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Lasercut Cardboard Mechanical Clock

When I moved to Germany to get my Master’s Degree, the only tools I had were basic hand tools and my laser cutter. It was also around this time that I indulged my fascination with mechanical clocks and watches. I was able to use the PDF plans from and converted them to Gcode in LaserWeb to feed to my laser. The laser itself was a small 3w diode, so it could not cut thick material. Thankfully, I had plenty of thin cardstock from cereal and frozen pizza boxes (I lived in a student dormitory) so I used that as my main material.

Each gear and component was made from 5-10 layers of cardstock, laminated together with cyanoacrylate. I used some 3mm brass rods as shafts and created bushings with rolled tubes of notebook paper and lubricated them with a coating of pencil graphite. I added some wooden standoffs to hold the main watch face and mechanism together.

With the clock fully assembled, I did a few test runs to see if the mechanism worked as expected. I had to tweak the tolerances on several parts to accommodate for my construction materials, but in the end the clock turned effortlessly.

I installed a pendulum and winding weight and hung the clock on my wall for about 6 months as a static display. I would fire it up every now and then to show someone that it did in fact work. Unfortunately the clock was not one of the items that would survive my move so it was left behind when I graduated. Looking back, it was a fun little project that reminded me that I could make some really amazing things from the most basic of materials.

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