Shinto shrine clock

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Project by DHS posted 04-18-2012 01:41 AM 3190 views 15 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife’s family lives in Tokyo, Japan. I made this clock as a gift for her parents when we last visited them. When I spotted the plans in Wood Magazine (Feb/Mar 2006) it reminded me of the Shinto shrines common in their neighborhood. I built the clock using Jatoba and finished it with shellac and paste wax so that it would match some of the other woodwork in their home.

I carefully packed the clock in my carry-on luggage and warned the TSA agent as I passed through airport security not to worry when he spotted the clockword mechanism in the bag because it’s just a clock, nothing more. But when they unpacked it and swiped it for explosive residue, I panicked. What finish had I used? Was it shellac or nitrocellulose lacquer? Would it be detected as an explosive? When I told the officer that I hoped the finish I used would not get me into trouble, she called over her coworkers to look at it. The next thing I knew, nearly all the TSA agents had stopped checking passengers and were instead staring at my clock! What had I done? What trouble had I gotten into? Then, they started asking questions. “You really made this?” “I love it. Can you make one for me?” “I’ve never seen a clock like this! How much does it cost?” They finally let me go when I told them this was a special clock I had made for my in-laws and I was on a mission to deliver it in person.

The clock made it to Tokyo in one piece. (The second photo shows it displayed in their living room.) Given its unique shape, my mother-in-law joked that after we left she would invite the other relatives over to worship it. I guess that means they liked it.

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

9 comments so far

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3835 days

#1 posted 04-18-2012 02:44 AM

Very elegant design , beautiful face and a great finish : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Ken90712's profile


17575 posts in 3336 days

#2 posted 04-18-2012 12:24 PM

Great job I can see why they like it. Very clean lines and hard to go wrong using Jatoba! Again very nice!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Woodbridge's profile


3574 posts in 2565 days

#3 posted 04-18-2012 01:05 PM

That is a very unique and great looking clock. Great design and well constructed. The clock face is also very unqiue and fits the style perfectly. Did you make it as well?

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4246 days

#4 posted 04-18-2012 02:04 PM

This is such a great project. Love the design and the execution is excellent!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View rodneyh's profile


147 posts in 2811 days

#5 posted 04-18-2012 02:14 PM

Beautiful clock. Can you give more details / photos of the dial?

View DHS's profile


130 posts in 3371 days

#6 posted 04-18-2012 05:39 PM

I’d love to show more photos and close-ups of the dial, but the clock is now half-way across the globe. You can purchase the clockwork mechanism at Schlabaugh and Sons (

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3891 days

#7 posted 04-18-2012 06:40 PM

Very nice design and execution, Dave. This design would also work well with the Prairie style. Thanks for the post.

View dakotawood's profile


211 posts in 2930 days

#8 posted 04-19-2012 01:56 AM

Excellent clock Dave. I love it – and favorited it. I think I might have that issue in my stack – I’ll have to check. I’m building my first clock right now – an arts and crafts mantel clock. So far I’m really enjoying making this clock. This design might be my next. Great story too! Thanks for sharing.

-- Travis, South Dakota

View ralbuck's profile


5124 posts in 2413 days

#9 posted 11-23-2013 01:56 AM


-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

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