Toucan by Paul LaRue

Toucan by Paul LaRue
Paul emails:  "Allo Clayton

Here are pictures of my version of Toucan !

Great design.

ps. By using miniature ball bearings on the pendulum axis

it now operates on 6 VDC rather than 9.

I will now build Wee Willie for my first Grand Child (scheduled birth

- New year's day !)

Joyeux Noël

Pal "

Clayton:  "Glorious, Paul! I always expect magnificence out of you, and you never fail. Your Toucan is an absolute beauty. With the use of an acrylic frame, the mechanism looks as though it is floating. That's a totally cool idea!

Thanks also for the heads-up on the bearings for the pendulum. As you know from reading my blog, I detest brass bushings because they increase internal friction. Unfortunately, I had to use one there at the pendulum to keep it tracking correctly. Your bearing idea is truly an improvement if you can decrease your voltage by 33%. Congrats.

Yet another Great PAL creation. Congratulations.

Aloha. Clayton"


Solaris by Danny Jacques

Solaris by Danny Jacques

Swoopy Variation by Peter Franklin

An All-Metal Wheeled Swoopy by Peter Franklin
Peter writes, "Hi Clayton.
I have the clock finished and looks great it will run perfectly for about 30 teeth on the escapement gear,then the pendulum stops rocking.  I can't find any problems but there is obviously some small thing.

What actually keeps the pendulum swinging?

I changed the weight tube to a bigger one.

Then I changed the second wheel bearings over to bronze bushes instead of the bearings.
I immediately was able the take 4 lbs of lead off.

The load on the escapement wheel feels great now.

Peter Franklin"

Clayton answers:  "Beautiful, Peter!!! Your metal wheel Swoopy is certainly an outstanding beauty!

Check out my FAQ's on my website, especially, "Why Doesn't my Clock Run?" and "Depthing." Also, these grasshopper escapements tend to slip where the verge meets its arbor. Many woodworkers have added a second Allen Screw for a more secure, tight fit.

What actually keeps the pendulum swinging?  I answer this question in detail in my blog.

I always find it interesting how we automatically think that bearings are better than bushings, when in reality, many times they ADD to the internal friction.

Thanks for the beautiful pictures of your metal wheeled Swoopy. You did an absolutely excellent job recreating her in metal. She's a beauty!

Aloha. Clayton"


Tony Cameron's Model T

Model T by Tony Cameron
Tony:  "Hello Clayton,

Having completed my version of your Model T, I am inspired by you and your designs.  This is my second wooden gear clock,  my first one from Fine Woodworking about 20 years ago (which my first wife has).

I would think I am not the first to lose a clock to a wife.

The Model T was a delight to build.  The frame is from Tasmanian Myrtle, and the gears are from ply I made by laminating 1.6mm bending ply.  The bending ply has 3 laminations of Hoop Pine, so I laminated 6 pieces of ply and then veneered both sides with Queensland Walnut ( 20 laminations in 12mm ply should be stable).  The weight is lead poured in a metal pipe, which is in a sleeve of Queensland Walnut.

I finished the clock with 3 fine coats of Kunos Oil.

The Model T has been working constantly now for a month, and I am pleased by the kinetic sculpture’s accuracy.  It is lovely to come home and hear the ticking.

If you consider my woodworking ability satisfactory,  I would appreciate it if you would send me the link to ordering plans for your Radiance.  I am amazed at a how a one wheel, no gear clock can work. So am I stupid,  or perhaps I love the challenge it presents?

Clayton, the builders of your designs have the easy part,  you and your creations are amazing.

Many thanks,  Tony Cameron"

Clayton:  "Wow, Tony, those wheels look good enough to eat!  They look like chocolate.  Yes, 20 lams in 12mm is amazing.  My Baltic birch ply has only about half that many.

I joke about how inaccurate these clocks are - only because I don't want anyone getting stuck on the accruacy part - but they truly can be amazingly accurate, easily to one minute a day.

It's also nice to hear that you like her unusual song.  I love that 'ticking' sound that she makes, too.  So unusual, and very pleasant.

Your submission more than qualifies for your entry into the Masochist's Club.  Welcome, Tony, to that cadre of elite wooden clock builders that make up the Masochist's Club.  It is a pleasure to admit such a craftsman as a new member into this exclusive club.

Your Model T is a beauty.


Aloha.  Clayton"


Pendulum Waves

Pendulum Waves

Hypnotic video from Harvard Natural Sciences Lecture Demonstrations web page.

Here's the link to read about the physics involved:  Pendulum Waves Explanation



Simplicity by Steve Stoetzer

Simplicity by Steve Stoetzer
Steve writes:  "Hi Clayton,

Built a Simplicity clock per your plans. Clock runs well, but is several seconds fast/minute. I have tried adding weight to the bottom of the pendulum, but it does not make a significant difference. I was wondering if minimally reducing the diameter of the escape wheel would slow the clock down and wanted your advice in case it would be a move in the wrong direction. Attached are several pics of the clock in case you're interested. It was a very enjoyable project.

Thanks much for your help,

Clayton emails:  "Beautiful job, Steve. I especially like your turned weights. Very classy! You did a beautiful job throughout...and that may be part of your problem!

