Living simply exterior of Homer, Alaska — “halibut fishing capital of the world” — and being an avid fisher myself, I suppose it’s not stunning that I wish to create issues with a nautical theme. I not too long ago made a few ship’s wheel clocks, a undertaking that mixes spindle turning and segmenting. The clocks have been fascinating to design and make, and I believed the method I went via was value passing alongside to different turners.

Turned ship wheel on blue background

The very first thing I did was search the Internet for photographs of ship wheels. Some have six spokes, some have eight, some even have ten. I made a decision I favored eight spokes. The clocks I made have a central hub 6-half″ (17cm) in diameter, an outer wheel 15″ (38cm) in diameter, and an general diameter, to the information of the spokes, of 23-1/2″ (60cm).

Spokes and Spacers

Basic parts of turned ship wheel clock
Spoke blanks and mitered spacers. The smaller inside spacers present construction for the hub, whereas the bigger outer spacers comprise the wheel.

Almost any mixture of hardwoods would work effectively for this undertaking. I selected maple for the spindles and cherry for the spacers within the hub and wheel. A layer of walnut covers the hub and wheel.

First, I minimize and planed the spindle, or spoke, inventory. I made the spindles 1-1/4″ (32mm) sq. and about 10-1/4″ (26cm) lengthy. Since I didn’t have 1-1/4″-thick inventory, I laminated the items utilizing thinner materials, which labored out wonderful. I made a pair further spindles, one to follow my spoke design on and one other in case I had a serious blooper when turning.

I used a easy formulation to find out how lengthy my spacers wanted to be for the 6-half″ hub and the 15″ wheel. If you subtract the width of all of the spindles from the circumference of every circle, you’ll be left with the full spacer size. Divide that whole by eight (as a result of there are eight spacers) to reach on the size of every spacer.

πd – (8 × 1-1/4″) / 8

This means the spacers for the inside hub would measure 1.3″ (or about 1-5/16″) lengthy, and the spacers for the wheel would measure 4.6″ (or about 4-5/8″) lengthy. The spacers within the outer wheel are 2-half″ (6cm) vast, and the spacers within the hub are 1-1/4″ vast, each comprised of laminated inventory. I made the hub and wheel barely outsized after which turned them to ultimate diameter.

When planing the thickness of the hub and wheel spacers, I left the wooden a couple of thousandths of an inch thicker than the spindle inventory to make sure there can be room for inserting the turned spindles via the wheel and into the hub, which is without doubt one of the final steps.

I minimize the angles on the spacers (and the walnut segments for the outer layers of the wheel and hub) on a desk noticed sled. As turners who do segmented work will know, the miter angles on the spacers and outer ring segments are decided by dividing 360 levels (a full circle) by the variety of spacers (or segments), divided by two (since there’s a miter on every finish). For the eight spacers between the spokes (of each the hub and wheel), the miter angles are 22.5 levels. For the twelve segments of the outer wheel layer rings, the miter angles are 15 levels.

Outer Layers

My subsequent step was to manufacture the highest and backside layers to cowl the spacers and spokes within the outer wheel and hub. I selected 3/8″- (9.5mm-) thick walnut. For each the hub cowl, which barely exhibits as soon as the 6″- (15cm-) diameter clock is put in, and the again of the outer wheel, I used plain walnut. For the extra seen segmented items on the entrance of the wheel, I used figured walnut.


I positioned a bit of masking tape on both aspect of the nonetheless-sq. spindles and used them as guides for clamping and gluing the spacers to the again of the hub. The masking tape ensured that the turned spokes would match into their slots with out numerous persuasion. I used to be cautious to take away any glue that squeezed out into the areas the place the spokes match. Once the glue dried, I glued the entrance layer to the hub, once more cleansing off any glue squeeze out. I turned a 2-half″-diameter recess 3/16″ (5mm) deep at the back of the hub, mounted the hub in my chuck, and turned and sanded it to form.

Center piece blank for ship wheel
Hub spacers are sandwiched between outer layers of walnut. Not pictured: the unturned spokes function helpful spacers throughout glue-up. A gap is turned and sized on the entrance to simply accept the friction-match clock.

At this level, it’s a good suggestion to show a gap within the entrance of the hub to simply accept the clock. I bought a 6″ “fit-up,” or friction-match, clock from, considering this kind of clock can be easy to switch if wanted. Fit-up clocks can be found from a variety of totally different suppliers, they usually include ivory or white faces, at the least three types of numbering, and a value vary of about $20 to $25 every. The clock I purchased had a 6″ face with a brass bezel and match snugly in a 3-1/8″ (8cm) gap.

