Introduction: Fence Time

I got a question. If your wife and you are driving down a dusty country road and see an old section of a 6 foot fence laying there, what do you do? I know that's an easy question and you know the answer, She says, "Let's make a clock."

There are some things ya' just can't resist.

Step 1: Mock-ups Are Your Friend

So we took fence section home, and inspected it carefully to be sure it didn't have any cooties. Maybe we should have done that before we put it in the car but "Oh well.".

We then separated the boards and looked at the nice old weathered barn-red paint that was on it and decided that it needed just a little help. Some contrasting blue and white paint was dry brushed over the red. A short bit of drying time and were ready to go.

Mock-ups are your friend. We arranged the boards in a way that gave the best appearance, then flipped the boards over. We wanted to really see what this clock was going to look like, so working on the back ugly side was a good idea.

We found the center of the panel that allowed the largest circle to be circumscribed. Using electrical tape, Roman Numerals were placed and played with, for location and size. My wife has the right eye for that sort of thing. Yes, I know that the number order in the picture is goofed up but it's a mock-up, for artistic purposes only. Small and large minute ticks were also placed for fun.

Happy with that. After taking a bunch of measurements, we were ready to do it for real.

Step 2: Circle of Time

With the right boards in the right places, the boards were put back together with 1/2 x 4 inch wood rail supports on the back. The support wood was attached using wood screws and wood glue.

Next, the center of the assembled fence was found again on the front side, to allow the largest possible clock face and a screw was put at the center as a pivot. A circle was drawn using a string and a piece of chalk. A hand scroll saw was used to cut out a 5 foot circle of wood. Not quite looking like a clock yet, but we're getting there.

Step 3: Making the Numbers - Roman Style

We had decided it was going to be a Roman Numeral clock but, I've seen them all the time but what does one really look like? Off to the internet. Ah, got it, Hmmm.... look at that. The numbers are upside-down on the bottom half of the clock. OK.

Out come the tin snips and Roman Numerals are made from strips of aluminum roof flashing, painted and a patina was added using acrylic paint.

It was a tough job to count how many "I" number-strips, "V" number strips, "X" number strips, small minute ticks and large minute ticks were needed. OK, the major ticks were 12, small ticks 60-12=48, and I forget how many Roman Numeral strips were need. (Clue: Count from the picture above.)

WIth just the right feminine artistic touch, the painted strips were also distressed (beat up) a bit to increase the age appearance.

It's time to put time where it belongs on the face of the clock.

Step 4: What! Where's My Calculator?

In geometry class you asked the teacher, "When am I ever going to use this stuff?" Now is the time.

An outer perimeter circle was drawn using a big fabricated compass with a Sharpie on the end.The minute tick marks would edge up to this line.

Now we'll do the geometry, promised by your teacher (it' actually trigonometry, but who cares). We'll just do the large tick marks but it is the same idea for the small ones too. The straight line distance between the large ticks is called the "chord". The formula for the Chord is C=2rsin(A/2) (where "r" is the radius, A is the angle and sin is the trig function pronounced "sign" (not sin). Since the angle "A" is 30 degrees and radius "r" is 28 inches, the formula says the distance between the large ticks should be 14.5 inches. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

With all the tick marks put in place using a nail gun with very short nails, we are ready for the numbers.

The spacing of the numbers was more artistic than trignometric so we don't need any more calculations. Each number was laid out carefully with the right "I", "V" or "X" pieces, then nailed down. Now we have the basics for a clock in place but are still not sure what time it is.

On to the hands.

Step 5: The Hands of Time

The hands were cut out of thin sheets of balsa wood and faux painted to look like metal. Balsa wood was chosen for its light weight. The two metal plates were from some kitchen gadget that we found at a thrift store. I can't remember if it was a "It slices, it dices, it chops, it grates!" thingee, or it is was from a mega Salad Spinner. Nonetheless; the plates are there to look cool, nothing more. The nut, holding it all on, is what you would use to hold your toilet seat down. It was not that color when we took it off the toilet seat, it was faux painted the same color as the other stuff.

Step 6: Nap Time

One last thing to do. The trim piece around the outer circumference of the clock, is a piece of plastic vinyl that is normally used to trim plastic outdoor house lattice. It was faux painted like the numbers and clock hands. It's flexibility made it easy to wrap it around the periphery of the clock and is held in place with a small screw at every number.

We hung the clock on the wall to see if we liked it, with the intention of removing it and upgrading it to a functioning clock (where the hands actually move). We've lived with it now for awhile and have not been inclined to take it down. And there are some advantages to leaving it this way. It is exactly correct twice a day. And it is always set to nap time. I'm outta here, off to take a nap..

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