I try to get the kids (middle school) to undertake projects that challenge their skills across academic disciplines. Currently I have a 7th grader who is designing a clock to be carved into a round cut from a tree trunk. This will be a wedding present for a relative.
Designing the clock required the student to meet with a math teacher to figure out how to calculate the locations (cartesian coordinates) for the numerals around the face of the clock. We developed an approach using trigonometry and then the student made the cognitive leap to discover that once the coordinates for 1:00 and 2:00 in quadrant one have been calculated by any method, it is a simple process of arithmetic to determine the coordinates for 4:00, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11. For a 7th grader to take the initiative to learn trigonometry in order to create a wedding present is pretty cool I think.
Working with freshly cut rounds also presents some challenges, and of course the chainsaw doesn’t exactly leave a smooth surface. So the process of making the clocks requires using the x-carve to plane the end grain, developing a consistent clamping method to hold the irregular rounds on the spoil board.
Turns out that I have access to a ready supply of 10-14" rounds 1-2" thick, so rustic, x-carved clocks will become a part of my curriculum for next year.
I will expand on this student’s work to create a clock building unit. In addition to adding curriculum on horology and trigonometry, I will need to create some clamping jigs and fixtures to speed up some of the processes.
I think the process will start with the cutting of a pocket for the clock mechanism from a raw, green round. I’ll then use the pocket as a clamping recess and create a specialized fixture that will bolt to the spoil board and hold the round steady for further processing. Then carving will involve a three step process…planing the round, roughing in shapes and designs, and then v-carving the details.