First of all, some mechanisms run fast of slow for the first few weeks. So I always recommend not doing anything for four to six weeks except enjoy the clock's beautiful song and not worry about the accuracy.

After that break in period, if it is still running too fast, you have some choices. The first would be to decrease your drive weight. I actually have the suggested drive weight WAAAYYY too high. The clock should run on about three pounds, but I suggest more because it is a beginners clock and I want everyone - no matter how bad their craftsmanship - to hear their clock run. It's also why I state that the drive weight for each clock will vary.

And this is where your great craftsmanship comes in - maybe because your techniques and accuracy and precision were so good, there's not enough internal friction to be overcome by the excess amount of drive weight - thus making your Simplicity run fast.

If that is not the problem then you'll need to increase the length of your pendulum shaft.

The third treatment you say you have already tried, and that's to add weight to the bob, thus making the apparent center of gravity for the pendulum a bit further away. And also absorbing some of that excess drive weight.

So start with; #1 waiting a while, then #2 reduced the drive weight.

You'll get her purring along just fine and she'll eventually be within a few minutes a day in accuracy.

Congratulations on your fine craftsmanship.

Aloha. Clayton"


Rabbit's Amazing Steampunk Marble Strike--A Video!

Rabbit's Steampunk Marble Strike

Clayton emails a request to Rabbit:  "Since your Marble Strike was featured on my blog on Halloween there has been a flurry of (well deserved) excitement over your beautiful machine. A couple of guys have asked if a video would soon be following.

Just thought I'd throw that out to you - personally, I'd love to see it in action, but no pressure either way.

Anyway, your Marble Strike is a totally striking machine (pun intended). Your work is always well beyond the capabilities of mere humans.

Congratulations on a magnificent creation."

 Rabbit kindly responds:  "thanks again for the undeserved praise. i feel famous, having made your blog!

unfortunately, my video skills are even worse than my photography... i should stick to woodwork. but, against my better judgement, i uploaded a pitiful movie, anyway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlJdfKYg6As&feature=youtu.be   (Note from Lisa:  this link takes you to the video shown above in the video player window)  it shows one cycle of the remontoire, and an hour strike (preceded by the 'fourth quarter' bell). the sound, the lighting, the focus - all poor!

i'll try again at some point.

best regards,

In addition, Rabbit explains how his extraordinary version of the Marble Strike works. He first asks the rhetorical question...


Well... it's rather complicated, but buy the same token, it is very simple...

Everything (the time train and two strike mechanisms) is powered by the 1" steel balls in the drive wheel. the weight of the balls in one side of the wheel provides all of the drive torque. It "rewinds" itself automatically.

The balls are pushed out at the bottom of their path. The mass of the ball on the off-ramp actuates a switch which starts the remontoire motor - a synchronous electric motor, mounted inside the base. The lower remontoire wheel picks the ball up, hands it off to the upper wheel, which deposits it in the on-ramp, to continue/repeat its journey. A cam on the remontoire drive wheel turns the motor off. (...two switches in series; one starts it, the other stops it.)
I must thank Steve Kretschmer for this inspiration.

The main drive wheel actually drives four separate gear trains - hours, minutes/hour strike, seconds, and escape. [this is a horribly inefficient way to drive a clock, but one of the design themes was, "make it as complicated as possible", and with the 'falling ball' remontoire, I could provide all the power it needs.] the drive wheel itself turns once every 15 minutes, so it actuates the quarter strike mechanism.

The minute train has its gear integral with the marble lift wheel, and is otherwise my own interpretation of Clayton Boyer's wonderful Marble Strike mechanism. The hour strike is Clayton's brilliance. His descriptions, and many other people's videos, have explained it better than I can.
The hour train is a "pointless" geartrain, consisting of several gears merely to translate the correct rotation to the place where I wanted the hour dial. The "hour hand" sits still, and the dial moves [the dial arrangement, and in fact a lot of the visual aspects, were inspired by Alain Saintangne's beautiful rendition of the Marble Strike.].

The escape train utilizes an appropriate ratio for the 1/2-seconds "shorty" pendulum - dictated by the "table clock" format.

It had to have a seconds hand, so a separate drive - a take-off from the escape train - does the trick.

The quarter strike is my own creation. It is a "passing strike" mechanism with two whistles and a bell - the proverbial "bells and whistles". A 4-tooth Geneva Wheel attached to the main drive wheel switches a 3-segment (6-lobe) cam every 15 minutes. the cam assembly either "makes" or "breaks" the fulcrum(s) to pivot arms which lift the (2) whistle bellows and/or the bell hammer. It toots the higher pitch whistle at the quarter hour, rings the bell at the half hour, toots the low whistle at :45, and does all three on the hour (followed by the Marble Strike hour count on the 'finely-tuned' wine glass gong).

'Simple as a mud fence, complicated as a watch'. I just love it."

Thank you Rabbit, for the video, the explanation, and for sharing your beautiful creation with all of us.


Solaris by Todd Holman

Solaris, replete with custom brass, by Todd Holman
Todd writes:  "Clayton,

I thank you for offering such amazing plans.  I have purchased and built your Solaris.

