Best place to find a plan for
building a wooden clock.

Welcome to Brian Law’s Wooden Clocks

Free plans to help you build a wooden clock. The plans on this site are those of clocks designed by myself over the last few years. At present there are Twenty one sets of plans available, and it is intended to add to them as new designs become available.

Each clock design is illustrated with a series of rendered images, and a set of drawings, drawn to scale and presented as PDF files. The earlier clocks were originally drawn to scale so that the prints could be attached directly to the timber and a band saw or scroll saw used to cut around the profiles. Now it is more common to use some form of CNC machining to produce the gear profiles, so the DXF files for the clocks are available and in some cases the 3D model files as well.

The original clocks are still available for free but as the new clocks appear I will make a charge for the files. I should emphasise here that I do not send printed copies of the files, I only supply the files so that you can either print them out yourself or use DXF files to machine your own parts.

I hope you find your visit to the site rewarding and if you have any comments or suggestions please contact me. If you would like to receive occasional newsletters about new clock releases then use the Subscribe button above.

The current clock design was initially developed using the ideas used in the Minute Engine. Using the Swiss lever escapement with a balance wheel has been a project I have tried a couple of times before to incorporate into a wooden clock project, but I have never really successfully incorporated the hair spring when made from wood, the Hair spring itself is an integral part of the Escapement design and is needed to replace the Pendulum. The Minute engine was really an admission of defeat, and has been used to develop the Escapement instead to be used in a 3D printed clock. The result was used to design the current Clock 42 which is a compact clock design using a main spring to drive the mechanism and a Swiss lever Escapement to control it. The parts are made from ABS with the exception of the shafts which are Ø2 mm Silver Steel and the two threaded weights used in the balance wheel which are cut from a M6 screw, and of course the Mainspring.

The clock will run for around 4 hours and now sits on my desk where having to wind it frequently is not a problem. It is accurate to around 10 seconds over the 4 hours, although to be honest its rather difficult to tell accurately as there is no second’s dial on the clock.

It seemed somewhat unfair not to have a version of the Starter clock in inches as a good portion of the people wanting to build a clock for the first time come from the US. This then is a new version of the Starter clock using a woodenclocks Gravit Escapement and that uses 1/4″ Birch plywood for the majority of its parts. It is actually a slightly more complex build with the Gravity escapement bur it is potentially a more accurate clock. The woodenclocks Gravity escapement is a variant of the escapement used in the Big Ben clock but modified for use in a woodenclock design. I have tried to make as many pads as possible in1/4″ Birch plywood, but of course, there are some things that just can not be made in the wood so there are Steel shafts and Brass weights along with Lead shot and steel balls. I hope this will not put you off trying this project as when it is complete and working it is such a great Buzz.

This Starter clock is something a little different as it comes with an E-book as a PDF file not only gives the plans and files for you to build the clock yourself but also gives you guidance on how to design your own clock. It is called the Starter clock because it has been designed to be built by a first time builder who has a limited amount of equipment to start the project with. It is still not an easy project because the working parts need a certain level of accuracy to work properly. You will need a Scroll saw or a CNC router to stand a chance of getting the project finished but you won’t need a Lathe or a Milling machine… > read more

I have been experimenting with various types of escapement used in earlier clocks and have by now incorporated quite a few of them in my wooden clock designs. There is however been one design that I have never gotten around to, and that is the escapement designed by Galileo, used in a clock design he developed from his pioneering work on the pendulum. He described the design to his son who produced a drawing of it, unfortunately, they had both died before they could see the clock completed. This is my tribute to that design, I have tried to stay close to the original by retaining the teeth, Pin and finger arrangement shown in the original, but included more teeth to keep the gear ratios manageable. It is quite a compact design and can be made either by hand on a scroll saw or using a CNC router or even 3D printing.

Some years ago now I designed Clock 15 with a Grasshopper escapement and incorporated it into an Art Nouveau themed clock. The problem with this design was that the Art Nouveau was not really to everyone’s taste not least because there wasn’t a straight line to be found anywhere, but more importantly, it had a problem keeping accurate time. The fingers which acted like Flippers flicking in and out to control the movement of the escapement stay engaged with the Escape wheel for the full length of time of the wheel movement which means that it receives too much of an impulse extending the natural swing time of the pendulum and slowing down the clock. This leads to it being very sensitive to the amount of weight being applied by the Driving weight which in turn leads to a long pendulum rod. To overcome this in the new design a compound pendulum has been fitted which is easier to adjust, so controlling the clock and setting it up accurately become easier.

The real reason for this new design then is to bring back a clock with a Grasshopper escapement that is more controllable because it really is one of the nicest escapements to observe in its slow elegant motion. It is still not the most accurate of clocks but it does make up for that by being one of the most elegant.

I have designed this clock for my young great grandson, with a Knights and Castle theme. I have revisited the Spring powered clocks once again to allow the clock to be placed on a cabinet or shelf with none of the hanging parts that young fingers can grab and pull on.

I have put together a chart that tries to list all the relevant information about each clock so as to make your choice a little easier. The chart is actually a PDF file…

This question is looked at in detail in the Woodenclocks Blog. The article focus’s on the tools and equipment needed from the minimum, on to the requirements of a well equipped workshop.

How to Design and Build a Wooden Clock

If you are looking for a challenging woodwork project that is going to test your skills and imagination then building a fully working wooden clock is just what you need. This Kindle book will help you to design your own clock with the included sections on the design and calculation of gear trains along with guidance on gear tooth design. It will also introduce you to some of the many escapement designs used in clocks through the centuries to control and maintain the accurate movement of the clocks mechanism. There is guidance for cutting out parts by hand or by CNC machine or even by 3D printing. To get your copy follow the link below to get your copy.

How to design and build a wooden clock

Metric Version

How to design and build a wooden clock

Inch Version

Brian Laws Woodenclocks Blog

A design journal for Wooden clocks, with occasional thoughts on side issues related to clock design, materials, mechanisms and automata in general. There are articles on choosing the right materials along with those concerned with the equipment you will need to build your own clock.

To browse the Blog click here >

If you are not sure about making the wooden gears for the clock you can download the samples shown here to give it a try. Whether you will be cutting it out by hand or by CNC machine these free files will help you to decide.

File for sample gears >

BUNDLE 1 – Clocks 6, 9 and 10 are probably the most challenging to build.
BUNDLE 2 – Clocks 3 and 7 are all built from the bottom up in inches.
BUNDLE 3 – Clocks 12, 14, 16 and 17 are all of the wind up clocks driven by a spring.
BUNDLE 4 – Clocks 1, 2, 4 and 5 all of the original clocks.
BUNDLE 5 – Clock 15 + Gears for Projects + Mechanisms DXF and PDF Drawing files
The Beginners Clocks – Files for Clocks 30 and 31
The inch ones – Files for Clocks 24 and 25
Easy and Hard – Files for Clocks 21 and 33

Each bundle contains the Drawings as a PDF file and the DXF files for machining and they cost $36.

If you require the DXF files for any of the clocks on the site then go to the page for the clock that you require, where you will find the DXF files listed along with model files for the newer clocks. The files can be used to produce Gcode so that you can machine the profiles on CNC machine.