The first pendulum clock was invented in 1656 by Christian Huygens in the Netherlands. This clock was based on an escapement, a device which allows the first gear of the clock to advance only one gear with each swing of a pendulum. The pendulum clock greatly improved clock accuracy, and led to the addition of minute and second hands to the earlier hour hand.
I got the bug to build a wooden gear clock from a kit, and ordered a kit made by Abong. This clock was designed by Raymond Groothuizen in 2013. He put a lot of research and trial and error into making the clock. They make other cool kits, which can be viewed here.
It came in a box about half as big as a shoe box, and had all kinds of cool gear wheels. These are cut by laser from plywood of several different thicknesses, so every edge is burned. The first task is to lightly sand each gear, and apply graphite as a lubricant between gears. I made a sanding table by putting double sided tape to a marble tile piece, and putting 120 grit sandpaper on the marble slab.
The next task is to connect the large gears to their inner gears. This is done using wooden dowels which are glued in place, then cut flush with the surface of the gears.
I got ahead of myself and glued all the gears together in one day.
After assembling the gears, the wooden axles are placed on a backing plate, and the gears are placed on the axles. Graphite from a pencil is rubbed onto the axles for lubrication. I also smoothed the axles with fine sandpaper to reduce friction. If all goes well, the gears will all turn freely. Without the escapement holding the gears in check, the weight attached to the drive gear would spin all the gears in a furious tornado of spinning gears, until the weight hit the floor in about 5 seconds.
When the gears are on the backing plate, the plate is mounted vertically, the weight is hung and wound up, and if you are lucky, the weight drives the gears and each cycle of the pendulum gets a bit of a push from the shape of the escapement and the gears it touches.
If the clock is assembled correctly with minimal friction between the gears, a period of adjustment begins. The movement of the gears on each axle has be centered, more graphite will probably be needed, and seemingly endless adjustments might be required. My clock has been running for many days now, which is a big relief. Its very pleasant to hear that tick tick tick of the gears and the escapement.
I was missing some parts that were lost in the built, and Abong was nice enough to send me replacements for free! How nice. Thanks, Raymond and Joanne! The quality of the cuts is excellent and the instructions are very complete. Minimal equipment is needed, mostly sandpaper and glue. I would recommend this kit to any person with some building skills.