Racing Against Time...

Made by Seth Geiser · UNLISTED (SHOWN IN POOLS)

Create a clock with a face that resembles an old race car wheel (lots of spokes).

Created: December 8th, 2017



The idea was to create a functional clock with a face that resembles an old race car wheel. Normally, that means a lot of spokes. Having been a car person for the majority of my life, the relationship between a wheel and a clock didn't take long to come to mind. Because the prompt also mentioned "mid-century inspired," I looked back at Grand Prix Racing cars from the 40s and 50s. I ultimately chose to attempt to mimic the wheel from a 1957 Maserati 250F.


Sketch of design.

Not mentioned in sketch:

Material to use: 1/8" birch plywood

Inner (tyre) diameter: 150-175 mm



I've seen several clocks either made from old wheels or modeled on them, so I figured I would try my hand at that. Again, being as much of a car person as I am, the choice was quite easy to make. More specifically, I've been following older Formula 1/Grand Prix Racing, since I'm interested in the history of that sport. Since the prompt menti0ned "mid-century inspired," or something along those lines, I chose to imitate the wheel of an old Grand Prix Racing car (one that won the championship, even).


Supporting Context Materials

Maserati 250F `57, pictured below.


Process + Procedure

The modeling process was relatively straightforward. I decided that the outer diameter of the clock would be 200mm, so I simply drew a center-diameter circle of 200mm, and then another one of 150mm. I then drew 2 parallel lines and then used the circular pattern tool to duplicate them in a way that resembles the spokes on the wheel. After that, I added the lettering (font used was Bradley Gratis), extruded the outer circle, recessed the lettering, and then made necessary projections to create the .dxf file that would be used with the Rabbit Laser. Inkscape was used to re-save the .dxf so it would play nicer with the laser cutter.

I thought of engraving the spokes and lettering, but even after uniting the lines in the Rabbit Lasercut software, I still got errors when trying to download to the laser cutter. Ultimately, I decided to cut the outer circle and score the rest of the lines. While the engraving would have probably looked cooler, I did not leave myself enough time to diagnose the errors I was getting, so I was stuck with scoring. I first cut the design out of cardboard, and then once I verified that everything was as I wanted, I made the final cut out of 1/8" birch plywood.

Pictured below is the extruded outer ring, along with all the projections that were made for the .dxf file.



The two .dxf files (one for the numbers and one for the outer ring and spokes) started out as a model created using Autodesk Fusion 360. They were then combined into one .dxf using Inkscape to ensure that it would work properly with the Rabbit Laser Cut software.

The clock was ultimately cut and scored out of a 1'x1' piece of 1/8" thick birch plywood, using a Rabbit Laser Cutter. The clock components and hands were simply from an IDeATe clock kit.

The end result was a functional clock that fits pretty well with some of the racing memorabilia hung on the walls of my bedroom at home.


Five semi-professional photos...



Until I thought of what to base my clock off of, that was the most difficult part of the project. The actual modeling took less than 30 minutes, and then the laser cut was quick to finish. Ultimately, I learned that things like this, no matter how simple they may or may not be, take a considerable amount of time and iteration. If I were to do this again, I would probably make the clock out of 2 different layers of birch plywood and rotate one of them to better mimic the effect of the wheel spokes. I would also make a more substantial attempt to engrave certain elements, like the numbers. I would also consider cutting my own clock hands to better fit the overall design theme of the clock. Most importantly, I would allot myself more time to design and iterate on the project.


Collaboration or Attribution

Ultimately, Professor Larson led me to go ahead with my idea of imitating a car wheel with my clock after I ran the idea past her.

Font used for the numbering was Bradley Gratis, which can be downloaded for free at:


Include final DXF files

Due to a problem with uploading the .dxf files here's a link to a .zip file containing all 3 files:

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Create a clock with a face that resembles an old race car wheel (lots of spokes).