New! Elfino Kinetic Sculpture

Introducing Elfino!

Elfino Kinetic Sculpture

Clayton's description from our website:
This is Elfino, an excellent introduction into the wonderful world of kinetic sculptures and a delight to watch. Elfino is a simple-to-build spring driven wall mounted sculpture with a long yet variable run time. The Elfino can be configured to gently sway at the speed you see in the video below. This configuration will give about an hour run time. Alternatively, the Elfino can be configured to run more slowly giving it a significantly longer run time.


New! Balancing Bubbles Kinetic Sculpture

Balancing Bubbles is a delightful electromagnetically impulsed kinetic sculpture. It doesn't just spin. It will rock awhile and spin a bit and then completely change directions and begin rocking and spinning the opposite way. The anticipation is such fun. Like the bowler or golfer using their body to help guide their ball, in the video below you may find your "body English" trying to assist the bubble over the top.  More details at our website, www.lisaboyer.com

Stay tuned because more new plans will be posted in the next few days.  I tell you, Clayton has been busy!


New! Woodworker's Hygrometer

New at www.lisaboyer.com!  Have you ever wondered how the ambient humidity is affecting your wooden clock or kinetic sculpture? This beautiful sculpture is the answer. The Woodworker's Hygrometer will tell you at a glance in a most beautiful way.

Stay tuned, as we have a couple more plans nearly ready for release on our website.  Clayton has been busy!


How to Make a Wooden Bearing Pack

Some of my designs use phenolic tube for making a simple and easy to align bearing pack allowing for very free moving arbors and pendulums. 

Phenolic tube is easily available and inexpensive in the U.S., but I have recently found that this may not be the case for some other countries.

The following suggestion came from fellow builder Adrian Iredale in Australia – a country with apparently a copious phenolic scarcity.

If your country also is suffering from a dearth of phenolic tubes, or even if you live in a phenolic abundant country and would just like to try your hand at building a wooden bearing pack, here are the instructions and pictures on;

How to Make a Wooden Bearing Pack
to fit 3/8”OD, 3/16”ID, 1/8thickness bearings.  Metric equivalents may be substituted.

I didn't take a picture of this, but the first step is to cut the 1/2” (12mm) dowel to the correct length as described in the plans and then chuck the dowel into a hand drill.  Get the drill spinning and mark the center with a pencil - or find some other way to find the exact center of the dowel.

1)      This picture shows the Jig holding the dowel.  To make this Jig, using your drill press, drill a perfectly vertical hole in a large block of wood to hold a 1/2” (12mm) wood dowel. Then insert a 1/2” dowel of the correct length for your bearing pack into the vertical Jig and center drill the dowel with a 3/8” (10mm) brad point drill bit 1/8” (3mm) deep. 

2)      Flip the 1/2” dowel over 180* and drill the other end the same way.
3)      Then center drill through from both ends with a 1/4” (6mm) metal twist drill.  The metal twist drill will center itself better in the center depression that was left by the original 3/8" brad point.  Note that drilling the dowel from both ends halfway through will better center the 1/4” hole than drilling all the way through from only one side.
4)      Your wooden bearing pack is now ready to load in the bearings.
5)      Bearings are pressed into place at both ends.
6)      The 3/16” (5mm) brass rod may need some reduction in its diameter to fit easily into some bearings.  I used 220 sandpaper on a 3/16” brass rod that was chucked and spinning in the drill press.  Test frequently for a good bearing fit.

7)      Then the sanded-to-fit 3/16” rod was polished with buffing compound inside a folded leather strop.

Note that all drill bits are not created equally.  In picture 2 you will see that I am using my now famous and inexpensively priced “Wobble Point” Vermont American brad point drill bit.  That is because I want the bearing to be a press fit into the wood, and this bit cuts a tight 3/8” hole, whereas my expensive Lee Valley brad point bits all tend to cut holes that are a bit oversized which would create a hole into which the bearing may fit too loosely.

Wood dowels are also not created equally.  To be sure that I find a well fitting 1/2" dowel I would first drill a 1/2" hole in a piece of scrap ply and take the scrap to the hardware store.  With this procedure I am sure that I will find a nice round, straight, snug-fitting dowel that fits the hole correctly.


How Much Drive Weight Does My Clock Need? Factors

Hello Clayton,

My grandfather is now reading your explanations and has a question about the weight that is needed for the copper weights.  Is it necessary that these weights are approximately 6 pounds and 1 pound (we don’t know the exact needed weight of the small contra weight) or can this also be different weights in the same equation? For example; 3 pounds and ½ pound.

Kind regards,
Genesis by Clockmaker Isaac Neuman (demonstrating weights)

Aloha Nick, in the Genesis design there is no weight in the small counterweight tube.  The Genesis counterweight tube remains empty.  The purpose of the counterweight tube is only aesthetic, allowing the clock to look balanced, and to keep the wind cord from tangling.

The large tube is the weight tube that contains the mass that drives the clock.  

As the clock runs, the drive weight slowly lowers toward the floor.  The Genesis is then rewound by pulling down on the counterweight tube while gently lifting the drive weight tube back up toward the clock.  As the clock runs the drive weight goes down, and the counterweight goes up toward the clock again.

The exact weight necessary to drive any clock is to be determined at the end of the build, and depends upon the craftsmanship that the builder has put into the clock.  Poor craftsmanship leaves excess internal friction in the clock's train, and good craftsmanship leaves much less internal friction.  It is the amount of internal friction left in each individual clock that determines the actual drive weight.