Solaris by Todd Holman, before brass finishing touches above
 I have been toying with either the Bird of Paradise (because I would like to do a grasshopper) or the Upsy or the Balance pendulum clock. When I saw the Attempt I knew that I must build it. So my question is: Do you offer a discount for more than one plan purchase. Perhaps three or four plans?

Thanks, Todd"

Clayton answers: "Oooo! Todd, I love the brasswork. Brass and wood just work so well together. Magnificent! You've really created a beautiful Solaris kinetic sculpture. Well done!

Yes, when six plans are purchased at the same time, I include one free plan with the order. Attempt, Celestial Mechanical Calendar Orrery, and Medieval Astronomical Calendar clock count as two. You can also choose the free plan you would like to get when you order six at one time.

Also, when three plans are ordered at the same time, I upgrade the postage to Priority Mail and only one shipping and handling charge applies for as many plans as you want to purchase at the same time - not shipping on all of the plans.

Glad to hear you enjoyed building your Solaris. I always love seeing the creativity of other woodworkers, and I post all the pix I get to my Flick'r link so the world can see them too. Thanks for the beautiful Solaris pix. You really did a beautiful job.

Aloha. Clayton"


Toucan by Jim Reed

Toucan by Jim Reed
Jim emails, "Hi Dr. Boyer,

Here is my Toucan clock - works great and keeps good time. Had a lot of fun making it.

Jim Reed,  California"

Clayton: "Well done, Jim! Your Toucan is a beauty. It's always nice to hear that the builder had a great time making their project.  Yes, the Toucan is probably the best timekeeper I have in my line-up, AND it never needs winding!

Thanks for the pix, Jim. Great job.

Aloha. Clayton"


Solaris by Ted Ceelen

Solaris by Ted Ceelen

Ted writes: "Dear Clayton,

I have just finished my 1 1\2 scale version of the Solaris. The clock is running well on 15 pounds with a 400gram bob. I left the pendulum length the same as well as all the gear ratios. I did not change the thickness of the frame members or the gears so the depth of the clock is the same as in the original, it looks lean. The clock has its weight in the center so no counterweight.

Because the wind pulley diameter the weight drops about 9 inches per hour so I need to hang this clock high!, Also winding this thing is a great excercise.

 I had a great time building this version. Thanks again for all your help.

Ted Ceelen"

Clayton answers: "Wow! a 1.5 upscaled Solaris! That's BIG! She's a big clock anyway. I can picture yours in my head, and she's absolutely massive!

Congratulations, you did your upscaling the right way. You should have a fine clock for years to come...just don't park a cat, the grandchild, or your foot under that weight!!! They are known to fail at that large amount of weight. I hope you also beefed up the clicks (?). If not, one way to do that now is to cut a large rubber band, then wrap and tie the rubber band around the clicks. That way all three of the clicks are in constant contact with the click gear. Can't be too safe when we are talking about a 15 pound weight.

This is why I ask for pix. I love seeing what other clocksters have in mind. I had a fellow in Tokyo downsize his Number Six by 50%. it came out beautifully and even survived the big quake they had last year. He said the quake blew off the pendulum and the exact time of the temblor was recorded on the Number Six's face. He just hung the pendulum back on and she started right up again. I love those stories!!!

Congratulations on your Extreme Build!

Aloha. Clayton"


Balance by Derek Hugger

Balance by Derek Hugger
Derek writes, "Hi Clayton,

I thought I'd pass along an image of my 2nd completed Boyer clock.  This one has a bit of a fun story behind it.

After seeing the Bird of Paradise clock that I built, my girlfriend, Katie, asked me if I'd build a clock for her someday. I pretty much left it at "we'll see," reminding her that the Bird of Paradise took me from January until June to complete. One day in early August, I was looking at your web page, and Katie peeked over my shoulder. She loved the roman numerals in Modern Times, but also liked the pendulum in Balance. She told me if I ever wanted to build one of those for her, she wouldn't say no. I began to think: Katie's birthday is in November... would I be able to crank out a whole clock in 1/3 the time it took me to build my first one, as well as keep it a secret from her in my 980 sq ft condo with minimal closet space, where my "shop" is the floor in my hallway?

What the hell, I'd give it a shot. I bought the plans and got to work. Everything was going smoothly until Labor Day. I told Katie I wouldn't be able to see her that day because I had to go home and work. She felt bad that I was working on what was supposed to be my day off, so she lovingly decided to make me dinner and surprise me by showing up with it unannounced. When she walked in the door, I was cutting wood on the bandsaw. Oops, busted!

 'Why would you lie to me? I thought you needed to work!' she said to me with complete and utter disappointment in her eyes.

 'Well... umm...' I had nothing, how could I possibly come up with an excuse that wouldn't get me in trouble, and that would keep my plan a secret? I figured I only had one option: I told her the truth. To my surprise (and relief), her mood instantly changed. "Well I guess I can't be mad at you then," she said. And thankfully, though she knew what I was doing, she decided she wanted to keep everything else about it a surprise until her birthday; she didn't want to see the progress I had made nor know which clock I had picked out for her. This made me happy.

A little over a month later (today), I finished the clock. All I have to do now is figure out the best way to give it to her :)


Clayton answers:  "Derek, that's a really great story. I always love getting a history back from my builders on how their build went. This story is especially wonderful. I showed it to my wife Lisa, and after she had finished reading it, she had an answer to your last sentence where you said - "All I have to do now is figure out the best way to give it to her :)"

Lisa said "Give it to her with an engagement ring."

