Introduction: Make an Hourglass Case

About: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.

While traveling this past summer I came across this bare hourglass. I bought it thinking it would make for a fun weekend wood project. It’s made from poplar, stained with Cabot Cherry stain, and uses Sugru for footpads.

Step 1: Shape the Ends

I started out by cutting a couple squares from a plank of poplar. I marked the corners for the spindles and drilled them out with a forstner bit. I then chamfered one side of the squares while rounding over the other.

Step 2: Make the Patterrn Template

Next thing I had to do was make a hole for the glass to sit in. This can be a little tricky. I’ll spare you all the measuring but basically you have to cut a hole deep enough to hold the glass taking the bumpers into consideration.

Because the biggest forstner bit I have it 1½” I had to make a pattern template on my lathe. I mounted a square of MDF and used a parting tool to cut a circle out. This circle will guide my router to cut out perfect circles in the poplar.

I used duct tape to attach the template onto the poplar while I routed it. I didn’t take a picture of the router setup so I’ll explain. The bit goes into the router. A special plate goes onto the base of the router, which has a collet surrounding the bit. With this collet in place I can guide the router around the inside of the circle while it’s on the poplar. This allows me to cut out the needed size hole for the glass.

Step 3: Fit the Glass Bumpers

I wanted this case to “grip” the hourglass. My solution was to use gutted lamp cord. After taking out the copper wire, I cut it just a little oversized so it would fit snug. This worked out well; adjusting for the contour of the glass.

Step 4: Turn the Spindles

Originally I wasn’t going to do anything to the ¾” dowel but it looked odd to me. But now the problem was how to keep each dowel looking consitent.

I ended up making a curved sanding block out of scrap wood. I removed some material from the center of the dowel to help center the block during sanding. Once it was the right shape I moved on to the next one.

Step 5: Test Fit

I finished marking and drilling the spindle ends as well as the end caps. Once that was done I test fit the pieces. Everything, including the bumpers, fit well so I moved on to staining.

This step is important because you don’t want to have to make any adjustments after it’s stained. Trying to re-stain a small area on a project can by tricky.

Step 6: Stain

I used a foam brush to apply the stain. To help handle the pieces I used either a scrap piece of dowel or screws. See the pictures. After dry time (overnight) I sprayed it over with polyurethane.

Step 7: Sugru Foot Pads

I could have used several things to cover the screw holes. I could have even not used screws at all and just glued the case together. I decided to use Sugru because 1) it works great for this application and 2) it makes my hourglass 2.7 points more awesome.

The footpads were applied in two stages. First a small ball of Sugru was pressed into the countersunk holes. Next another small ball was shaped over the top.

Thanks for reading.

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