Final Project: Antique Escapement Mechanisms

A design element that I have always found to be particularly interesting is exposed gearing. Something about how intricate and detailed exposed-gear designs are has always fascinated me! So, as I had this at the back of my mind for my final project I was drawn to escapement mechanisms. For those who are unfamiliar, escapement mechanisms are typically used in clocks because they allow for timing control. This is done by creating a mechanical linkage which can stop the rotation of a gear which is connected to a weight. The rotation of the gear, and hence the time-keeping ability of the clock, is provided by the conversion of the gravitational potential energy of the weight to the kinetic energy of the gear system.

Anchor Escapement – Wikipedia
Detent Escapement – Pierre Le Roy
Galileo’s Escapement – Wikipedia










Pendulum-Driven Mechanical Clock Escapement - RF Cafe
Antique Escapement Mechanism – RF Cafe

So, for my final project I want to create an escapement mechanism. I don’t care too much about the actual time keeping ability of the device, but would rather arrive at the aesthetics that I am targeting. Specifically, I am interested in recreating the exposed-gear aesthetics that clocks and watches can sometimes have. I think that this aesthetic has ties to steampunk, though I wouldn’t necessarily say that it fits within that aesthetic because the gears serve a non-decorative purpose though they are inherently part of the design. I don’t exactly know what materials (other than wood) I plan on using. I would love to be able to incorporate metal into the design to be able to provide a contrast to the wood base that I plan on using, though I am not certain how prominent I want it to be in the design. I can see merit for directly using metal gears or using it as a more subtle accent piece. A large inspiration for this project is also the more recent trend that I have seen in kinetic sculptures or fully wooden clocks that highlight how they work.

I think that these art piece’s use of gears, and how it highlights them is really interesting and something that I plan to incorporate and re-create in my own project. I am unsure if I will go the kinetic sculpture route, and how I would implement anything close to that. Right now these are just sources of inspiration as I look to further refine my idea. In the same vein, I have also had a longstanding interest in aperture or iris mechanisms. I have been pondering if I could take the motion from the escapement mechanism to drive the motion of an iris, but I don’t know exactly how I could incorporate it or to what end.

Hummingbird Kinetic Sculpture – Derek Hugger
Kinetic Clock – Clayton Boyer
Godox Iris Diaphragm for Projection Attachment SA-06 B&H Photo
Irish Diaphragm – B&H Photo









The next steps for my project will be to outline a rough sketch of my idea and further narrow down my materials and design. I am confident that I want to include wood and metal, and try to stylize the overall project after the inner-workings of an antique clock, but beyond that I still need to decide how I want the final product to look. After I layout some initial sketches and get more ideas, I will move into CAD to actually draft my design and verify that the gears and the escapement are doing what I think that they should be. From there I should be able to move on to fabrication. This will most likely be using a laser engraver, though if parts require it I will branch out to other processes. I will then have to assemble the project and play around with how it will actually operate. I think that this project is potentially ambitious because of the attention to detail and intricacy it will require. However, I think that if I am able to give it the effort that it deserves it can be a really polished final product.


Biffi, Andrea, and Instructables. “Galileo Wooden Escapement Mechanism.” Instructables, Instructables, 16 Jan. 2019,

Cafe, Kirt Blattenberger RF. “Pendulum-Driven Mechanical Clock Escapement.” RF Cafe,

“Escapement.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Nov. 2022,

“Godox Iris Diaphragm for Projection Attachment.” B&H Photo Video Pro Audio,

Jobson, Christopher. “An Elegant Kinetic Sculpture by Derek Hugger That Mimics the Flight of a Hummingbird.” Colossal, 18 Jan. 2022,

Thonemeister, and Instructables. “Making a Wall Hanging Brass Mechanical Alarm Clock in the Home Machine Shop.” Instructables, Instructables, 1 Aug. 2018,

Wooden Gear Clock Plans from Hawaii by Clayton Boyer,

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Anil Antony Karathra
    March 13, 2023 9:58 pm

    This is a really cool idea! Personally, I’m a huge fan of mechanical watches and you project would be one I’m looking forward to seeing once it’s completed.

    • Palmer Dick-Montez
      March 14, 2023 1:38 pm

      Thank you! I am going to try hard to make sure all of the gearing mechanisms are visible as that aesthetic is really what drew me to this idea. I am still deciding on the output of the device!

  • Ethan Street
    March 9, 2023 10:45 am

    I really like this idea! I think this is a great dynamic option for a design. I am curious if you have thought of still implementing this system into a clock

    • Palmer Dick-Montez
      March 14, 2023 1:35 pm

      Thank you! I am uncertain what I will use the conversion of potential to mechanical energy for yet, but I don’t think that I will use it for a clock mechanism. I am a bit more interested in kinetic sculptures, but I am still deciding!


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