It really does sound like you have a keeper there.  Thanks again for the great story. You did a beautiful job on your Balance. She's gonna LOVE it!

Aloha. Clayton"


Marble Strike by Rabbit

Marble Strike "Steampunk" by Rabbit (click to enlarge for detail)
The amazing Rabbit writes:  "Rube Goldberg meets Christian Huygens - at Clayton's house, for a glass of wine.

- also known as "Steampunk" -


after all the work, and then all that staining, lacquering , painting, assembling, adjusting, adjusting, and adjusting - it works flawlessly. no jumpers, clumpers, stickers or stops; just clunks, dings, whistles, gongs, and a steady tick-tock.

this thing is absolutely insane! it's one of the coolest, and maybe most complicated clocks i've built. it's awesome to watch - and listen. if you pay attention, and count, you can tell exactly what time it is just by listening. it would make a great blind man's clock, but to watch it is priceless. it's always doing something.

thanks again so much for your inspiration....and plans!

- rabbit

p.s. gosh, i wish i could take decent pictures! these just don't do it justice. 'wanna send Lisa to Texas for some "glam shots"? i'll try again when i 'place' it. (where the hell am i going to put this?)"

Clayton writes: "Rabbit, your concept for the Marble Strike is absolutely amazing. It is going to take me a while just to figure out how you did what you did. I love that little glass ball in the extremely truncated pendulum.

All I can say is "Wow". What a complex beauty.

Glad to hear you had fun with it. It is obvious that you did - it's hardly recognizable as a Marble Strike!

Congratulations on yet another jaw dropper."

Note from Lisa: Rabbit, I did my amateur best with Photoshop Elements; hope you approve.  Your clock is so gorgeous that the picture quality doesn't matter so much!  Thanks for sharing.  Oh...and about the "Where am I going to put it?" question--you'll have to learn Clayton's technique for sneaking things into the house while I'm at the post office.


Lolli conversion to AC by John Roberts

Lolli conversion to AC by John Roberts
John writes: "Hi Clayton, I hope this email finds you well?

Sorry I've not been in contact for a while, I've been busy with one thing and another, not least making a video about the clock I sent photographs to you before. However, that clock is not yet finished (nor is the video) until the end of the year and I took a little time out to make one for my mother.

I've attached a couple of photographs, which I hope you will find of interest. The clock is powered by an AC synchronous motor and is a passing strike clock. However, because I like to fiddle with things I designed my own 'precision' passing strike mechanism that strikes the bell to within a fraction of a second of the passing of the hour. I also designed a time adjustment mechanism that allows the clock's time to be altered by the turning of a small knob at the back of the clock without interfering with the movement. I also added a strike/silent knob at the front of the clock which inhibits the passing strike mechanism if required.

The entire clock is stained black apart from the adjustment knobs and hands, which were left 'natural' and although I left the wheels and levers unfinished most of the clock has had a layer or two of shellac applied which really brings out the finish.

I hope you like what I have done, and if you would like any details of the 'precision' passing strike mechanism and the time adjustment components then please let me know, they might trigger some fresh ideas but I'm sure they could be improved upon, this is only my third clock to date :-)

Best wishes - John Roberts"

Clayton responds: "John, that's a truly beautiful conversion to AC. That clock would grace any shelf or mantle it was placed upon. This is the kind of creativity I love seeing! Congratulations on a great looking clock.

Yes, I'd love seeing what you did to create your precision passing strike and time adjustment components. I can always do with some 'fresh' ideas (funny though, even the old ones I keep regurgitating don't get too stale).

Thanks for the beautiful pix. You did an absolutely beautiful job.

Aloha. Clayton "


Galileo's Bicycle by Justin Feola

Galileo's Bicycle by Justin Feola

Justin writes:  "Clayton,

Here’s a picture of Galileo’s bicycle complete. I thoroughly enjoyed the build. I’ve been doing carpentry for years and have only done a few “dress-up” projects. Nothing like this however. Man was it fun! I might still stain some of the parts to better contrast with the color of my wall. But for now I’m really happy with it. And, like you said, women love to stare at it, and the guys want to figure it out. They all want one though.

My wife is very pleased and loves it also. Another bonus.

Now…what’s the next build for me? I was looking through and may, in fact, order a set of plans for one of the smaller clocks. I love Toucan but might also go for Wee Willie. I also saw that you might be willing to send plans for Radiance. If that offer is still on the table, I would love those plans.

Thanks again. Your work is great. Keep it up!


Clayton:  "Nicely done, Justin! Beautiful work - your craftsmanship really does show in your sculpture...the lighting is really nice too.

Glad to hear you had such a good time building her. That's what it's all about.

The secret path into the Masochist's Corner begins (sigh...censored again by Lisa...) That will take you to the inner sanctum of the MC where you can peruse and order any of the restricted designs contain therein.

Thanks for the pix and wonderful story.


Aloha. Clayton"


An Interesting Email Exchange about Bob Construction...and Fire...and Beer!

