Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Pi Day to all!

In honor of Pi Day, I am here to share my most recent circle-based project with you!

On March 13th, it is only proper to take some time to recognize the beauty of circles. I got this apprenticeship with a lesson-based interview that had Jeff & Rob "discover" Pi using some yarn and several circular objects. The fact that no matter the size of the circle, the ratio between it's circumference and diameter will always be the same (3.14, of course) is such an amazing mathematical concept.

So, recently I have been at work to construct a live edge clock with a face whose hours are marked with the different phases of the moon. Starting by cutting walnut plugs and gluing them into a maple piece, I then used the plug cutter to cut off-center thus leaving different slivers of the white wrapped around the darker walnut. Then, I did the same thing in the inverse; maple plugs into a solid walnut piece. I placed one 1/16" thick piece of wood between the fence and the edge of the piece (and added another 1/16" thick piece for the next moon and so on) as I was cutting the moons from so that each phase was increasing in size by the same amount.

After I had all the phases cut, I drew out the placement of the hours using a 30-60-90 triangle and circle stencil. I was sure to consider the length of the clock hands while doing so. Next, came the jig making.

I constructed a jig that was nothing more than a piece of MDF (to ensure flatness below the piece on the drill press table) with a short piece of a dowel stuck into it at 90 degrees. I then drilled a hole through the center of the face of the clock and used the dowel as a pivot point. I clamped the jig down to the drill press so that the forstner bit was set up to cut perfectly into one of my marked hour-moon layouts. From there, I could just spin the entire piece around to each marked 30 degree increment and be sure that each circle would be exactly the same distance from the center of the clock.  I love circles!

Finally, I glued my moon phase plugs into their new holes and sanded them down. Naturally, as this was my first attempt, some of my phases aren't the ideal size or perfectly placed during glue up but, overall, I'm pleased with the result. Now that I have the process down and have ironed out many of the snags, I am eager to start work on the next (and better) moon phases clock face!

Happy Pi Day to all and have a glorious, woodworking-filled weekend!


  1. A math bonus! Very nice and very creative. Might have to try one.

    1. Thanks Neal! Let me know how it works out if you give it a try! I've already pondered some ways to improve.

  2. Awesome ~ JD Lohr is so lucky to have you! Besides being a Math wiz, you write really well!

    1. Thanks so much for reading and the kind words!