Desktop Clock Barre VT
This classic clock tells time, but keeps a secret.
by Jock and Susan Holmen
This clock holds a secret, and its construction involves a few secrets as well. The case is made from 1/2-in.-thick mahogany plywood. You won’t find this at most lumberyards, but you can make your own by gluing together two layers of 1/4-in. plywood.
Another secret to building this clock is to glue the moldings to the plywood case material first and then miter the parts. It simplifies the building and sure beats mitering all the molding parts individually. Gold painted trim adds sparkle to the finished clock.
Tools and Materials
To build this clock, you’ll need a tablesaw, a planer, a router in a router table and a drill press. You’ll also need a couple of special router bits: a classic bit and a 1/8-in. round-over bit. An adjustable circle cutter is used to cut the round clock opening (see Sources, below).
The clock is made from Honduras mahogany plywood and lumber, as well as wenge (pronounced Wen-gay or wenj). Wenge is a dark-brown tropical hardwood that nicely complements the mahogany’s reddish-brown.
For the clock case, you’ll need 1/4-in.-thick mahogany plywood. It doesn’t take much, so buy a partial sheet unless you plan to make several clocks. You’ll also need a 3/4-in. x 6-in. x 48-in. piece of mahogany lumber and a chunk of wenge. Buy a piece of wenge that’s at least 3 in. wide by 32 in. long. It’s more than you actually need, but it’s easier and safer to cut the parts from a piece this size, rather than one that’s smaller.
The battery-powered clock mechanism is a one-piece insert, which is simply friction-fit into a hole in the clock front. This makes it easy to change the batteries or the time. The total cost to make this clock is about $65 (see Sources, below).
Laminate the Plywood First
Cut two 32-in. x 8-in. pieces of 1/4-in. mahogany plywood (Fig. B, page 35). Notice that the grain runs the short dimension on these parts. Glue these together to form the 1/2-in. mahogany plywood needed for the clock case (Photo 1). After the glue has dried, rip the 1/2-in. plywood to 7-1/2 in. wide on the tablesaw. Take about 1/4 in. off both edges so they are straight and parallel. Next, cut the two 1/8-in. dadoes in the face of the plywood (Photo 2, Fig. A, below).
Attach the Moldings and Trim
Make the upper and lower flat trim pieces (C, D, E and F). Place spacer strips in the small dadoes in the panel to provide a stop for the flat trim to push up against, and glue the flat trim to the 1/2-in. plywood panel (Photo 3). Remove the spacer sticks before the glue dries to prevent them from getting stuck.
Next cut a strip of mahogany for the top and bottom moldings (G, H, J and K). Use a classic router bit to shape them (Photo 4).