Laser-cut Ripple Clock




About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
It's a wooden clock with lots of concentric circles that mimic ripples in a pond. Cut with a frickin' laser beam. I wanted something that was abstract and yet still had the basic functionality of a clock. It's a little bit of work with Illustrator and a bit of time on the ol' laser cutter.

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Step 1: Designinating

This clock was designed in Illustrator with lots of circles. The process for this is pretty straightforward if you've used Illustrator or other vector-based programs before. It pretty much goes like this:
  1. Make lots of circles
  2. Move them around until you're happy with the look
  3. Use pathfinder to break everything up into individual pieces
  4. Delete what you don't need
  5. Use pathfinder again to combine everything that's left
The results you want are two files. One for the top layer of the clock with the design and another that's just two circles for the bottom layer.

The image here shows the progression of the design. Each row has the same vectors, but with different strokes and fills.

Step 2: Lasers! Attack!

I cut this file out of 1/4" plywood on our Epilog 36EXT nice and slow at 5/100/500. The speed would normally be a little faster, but our laser's getting old.

Step 3: Stain!

Just a little bit of stain will do ya. I used two different stains here, going for a darker stain for the top layer. Just brush the stain on, wipe off the excess, and let it dry. It's lovely seeing the grain pop out and then take a nice break by walking around the block. It's a nice day. Enjoy that.

Step 4: Glues and Movement

Apply a thin layer of Elmer's® Carpenter's® Wood Glue to the bottom of the top layer and clamp it nice and tight to the bottom layer. Wipe off the excess that oozes out and leave it to dry for a few hours.

Once that's done you can insert the clock movement with the hands and you're done! Set that time, watch it go. Write down some design notes for the next thing you're gonna make. Drink some water. Run in the sun. You've earned it.

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    8 Discussions


    Question 15 days ago on Step 1

    anyone have suggestions for a good source on the clock movement kits?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    1) That is an awesome design!

    2) It's sad more viewers haven't seen this.

    3) It's sadder that I don't have a fricken laser machine. But I do have a CNC machine, so I'm stealing this idea and porting it into a "multi-layer" design based off this [cnc without going into super small bits will never be able to get those nooks and crannies you can achieve with that laser machine!]

    4) props again. Wicked cool!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Love it. Perfect simple design for a laser cut clock.