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Discussion in 'Wood Movement Clocks' started by FreWJensen, Jan 28, 2007.
What are the best woods to use in the construction of a wood gear clock?
The 19th century American makers thought a lot of oak for the plates, cherry for the wheels and Mountain Laurel for the pinions...
Did you ever hear of one using Black Walnut?
BLack Walnut is a great carving hardwood. I wonder if it would be good for small parts?
I will testify to oak. It's tough as nails. Hard as a rock.
There is also a wood called black locust. Don't know the availability.
Black locust on the Janka hardness scale has a 2350 hardness factor, whereas, by comparison, hard maple has 1450 and white oak - 1360.
But, unlike other similarly hard, heavy wood types, the black locust doesn't split or chip easily; in fact it often nails and screws without pre-boring.
I think the makers were going for stability as well as wear.
You could always emulate Harrison's H1 and use cross grain laminated Lignum Vitae.
Walnut's more convenient to carve with,but oak is more firm.
Stiffness is good but we also need a material that will not split during the cutting. Is there a hardwood that has a grain similiar to Basswood?
Basswood is too soft but does not split?
I don't think oak would be much good for wheels - much too coarse a grain.
I think that we have another very similar post running on this subject.
Tom, Harrison's clocks were actually NOT made from lignum vitae. Only the bushings are lignum vitae, and POSSIBLY the rolling pinions. All other parts were made of well seasoned oak.
I would suggest Maple, since it's incredibly hard, and has a closed grain, which won't trap dust.
There are other lists of woods available if you do a search on the MB.
Black Locust would not be a good wood for the use. It has a tendency to split and check unless sealed (not from nailing but just from environment). It was mainly used for fence posts since it withstands rot. It is a hard and beautiful wood, honey colored with tyloses (sp?). It's difficult to find commercially due to poor growth characteristics.
Boxwood might be a good choice for the plates. It's dimensionally stable and fine grained, but I'm not sure about the hardness. It's in the maple family (Acer sp.), somewhat difficult to fine lumber sized commercially.
Sooth, what is the dimensional stability of maple like?
I'm not an expert on wood, but I believe that 19th century wood movements were made from old-growth timber. Commercial domestic lumber today is almost always second-growth or farmed timber. The characteristics such as hardness and decay resistance can be very different between old and new growth lumber. Therefore, it may be that making a movement today using the species used originally would not be the best approach.
I know lignum vitae is possibly the hardest wood to machine so how much more difficult is it than cutting brass or steel?
Otherwise, lignum vitae would seem ideal material for pinions, wheels, pulleys and bushings.
I think using recycled timber would avoid these problems. I use it in my case repairs because most new timber is junk (here anyway)!
I would think rosewood might also be considered - extremely dense - VERY hard. However I believe how it is cut would also be very important to resist warpage. Is it called "quarter sawn"?
Rosewood and Lignum Vitae are both hard to glue. They are very machinable.
The wisdom of the American wooden works makers is to be discounted??
I do a lot of woodworking, and I am thinking about doing a glueup of Purple Heart and Birdseye Maple. I think I will go with Ebony for the pinions and bushings. Just think of the beautiful contrast that would be. Also ebony is very hard, as is the Birdseye Maple. The Purple Heart is great to work with, and by doing a glueup with the Birdseye Maple will stop all the warping dead in its tracks, if you reverse the grain direction in every other board to the one next to it.
I have made a lot of beautiful pieces useing this method. The contrast makes the Purple heart light up like a NEON sign.
I've seen purpleheart. Just never quite warmed up to it. It's - well - "too purple".
Now maple? I prefer curly maple. Don't know if it's as hard as birdseye.
boxwood and birch seem to be most used.
I am sure there are countless others as suggested here. I think I will begin with these. Now, the only question is, "where do I get Boxwood?" The birch seems easy to get but boxwood is another question.
You like hardwood, try Ozark Apple if you can find some.
I'm curious, what makes boxwood a popular candidate? Is it because of the creamy grain texture and stability?
As for birch, is it because it's hard-wearing?
Boxwood is supposed to excellent for carving details. I guess it is great for forming/cutting gears and pinions without splitting. I have never worked with it so I must experiment. I just did not want to begin my project with woods that could cause problems.