Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Manly Clock for my Sweetie's "Man Cave"

Hello again! Sorry it's been a little while, I didn't get to do anything crafty last weekend because I had to clean house for a short notice inspection by my landlord. But that's over, so now it's crafty time :-)

In our apartment, there is a loft upstairs that my boyfriend has claimed as his "Man Cave" He has a computer, tv, futon, xbox 360, books, etc. It's a nice little room. If I let him put a microwave and a minifridge up there, he'd never come down, lol. He's still decorating up there, getting prints made from photos we've taken and hanging them, little by little. He didn't have a clock up there, and wall clocks are one of my favorite things, I think every room needs one. I looked around a bit to see if I could find something suitable, but didn't see anything that was exactly what I wanted him to have. So I decided to make one. I'm not a clockmaker, I've never made a clock before, but it didn't look too hard, so I decided to give it a shot.

Here's a preview of the finished product, keep reading if you want to see how I did it :-)

First, a trip to A.C. Moore for supplies. I bought a section of walnut wood for the back (this was the inspiration for the project). Had to get a woodburner, I have one in Arizona, but that doesn't do me any good in North Carolina. I also purchased a clock motor, wood carving set, clock hands, and picture frame brackets. The clock motor came with clock hands, but gold isn't the easiest to see against natural wood, so I bought black ones. If you're clever, you may be able to take apart an existing clock/dollar store clock to salvage the motor/hands but this was something I wasn't willing to try on my very first clock making project. Also, I didn't end up needing the picture frame brackets, I didn't know the motor had a place to hang the clock built in.

So to summarize in a nice neat way, supplies used:
Wood for clock face
Wood burner
Clock Motor
Clock Hands
Wood Carving set
Picture frame brackets, if your clock motor doesn't have a hanger built in
Rotary tool (like a dremel)
Something round to trace, or a circle drawing tool
Number Stencils
Burn cream, antibiotic ointment, and bandaids

So let's get started! First, decide where you want your clock face to be positioned. I had an abnormally shaped piece of wood, so my numbers could have followed the shape of the wood, but I opted to center a round clock face just about in the middle of my piece of wood. So I measured the widest part of my piece of wood each way and found a center point.

I marked my center point.

I didn't want my numbers obscured by the clock hands, so I positioned the clock hands on my newly marked center to see how far away my numbers needed to be. Note the faint pencil mark above the minute hand. Whenever marking on your surface, be very gentle, especially if working with a relatively soft wood like I was, you don't want your marks to leave indentations after erasing.

Next we want to trace something round to give us a guideline for number placement. I'm fortunate to have a circle drawing tool (the purple thing in the corner of the picture above), so it was easy for me to do this. If' you don't have one of these, a geometry compass would work, or really any round item about the right size that you can position over your center point would work. Trace lightly around it. I promise my circle really is a circle, my camera angle makes it look like an oval. Also, you may notice from my clock face isn't pretty and perfect. I did deliberately choose this piece because I thought the flaws added to the type of project I was going for, but there will be a lesson learned about flaws in wood in a little while.

For the next step, you can be as precise as you want to be. You can nerd it up with a protractor and ruler, or you can eyeball it like me. Stencils are optional, I used them because I have a hard enough time making letters/numbers uniform sizes when they're next to each other, let alone all over a clock face. So I put tick marks where each number was going to go, then stenciled each number. You don't have to mark as lightly with the numbers, these are going to become permanent marks.

Once your numbers are in place, time to mark any other designs you're planning for your clock face. I free handed the letters because they needed my sloppiness.

I do not have any photos of the burning process, I was using an incredibly hot tool, and that's dangerous enough without throwing a camera into the mix. I didn't use any master techniques, but I'll describe what I did to get the effects I got.

I wanted the numbers lighter than the letters, so for the numbers, I carefully outlined each number with a slow dark burn, then using the same motion you would use with a pencil to lightly shade something, I built the color inside each number. Fast movements with your burner and variations in the wood tend to leave a spotty burn, good for projects you intend to have a rough appearance. For the letters, I put the tip on the flat side, and moved slowly, but allowed some variation in the burn (this is why the striped appearance is present in the letters). If you don't want that appearance, carefully go back over the lighter areas until your letters are uniformly dark. The only tip used on this clock was the "universal" tip (I didn't want to have to wait for cool down to use the other tips, though they may have made certain parts easier, like outlining the numbers). So once this is all done, we're left with this:

Yay, it looks like a clock now. At this point, I'm only an hour into the project, and I'm feeling pretty good, pretty optimistic, I may even get this done in one night! Oh I was so wrong, lol.

So next we drill a hole for the motor to come thru, that's easy enough. This took a bit of guessing and testing, since the motor didn't say anything about what size hole was required. To state the obvious, start small and work your way up, you can always make the hole bigger, much harder to make a hole smaller.

So once we've got our hole, go ahead and put the motor through the back of the clock to test it out.

Now here's where the real fun begins. Flip your clock over to assess if you're going to need to remove any material from the back side of your clock. The only clock motors the craft store had in stock had a 3/8" allowance for the clock, and I knew going into this that my piece of wood was 5/8" thick. So as you can see, not enough of the post sticks out, so I've got a little work ahead of me at this point.

If you have material to remove, flip your clock back over and trace around your motor to give you a guideline for where to start digging.

And dig we shall. Get out your wood carving set and get busy.

It didn't seem too bad at first, just basically hollowing out an area slightly larger than my traced motor. But here's where I learned my lesson about flawed wood. Those dark spots do not like to be messed with. They will laugh at your silly hand tools. They don't carve nicely, they're very hard, and when you do manage to dig into them, they crumble violently instead of carving in a predictable way. Optimistically, I would try to fit the motor in every so often to see if I'd removed enough material. Yeah, no. See my gouge marks from wayward carving tools? You may not want to undertake this part of the project with children, pets, or people you like anywhere nearby.

Keep on a digging. Two hours into this process, I noticed these red marks on the wood.

Oh hello bleeding knuckles! At this point, I realized that my hand carving was more difficult than I'd anticipated, and it was going to take much longer than I'd like, and because of my late night crafting, I couldn't get out a wood chisel or something to make it faster. I opted to put it down for the night, clean up my wounds and rest up for the next day.

Time for a new approach. Rotary tool with a grinding wheel. 30 mins, done. Yes!

So once we've finally removed enough material, assemble the motor in the order prescribed by the particular motor you have. Use every single nut and washer included, else your clock may not keep time properly. If you salvaged clock parts, I hope you paid attention to the order you took them apart in.

And finally, put a battery in and set the time! Ignore my dirty floor, it gets messy when I craft. I've vacuumed since, I promise.

Make sure you sign your piece, it is a work of art. The only picture I have of my signature is from when I was carving the back. I burned my initials and the year into the bottom of the back.

And hang it up!

Detail shots:

He loves it :-) Hope you enjoyed reading this, and might even give it a try. I'm off to go change my bandages, happy crafting!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent Project Thank you for the step by step insight