Brian Shiels is in the process of starting up West Port Clocks, making bespoke timepieces almost completely out of wood.
The eye-catching design of the model he has for sale in Colin Turnbull’s High Street shop is breathtaking, with the working wooden gears in full sight.
The clock, which Brian says took around a month to make in his spare time, is for sale for £300.
So where does he, well, find the time? He said: “I am a freelance double bass player and have played in a few bands, but nowadays I have a lot of days to myself, and I need to be doing something creative.”
Brian said he first had the idea around three years ago.
He said: “I’ve always liked messing about with tools and doing craft work, moudling and carving. I saw a thing online, and a chap was in his workshop making wooden gears.
“I thought it was fantastic, so I got my tools out and showed my wee boy Alastair, who was eight at the time, and made him wee gadgets with gearing.
“I then saw another guy who was making clocks. It seemed to be the logical next step, so I downloaded a couple of his plans online and made two of his clocks, but then I wanted to make my own, so I downloaded a book that showed the methods, and the tricks of the trade, so to speak, from which I learned how to do the engineering drawings, and now I’m making my own pieces.”
He pointed out his latest clock, and said: “I’m definitely getting better at it. I cut this set of wheels and hardly did any footering about with it. You normally have to fine-tune, with a bit of extra filing, but when I put this one together, it just worked, and kept working.”
The clock, working on a modern version of a rewind mechanism, is driven by gravity, with a tilt switch on the shaft which makes it wind itself back up.
The wood which the gears are made out of – Baltic birch – has to be ordered specially, says Brian. “You don’t tend to get it in B&Q.”
Brian added: “Another of my clocks is the eight-day clock. It sits on a frame, about my height, with a really long, slow-moving pendulum. It’s also gravity-driven and it lasts eight days. There is a handle for winding it up, but you have to be very careful due to the weight involved.
“Other ones hang on the wall, also with a long pendulum, and they go for 36 hours – the idea being that it goes for a day and you have another half-day to remember to rewind it, unless, of course, the tick-tocking is driving you nuts and you don’t wind it up at all.”
Working from his home in West Port, Brian is looking at making his ideas into projects for other hobbyists.
He said: “The clocks I make are for sale, but I am also looking at both putting my plans into a workable format for others to be able to make them, and also looking into making all the parts and selling them as a kit.”
If you would like to see more of his work, you can call him on 07796 156654 or email him on [email protected]