 Kaleb Prather has this question for Clayton:

"So my dad and I have been picking away at the Simplicity, and having a spectacular time. I got curious after looking at the parts for the face- how on earth do I drill a 1/4" hole 3/8" deep from the opposite side? Do I just need to overlay another print of the face on the back side to mark those holes, or is there a better way? This build has been a fantastic experience for both of us, and I can hardly wait until our construction lives."

Clayton answers: "Aloha Kaleb, so wonderful to hear you and your Dad are having a great time! That's what this hobby is all about, and I love hearing the stories of families coming together to build these wonderful mechanisms.

Yes, you are correct. You can simply use another pattern and go from the back, or you can drill a little hole (usually 1/16 is as small as people might have) from the front and that will locate where you need to drill the holes in the back. Then a little filler for the 1/16th hole will cover the tiny flaw."

Kaleb: "We are making great progress on the Simplicity, slow but steady. I was wondering if there is a target weight we should shoot for when putting together the pendulum bob. So far so good- this has certainly been a great learning experience. :)"

Clayton: "Bob theory is pretty interesting.

The period of the pendulum is determined by the length of the pendulum, and the length of the pendulum is determined by the pendulum's center of gravity, and the center of gravity is determined in part by the weight of the bob.

So that means that a light bob will simply take a longer pendulum shaft to find the same center of gravity as a heavy bob.

 If you follow my instructions for constructing your bob, knowing a specific target weight is not important because the slight difference between a light weight and a heavy weight can be adjusted for by that little nut on the bottom of the bob.

A light bob will need to be lowered slightly, and a heavy bob will need to be raised slightly to find the same center of gravity and thus the same period for the clock's pendulum.

I probably should, but I don't weigh my bobs. I determine all of my bob weights for any specific clock design by experimentation. Then I write down the instructions for making that particular bob.

Some of my bobs are filled with lead, some half filled, some have BB's instead of lead, and some bobs have no extra weight added at all. They are simply wooden pucks. The length of the pendulum shaft in each plan reflects this.

However if you try to use BB's in a bob that calls for being filled with lead, you'll need to lengthen your pendulum shaft much more than you will be able to adjust with the nut on the bottom of the bob.

Also where you live makes a difference. Whether you live on a mountain top or at sea level will affect where the very same bob needs to be set."

Kaleb: "Wow, bobs are complex little critters. The plan is to empty the lead from some old 12 gauge shells we've got lying around (with care, of course). It sounds like this is within the scope of what's called for, so I will build precisely to plan specification, and adjust as necessary. Thank you for such a wonderful work, designing these clocks. Not only has this project stretched my mind as to what I'm capable of, it has also provided my dad and I some priceless quality time together. I can hardly wait to hear her tick for the first time!"

Clayton or maybe not Clayton or maybe Clayton's lawyer writes: "YIKES! Before you go ripping into shot gun shells (shudder!), wander down to your local tire balancing shop. They have lots of used lead weights that they will probably be happy to simply hand over to you. (Yes, the new bismuth, lead substitute, weights work just fine.)

You have a couple of options with those lead weights. You could snip them into tiny pieces and fit them into the bob's voids, or you could (and as a secret aside...here is usually how I do it) build a separate, sacrificial bob, and with a torch in one hand and pliers holding the lead weights in the other, melt the weights into the voids of the sacrificial bob (wear eye protection, gloves and long pants - lead splatters on bare skin is somewhat uncomfortable).

When the lead cools completely it will shrink a little so you can lift it right out and you can then transfer it to your finished bob. If you do your bob weights this way, you'll find that the wooden sacrificial bob is actually still usable. The lead really isn't hot enough to burn through the wood. The lead will just scorch the wood a little. I have made some bobs using the sacrificial bob as the actual bob. It works just fine.

But since this method involves fire, and molten lead (but hopefully not beer--you know those famous last words..."Hey, watch this! Here hold my beer!"), you didn't hear it from me...right?

Aloha. Anonymous..."

Here are some interesting and/or beautiful bobs we've seen:

Greg Payne's Simplicity Bob

William Ball's Simplicity Bob

Fr. Bedemeyer's Solaris Bob

Gene Collier's Solaris Bob

Gwilym Fisher's Number Six Bob

And finally, Adrian Iredale's wombat bob:

Really - I can't tell which of my designs inspired him to create this Wombat clock - or was he just making that part up?


Ric Paulson and his Number Six

Ric Paulson and his Number Six

Ric emails:  "Hi Doctor Boyer,

As the picture attests,  the Number Six is finished and running. That bag that looks like an IV is my version of a test weight. I’m now in the process of dressing her in Red Oak. Nothing wrong with the Baltic Birch but this is going to someone who requested the oak.

This is actually my third clock, I bought a kit which turned out to be a big mistake. It turned out rather flimsy and although I could get it to run on occasion it spent most of the time at rest. The problem turned out to be simple but makes every build of mine an exercise in modification. I live just outside the city with the highest annual average humidity in the U.S (including Alaska and your home state). Bellingham, Washington has a average humidity of 79.4 %, if it was constant it wouldn’t be an issue but the big swings from day to day cause havoc with the wood. My biggest headache is boring the arbor holes and having a nice tight fit one day and an oversize hole the next. I ended up adding dowel set collars to everything.

