Friday, December 24, 2010

Wood block LED clock (part 2)

Making wooden enclosure.

Box can be made from any available material i.e. wooden boards, MDF or plywood.

I had some MDF sheets in my scrap container so I've build simple frame from narrow panels of 1/2" MDF.
Before joining pieces together I've applied some carpenter's glue to matching surfaces. Glue fills gaps and add extra strength to joint.

All parts fastened with 1" wooden screws. To avoid material splitting I've drilled 1/8" pilot holes for screws and made countersinks.

Front and back panels are made from 1/4" MDF and attached to frame with glue and screws. Wooden putty can be applied over top of screw heads to make surface even and smooth.

It's a good habit to keep scrap material just in case. 

Frame built with glue and wooden screws.

Box assembled.
As front window I've used piece of plastic grid from luminescent light fixture.
Window grid physically isolates LEDs, eliminates color mixing, forms nice illuminated dots and prevents front sheet of veneer from flexing inward. For better contrast grid is painted black.
Window frame is mounted flush with front surface and secured with hot glue.

Front window.
To finish box I've used assorted veneer samples set from local woodworking store.
I've chosen transparent maple veneer to cover front panel. For sides and top I've decided to use dark walnut veneer so it would make nice contrast with face panel. Back and bottom panels are hidden from observer so I've just painted them black.

Veneer application is pretty simple. Veneer piece should be cut slightly larger than area to which veneer is being applied. It can be glued with the same carpenter's glue or similar adhesive suitable for wooden material.

Excess of glue and accidental drips can be easily cleaned with damped cloth. After glue has dried, extra material around edges should be cut with x-acto knife (Caution, it's very sharp!). Corners can be sanded with fine sandpaper. As any other wooden material veneer can be stained, finished and sealed.    

Assorted veneer.
Veneer application. Glue. Dry. Cut excess on edges. Sand corners.
Box completed.
Well, I'm very happy with result. Stained and lacquered wooden box looks more impressive than boring plastic enclosure. For visual enchantment some shiny brass details can be added. I definitely will use this technique again.  

Pretty transparent, eh?
Controller and LED matrix are bolted together and whole assembly's attached to front panel with hot glue.   

Two tactile switches are installed on a small PCB. Two pieces of wooden 1/4" dowel are used to transmit force to button's top. Button assembly and power jack are mounted on a back panel. As final touch I've installed self adhesive rubber feet onto bottom panel. 

Controller and LED matrix ready for installation.
Button assembly.
After assembling has finished let's turn it ON and play game "What's time now ?".
Sadly, still pictures cannot show beauty of clock performance. In real life it looks much better.

It's still 17:35. LED pattern changes every second. 


Short video about wood clock performance.
See what it looks like in real life.

Need more inspiration?
Here's links to wood LED clocks made by other clock enthusiasts. Very impressive projects.

(part 1) <--- Wood block LED clock


  1. This LED clock is so cool! This would perfectly fit on my desk. I love it!

    membrane switch

  2. What's the thickness of the veneer?
    I have a desktop CNC machine, so I was considering making one from a solid block of pine and just milling the front surface nice and thin where the light needs to pass through.

    1. I think it's standard thickness 1/32".
      I suggest to use clear plastic beneath of thin layer of wood to prevent it from accidental damage.