Introduction: Wooden Gear Clock

Picture of Wooden Gear Clock

I have always loved wooden gear clocks.  So for my birthday my wife gave me a Dremel and a copy of Scroll Saw Magazine that had a pattern for a wooden gear clock.  This is my entry for the clock contest and 4th Epilog Challenge, it is also my first Instructable. So fair warned.  I have had thoughts on making gear clocks to sell.  If I had a Zing laser cutter then cutting out the gears would be much more precise and need much less sanding and fine tuning.  

Step 1: Get a Pattern

Picture of Get a Pattern

My pattern came from Scroll saw magazine spring 2011 Issue 42.  You don't have to get this one It just had a good pattern and instructions. 

Step 2: Materials

Picture of Materials

The Materials needed:
Spray Adhesive
3/4" plywood
1/2" plywood
1/4" plywood
1/8" plywood (hard to find for me)
1/8" hardwood (I did not use this but probably should have)
1/4" washer
2 #8 2" wood screws
2 #8 washers
14' 50lb fishing line
1 1/2" 13 1/2 "copper pipe, end caps,

Safety gear (ear, eye, hands, body... ect)  If you want it protected then protect it

1 1/2" 5" copper pipe, end caps
2 hooks
7lb led shot
1/16" rod or wire
1/8" brass rod
#8 threaded rod and nut
3/8" wood dowel
1 5/8" light compression spring
wood glue
Wood I got at big box stores, everything else Ace;

Dremel with router and wood bit (or scroll saw)
Dremel sand paper or sanding wheel (or belt sander)
cut off disks
hand drill (or drill press is better but did not have)
drill bits (3/8, 17/64, 1/4, 9/64, 1/8, 1/16)
Dremel engraving tool

Step 3: Cut and Glue

Picture of Cut and Glue

First make copy of the pattern, then make additional copies of parts that you must cut more then one of (such as wind pulley parts) the pattern only has one of each

Second cut out the pattern, if using the Dremel make sure there is a lot of extra wide border around each piece, the router guide will push up the paper destroying the pattern, which is bad.

Third, spray adhesive on the back of the pattern and attach them to the blanks.

Step 4: Drill Holes

Picture of Drill Holes

Drill the holes in the patterns, sand the rough edges that the drilling makes, or the Dremel guide will get stuck on them.

Note, use an awl to mark/start hole then drill

Step 5: Cut Out Parts

Picture of Cut Out Parts

Cut out the parts.

I recommend start with the non gear parts first to get used to the Dremel and get the speed setting right. 

Also using the engraving tool, engrave the numbers on the gears, I also did not drill out all of the holes on the minute wheel I used the engraving tool to mark them instead. 

Step 6: Sand Everything

As the title says, SAND EVERYTHING.  Every edge.  Then sand the gears, make sure the pinions (small gears) mesh properly with the proper gear.

Step 7: Glue the Pinions, Connectors, and Wheels

Glue the pinions, connectors, and wheels together,  Also glue the wind pulley assemble together.

Sorry I did not take pictures of the glued pinions. 

Step 8: Assemble It

Picture of Assemble It

Finally put it together. 
Make the weights. 

Following the blown out diagram, assemble the clock. 

Make sure you string the wind pulley correctly

All that is left is to run the clock and adjust the pendulum and mounting to make sure it keeps even time.

Note:  As you add each wheel, make sure the wheel and pinion mesh by running the wheel by turning the pinion,  If it doesn't run smooth, make the gears that are binding and sand a little off.  Make sure the wheels run smoothly.

I did not take off the paper to make it easier to see in the picture but I will.


frank26080115 (author)2011-08-29

Can you please post the templates somehow? It's very hard to find a particular clock design online because there are so many variations. I'd like to see this one in particular.

maryksr (author)frank260801152015-01-05

I think copy right means "copy and sell" Not copy and giveaway. Just my thought!

hspam (author)frank260801152011-08-30

I am sorry but I do not believe I can due to copyright. The template is property of the magazine.

thelastonekills (author)hspam2012-07-10

ummmm, sooo they invented the clock?

the idea here is to share on how to.

and if you are still not for it
do your own template, or a bit of numbers.

Funnymonk (author)frank260801152011-08-30

I don't think he can post those because of copyright but you can recreate the templates with Matthias Wandel 's gear template maker: the free one should work but the full version has a bit of a hefty in price. . .

frank26080115 (author)Funnymonk2011-08-30


I can probably work out the gears myself in CAD but that pendulum mechanism I'm not so comfortable with

Second Mathias' site- he has some serious wood gear guidance.

sevesp2 (author)2014-11-09

Hi. I don´t know much about making clocks or gears, but I have been looking into the subject lately and found interesting stuff on Internet. Just keep searching, there is a lot of stuff on the Net ...

I found out that four of the basic (and more important gears) that you need for a clock are the 8:28 and 7:24 (teeth each). You can print the gears using this online tool

thelastonekills (author)2012-07-09

and a copy of the template is... ?
(please) :D

R167 (author)2012-07-06

i would post this in the laser challenge, you might win a laser printer which would make this much easier. this is also a great i dea, I just need to find the diagrams...

nerick (author)2011-09-03

Unfortunately, not much to learn here
You should explain a least how to properly cut the gears...
Poor instructable (but nice job ;) )

juanvi (author)nerick2011-09-03

same. i'm about to make one but i dont know how to cut the wood gears..and what to use so that they can rotate without friction...

hspam (author)juanvi2011-09-03

nerick, Yes I didn't know where copyrights started/ended so I just tried to paint with broad strokes. But how I cut the gears was to follow the outline of the template with the Dremel and stop before the Dremel cut to far into the gear (due to dremel thickness) then I took sanding wheels and finished shaping the gears. The pic I used shows the 'm' shape that I used to rough cut the gears.

juanvi, You can ether use a Dremel (harder) or a scroll saw. I used contact spray glue to glue down the template onto the wood then cut around the lines, then lots and lots and lots of sanding to make the gears mesh correctly allowing them to turn without binding.

juanvi (author)hspam2011-09-04

oh thanks, but what can I use to put in the gear center so that it spins with little firction? the axis of the gear

hspam (author)juanvi2011-09-04

I think the template had me drill a slightly bigger hole then the axle that the gear spun on.

