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.

This clock I have termed the Crown because it does have a passing resemblance to one and it is after all the year of the Queens Jubilee.

I have used a new design for the gear train which has one less shaft and two less gears than the ones used before. It is also folded over on itself so as to make it more compact and yet run for longer with less weight. This arrangement combined with the simplified Escapement makes it easier and quicker to build without loosing any accuracy. It is designed such that all of the parts can be cut with your CNC machine so no need for a lathe on this one. although I would recommend you have some form of drill press to assemble the gears to the shafts. I have shown it here with a Brass weight but I have also included the files for the construction of a box to hold either Lead Shot or Catapult Ammo (ball Bearings) to provide an easily adjustable weight.

The prototype runs for 25 hours and has been running for several weeks now and is keeping good time to within 20 seconds in a 24-hour period. I have actually given up trying to get it to run any better as I am beginning to think its due to temperature fluctuations that have be occurring recently.

The Starter clock  No. 47 has been designed and built in inches and like its predecessor, now has a second version that is a bit more challenging, but still not requiring the use of a lathe or the more complex parts in some of the other clocks found here. It is therefore a logical progression for the builder who has finished the Starter clock and wants to move on to something more demanding.

The original Graham Escapement has been replaced with a Grasshopper type which is more complex to make but has a much more elegant action as can be seen in the accompanying video.

For the first time on any of my clocks I have incorporated a Daisy Wheel Motion to drive the Hour hand. This mechanism was originally designed by Clockmaker Aaron Dodd Crane around 1830 and is incorporated here in a slightly modified form to show off the Daisy Motion more clearly. One of the nice features of this design other than its novelty is that the Hour and Minute hands are directly connected so that turning the Minute hand also adjusts the Hour hand in the correct ratio of 12:1.

The prototype runs for 20 hours and has been running for around a month now and is keeping good time to within 2 minutes in a 20-hour period. The clock is less accurate than the original because of way in which the impulse is applied to the pendulum, but the smooth nature of this more than compensates.

The original Starter clock has worked well as an introduction to building wooden clocks, so I have decide to do a follow on design that is a bit more challenging, but still not requiring the use of a lathe or more complex parts in some of the other clocks found here. It is therefore a logical progression for the builder who has finished the Starter clock and wants to move on to something more demanding.

Whereas the original had no bearings for the shaft ends, this one has Miniature Ball bearings on the ends of each shaft and will run for a full 24 hours on a single wind. This time it has a key wind up arrangement but retains the same type of Graham escapement which is known to be the most suitable design for wooden clock construction.

To achieve the 24 hour run time it has the newer more efficient gearing featured in some of the latest clocks on the website.

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

The files for the clocks are not included, these are paid for separately.

Woodenclocks Journal

Over the last 20 years I have designed and built prototypes of more than 40 different wooden clocks. In the main I have enjoyed the process and think it is now time to look at this body of work as a whole, so this E-book takes the form of a journal and is available as electronic file in PDF format. The book contains nearly 200 pages of illustrations of the 42 clocks so is an excellent fund knowledge on wooden clocks.

Each clock has its own set of pages with a short precis of its attributes and a description of its unique features and at the end of the book there are 6 pages showing the clocks hanging in line so that you can get a sense of their relative sizes.

Links to the clock’s website page are accessed through the blue outlined boxes on the first page of each clock so you can obtain further information and detail drawings for the clock concerned.


Woodenclocks Journal

It is a large file and will take some time to load so patience is required when downloading.

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.