The Genesis's recommended "six or seven pounds" of drive weight is actually excessive.  My Genesis runs on about three pounds of drive weight, but because Genesis is a beginners clock, I expect there may be room for some improvement in craftsmanship, and I want everyone to be able to hear their clock tick.  A well made Genesis should run easily on half of the recommended drive weight, with zero pounds in the counterweight tube.

If a builder wants to know how much drive weight his clock takes to run, I have him add enough drive weight to get his clock running and then put a scale on the floor under the drive weight.  When the clock stops with the drive weight on the scale he can simply read the number of pounds of drive weight required off of the scale.  I then recommend adding back an additional ten percent of that amount to keep the clock running during humid days.

BTW, be sure to read over the section on "Depthing" in my FAQ's to help find and eliminate any residual internal friction that may be left in the clock's train.  

Three of the very best things a builder can do to get their clock running nicely is 1) following the Depthing procedure, 2) not get any finish on the tooth surfaces of the gears, and 3) not add any brass tube bushings unless specifically called for in the plans.

Enjoy!  Aloha.  Clayton


Tooth Forms, Including Involute Tooth Form

Bob L. emails:  Hi,  I am considering your Toucan clock plans.  I have a little past experience in gear design, and am thinking of making the gears by a different method than scroll sawing.  Because of this, I wonder if you tell me:
1)  Do the gears in the Toucan have the common "involute" profile or are they a different profile??
2)  What diametral pitch are gears in the Toucan??

Toucan by Jeff Hecht
Aloha Bob, it is nice to hear from you and I'm glad you enjoyed viewing my site.  The Toucan is a wonderful, fun and easy to build clock.  It's my top design engendering the creativity and personalization of the various builders.  You can see many of their delightful "brain children" in the Flickr' pool of builder' pix (link on the Toucan order page).  Those pix really are worth viewing for some great ideas.

And how can I say that it is easy to build?  Because when you are looking through the Flickr' pool of builder's pix the first one is of a 13 year old boy that successfully built the Toucan.  Of course, maybe he's just a genius(?).

Gear design is a very popular topic and lots of time is spent on gear design in engineering books.  I write many pages in my book about gear design as it relates to wooden clock building, and I really do need to create a blog post about the topic.

First we have to ask ourselves what the purpose of the gears really is, and what is their real function?  

We could simply have two circles turning edge to edge and get the same ratio, but without the addendums and dedendums (the uppity and downity parts of the tooth) of spur gears our circle gears could easily slip.  Slippage would cause a deficiency of the transmission of the driving force through the system, but more than that, in a clock slipping wheels would also cause the hands to show the incorrect time and even cause a desynchronization of the relationship of the minute to hour hands.  

However, that does not mean we cannot use edge driven circles in our clock designs.  Take a look at my Horologium and you'll see that the hour wheel is actually a pulley run by the drive weight cord.  The gear ratio is maintained by the barrel diameters of the drive pulley and hour wheel.  http://www.lisaboyer.com/Claytonsite/horologium.htm

So basically the "teeth" on a gear do two things for us; they efficiently transmit the driving force, and by doing so they prevent misalignment caused by slippage of the wheels.

When we are contemplating tooth forms for a particular mechanism, a couple other things that need consideration is the speed of transmission of the drive force, and the direction of that force through the gear train.  

In a clock the transmission of force is extremely slow.  In the normal grandfather clock the fastest wheel only turns one revolution per minute.  This slow transmission of forces allows for some very forgiving tooth forms.  There are medieval metal clocks that are still operational with simple triangular shaped tooth forms.  Some of the teeth in the very early wooden clocks were created with hand tools and look as though some teeth were hacked into shape.  These inefficiency of these irregularities and imperfections many times can easily be overcome with a bit more drive weight.  

It is only when we have gears rapidly moving together that we actually need the perfect involute gears with close tolerances that we've all learned about in physics class.  There are other very efficient ways of transmitting power through the system without the use of involute gears.  Take a look at my Vortex.  Vortex has straight sided teeth on all of its gears.  Straight sided gear teeth are about as far from the perfect involute curve as you can get.  Scroll down the page a little further and take a look at the side view and you'll see how I created the roller lantern pinions that perfectly match with the straight sided tooth forms of the wheels to give excellent power transmission and minimize contact friction. http://www.lisaboyer.com/Claytonsite/vortexpage1.htm

And the last thing to consider is the direction of the forces transmitted through the gears.  Clocks run in only once direction.  Clocks do not ever run in reverse.  That means that the back side of the gear tooth never gets used and can be created in any form that the designer favors, as long as it does not interfere with the incoming tooth from the other gear.  Most of the time we simply make it a mirrored reflection of the front side of the tooth, but that mirroring is not necessary since that back side of the tooth is never used in a clock.

Most all of my tooth designs are of a modified involute design because even as forgiving as these wonderful mechanisms are one of the goals of a good design is to try and decrease the amount of driving force required.  Involute-like teeth help with that, but as we've discussed above involute tooth forms have no particular spiritual holiness sent from the God of Physics.  This gives us a tremendous latitude in design.  We can make our teeth straight sided, curved sided, or perfectly involute, but I have to chuckle because whatever tooth form we choose, we still don't need the back of it.

Enjoy!  Aloha.  Clayton