Decorative Wall Clock Idea


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The other day, while talking to a guy about something completely unrelated, we got onto the subject of a project he had been thinking about for some time. However, he admits to having no woodworking skills and asked me how to go about creating a "proof of concept" for his design. After hearing what he had in mind, I wanted check my thinking with some suggestions of those in here far more experienced than I am.

The idea is to make a large wooden ring that would go around a clock, like a doughnut with the clock mechanism in the middle. The thing would be about 2" thick as well. But it is not as simple as that... of course, right? :)

To make this more unique the wooden ring actually needs to be two rings. The outer ring would be about 18" in diameter, the inner ring 16" in diameter, giving about 2" between them. The reason for this is so we can have a circular piece of smoked glass between the two rings. So, assembled, you'd see an outer ring of wood, the approx 2" wide circle of glass, then the inner ring of wood, all of which would go around the inner clock mechanism.

My issue is how best to create the two wooden rings...

1) My lathe only goes up to a max of 7" diameter, but even if I could turn something 18" in diameter, I don't think my skills are up for that.

2) Another thought was to take a sheet of plywood and use a router to cut out the two rings, which with a good circle jig shouldn't be too difficult, but I still have the 2" depth to figure out. I could cut multiple rings and glue them together to get the thickness, but that would be costly to buy the multiple sheets. And using plywood I would probably have to use a veneer of some kind as an outer cover, adding an additional layer of complexity.

3) I then thought maybe if I cut the rings into 4 quarters, I could then build up a single block of wood thick enough and long/wide enough that I could then cut out the quarter arc on a bandsaw. This could be done using the desired species of wood giving it a more uniform look and feel. I would then make some kind of decorative trim pieces to "hide" the seams. And since the idea here is a clock, the trim pieces could do a kind of double duty as visual cues with the clock hands.

Another thing I need to consider is how to keep the glass in place between the two rings. Each ring along the front would need to have a "lip" to keep the glass from falling out the front. And to keep the glass from sliding backwards, I was thinking of a thin dado groove, like what you do with a drawer bottom, just behind the "lip". The only problem with this later is that it would only work if I went with option 3 above.

So, I could use some suggestions on how you might approach such a project. How would you tackle this, keeping in mind the size and need to keep the glass solidly in place between the two wooden rings?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!

-- Andrew

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3) I then thought maybe if I cut the rings into 4 quarters, I could then build up a single block of wood thick enough and long/wide enough that I could then cut out the quarter arc on a bandsaw. This could be done using the desired species of wood giving it a more uniform look and feel. I would then make some kind of decorative trim pieces to "hide" the seams. And since the idea here is a clock, the trim pieces could do a kind of double duty as visual cues with the clock hands.

Another thing I need to consider is how to keep the glass in place between the two rings. Each ring along the front would need to have a "lip" to keep the glass from falling out the front. And to keep the glass from sliding backwards, I was thinking of a thin dado groove, like what you do with a drawer bottom, just behind the "lip". The only problem with this later is that it would only work if I went with option 3 above.

Doing some thinking on this, and then busting out SketchUp, I think I have a clearer idea of how to attack this thing. Attached are three screen captures from SketchUp of what I am attempting.

The first image you can see how I want to create two pieces that are a 1/4 of the overall rings. I added dimensions on it to show the sizes I am thinking. My SketchUp skills are still pretty minimal so the two chamfers on the outer ring are supposed to be round-overs, but I couldn't get the round-over to "Follow-Me" correctly, so you'll just have to imagine it. I would also do matching round-overs on the inner ring, but you get the idea. Also, the two dadoes in each ring are to hold the glass (front) and a rear piece (back) of glass, wood, or some other material... not sure yet what. I figured these would be 1/8" think dadoes roughly 1/4" deep to make sure they are able to hold the pieces solidly in place.

The second image shows the radius of the rings. The outer ring is 1" thick, the inner ring is 1/2" thick. The dimensions show the radii of the two rings.

The third image shows how I could cut the two 1/4 pieces from a single block of wood, and how large that block would need to be. I was thinking that if the wood species was cheap enough I might be able to find a solid piece, or, I could use multiple sheets of different species to build up a block (like I have seen people do for Bandsaw Boxes or other similar projects) and then make my cuts on the bandsaw. Then it would be sanding to get it to the proper dimensions. Lastly, I would take the router to it to do the dadoes and round-overs.

This would all be done four time to make the four quarters. Then I can put the pieces together and use some decorative trim piece (still thinking on what it would look like) to hide the seams.

So, please, I'd love to hear your feedback or thoughts on this. Thanks!

-- Andrew

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If you take quarter circles and layer them with an 1/8th circle offset, you'll end up with something very stable, but still use a lot of material.

From your description, it looks like it's pretty irrelevant how solid the circles are, in fact, lower weight may be a plus. To me that means making the things hollow. You could take a leaf out of IKEA's Lack book and use a cardboard core that you cover with a face and sides that you glue together and finish as needed.

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Thanks for all the feedback so far, but I have decided to alter my design a bit, make it a little simpler the first time out as it were.

I have decided to do away with the inner ring piece, just sticking with the outer ring, and somewhat hollow out the outer ring (the weight comment kept pinging around my brain). I have attached new screen captures of my revised idea and once again would like your thoughts.

In the first image you get an idea of what I am attempting. The glass and back material would be full circle pieces but for ease of viewing the images have them quartered. The wood around the outside will be made one quarter piece at a time, which I figure to hold together with glue and a couple dowels punched into the ends roughly 1/2" deep. This should give plenty of strength and help hold it solid once glued together. Then a little sanding would match everything up flush. On the inside of the wooden ring the front glass would be held in place by the "lip" in the front. I figured to use a long strip of thin material that would be bent in a circle acting like a snap-ring to hold the glass from behind. And then the backing material would fit in behind the thin banding material. I would use those bend over tabs (like on picture frames) tacked into the backside of the wooden ring to hold the backing material in place. These would allow the back to be removed if needed.

I took the comment to heart about weight and decided to hollow out the wooden ring and go with the snap-ring idea instead of thin dadoes... just seemed to meet the need and be easier to make.

The second image shows how the four pieces together would work.

In the third you can see the dimensions I am going for. Also, after some research and playing I was able to get SketchUp to do the round-overs on the two front corners and the outer back corner. The outside front and back corner round-overs can be done easily enough but I am having a little trouble figuring out the steps to do the front inner corner round-over and hollowing out of the ring. What would be the best/easiest way to accomplish both the round-over and hollowing out? Should one be done before the other, or does the order matter?

And the last image is the dimensions for the template from which the quarter segment would come from. I would need to make a block (single piece or several glued together) roughly 4"x13" two inches thick.

Again, appreciate your feedback!

-- Andrew

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