It took as long to make as it takes to gestate a human, but the Clickspring open-frame mechanical clock is finally complete. And the results are spectacular.
If you have even a passing interest in machining, you owe it to yourself to watch the entire 23 episode playlist. The level of craftsmanship that [Chris] displays in every episode, both in terms of the clock build and the production values of his videos is truly something to behold. The clock started as CAD prints glued to brass plates as templates for the scroll saw work that roughed out the frames and gears. Bar stock was turned, parts were threaded and knurled, and gear teeth were cut. Every screw in the clock was custom made and heat-treated to a rich blue that contrasts beautifully with the mirror polish on the brass parts. Each episode has some little tidbit of precision machining that would make the episode worth watching even if you have no interest in clocks. For our money, the best moment comes in episode 10 when the bezel and chapter ring come together with a satisfying click.
We feature a lot of timekeeping projects here, but none can compare to the Clickspring clock. If you’re still not convinced, take a look at some of our earlier coverage, like when we first noticed [Chris]’ channel, or when he fabricated and blued the clock’s hands. We can’t wait for the next Clickspring project, and we know what we’re watching tonight.
Continue reading “For Your Binge-Watching Pleasure: The Clickspring Clock Is Finally Complete”
Metalwork of any kind is fascinating stuff to watch. When the metalwork in question is in service of the clockmaker’s art, the ballgame changes completely. Tiny screws and precision gears are created with benchtop lathes and milling machines, and techniques for treating metals border on alchemy – like heat-bluing of steel clock hands for a custom-built clock.
If you have even a passing interest in metalwork and haven’t followed [Clickspring]’s YouTube channel, you don’t know what you’re missing. [Chris] has been documenting a museum-quality open-body clock build, and the amount of metalworking skill on display is amazing. In his latest video, he covers how he heat-blues steel to achieve a wonderful contrast to the brass and steel workings. The process is simple in principle but difficult in practice – as steel is heated, a thin layer of oxides forms on the surface, enough to differentially refract the light and cause a color change. The higher the heat, the thicker the layer, and the bluer the color. [Chris] uses a custom-built tray filled with brass shavings to even out the heat of a propane torch, but even then it took several tries to get the color just right. As a bonus, [Chris] gives us a primer on heat-treating the steel hands – the boric acid and methylated spirits bath, propane torch flame job and oil bath quenching all seems like something out of a wizard’s workshop.
We’ve covered [Chris]’ build before, and we encourage everyone to tune in and watch what it means to be a craftsman. We only hope that when he finally finishes this clock he starts another project right away.
Continue reading “Metal Magic: Heat Bluing Steel Clock Hands”
Breaking a stud or a bolt is a pretty common shop catastrophe, but one for which a fair number of solutions exist. Drill it out, shoot in an extractor, or if you’re lucky, clamp on some Vise-Grips and hope for the best. But when a drill bit breaks off flush in a hole, there aren’t a lot of options, especially for a small bit. If the stars align, though, you may follow this video guide to dissolve the drill bit and save the part.
Looks like [Adam Prince] lucked out with his broken bit, which he was using to drill the hole for a pin in a small custom brass hinge. It turns out that a hot solution of alum (ammonium aluminum sulfate), which is available in the spice rack of your local supermarket, will dissolve the steel drill bit without reacting with the brass. Aluminum is said to be resistant to the alum as well, but if your busted bit is buried in steel, you’re out of luck with this shop tip.
We’re a bit disappointed that [Adam]’s video ends somewhat abruptly and before showing us the end result. But a little Googling around reveals that this chemical technique is fairly well-known among a group that would frequently break bits in brass – clockmakers. It remains to be seen how well it would work for larger drill bits, but the clocksmiths seem to have had success with their tiny drills and broaches.
As for the non-dissolved remains of the broken bit, why not try your hand at knife making?
Over the last few months, [Chris] has been machining a timepiece out of brass and documenting the entire process on his YouTube channel. This week, he completed the clock face. The clock he’s replicating comes from a time before CNC, and according to [Chris], the work of engraving roman numerals on a piece of brass would have been sent out to an engraver. Instead of doing things the traditional way, he’s etching brass with ferric chloride. It’s truly artisan work, and also provides a great tutorial for etching PCBs.
[Chris] is using a photoresist process for engraving his clock dial, and just like making PCBs, this task begins by thoroughly scrubbing and cleaning some brass with acetone. The photoresist is placed on the brass, a transparency sheet printed off, and the entire thing exposed to four blacklights. After that, the unexposed photoresist is dissolved with a sodium carbonate solution, and it’s time for etching.
The clock face was etched in ferric chloride far longer than any PCB would; [Chris] is filling these etchings with shellac wax for a nice contrast between the silvered brass and needs deep, well-defined voids.
You can check out the video below, but that would do [Chris]’ channel a disservice. When we first noticed his work, the comments were actually more positive than not. That’s high praise around here.
Continue reading “Brass Clock Face Etched With PCB Techniques”
Calligraphy is a rewarding hobby that is fairly inexpensive to get in to. For someone just starting out, poster nibs are a great way to practice making letterforms without worrying about applying the proper pressure required to use nibs that split. With a few tools, you can even make your own poster nibs like [advicevice] does in this Instructable.
Poster nibs are typically made with a single piece of brass that’s folded at the point where the nib touches the paper. The backside forms a reservoir that holds the ink. The other end is formed into a semicircular shank that is inserted into a nib holder. The nibs that [advicevice] made consist of two pieces of flat brass stock plus a section of brass tubing for the shank of the nib. One side of the nib is slightly thinner than the other to act as a reservoir. This keeps ink clinging to the nib through the magic of surface tension.
Nib construction is fairly simple. [advicevice] cut the brass stock to the desired length and width, cut notches with a jeweler’s saw to allow the ink to flow, and cut a piece of tubing that holds the nib snugly. He recommends using three grades of sandpaper on the edges of the brass stock and tubing. After soldering the nib to the shank, he beveled the business end by rubbing it on 150-grit sandpaper. He followed this with 350- and 600-grit papers to avoid injury and tearing the paper when writing.
If you simply must spend more money, build a machine that writes calligraphy for you.
Brass, beaten and molded can be a thing of beauty. Watch as this craftsman puts together a very nice looking tuba. The tools of the trade in this case are somewhat automated, with that mechanical hammer, but it looks like much of this is still done by hand.
Here is the first real fruit of [Joel’s] labor on his oiling system for a CNC mill. Regular readers will remember hearing about his quest to go from a manual mill to a CNC version. As part of the overhaul he decided to add a system that can dispense oil to the different wear parts on the machine. We first looked in on the project when he showed off the pipe bender he built for the task. Now that he has that at his disposal he was able to route tubing to many of the parts.
The system starts with a central brass manifold which is pictured in the foreground. Each pipe was bent and cut to reach its destination with a minimum of wasted space. After a test fit showed good results he brazed the pieces together using silver solder. Each of the ball nuts have been drilled out so that oil will be injected onto the threads of the ball rod. Three input ports on the manifold will eventually let [Joel] connect the oil injection system via flexible tubing.