Project 1: Clock


Implemented new laser cut skills into creating a clock.

Created: February 15th, 2018



My primary goal is to have something I can add to my booth (a CMU tradition where organizations build large one- and two-story installations), which has a steampunk / early 1900’s / Chinese cultural revolution vibe that I really resonate with.

My secondary goal is to just gain experience laser cutting to create a 3D object - I have never done that before. I especially want to play with texture and how etching, engraving, and scoring can come into play with that.


Research & Context

My idea of a retro-inspired lock laser cut with modern day CAD tools and a laser cutter is a little mismatched, but I still think it will be a fun project. My focus on texture means that I won’t really be replicating the real features of retro clocks - their knobs, metal bindings, and so on - but just trying to capture the essence of it, without much of the functionality save time telling. In a way, it should be much easier. When looking into retro clocks (and similar devices) they were all quite complicated, but my lase rcut piece should be quite the simplification.



Following my idea of creating a clock with an older look, I wanted to use wood. I began sketching out different dimensions for my clock, measuring the clock and figuring out the proportions I would then want for my clock.


Aesthetic & Inspiration

I was heavily inspired by a recent play through of Bioshock Infinite, which features a lot of the aesthetic vibe I resonated with. I began looking into more of the inspirations for the game, and found that the style is mainly steampunk, retrofuturism, and art nouveau.

I was additionally drawn towards The Legend of Korra (my organizations booth theme for Spring Carnival) and the aesthetic of the city in the show - it’s sort of based on western influence in an asian city (like British occupied Hong Kong), and features a lot of older technology like gramophones and phonographs.

This led me to look at older radios (also featured in the show), which are a main influence on the aesthetics of my design.


Process & Procedure

I started off with creating paper prototypes to determine the right proportions for the clock. I simply took paper that I had (reuse & recyle!) and cut out holes and marked areas I wanted to score or cut. Overall, I found that using cheap pieces of paper was actually a pretty effective way to prototype. The clock ended up being much bigger than I expected. 

I wanted to utilize scoring for texturing the decorations around the clock, engravings to fit in the wooden flat pieces into the side pieces (as well as add my name to the back), and cutting overall to carve out the clock's look.


Two Renderings


Five semi-pro photos



The way I wanted my project to look, it would have needed a lot of wood - this would be something to be more considerate of from the start in the future. Instead, I simplified the design to just have four larger panels of wood, and then the rest of the detail came from cutting out smaller pieces.

Considering the steampunk influence on this piece, it would have been really cool ton include metal pieces and parts to this project. This would be an interesting thing to explore in the future.

Overall, I hoped I was able to capture some semblance of the aesthetic I was interested in. 


Include final DXF files


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Digital Tooling (DigiTool) provides a platform for any CMU student to learn Digital Fabrication processes; all of which are very hands-on. Like these processes, this class is also very hands-on. I...more


Implemented new laser cut skills into creating a clock.