Bucket List Project: Roman Cathedral Scroll Saw Clock

Posted by Jeremy Walls | Labels: , , , , , , , | Posted On Thursday, January 04, 2018 at 11:10 PM

The three fretwork clocks I've completed: Cottage clock in 2008 (left),
Queens clock in 2010 (right), and the Roman Cathedral clock (center)
Nearly nine years ago, at age 15, I finished my first fretwork clock, the Cottage Clock by Wildwood Designs. Two years later, I had completed Wildwood Design’s Queen’s Clock, and was looking for a project to truly solidify myself as a “great” scroll sawer –in my mind, that required making a very large fretwork clock. There are several known large fretwork clocks out there, such as the Dome Clock, York Minster Cathedral, and Chimes of Normandy, but the Roman Cathedral clock struck me as both intricate and visually appealing.

As small projects continued to keep me busy, I delayed plans for building a large fretwork clock. The idea kept nagging at me though, and two years later – in the winter of 2012 – the plans were purchased and sitting in my lap. I had this grand plan to finish the clock before my 21st birthday. Two years would be plenty of time to finish it right? And completing it before my 21st would definitely fulfill my desire to prove my skills as a scroll sawer right?

As I began the feat of cutting the pieces out, I realized I may have been in over my head. The plan used false plates to construct sections (basically they are hidden pieces used to increase the strength and bear the weight of the clock), and I had no idea what a false plate was at the time, nor did I understand how they were used or why they were important. I continued cutting out the pieces anyway, planning to deal with the construction aspects when the time came. A dozen pieces and a couple hundred cuts later, graduation, work, and college took over my time, and before I knew it, my 21st birthday had come and gone. Fast-forward a few years to this past Fall, five years after starting the clock, I was graduated with my Masters degree, and finally had a bit of time on my hands. After a solid two weeks of hard work, I found myself rounding off the last few turns and completing the final cut. Five years after receiving the pattern and making the initial cuts, at age 24, I had completed the project. My goal of completing a large fretwork clock had come to fruition.

Now, it was well past my goal of completing it by my 21st birthday, and I now realize how absurd it was to use the clock as some sort of “proof” of my scroll sawing capabilities. In fact, making the clock for such a reason as proving my skills is probably the same reason I didn’t stick it out and complete it five years ago. Scroll sawing as a hobby is meant to be fun, not forced. And fun is exactly what the entire process was when I resumed work on the clock five years later. Working on the clock for fun and for myself, rather than for proving something to others, is what allowed me to see the project through to the finish. So despite blowing past my timeline goal, I had a project I was proud of, and that alone was enough.

Happy new year everyone, and good luck with completing the projects on your wish list!

Just a note: there were several errors in the pattern. If you are working on this clock, or plan to, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll do my best to help you with any issues and provide advice.


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