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. 
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.

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

hspam (author)  frank260801154 years ago
I am sorry but I do not believe I can due to copyright. The template is property of the magazine.
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.
I don't think he can post those because of copyright but you can recreate the templates with Matthias Wandel 's gear template maker: http://woodgears.ca/gear_cutting/template.html the free one should work but the full version has a bit of a hefty in price. . .

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.
sevesp29 months ago

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


and a copy of the template is... ?
(please) :D
R1673 years ago
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...
nerick4 years ago
Unfortunately, not much to learn here
You should explain a least how to properly cut the gears...
Poor instructable (but nice job ;) )
juanvi nerick4 years ago
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)  juanvi4 years ago
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 hspam4 years ago
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)  juanvi4 years ago
I think the template had me drill a slightly bigger hole then the axle that the gear spun on.
Ac7ion hspam3 years ago
nice clock, but where is the template?
kmiddleton13 years ago
I am building an entire clock 90 teeth on the largest gear....my 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?

Is this what you mean by a strip sander?

hspam (author)  kmiddleton13 years ago
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.
tjesse4 years ago
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 http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-Galileos-Bicycle/
SSWCMan14 years ago
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)  SSWCMan14 years ago
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 hspam4 years ago
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.
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.
shmdesigns4 years ago
Excellent job...this one is going into my project list.
agis684 years ago
excellent job...i really loved this instructable.....very professional jo....carry on
mrf0134 years ago
Awesome clock... it would look great with some stain and wood burning the numbers! Thanks for sharing!
DEG4 years ago
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.....
blipvert4 years ago
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.
alcurb4 years ago
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.
shobley4 years ago
Nice design!
Tigrezno4 years ago
Dude, we need a video!
ZoDo4 years ago
Awesome project!!! You have my vote
kmlucy4 years ago
A scroll saw would work much better than a Dremel.
zazenergy4 years ago
Absolutely gorgeous craftsmanship.
sam D4 years ago
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...