This clock although made in 3 parts is probably one of the easier items to make, the one I’m making here is done in Bubinga, a central African hardwood, rich in colour and a very dense and heavy timber, although dense it’s not difficult to turn, all that’s required is that your tools are sharp and the turning becomes a pleasure, it polishes up well and keeps it’s lustre. The clock I use is one of the miniature clocks at only 37 mm in diameter, other sizes can be used if you adjust your sizes accordingly, the following set of pictures and text should take you through the making of this clock.
These are the component parts required to make the clock, left, is the base at 100 mm in diameter by 32 mm thick, middle is the piece for the column at 30 mm x 30 mm x 100 mm and right is the piece for the top at 75 mm x 75 mm x 100 mm, the wood for all 3 are Bubinga and the clock insert is 37 mm in diameter.
After cutting your 3 parts to size, the first job is to mark out where the clock goes and where the column fits into the top, try to keep the top part as square as possible in all aspects, it’s important to get the clock and the hole for the column in line with each other. The clock should be fitted into the end grain and central to the block of wood. The hole for the column should be 40 mm back from the front and in line with the hole for the clock in one of the facing grain sides.
Now is the time to drill the holes, one for the clock and one for the column. Here I’m drilling the hole for the clock on the end grain, the drill size is 1 & 3/8″ or 35 mm and the hole gets drilled to 12 mm deep, use a pillar drill if you have one, otherwise it could be drilled on the lathe.
I’m now drilling the hole for the column, it’s 1/2″ or 12.5 mm and drilled to about 20 mm deep. Again using the pillar drill
The top piece now drilled for the clock and the column, you will see that the holes are in line with each other.
Start with the base piece first, glue on a piece of scrap wood that will be used to secure the base to the lathe, I use hot melt glue for this. If the jaws you are using are big enough you can hold it directly, if not a small faceplate ring screwed onto the scrap piece of wood will do the job just as well. I turned the base of the blank and put the chuck recess into it, sanded sealed and polished the base.
I then turned it around, now held by the chuck in the recess and removed the scrap piece I had glued to the face. I’m now drilling the hole for the bottom of the column, drill size is 3/4″ or 19 mm and I’m drilling the hole to 20 mm deep.
The profile on the base now turned, sanded and sealed, rubbed back with wire wool before applying a coat of Melamine then rubbing up with a paper towel to a good lustre. Remove this part from the lathe and now start to work the column.
Using a 4 jaw chuck put the square section of column into the chuck and bring up the tailstock to a central position. You can turn most of the column to the round at this stage, then form the spigot at the tailstock end to fit the hole drilled in the base piece, check for a tight fit regularly.
Put the base back in the chuck and fit the column into the base and glue it in, I use super glue for this as it set quickly. Secure with the tailstock. Now the rest of the turning to the column can be done, do the top spigot first making sure it fits the hole already cut in the top section, then complete the turning to your own design. Sand seal and polish the column.
Mount the top part with the hole for the clock at the tailstock end, it will have a centre left by the drill which can be used for the point of the tailstock, The drive end needs to be accurately centred before the turning begins, now start turning the profile required, begin with the end where the clock goes and turn the shape leaving about 3 mm of a flat area adjacent to the hole for the clock, this will ensure the clock sits flush on the wood.
After the clock end shape is complete you will need to turn the top piece around so that the drive is now in the clock recess and the tailstock is now in the opposite end, use the centre mark for the tailstock. Now complete the turning to your desired shape, sand seal and polish the whole top section, the little mark left by the tailstock can be sanded off or filled with a little coloured wax, or drill a small hole and fix in a brass or aluminium rivet in place.
Assembly is straight forward, the top section simply fits onto the top of the column, again a little super glue is used to secure it, the clock insert needs to be fitted into the opening at the front, this is held by friction on the rubber band that comes with the insert, care needs to be taken to line the clock face up properly, and remember to remove the plastic film covering the face, your clock should be finished.
The finished clock.