This is a clock made fully out of acrylic!

This was originally was my year 13 mechanical engineering college project, we had to research, design and build a project for a stakeholder, this including lots of recording so there is no shortage of photos.

the use of acrylic for a main building material was decided to make a new feature piece, it also is a simpler material to work with, with the limited machinery you find in a college workshop. The clock is fully my design and took about 13 weeks with about 16 hours a fortnight. I wanted something a bit different from the standard clock with three hands and circular design, i wanted to included the look and mechanical workings in the old grandfather and skeleton clock. This is where the open design comes from so all workings are visible so you can see how it operates.

because of its design out of all flat material this clock could easily be all cut out with a laser or CNC cutter, or even 3D printed ,making production quicker and more accurate. Because Autodesk Inventor was used to design the clock, all the files needed very little work before been sent to a cutter or 3D printer.

As the title my suggest the clock is mostly 3mm acrylic, this could be any color weather its transparent or opaque, its your choice. the only other materials are:

  • 5mm shaft (brass, steel or other depending on what you fancy)
  • back can be thick acrylic, hard wood, metal of any type, or any other strong material
  • .Lead, or almost any heavy material for weights, depending on what you want it to look like and how good your cutting of gears are.
  • Nylon or other twine for weights.
  • Acrylic cement
  • Dome nuts
  • 80mm diameter aluminum stock for winding barrels. (could be made out of wood)
  • 30mm diameter aluminum stock for pulleys (Could be wood)


  • Scroll saw
  • small hand files
  • band saw (not necessary)
  • dremel (only needed if engraving numbers, stick on or painted numbers can be used)
  • Belt sander (Not necessary, everything can be hand sanded)
  • Computer ( to print out gear templates)
  • Lathe for metal and some wood work (depends on your changes to the design)

Here is a link to my full project I did with this clock, which will cover anything I miss as this project has a too many parts to cover in one Instructables.


Step 1: Design

the first idea were done on a whiteboard but were developed with Autodesk inventor, a free software available to student or a relatively small price for other people. it enables the user to complete complex 3D and 2D designs cover all functional and atheistic needs. Because gears are a pain to do with the software, in the CAD designs i didn't do the teeth as they will be in the clock, i just had them rounded. This means i could get all the sized right and do tests but i didn't waste lots of time calculating gear teeth. Once i knew what size gears i needed, I used an online gear template calculator that gave me the templates to create the gears.http://woodgears.ca/gear_cutting/template.html

Here is the Autodesk inventor CAD files if anyone can use them. I don't know how useful they will be as I only used them for planning the layout, not for templates, so they would need a fair amount of work to be laser cut. https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B4V1Ma-qByctOGprQ0NWV3Nac00&usp=drive_web
I would recommend getting the gear templates for each gear and laser cut them, then use the CAD files just for the frame, but check it has the right dimensions between holes as your gears might not run nicely otherwise.

