Category Archives: cereal box clock

Cereal Box Clock Plans

Back in 2013 when I posted the Cereal Box Clock series I immediately started receiving requests for plans.

Top view of cereal box clock plans. Click on image for full package.

Up until now, I have been unwilling to share. Not because I have been holding out for compensation (a number of readers have offered to pay) but because of my own self-limiting perfectionism. Even so, I have yet to find the motivation to put additional time into this project and it has become just another thing hanging over my head that I’ll get to “some day.” So if you’re inclined to attempt this clock yourself, everything I have to offer is on this Google Drive Folder.

These are the exact files my students and I used to build the clocks four years ago but completely lack any instructions or additional context. If you get stuck, the posts from 2013 have a lot of good info. In retrospect, the real value of these plans is that they demonstrate how to layout a going train in a “linear” fashion. This makes clock gearing much easier to understand and eliminates much of the complexity of a traditional movement.  Good luck!

Gears and Gravity: Finished Clocks (Day 13)

All eight clocks on display for the final day of camp.

All eight clocks on display for the final day of camp.

Wow, took me long enough to post this. The last day of DEEP camp on June 28 and I learned so much from my students that I’ve been completely absorbed in revising the clock design that I haven’t taken time to post the photos of my student’s truly excellent work. Can’t wait for next year.

The video below shows six cardboard clocks running (mostly) all at once. What a lovely sound.

The recent purchases of a large shoe order and a new vacuum turned out to be quite helpful to the class.

The recent purchases of a large shoe order and a new vacuum turned out to be quite helpful to the class.

Parents and students watch the closing ceremony and show while the clocks wait to be taken home.

Parents and students watch the closing ceremony and show while the clocks wait to be taken home.

The escape wheel reads: "Genius is eternal patience." – Michelangelo

The escape wheel reads: “Genius is eternal patience.” – Michelangelo

The escape wheel read: "Play is the highest form of research." – Albert Einstein

The escape wheel read: “Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

Gears and Gravity, Day 7: Gluing Wheels to Arbors

In standard clock construction a clock wheel (aka: gear) is attached to an arbor and the arbor in turn is attached to a pivot. The same methods apply to the Cereal Box Clock except the wheels and arbors are made of paper and the pivots are wood.

Hot glue helps the wheel go round.

Hot glue helps the wheel go round.

Gears and Gravity, Day 6: Wheel Cutting

Trimming the outer edge of the Hour Wheel.

Trimming the outer edge of the Hour Wheel.

Using flush jaw wire cutters to cut wheel teeth is methodical yet enjoyable work.

Using flush jaw wire cutters to cut wheel teeth is methodical yet enjoyable work.

Using a "Japanese" pull saw to cut arbor material. These saw work like butter.

Using a “Japanese” pull saw to cut arbor material. These saw work like butter.

Using a pull saw to cut dowels for pivots. These saws are so sharp that some students could cut through a dowel in one pull!

Using a pull saw to cut dowels for pivots. These saws are so sharp that some students could cut through a dowel in one pull!

Gears and Gravity, Day 5: Pinion Assembly

Assembling pinions is a lot of work and all of the students worked hard. Three eight leaf pinions are required for each clock.

The drilled holes are a little undersized so we must use this very sophisticated pointy stick to increase the diameter.

The drilled holes are a little undersized so we must use this very sophisticated pointy stick to increase the diameter.

Five of eight pins inserted.

Five of eight pins inserted.

They don't have to be straight.

They don’t have to be straight.

Little smears of hot glue hold the pins in place.

Little smears of hot glue hold the pins in place.

Love the pink hot glue guns.

Love the pink hot glue guns.

Gears and Gravity, Day 4: Arbor Tube Rolling

Each wheel and pinion must be secured to a paper arbor before being attached to the 1/4″ dowel pivot. The arbor is 1/4″ ID and 3/8″ OD. As I was designing the clock, I looked for off-the-shelf tubes that I could purchase but what I found seemed expensive and I wanted to ensure a consistent size so I decided that I’d have to roll my own. This video presented and excellent solution. Still, these are a challenge to roll consistently and I had to experiment for quite a while before I found the best technique to teach my students.

Applying glue thinned with water and a little rubbing alcohol to prevent wrinkling.One person holds the paper on the steel rolling-pin to prevent the two from getting glued together.

Applying glue thinned with water and a little rubbing alcohol to prevent wrinkling.One person holds the paper on the steel rolling pin to prevent the two from getting glued together.

Glue applied, starting the roll. A helper tries to keep wrinkles from forming.

Glue applied, starting the roll. A helper tries to keep wrinkles from forming.

Slow and steady.

Slow and steady.

All most there.

All most there.

A finished arbor tube.

A finished arbor tube.

Gears and Gravity, Day 3: Pinion Construction I

Center Punching

Center punching the pinion pin holes. I am impressed by how accurately these 4th, 5th, and 6th graders can punch these center marks. They did better than many college students I’ve seen. Perhaps their small hands and young, sharp eyes give them an advantage.

After Day 1, I knew that this group of students would benefit from the additional challenge of drilling their own holes. I drill all of the 3/8" holes for safety concerns but I'm confident that the risks of injury when drilling an 1/8" hole into chip board are minimal. Everyone has handled the drill press very well so far.

After Day 1, I knew that this group of students would benefit from the additional challenge of drilling their own holes. I drill all of the 3/8″ holes for safety concerns but I’m confident that the risks of injury when drilling an 1/8″ hole into chip board are minimal. Everyone has handled the drill press very well so far.

Cutting 1/8" dowel rod into 3/4" lengths for pinion pins using a custom jig. The Xcelite 170M flush cutters do a pretty good job and fit young hands very well.

Cutting 1/8″ dowel rod into 3/4″ lengths for pinion pins using a custom jig. The Xcelite 170M flush cutters do a pretty good job and fit young hands very well.

Each plate is a double thickness of cereal box chip board plus a paper pattern all spray-mounted together. The average thickness of this material is 40 mil so it's a bit of a challenge to cut through.

Each plate is a double thickness of cereal box chip board plus a paper pattern all spray-mounted together. The average thickness of this material is 40 mil so it’s a bit of a challenge to cut through.

We often emphasize the importance of cutting parts to a rough shape first and then trimming the last bits off.

We often emphasize the importance of cutting parts to a rough shape first and then trimming the last bits off.