Next I built your Genesis from the magazine and although it runs quite nicely for long periods it seems to make up its mind to stop at irregular moments. I suspect the humidity has something to do with it, I just haven’t found time to track down the cause. #6 ran right from the beginning and I didn’t even have to adjust the beat, she seems immune to the humidity.

I’ve enjoyed every minute of the process so far (yes even the frustrating ones) and I’m going to order another plan set just as soon as I finish this message. You are bringing a lot of joy to those of us who wrestle with wood so please keep it up!

Warmest regards,

Eric (Ric) Paulsen

PS: One last thing: I discovered what happened to that old Craftsman scroll saw you had. A company in China bought it and thought that the vibration was a “feature” so they added some more and made thousands of them. I of course bought one, I have since upgraded but I’m not sure when my arms will quit shaking. They must have had some of the “feature” left over because I bought a band saw from the same company and it is loaded with it too!"

Clayton agrees: "You have confirmed what I have also found about the Number Six. It is the best, least humidity sensitive clockworks that I have. It will run, flawlessly, up to about 85%. Then it gets real quiet around here.

Genesis is more sensitive for a couple (or many) reasons. That 60T escape wheel, and the uniframe. The frame would be best made from ply, because I know it's shifting around under all those wheels.

The Craftsman scrollsaw?  I still have dreams that my back teeth are vibrating. No other machine has had quite as significant an affect on my psyche as that one.

BTW, if you should have any interest, you now qualify for entry into the Masochist's Corner...
The secret path begins (this part censored...again! --Lisa). You are now in the inner sanctum of the Masochist's Corner, and may peruse any and all of the creatures that live there...Welcome.

Aloha. Clayton"


A Short Post from Clayton

This morning, via email, I received some of the highest praise I have ever gotten:

"Thanks for your many inspirations. You have truly made it possible for me to become an obsessive, reclusive nut case."

Solaris by Brent Martins

Solaris by Brent Martins

Brent writes:  "Aloha Clayton,

I hope everything is going well for you in Hawaii. I managed to complete my Solaris build this summer in time to give to my sister as a wedding gift. Everyone who sees it is amazed. It took me a couple of weeks to overcome clock withdrawal; I think I was addicted to the little thrill you get when you listen for the clock's beat and are reassured that all is well when you hear it working away. Moving on to new challenges, I am interested in attempting a Radiance build. To facilitate this, I have attached the obligatory picture of my Solaris for your review. Should you find my "demented lack of frustration" sufficient, I look forward to receive the much sought after Secret Link to bring me one step closer to fulfilling my masochistic goals.

Best Regards,


Clayton answers:  "Well done, Brent! I love hearing stories like yours. I feel the same way about my clocks ticking away all over my house. My ear picks up that one, out of all the others ticking away, that I had forgotten to wind and had stopped.

Your beautiful Solaris more than qualifies you for membership into that elite cadre of masochistic woodworkers, and the secret path into the Masochist's Corner begins (note from Lisa--SORRY!  Secret path information removed!).

Congratulations, and welcome.

Aloha. Clayton"


Marble Strike by Leonel Leite

Marble Strike by Leonel Leite (click on any image to enlarge)

Leonel writes: "Aloha Clayton,

I send you some photos in large size of "my" Marble Strike, so you can see in more detail what it took me a few months of work! ...

 Give me your opinion about it.

I wish you continued happy holidays.

Aloha. Leonel"

Update 10-22-2011--Leonel has sent a YouTube video of his beautiful Marble Strike clock in action:

Clayton writes: "Leonel! That Marble Strike is absolutely beautiful! Wonderful work, Leonel. You have certainly done the MS plan very proud. Congratulations on creating such a wonderful mechanism.

Thanks for the beautiful pix.

Aloha. Clayton"


Putting Your New Clock into Beat: Serkan Yaliz's Simplicity

Simplicity by Serkan YALIZ

Serkan writes:   "Aloha Clayton,

Hello fron Ankara-Turkey. We had purchased the plans nearly a year ago.
"She" is ticking finally :)

And keeping the time with an error of +1 min per hour. I can tune her up if you have any suggestions.

Looking forward to purchasing new plans from you.   Have a great day.

Serkan YALIZ"

Clayton writes:  "Aloha Serkan, nice to hear back from you.  Thanks for the pix.  It is always nice to see a new clock being put into beat.  They are such wonderful mechanisms, and it looks like yours turned out beautifully.  Your wheels look so clean and crisp!  Nice craftsmanship.

You don't say if she is running fast or slow each hour, but right now it does not matter because during the first four to six weeks it is best just to let them run,and then after that time, after they have 'broken in', make changes.  Some clocks just naturally run fast or slow for a few weeks and then get into their natural beat.

I would guess from seeing your craftsmanship that your clock is running fast.  After the break in period if she is still running fast you can; add more bob weight, lengthen the pendulum shaft, and/or decrease the drive weight.  But a fast running clock is only a testiment to your craftsmanship because it tells me that there is very little internal friction.

If your clock is running still running slowly after six weeks it is a simple matter of shortening the pendulum shaft by 1/2" (12mm) at a time and retest.  Your bob should be in mid position on the threaded rod when you retest.  That way you'll have plenty of adjustment room, up or down, to get your clock into perfect beat. 