<p>Looks great,</p><p>is there any possibility to get the ipt-files in dxf-format?</p><p>We have a Laser but no Autodesk.</p>
<p>Awesome clock! I like the unique design</p>
<p>Estimado, escribo desde Argentina. Hermoso proyecto!!. Tendr&aacute;s los archivos CAD para compartir. Gracias!! mariscallis@gmail.com</p>
<p>I like this post... It best process of make the Acrylic Skeleton Clock. </p><p>http://productiveplastics.com.au</p>
<p>Ben you need to add this to the laser cutter contest. The work you have put in is obscene. You deserve a laser cutter after all that!</p>
<p>All done ;)</p>
<p>...it got my vote too! I have a CNC machine and I'm just itching to work one out on there..... When my to-do list gets a little shorter that is....</p>
Good work! Got my vote and I'll put you on the phenoptix blog in the morning!
<p>Sweet! Nice website you have :)</p>
<p>Thanks Ben. Sorry for the procrastination! Just writing the blog now, but seems Hackaday and a bunch of others beat me to it! </p>
<p>Haha not probs, yea, its amazing how far it has spread around the internet :) Thanks for the publicity, its good, been able to share my project with others.</p>
<p>I have try used <a href="http://woodgears.ca/gear_cutting/template.html" rel="nofollow">http://woodgears.ca/gear_cutting/template.html </a> for print gear.</p><p>but the parameters name is not same as your design. the online template can not set pitch circle dia = 93mm.</p>
<p>Thank you very much for pointing this out, its because i was using the proper terms and the template generator was using dumb down terms. the pitch circle diameter was used to get the spacing between gears, to get the templates use the number of teeth and the<strong> &quot;chordal pitch&quot;</strong>, which is the<strong> &quot;tooth spacing</strong>&quot; in the template generator. I will change the document so it is simple and clarified.</p><p>Thank you for your feed back, it means i can improve my Intructables which makes it better for everyone. :)</p>
<p>Wow. Great work! I will probably start working on that project this weekend.</p><p>How did you manage to create the escapement gear with the woodgears template?</p>
<p>That template you can get from the CAD drawing ;)</p>
<p>Thank you for share, i was try build wooden clock long time ago but it is no success. it time to do it again with this.</p><p>i have try to open Mechanical drawings.dwg file with Inventor fusion for mac (free version) and progeCAD viewer DWG. But see nothing for all program. Is someone got this problem in Mac?</p>
<p>The dwg file is dependent on the rest of the files been there, so make sure they are all in the same folder. I will see if i can export it, so it isnt dependant any more.</p>
<p>Great job on the clock and also the write-up. I suppose I'll have to add this design to my ever-growing list of things to build. (You got my vote in the laser cutter contest too.) Very impressed at your patience in completing this.</p>
<p>This is an amazing piece of work, and I'm very impressed by the amount of time you spent in constructing/documenting it. Will definitely vote for you in the laser cutting contest!</p>
<p>I LOVE THIS!! It would look great on my wall :-)</p>
<p>I don't suppose anyone has taken this and put out the .eps files to send to Ponoko or some similar vendor to have the parts cut and done in whatever color we desire....?</p>
<p>The CAD files i have for it would need a fair amount of work before been sent to laser cutting as the CAD were only for the shape and approximate sizes. The gear templates were separate.</p>
Do you have clock dxf files that you are willing to share?
<p>I will put a link to Google docs where you can get it. ;)</p>
Much thanks for posting your clock with a profusion of information on fabrication. FYI - my all time favorite clock that I have seen on the web. I would think Constellation Map for particular latitude is likely to be found on web.<br><br> http://www.orologinlegno.it/index2.htm
Glorious piece of craftsmanship. That should get you into any school you apply to.
Most folk would run a mile if faced with all those gears to cut and mesh correctly. You deserve a point or two just for tenacity. It's good that the finished article is such a good looking piece of work. The thing I like about acrylic is you can also use it as a light guide. So you could have some well placed LEDs and maybe make it glow in a certain place every second and maybe glow a different disc on the hour or half hour using different colours. If the numbers are etched in to the surface deep enough then the led light will reflect off the numbers edges and a little escapes giving you the glow. Good work fella.
<p>The files that werent opening, I have replace with links so you should have no probablem now :)</p>
Nice. I've got a laser so might try making one if I get time. You should definitely enter the laser contest. I'd vote for you.
<p>Yup its entered, but it just got accepted in today, so now you can vote :)</p>
<p>Your links don't work.</p>
<p>Hmmm i see my files that i attached come up with an error, sorry about that. I will try fix them as soon a possible. :) Thanks for pointing that out.</p>
<p>Great project! I love that you did so much by hand. So many instructables lately seem to be &quot;step 1: have a 3d printer/laser cuter/welder&quot;. </p>
<p>wow, that is a really beautifull clock and you're so skillfull! great instructable.</p>
<p>I would pay for this. If I could get it in another colour.</p>
<p>Haha good thing with acrylic is you can get it in a range of colours, transparent and opaque. ;)</p>
<p>Real cool, Now someone needs to put it up on amazon</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a student studying engineering at Canterbury University in New Zealand. with a passion for renewable energy, electronics and almost all engineering. I have ... More »
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