Ac7ion (author)hspam2012-02-14

nice clock, but where is the template?

kmiddleton1 (author)2011-10-01

I am building an entire clock 90 teeth on the largest own design

im in high school and i was looking or an easier way, you see i have all year to biuld it, but 618 teeth is alot! (90,8,64,12,16,40,10,48,(8,60 x5))

band-saw get them down to about 1/32" but then im on my own filing/sanding

i use a scroll saw but it slow work very slow...... jigsaw chips the Baltic birch to back

so i found a strip sand on the internet would work better i dont have this tool

i have all the tools i method at my disposal except a strip sander so please is there a power tool that will sand this for me,,, that i can buy under $100?

bfarms (author)kmiddleton12011-12-08

Is this what you mean by a strip sander?

hspam (author)kmiddleton12011-10-03

I used the Dremel to rough out the gears then used a diamond grind/sanding wheel to finish cutting out /sanding the teeth. I have also thought about making a jig mounted on a scroll saw (if I had one). The jig would have a pin the gear could turn on and the pin would slide forward and back. The jig would allow you to cut one side of each gear, so slide the first tooth into the blade, slide back, rotate to next tooth, slide forward to cut.. ect Then turn the gear over to cut the other side of the gear. Not sure if this would work. The Scroll saw magazine cut each tooth with the saw then used a vertical belt sander to finish/sand each tooth. I am not sure what other tool you could use. The Dremel worked for me but yes it was labor intensive.

tjesse (author)2011-09-02

I have build something similar, but not with a dermal! Are you a masochist! I thought an 80 tooth gear with a scroll saw was bad. I made one of Clayton Boyer's designs using this instructable

SSWCMan1 (author)2011-09-01

I have to say that as a long-time fan of Instructables, it's pretty cool to see an article/project I spent an inordinate amount of time working out on this site!

We've posted a video of the clock in motion on our magazine's website

The designer, Clayton Boyer, also has several other gear clock plans available:

Like the magazine title says, the project was designed to be cut on a scroll saw; I'm impressed that you cut it accurately enough with a Dremel.

Please feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions!

Best Regards,
Bob Duncan
Technical Editor
Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts

hspam (author)SSWCMan12011-09-01

Bob, Thank you for the complement. Yes a scroll saw would have been much easier but in an apartment, and a grad student, a Dremel is what fits. It was a fun project to work on. If I would win the Epilog contest then I would defiantly have to make most of Clayton Boyer's projects they look fantastic. Please publish more wooden gear projects in the magazine they are great.

SSWCMan1 (author)hspam2011-09-01

We try to do one a year; they take about 20-times more work than any other scroll saw article because we need to check, double-check, triple-check, and then check the accuracy of the patterns again! To make sure the patterns were accurate for this clock, I literally disassembled it and put the pieces on top of the patterns. But, yes, those are some of my favorite articles in the magazine. We've found that gizmo-type articles are really popular.

burnerjack01 (author)SSWCMan12011-09-01

I have not tried this project yet (hey, I have dreams..), but one thing I did spot right off: It would seem that concentricity is very important (?) and to this end, I had thought that to drill the center axle hole for the gears first would be the most accurate way as now you can use that hole with a guide pin to check or even cut the outer diameter where the crest of each gear tooth would be. Although I have very limited scroll saw experience (lots of sandpaper time...) It just seemed to be the way to go. Good Idea? Maybe not, just thought I'd throw it out there.

shmdesigns (author)2011-09-01

Excellent job...this one is going into my project list.

agis68 (author)2011-09-01

excellent job...i really loved this instructable.....very professional jo....carry on

mrf013 (author)2011-09-01

Awesome clock... it would look great with some stain and wood burning the numbers! Thanks for sharing!

DEG (author)2011-09-01

A door skin might be a good substitute for 1/8" ply....I think it's about 3/32" if that would be close enough.....

blipvert (author)2011-09-01

For those who want to roll their own but gears are the barrier. Here is a cool gear cutting program for woodworkers. Demo only, it costs $26, but is worth it if you plan to do alot of this.

No affiliation, just a fan of this engineer's woodworking site.

alcurb (author)2011-09-01

I found the issue of the magazine here:

I wonder how hard it would be to laser-cut the pieces. I'm thinking about the thicknesses involved.

shobley (author)2011-09-01

Nice design!

Tigrezno (author)2011-09-01

Dude, we need a video!

ZoDo (author)2011-08-31

Awesome project!!! You have my vote

kmlucy (author)2011-08-30

A scroll saw would work much better than a Dremel.

zazenergy (author)2011-08-30

Absolutely gorgeous craftsmanship.

sam D (author)2011-08-29

I think there is a real opportunity to make a solar panel heliostat with this mechanism, so that the panel would track the sky across the day. Clocks rotate their hands every 12 hours - this device would be perfect to hook up a connecting crank to the panel on a pivot so it tracks the sun during the day.

If I placed it outside near the doghouse I could reset it again each morning when I feed the pooch...

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