Perfect beat for a pendulum clock is about one minute error per day, but remember that will change as the weather changes.

Thanks for the beautiful pictures of your clock that is so happily ticking away over there in Turkey.


Aloha.  Clayton"


Number Six by Keith Thomas

Number Six by Keith Thomas

Keith writes:  "Dr. Boyer,
I have just finished my #6. I started with all baltic birch but thought it was too "white" so remade the frame out of zebra wood, looks alot better I think.
I just got plans for your Wee Willie clock and noticed your email on the plans so thought I would drop you a line. It looks like it will take a while to make but will be enjoyable. I enclosed a few pics, one is a wood Harley I did a few years ago.
Harley by Keith Thomas (this plan not sold or designed by Clayton Boyer)

I will send pics of my Willie clock when completed. Thanks for the plans, it is an enjoyable hobby.

Keith Thomas"

Clayton responds:  "Keith, I really enjoy seeing the personal touches woodworkers put into their projects. Your Fleur-de-lis hands and beaded dial ring blend nicely with your zebra wood frame.
I was actually glad to see you went with the lighter in weight copper hands on your finished Number Six clock. The wooden ones may have been too heavy with all their "Fleur" out to one side. Imbalanced hands can be difficult for a clock to lift after they leave the six o'clock position. Going with the lighter copper hands was a brilliant move, and they look very nice with your wood choices, too.
I can see with all the woodwork you have on your walls why you didn't want the "white" look of the Baltic birch ply frame for your Number Six. The zebra wood fits nicely into your home. I won't be showing your Six pix to my Number Six though...she'll get jealous and be wanting a new frame.
The Wee Willie really is a fun, and pretty easy build. It is a small clock and accuracy in drilling and cutting is extremely important. I don't usually build more than one of any design, but we liked the WW so much that I built a second one and am presently designing a weight driven, wall hung version.
Very nice to hear you are enjoying this wonderful hobby, and your work really does these designs proud. Thanks for the great pix.
Amazing detail in your Harley sculpture. Congratulations.
Enjoy. Aloha. Clayton"


We Haven't Talked About Those Evil Bushings for a While

Email dialog between Clockbuilder Gene (black print) and Clayton (red print):

Clock builder Gene writes:
"I will admit, I have about come to the end of my rope.  At one point I have had my clocks (2) run for up to 48 hours, non-stop. At that point they were running fast, so I thought I would lengthen the shafts by two inches. So, I cut 2 inches off of the 36.25” and added 4” to the middle of the shaft using a lighter colored wood for contrast. When I tried to restart the clocks neither would run for more than an hour. I have tried every think I can think of to get them to run smoothly again. I’ve polished everything that I can get to hold still.  I have even tried to add brass tubing to the ends of the arbors to act as a bearing. If I turn the wheels by hand they seem smooth as silk. But when I add the escapement and weights and try to start them they will stall after a while. It seems like there is not enough force to turn the escape wheel to the next spook. I tried adding more weight to the Weights. With little or no change.  I tried adding heavier string and more of it to fill the take up spool. Nope…………. No good….. no help.
Question: Do you think that it may have been a mistake to put the brass tubing on the ends of the arbors?
Thank in advance for the help………………………. If you have any extra straw laying around may I borrow some…………….. because I have been grabbing at all the straw that is around here.
Wish I had a video camera.

"Aloha Gene,

The answer to your question is:  OMG YES! Any sag of the frame whatsoever will bind the arbors with brass inserts. I think you may have found your problem.

In my very first clocks I put brass bushings - big mistake. Now I NEVER put in brass except possibly at the weight end (but don't even consider using them there either).
When I went to the NAWCC Museum and Library in Columbia PA I saw a 300 year old clock still in running condition that used only metal arbors on wood plates. After 300 years you might want to consider bushing, but I doubt it.


"Thanks Clayton. I thought that the brass bushing with oil would solve some of my problems. But after studying the workings for the last week, the bushing were the only thing I could think off that I might change. Guess I’ll go back, fill the holes and re-drill them. What do you thing would be best to use, water base or oil base filler?

The clocks look nice but if they won’t run for more than 10 minutes, I will never be happy with them. My oldest daughter, Stephanie, tried to make me feel better by saying she didn’t care if it runs or not she just thinks it will look nice to have on her wall. She knows I’m a stickler for detail. And before I will let them leave my shop, they will be right."

"To correct my beginner's error in my first clocks, I went back and pounded in wood dowels with wood glue, and re-drilled. Tricky, but it can be done, and I think you'll be a lot happier with their performance. Drill slowly, in and out, with a Brad point bit because this time you'll be drilling with the grain instead of across it...unless you make plugs! 

"You may be right about the plugs. They would be good and tight and not need much glue. I could make 3/8”plugs using a plug cutter from the same wood as the frame and I think the arbors would be happier in the cross grain. And plug from both sides, where needed. If this works I’ll let you. My wife will tell you that I threatened to burn down my shop with the clocks in it. But now maybe I can wait a week or two."

And later Gene writes:

"Many thanks for your help. You were right about the brass bushings. I plugged the holes with 3/8” walnut plugs and re-drilled then to 9/64” & 13/64”.

