Weekend Projects – Segmented clock surround

Monday 9 July 2018

I know that my turning colleagues call us segmented turners 'demented turners' but we are a growing number. To unadventurous bowl turners segmenting looks time consuming and complicated. Yes, it is time consuming, but who said that we all have to be production turners? I enjoy my hobby and I would rather spend time making a really interesting piece than turn out endless bowls. But complicated it is not. In this article I will show you how to make a simple surround for a standard accessory clock, which are available from most turning suppliers. I will use planed hardwood decking and a strip of white trim, which is available from most DIY shops. So you will see that there is no need for expensive woodworking machines.

Tools used:

Bowl gouge

Side scraper

Diamond shaped parting tool


The design uses a 12-segment ring with white separators. However, you can be more adventurous with the choice of wood colours to make your own individual surround.


For this surround you will need a 350mm length and 40mm width of ipe (Tabebuia serratifolia) decking. Use ramin (Gonystylus macrophyllum) for the separators, which measure 2m in length and 25 x 5mm wide


Cut the hardwood decking to length, then cut it to width on a circular saw


Next, you need to bring the width of ramin strip down to the same thickness as the decking – 22mm


Cut the hardwood segments either on a bandsaw or a mitre saw. Ensure that the mitre saw blade of the mitre saw is vertical. It's best to have a new false wooden rear fence to ensure a clean cut and to stop the segments flying out. Accurately measure the segment width using a steel rule


Slowly cut through the wood and stop the saw at the bottom of the travel. If you try to lift the blade while it is moving it will catch the segment and send it flying over the workshop


Alternatively, cut the segments on a bandsaw with the mitre fence set to 15°, turning the wood over after each cut


After the segments have been cut, it is well worth cleaning up the cut edges on a disc sander, if you have one


It's best to cut six segments using a piece of scrap wood to test the mitre angle; when assembled they should give a straight line. The segments have to be very accurately cut to avoid unsightly gaps, so it's worth spending a little time getting the angle adjusted correctly


The thinner ramin spacers are too thin to cut safely on the mitre saw so they should be cut on the bandsaw. They can of course be cut by hand. Cut the ramin separators slightly oversize; they do not need any cleaning up


Firstly, glue the segments up into two semi-circles, without the last ramin separator. It's best to use a yellow aliphatic resin glue – such as Titebond – as you are gluing end grain to side grain, and PVA glue would not be strong enough


When the glue is cured – after about two hours – you can true up the two semi-circles on either a disc sander or by hand using a piece of 120 grit sandpaper


When they fit together accurately, the last two ramin separators can now be glued into place making the full ring. Allow at least another four hours to cure before mounting on the lathe


Mount the segment ring on the lathe using an MDF faceplate measuring at least 150mm in diameter. I used a glue and paper joint which enables the segment ring to be easily separated after turning without the need for parting off. I find that glossy magazine paper works better than newspaper – either PVA or yellow glue works well. Centre the segmented disc on the MDF faceplate using a cone on the tailstock and apply a reasonable pressure to hold the disc on the faceplate while the glue cures


Clean up the face with a bowl gouge in shear scraping mode. This is a drag cut from the centre to the outside. Take gentle cuts of thin slivers as you are cutting with and against the grain


Clean up the edge with the bowl gouge but this time in bevel rubbing mode. Take the cut down from the front to the soft MDF faceplate. I slanted the outside edge down to the inside to show a little of the edge profile while viewing it from the front


The clock used has a false tapered sleeve to hold the body in position. Measure the diameter of the clock with a Vernier calliper and set the dimension by tightening the small thumb-screw


Open up the inside to take the width of the clock body. Using a diamond-shaped parting tool, the inside can be brought down to size and then cleaned up with a side scraper


Turn slivers away until the Vernier calliper shows the correct internal size


Offer up the clock body to ensure it is a snug fit


Once the face has been turned to size it is best to sand it before you detach it from the MDF faceplate. Start at 120 and work up to 320 grit. At that stage, apply a coat of finish – either oil, melamine or lacquer. This brings up the grain before re-sanding with 320 and then 400 grit


Detach the surround from the faceplate using a sharp knife and a gentle tap from a hammer. The paper joint separates easily


You now have to clean up the back. Mount the inside of the surround in expanding jaws – but be careful not to over-tighten the ring as it is very easy to break apart the glued segments. Clean up the inside as with the face, using the bowl gouge held in shear scraping mode


The turning of the surround is now complete and it can be finished. I used gloss lacquer but oil or melamine could be used


The finished clock surround should look like this