Introduction: Kids Pendulum Fox Clock
Build a plywood clock that looks great in a nursery or kids room using a basic 10$ pendulum clock mechanism from Amazon (Disclaimer: I added the ticking sound, so it is actually quiet). I will take you through the basic work flow to not only build this fox clock, but to build any design using using these 5 simple steps.
I used a Glowforge Laser to cut the plywood shapes but you could really use a jigsaw, scroll saw or handsaw for a more accessible option.
1. 22" x 17" Baltic Birch Plywood
2. Clock Hardware https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07SS454ZR/ref=p...
3. M3 x 10mm Bolt Washer, Nut- To attach the tail to the clock. https://www.amazon.com/Hilitchi-300-Piece-Phillips...any small bolt/nut or wood screw with washer will work. Just see the close up picture in assembly to assess.
Step 1: Measure and Plan
There are a few size constraints that I will list in priority of consideration.
- Has to fit Clock Mechanism: The clock kit that I purchased has an overall size of W 2.2" x H 4.5" (56mm x 115mm). So I sketched a rectangle with the same width of 2.2". From here I could plan the location of the walls that connects the front to the back and conceals the clock motor. I added 4 small rectangles on the outside of the 2.2 rectangle and made sure the width could fit the thickness of the material (.12"). These will act as finger joints to hold the plywood together.
- Material Thickness: I am using .12 inch (3mm) thick Baltic Birch Plywood. That tabs that I used to join the plywood pieces together have to be the same width as the material is wide for a tight fit. As I mentioned I just made rectangles that will act as finger joints that ended up being .12" x .5". The .5 number doesn't really matter just so the finger tabs don't snap.
- Hands of Clock: The radius of the largest hand is4.7" (120mm). I actually used tin snips and shortened the hands slightly. This left me with a 5" outer diameter for my clock numbers. So the horizontal dimension of the fox's belly is 5".
- Overall Dimension: Obviously you would want to consider how large of a clock you want to make. What was more important to me was I wanted to use my Glowforge Laser to cut out all of the parts. My laser has a maximum cut size of 11"x19" so I wanted to make sure the Fox could fit within those size constraints. I had to separate the design to fit on two separate 11x19 sheets. Which makes the total amount of plywood I used 22"x19" , however you can arrange the pieces closer together to easily fit a smaller sheet of plywood.
Step 2: Draw
I used Adobe Illustrator to draw out my design mainly because I needed an .svg file for my Glowforge Laser. I won't be going through step by step how to draw out the design as there are plenty of Illustrator tutorials out there. I will take you through my thought process and provide the Illustrator files for you to inspect and modify.
As you can see from the images, I have separated my drawing into 3 different "tool paths" or colors. If you are familiar with the Glowforge workspace, it identifies the color as different operations: Cut, Score, and Engrave.
Red Lines = Cut
Blue Lines = Score (shallow "cut" that doesn't go all the way through the material)
Grey Filled Shapes = Engrave
To describe why I created the score lines, I have to get a little ahead of myself. I thought I came up with a unique workflow to make painting easier. By painting the plywood the base color first, I could then cover the painted material with masking tape, run the score operations, and the laser would cut through the tape and leave a fine line into the wood. Then I could remove the masking and paint the next color and repeat the process for the next colors.
I pretty much only used 3 tools in Illustrator, the pen tool and the pathfinder combine & minus front tool.
Step 3: Cut Out
Steps for cutting out files on a Glowforge Laser. Mask off before score & engrave steps and paint in between operations if you want to save time and get crisp lines when painting.
- Load the material into the laser
- Log into app.glowforge.com
- Upload first .svg file
- Set material thickness to .12"
- Select the the lines that are to be cut and set them to Cut 160 Speed /Full Power
- Select the the lines that are to be scored and set them to Score 1000 Speed /100 Power
- Select the shapes that are to be engraved and set them to Engrave 1000 Speed/90 Power 270 LPI
- Hit Print and wait
- Repeat steps for second file
If you are making by hand, print the template to actual size and cut out to create a stencil. You can use https://www.blockposters.com/ to print images larger than the format of your printer. I have included copy that will require 6 pages pieced together. Cut out the pages and tape together. Trace the stencil on your material. Be sure to adjust tab width to match your material thickness. Before cutting the tabs out with a saw, score with a utility knife to avoid tear out on the ply veneers.
Step 4: Paint
At this point, you could obviously hand paint any design or color scheme you wanted. If using water based paints, I would recommend priming the plywood first or else the wood will most likely absorbed your paint, leaving it looking less saturated.
I spray painted my design using Krylon spray paint I already had. Since I spray painted I had to mask off the shapes to avoid overspray. As I already mentioned, I leveraged my laser cutter to speed this process up. I used the color of the wood as the tan color, however you can see where the black numbers bleed a little bit. If I would have started with a tan base layer, I think this could have been avoided.
Steps for Masking and Painting between laser operations:
- Spray plywood base color (let it dry)
- Mask off entire sheet of plywood
- Run score operations
- Remove masking from the shapes that you wish to be the next color
- Spray paint areas that you just cleared (let it dry)
- Run Engrave operations (if you like the look of the engrave, just leave as is)
- Spray paint the engraved areas. Carefully avoid previously painted areas or re-mask.
- Remove all masking.
- Marvel at your handiwork.
Step 5: Assembly
Follow the assembly instructions from your clock kit. The only difference is you replace part #2 with the front of the fox design. The clock mechanism bolts directly to the clock face and doesn't need any other fasteners. Add a single AA batter before you add the back.
Once the clock is assembled you can see in the animation how easy it is to dry fit the 4 plywood pieces together. No glue is required or should be used. You will have to pop the back panel off to replace the battery. I mounted the back panel to the wall and then press fit the front assembly to the back for easy hanging. I added a keyhole design to the laser files, so it should be easy to hang regardless.
Step 6: ENJOY!
Hope you like your clock as much as my daughter likes hers :)
Runner Up in the