I think part of the problem was caused because when I cut these holes on my CNC I was having some feed rate problems with it and the holes were not perfect in size. This time I drilled them using a brad point bit that I had ordered from the internet. I only have to make 6 small shaft caps and I’ll be sending these to their new homes. The shop will seem like something is missing when they go. But off to a new project, Riding my Honda Gold Wing to Montana and Glacier National Park in June.

P.S. I think I have solved the problems with my CNC, the last time I used it ran perfectly.

Thanks again for the plans & the help.

I’ll be BACK



Unexpected Blog Break

...due to Lisa's computer crashing!  Sorry...I will get back to you as soon as HP sends my computer back to me.  I'm glad my computer was still under waranty!  I'm also glad I had my hard drive backed up in two places and I didn't lose any of those beautiful pictures and emails that you so kindly sent to us.  Hope to be back soon.

Aloha, Lisa


The Space Time Continuum Kinetic Sculpture is Here!

Space Time Continuum Kinetic Sculpture by Clayton Boyer

Its beautiful Zen-like motion is shown below:

Details, descriptions, and ordering info for the STC are now available at http://www.lisaboyer.com/


Simplicity by Rick Broby

 Simplicity by Rick Broby
Rick emails: "Hi Clayton,

Well here is my finished Simplicity. I made it for my sister who lives in Canada, I used Cherry and Maple wood and made the bob to look like a Canadian maple leaf. Her cabinets are cherry with stainless appliances so I bought a stainless grab bar from Home Depot (the kind you find in the handicapped bathrooms) I cut it in pieces and used it for the weights.
 I also made the corner frame supports a little fancier with some fret work.   (Click picture to enlarge and show detail)  It ended up being a lot more work but she was happy with it and it was fun to make.
Well I'm not sure which pattern I will tackle next but thanks for this one.

Rick Broby"

Clayton answers:  "And, you cut fancy hands and scrollsawed all those numbers! Beautiful.

It is easy to see that you are an excellent and accomplished scrollsawer. The beautiful scroll work you did on the supports, hands, bob, and dial really set your clock apart.

Thanks for the pix. Your Simplicity turned out both beautiful, and uniquely your own...and it's always nice to hear your sister appreciated your efforts.

Aloha. Clayton"


Toucan by Zach Woods, Age 13

Zach Woods (Age 13!) emails:  "Dear Dr. Boyer, I am pleased to send you these two pictures of the Toucan clock my I just completed with some occasional help from my dad. I am 13 years old and a middle school student in Wichita, Kansas.

I was really inspired by your wooden clock designs and felt I just had to make one or two of them. This one is for my dad's office (if my mom lets him take it out of the house!) and I'm also making a Simplicity design with my Grandpa. Me and my dad are plannning to build many more clocks, like Solaris for my mom and others for my dad's friends.

Thank you for making such cool clock designs, everybody that sees them are very impressed.

Zach Woods"

Clayton answers:  "Thank you for your kind words about my designs, and thank you also for the pictures, Zach. I am very impressed.

You did a wonderful job on your Toucan. I'm also glad to hear you let your dad help a little. I love hearing stories like yours where the family works together to build these wonderful projects. I live in my own Norman Rockwell world in my head, and hearing stories like yours brings me a lot of joy, and wonderful memories of building projects with my own son. Great times.

I hope that you and your grandfather enjoy building the Simplicity, too. You have chosen two very different mechanisms, so you are really getting a great education in wooden clock building, and I am sure your father and grandfather appreciate you letting them be a part of that joy.

Thank you again for the pictures. When my webmaster gets back from vacation we will be posting them to my Flickr' link.

Enjoy the Simplicity build and I'll be looking forward to pictures of that one, too.

Great job on your Toucan!

Aloha. Clayton"


Inclination by Christopher Savold

Inclination by Christopher Savold
Christopher emails: "Hi Clayton!
What a difference 1/64 makes!
I finally found some time to finish off some of my outstanding
projects, one of which was Inclination. I had it about 85% complete
for a year or so and got distracted. I've had it running for about a
month now and it goes non-stop - or at least until the trolley weight
rolls off the incline... ;-)

I had the devil of a time getting it going. As it turns out, once again, I didn't follow your excellent plans very carefully. I drilled 1/16 holes in the pendulum crutch connector rod (or for the laypeople, the little triangle thingy). I wasn't paying attention that the plan called for 5/64 holes instead. Easy mistake to make given that 1/16 pins go into the connector rod. Well, that 1/64 of an inch clearance makes all the difference in the world! Could not get the darn thing into beat for at least a week. It would tick five or six times, slow down and stop. Very frustrating until I realized my mistake with the connector rod. Once I redrilled those holes, I tapped the pendulum once to get it started and it has literally been running ever since.

Thanks again for another great project. Regards,

Clayton responds:  "Well, even with all your tribulations your Inclination turned out beautifully. I'm always happy to see when the builder chooses one of the optional cut-out designs. Very nice!

And, YES!, Inclination is a fantastic runner. Mine (like yours, I hope) has never given me any problems at all. I just wind it each morning (either very early or after 8am because of where the wind hole is located) and she runs and runs and runs.

Glad to hear yours is in that same category. She really is a fine runner, and yours is a beauty.

Thanks for the beautiful pix of your beautiful Inclination.

Aloha. Clayton"