Chapter 2: The PlatesOctober 17, 2004
Construction of the clock really begins with chapter two, where you make the front and back plates out of 3/16" leaded brass plate. Mostly, this consists of a lot of sawing, followed by a lot of filing, and a lot of sanding. Not a fun task, but the plates are really a key part of the clock. :-) I purchased an inexpensive Tradesman variable speed scroll saw to help with the sawing. It's loud, but doesn't vibrate too much when bolted to my bench, and best of all: it accepts all of the jewler's saw blades I already have for other metalworking projects! I have actually found this tool to be so useful that I expect I'll probably upgrade to a better one at some point, but this is sufficient for now.
Here you can see both plates bolted together at the corners, and with 0-80 register screws installed to ensure proper alignment. The sawing is still extremely slow, as the plates are pretty thick, my blades are quite fine, and I'm still learning to use the new tool. It probably took me the good part of a couple days to saw out the front plate, and the outside edges of the back plate. I still need to finish sawing the back plate, and then file and sand them.
In order to take a break from some of the sawing work, I jumped ahead a bit and made these file button "cheaters" on the lathe out of mild steel. They're basically thick precision washers, and will be used when filing around the pillar holes on the plates (where the bolts are in the picture above). The idea is that a bolt goes through one of the file buttons, the plate, and then the other file button. Then you can file the brass down to the button, and it will be perfectly round.
Well, it took me a good 7 days or so of work, but the plates are finally finished being cut and filed. They still need to be sanded and polished at some point, but I'm so sick of working on them that I'm going to save that for later and move on to the more interesting parts of the clock. I'm worried that I've stripped the lower register screw hole, but I think it's still good enough to do it's job. The metal is soft, and the screw threads very small - so be careful with these if you ever try to build this clock yourself! Here's a shot of the finished plates: