood alternates sheets of wood so that the fibers run at 90 degrees to each other. On the good stuff you will always find an odd number of sheets.

    Another source of the plywoods strength comes from the glues used to bond the plys together.

    Wood Moves

    Unless the wood is sealed in plastic (and a lot of wood projects are. yukk) it will expand or contract as the seasons change. The gears won't work if the contact faces are painted with polyurethane.

    But wood doesn't just change shape evenly. It hardly changes shape at all along the length of the fibers but changes a lot across them. So you'd have gears that were oval for part of the year.

    This unequal change in shape also makes it very difficult to make your own plywood. In some woods the difference between their change in shape along the grain and across it is dramatic. Many exotics suffer from this and will tend break apart over time.

    If you insist on making your own plywood from exotic woods make sure the plys are very thin (less than 2mm or .080") to reduce the forces that will tend to self destruct your homemade plywood.

    I tried making my own plywood from Birdseye Maple and Padouk and it broke apart and split as soon as the winter came.

    The forces on the gears are surprisingly low and you can probably get away with using solid wood if you insist. Some people obviously have had some success as you've probably seen from the picture gallery and elsewhere. You could always remake the gears if they eventually warped or cracked.

    Remember it is not the fancy wood that makes a project but the workmanship that went into it that counts.

  • Where can I get Baltic Birch Plywood?
  • A hard question to answer because I get e-mails from all over the world. So I can't direct you to a particular store.

    You might have gathered that I'm promoting free stuff on this site. So here is a suggestion that worked for me.

    Scrounge a bit. Visit boat building or furniture making shops if you are lucky to find one in your area. I picked up some beautiful multi-ply boat grade plywood this way. Also got a piece of 21 ply 3/4inch 3 foot by 6 foot plywood off of a shipping crate one time.

    Ok so your having trouble with the free stuff. Here is a store in my neck of the woods that I've used on occasion.

    Try asking one of the guys at the service desk at your local hardware store. Home Depot has all kinds of stuff for the trades that never see the store shelves.

  • Do You have plans for a Cuckoo Clock or a mechanism to strike a bell on the hour?
  • I don't have a design for either a Cuckoo or chime mechanism. Haven't come accross one on the web either.

    I do have plans to make kinematic sculptures rather than clocks in the future. That is geared weight driven devices that don't necessarily tell time but do activate bells whistles and caused balls to roll down tracks. A magical mousy sculpture.

    Once you have the basic mechanics for a simple clock worked out it is a simple matter to drive other devices off of the gear train.

    There is a catch though. It will take more energy to do this. So additional weights are used or you sacrifice the length between windings.

  • Can I get a printed version of the plans from you?
  • Sorry, but no.

  • Can I get printed plans from you if I offer to pay for them?
  • Sorry, but no.

  • How can I print the Plans myself?
  • See Downloads-how to print

  • Why are the templates in ACAD and not something more web friendly like jpg?
  • This is the program I used to design the clock.
    The scroll saw templates must be printed full scale in order to work.
    There is no way to guarantee that a jpg or other web graphic will print full scale on your computer.
    Printer margins and how different browsers treat images are some of the factors.

    ACAD is a very common drafting program that facilitates fullword printing.
    ACAD images are vector images. Zooming in or enlarging the image does not distort like a jpg does.

    There are also a very large number of free ACAD viewers available. Cadwizz is just one of many.

    Am planning to release the drawings in Adobe PDF format in the future (when my kids finish college).

  • I have ACAD version 14 and can't open your acad drawing?
  • The acad file is now saved as version 14.

    Try to open the file using Cadwizz. It can saveas most versions of acad including ver 14.
    A useful tool for anyone using ACAD besides those of you making clocks.
    Those of you lucky enough to know how to use ACAD will be able to do much more with the drawing besides view and print full scale.
    This is an advantage over PDF.

  • How do I get the dimensions for the parts in your ACAD plans?
  • The ACAD plan is drawn full scale.
    Be sure to print the plans full scale and simply measure directly from the drawing.

    The gear profiles are meant to be used as scroll saw templates. Dimensions here would be redundant.

    There are jpeg pictures on the website with some overall dimensions shown.

    You could dimension the file yourself if you have ACAD or some other program that can read dwg files. Even better, you could make major modifications by using the acad drawing as a starting point.

    If you have a lathe you will most likely add your own flair to the shaft design. Just remember to cut the holes in the gear blanks first and make the shafts to suit.

  • All of the parts aren't shown on your ACAD file?
  • If you look through this website you'll find additional jpeg pictures and info that isn't readily visible on the ACAD drawing.

    You could get your hands on the Fine Wood Working article.

  • Do you have plans for kids?
  • I also get asked once in a while if you need a lot of tools to make one of these clocks.
    Can I get by with just a scrollsaw and maybe a hand drill?

    It should be possible to build a wood clock using just a scrollsaw,drillpress and sandpaper. A handrill might be a little tough to get the accuracy you need.

    You might get by using wood dowels for the shafts but a lathe really would help with making a more satisfying clock.

    Recently completed the design for a very simple clock. This one would be very useful if you were entering a science fair.
    Check my downloads page for this one.

  • Spiderman isn't dancing?
  • spiderman

    This is more of an internet question but worth mentioning because it took me a while to find the answer when my animations stopped animating recently.

    Spiderman should be dancing. If you are looking at a static picture then you most likely have animations disabled on your computer.

    This is not a fault with this website. You are not seeing animated gifs anywhere you visit on the web.

    Search for other animated gifs on the web to see what I mean.

    The most likely culprit is that you have disabled animations using a pop up killer or other virus app you have installed.

    The animations on this site are the coolest thing about it. It is a shame that virus programs make your internet experience so safe that you end up seeing nothing.

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