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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