Handmade Acrylic Skeleton Clock Is An Impressive Feat Of Scroll Sawing

Handmade Acrylic Skeleton Clock

For one of his mechanical engineering school projects, [Ben Murton] decided to design and build a clock from scratch — and while it may look like it was laser cut… He cut it out all by hand.

It’s a cross between the mechanical workings of an old Grandfather clock and a Skeleton clock — the goal was to have all movements visible to see how the clock operates. He designed it using Autodesk Inventor, and has provided the files online for anyone to use — He notes it would be especially easy to make if you have a laser cutter or CNC router!

Anyway, the clock is made out of 3mm thick acrylic, 5mm brass shafts, nylon string, some heavy weights (lead), and some nuts and screws. After printing out his CAD templates, [Ben] carefully used a scroll saw to cut out every gear and linkage — We’re impressed.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this is that he opted for a gravity driven clock instead of just throwing a stepper and microcontroller on the back — it’s nice to see purely mechanical projects are still being done!


25 thoughts on “Handmade Acrylic Skeleton Clock Is An Impressive Feat Of Scroll Sawing

  1. “After printing out his CAD templates, [Ben] carefully used a scroll saw to cut out every gear and linkage — We’re impressed.”


    “Because Autodesk Inventor was used to design the clock, all the files needed very little work before been sent to a cutter or 3D printer”

    He lasercut his version, the mention of a scroll saw is if YOU want to make it by hand, he certainly didn’t.

    1. Did you follow the link back to the source instructable?

      “The acrylic gears were the most time consuming part of the build. each gears was cut by hand on a scroll sow then filed down to the final shape.”

        1. I’m not above admitting when I’m wrong, especially if I was so eagerly dispelling some really good craftsmanship. I just thought the cuts he made were “too good” to be done by hand, so when I read the first line I said “AHA I KNEW IT!” and jumped the shark.

          It’s a really nice build and I’ll never have the patience to cut out such perfect gears, I’m the kind that would much rather build a CNC that does it for me even if it takes 10x longer.

  2. Nothing too impressive here. The only interesting part of this project is that is cut from acrylic. Many others have made this “impressive feat of scroll sawing” by making much more detailed clocks from wood; both plywoods and segmented hardwoods. Search around for the Simplicity Clock and you’ll find tons of examples.

    1. Your bar for impressive must be pretty high then. When I was this kid’s age, my biggest accomplishment was finding all 120 stars in Mario 64.

      The amount of time and skill required to manually cut that many gears with a scroll saw and use a Dremel to hand etch that many numbers with enough precision to make it look halfway decent is… not trivial.

      1. Yes it is. Copying something that many people have done multiple times is not impressive. Had he designed some sort of tourbillion and cut it from acrylic making a completely new clock complication would have been impressive.

        Hackaday has made a trend of posting knockoff projects under the guise of originality and so called “impressive” works.

        1. In the event you have the ability to find original and impressive regularly, you should apply for a position at Hackaday. In the event you have done original and oppressive you could be a she in for free ride to space, send an entry to the contest. Many if not most of us can’t care if Hackaday features something on the basis of fine craftsman, no matter how many others have done similar.

          1. As the owner of two operational and rather successful businesses, I don’t need a job at HAD. Why would they want a constant stream of original and impressive works when it is much simpler to regurgitate to get hits?

            Did I miss some fine print stating that all comments must be made in praise of the project or project’s creator?

            The “basis of fine craftsmanship” is a much better statement than an “impressive feat”. Maybe you should seek employment with HAD to help title projects?

  3. What is unexpected here is the sound the clock makes. It doesn’t sound anything like I would expect an acrylic clock to sound. Any thoughts on that?

    I would rather machine plastic than wood, but I am more partial to wood in regard to the aesthetics of a clock. My buddy is moving to a warmer climate, and I’ll lose access to his great wood shop, so I guess I need to get going on a wooden clock project.

  4. ” He cut it out all by hand, but may have messed up a part or two along the way and did them over”. FTFY.

    Hand cut clocks are pretty cool (and way past my patience level), but if you want to see some extraordinary mechanisms, look for things like kinetic sculptures. My favorites are by David C. Roy: http://www.woodthatworks.com/

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