I first turned a 3″ gap within the hub after which enlarged it utilizing a router. I turned a 3-1/8″ gap in a scrap of plywood, connected the plywood to the hub with double-sided tape, and used a sample bit in my router to wash up and widen the outlet. The sample bit ensured that the perimeters of the outlet can be easy and straight (not sloped). And the template will be reused if I resolve to make any healthier-up type clocks. As another, you could possibly skip the router and easily wonderful-tune the outlet on the lathe.


Ship wheel segmented rings
Segmented rings are fabricated to sandwich the wheel spacers.

For the back and front layers of the wheel, I made rings comprising twelve segments. I used wooden glue to assemble the section rings.

Clamping up center blank of ship wheel clock
Save the flowery wooden for the entrance-going through layer, because the again might be unseen, in opposition to a wall.

I adopted the identical glue-up process for the outer layer on the wheel as I did for the hub. When gluing the highest ring of the wheel onto the spacers, I used to be cautious to not middle a section glue joint over a spoke gap, the place the wheel will later be pegged to the spoke. On my first clock, after I pounded a peg via the wheel and right into a spoke at a joint line, I created a slight separation of the segmented items. Yikes!

Mounting central turning blank for ship wheel
The glued-up wheel meeting is mounted on massive plate jaws in growth mode.

When the glue dried, I mounted the wheel on a chuck with massive plate jaws to show and sand it. The eight grippers on the jaws match properly within the eight slots for the spindles. I needed to be cautious to show solely the outer half of the wheel in order to not contact the grippers or aluminum jaws.

Final sanded ship wheel ring
Turn and sand one aspect, then flip the wheel round on the chuck to entry the opposite aspect.

But that labored wonderful since I might merely reverse the ring to show the opposite aspect. When turned and sanded, the 15″ wheel ended up having a width of about 1-7/8″ (5cm).

Turn the Spokes

Test fitting spoke parts in ship wheel
Spoke blanks are inserted via the wheel and into the hub for marking the areas that might be left sq..

Once the hub and outer wheel have been turned and sanded, I began to work on the spokes. First I inserted the nonetheless sq. spoke blanks via the wheel and about 1-1/4″ into the hub. Then I marked, with pencil traces, the place the spokes wanted to stay sq..

Fitting spoke part in lathe
The spokes are first turned between facilities.

I turned and sanded the spokes between facilities, first rounding the areas exterior of the hub and wheel, then turning some beads and coves that I believed appeared acceptable.

Sanding spoke end smooth on lathe
The spoke clean is mounted in a chuck to achieve entry to the deal with ends.

I then mounted the spokes in my spigot jaws earlier than parting off so I might sand the deal with ends with out the tailstock limiting entry.

Assemble and Finish

Turned spokes in place on ship wheel clock
The turned spokes are inserted via the wheel and into the hub, then pegged in place. The hub pegs might be hidden by the match-up clock.

When the whole lot was turned and sanded, I slid the spokes via the wheel and into the hub. I fixed the spokes to the hub with 1/4″- (6mm-) diameter fluted dowels, ensuring to place them about 3/4″ (19mm) from the rim so they might be coated by the clock. I then turned some 3/8″-diameter maple dowels and used these to lock the wheel to the spokes. I trimmed these plugs with a flush-minimize noticed and sanded the whole lot flat.

Wall mounting notch in back of ship wheel clock
A rear-going through gap and notched brass plate function a worthy hanger.

The ship’s wheel clock is fairly heavy, so to hold it, I drilled a 1-1/16″ (27mm) gap about half″ (13mm) deep, centered on a spoke at the back of the wheel. Then I minimize and notched a bit of 16-gauge brass and screwed it in place over the outlet.

Final finished and colored ship wheel clock

To end the clock, Beth (my spouse and enterprise companion) placed on three coats of Danish oil. After letting the Danish oil dry for 3 days, I placed on three coats of wipe-on polyurethane, buffing between coats with 0000 metal wool. Pressing within the match-up clock with a slight twisting movement was the ultimate step.

Ted Heuer spent thirty years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After retiring in 2007, he and his spouse Beth moved to Kachemak City, Alaska, the place they’ve operated a woodworking enterprise since 2008 ( When not making sawdust, Ted and Beth take pleasure in fishing, gardening, and serving to to run the native artist cooperative (Ptarmigan Arts) in Homer, Alaska..

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