Finally a horology post for people who like shiny things.
August 17, 2015 6:58 AM   Subscribe

“Making a clock is a fascinating and satisfying experience. From the matching of the first two components, to the moment one hears the first beats of the escapement - it is as though one has created a living thing.”
Ever want to build your own clock? It might be fun, especially if you’re into home machining and are bored of small projects (like building a working steam engine). You could always buy a Clock Construction Manual by John Wilding. Or you could sit at home and watch a beautiful brass skeleton clock being made over at ClickSpring.

If you like watching how machines work, you probably enjoy every opportunity to examine skeleton clocks. With all the moving gears on display, you can directly observe the precision engineering that at one time earned pioneering clockmakers prizes of royal fortune. Clickspring takes things one step further by making a skeleton clock and beautifully shows the machining of each part of the clock, piece by piece.

The man behind ClickSpring, Chris, is a trainer at an Australian vocational college with no formal machining, horology or videography background. None-the-less he crafts videos like an expert, explores the finer points to produce a obsessively well finished machine-parts and explains the process with a soothing timbre. The first episode deals with making the frame, things get more complicated from there…

While Chris’s videos are the most pleasing to watch, he’s not alone in the online video clockmaking world.

Mark Frank is a collector who commissioned a truly epic clock by Buchanan of Chelmsford. While Buchanan is too much an artisan to have his own website, Mr. Frank has published a technical write up of the design, a website overviewing the progress and a YouTube channel with numerous clips of the build and design.

Steffen Pahlow has a lot of videos as well, with more of a focus on watches, such as the restoration of an old tourbillon pocketwatch. YouTube is also home to perlxr, a channel that includes some videos on modern quartz watches along with a few series on tourbillon clock design and construction. Depending on where your interests take you next, there are also YouTube channels for rare clock repair, commercial watch repair, commercial watchmaking and general watch geekery.

And if you’re ready for amateur clockmaking to take over your life, then you should probably consider joining the British Horological Institute if only to receive their lovely Horological Journal. (Previously)
posted by midmarch snowman (9 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
This might be a good place to point out that you can make your own working paper clock. I've done it, it's a fascinating journey of paper craft and assembly.
posted by hippybear at 7:45 AM on August 17, 2015 [8 favorites]

That steam engine is neat. Looks so darn simple, being so small, a few chambers, springs and valves. Almost makes me want to go try it.. hah..
posted by k5.user at 8:29 AM on August 17, 2015

Mark Frank is a collector who commissioned a truly epic clock by Buchanan of Chelmsford.

Upon seeing that clock, I now realize that nothing I have ever done, or will ever do, is of any consequence whatsoever.

Sort of an odd feeling.
posted by aramaic at 10:53 AM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

hippybear: About 20 years ago I did the paper clock thing. It took me two tries but the second one not only worked, it kept remarkably acurate time!
posted by TDavis at 12:01 PM on August 17, 2015

Oh my goodness this is relevant to my interests. I've just been learning about the history of clock and watch movements and thinking that I need to build one to really understand. Thanks for the post!
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:32 PM on August 17, 2015

Absolutely beautiful craftsmanship on display.

I attempted one of those paper clocks many years ago. At some point, where some major pieces had to be glued together, I clamped it wrong and the whole thing was lopsided. In frustration I threw the whole thing in the fireplace and burned it to ash. Bad memories :(

I have had much better luck with building electronic clocks. This discrete component transistor clock is like a digital skeleton clock.
posted by Pong74LS at 6:40 PM on August 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Excellent post, the Clickspring videos are so enthralling. Thanks!
posted by DynamiteToast at 11:55 AM on August 18, 2015

I watched about an hour and a half of Chris' videos last night. I started at the beginning (you have to search a bit to find the first, as he walks you through the process of machining the clock and some of the tools he'll use to make the clock) and had a hard time stopping. One of those occasions when I sooooo wanted to learn to machine metal, then realized, that, of course, I wasn't going to. I love that he even takes the time to polish the tools he makes himself, as opposed to things simply being good enough. His stuff is gorgeous. And his videography is great as well.
posted by kidkilowatt at 7:05 PM on August 18, 2015

"I love that he even takes the time to polish the tools he makes himself, as opposed to things simply being good enough."

There's something about watching Chris use his custom machined polished brass lathe carrier on one side of a piece while on the other side is held by a cast lathe carrier, purchased used, that looks like it spent part of it's long life buried in dirt.

The whole idea for the FPP came from several months of me having hard time describing Clickspring to friends. I kept going on like "no... guys... this amateur clock making youTube channel is like... really... good. Like... I watch a lot of clock making youTube channels... and... I just... this one is just... better than any other one... like this guy's videos have excellent sound mixing... why would you pay attention to consistent output gain for your amateur machining vids unless you're a secret genius... ah hell... you just don't get it guys."
posted by midmarch snowman at 4:36 AM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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