Machining A Skeleton Clock In 10,000 Easy Steps

Another day, another interesting YouTube channel. [Chris]’ Clickspring channel and blog is something you don’t really see much these days: machining parts with a lathe, a mill, and no CNC. The project [Chris] is working on now is a clock based on a design by [John Wilding]. It’s very large, and all the parts are constructed out of raw brass and steel stock.

Of course making a clock isn’t just about cutting out some parts on a lathe and turning them on a mill. No, you’re going to need to make the parts to make those parts. [Chris] has already made a tailstock die holder for his lathe, a clamping tool to drill holes in rods, and a beautiful lathe carrier to hold small parts.

All of this is top-notch work, with custom tin lapping tools to put a mirror finish on the parts, and far more effort than should be necessary going into absolute perfection. The clock project is turning out great, although there are several more months until it will tick its first second.

Selected videos below.

32 thoughts on “Machining A Skeleton Clock In 10,000 Easy Steps

  1. This is truly insane. Not only does this master craftsman have an unbelievable repertoire of talents, but his video documentation is also excellent. I wish I had 1/100th the talent this guy has.

    1. I think I even have all the needed equipment and I learned a small bit of this in school but I probably still couldn’t do this (don’t have the patience for something like this…).
      This project is insane! :P

      1. You have $30K of brass laying around? And precision machines valued at about +$100K easy? That’s pretty sweet!

        I sure hope he saves all those shavings for remelting btw.

        1. I see this attitude on Hackaday a lot. Two things you’ll notice is that he is mostly using hobby sized machines and he makes A LOT of his own tools. It looks like he even made his own hacksaw. Hell, you can see in his videos that his big lathe is a CQ6125 9 inch chinese lathe and the other lathe was a Taig. I’m almost certain that his mill is a Sieg of some sort. So is his tooling expensive? Yeah, but all of it together (that entire damn shop) is closer to the price of a new entry level car if you buy all new and a lot of it you could get by without.

          I won’t argue on the price of brass though, that shit is expensive. But hey you might find yourself like me, picking up every piece that can be turned down into usable stock that you see someone throwing out.

          1. I agree, and if you have this as a serious hobby for 10-15 years a lot of people could quite easily accumulate $100k worth of equipment. A lot of “grown ups” on this site is probably some kind of engineer, and could, if we wanted, putt $8k or so towards our main hobby per year. I mean, not that many are that passionate about this kind of metalwork, but if you are, the choice between a lathe and a new car this year is an easy choice.

          2. wonder why he didn’t use his mill on profiling the main housing and the big wheel?
            would save a lot of filing and hand work. I would like to now where he got the digital indexer.
            I’ve been a manual machinist for over forty years and still learning.

    1. Indeed, that stuff he has, and its precision, I mean we all have some of that but few of us have the perfectly aligned non-vibrating versions. It must be pretty sweet to have that.

      1. The man makes the tool. The tool doesn’t make the man.

        If you know what you are doing you can start with a relatively crappy tool and tune it up to a precision instrument. Those are some videos I’d like to see!

          1. you could…., step 1 dehydrate porridge, step 2: carbonise (AKA burn) it step 3: put it inside a big giant lump of explosives step 4: boom step 5 : diamonds.
            tiny crappy diamonds… ;->

  2. I promised myself I’d never make comment saying this isn’t a hack, but today I’ll have to break that promise, because this is not a hack. In my world until I found this strange world of hacking as describe by others, hack meant as in a hack job to get something done until it could be done properly. Nothing that we bragged about. In that that previous time period that light, this definitely isn’t a hack.

    1. I agree with you but you have to admit it would be a bit of overkill to change the name of the site to “Totallyf**kingamazingcraftsmanshipaday” just for one post. Just watch the video it slack jawed amazement.

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