Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota

Project Completed 12/17/2003

Project Completed 12/17/2003

I made three of these Galileo thermometers. Two of them were Christmas gifts for my father and father-in-law, and one I decided to keep for myself. They were quick and easy projects that didn't take much in materials or time. I got the plans for these out of Wood magazine.

The top and bottom pieces were made out of 1/2" oak, and the base pieces were cut from 1/4" oak. The dowels were 3/8" oak. The plans called for cherry, but I didn't have cherry available to me in those thicknesses, and at the time of this writing don't own a planer, so I compromised and used red oak. The glass thermometers came from a company called Torka.

The top is bull-nosed with a 1/4" roundover bit, and the bottom has a 1/2" cove. All of the pieces (except for the dowels) were cut on my scroll saw. Seeing as I was making multiple identical copies, this was the first time I got to try my hand at gang cutting (taping the sheets of wood together and cutting them at the same time. It worked well, and ensured that all of the pieces were the exact same size.

The hole where the thermometer sits was somewhat of a challenge. The plan called for the use of a 2 1/4" forstner bit. When I received the thermometers, I realized that because these are hand-made, they vary by slight amounts. For mine, I was going to need a hole with a 2 3/8" diameter. I priced a large forstner bit of this size and was shocked when I discovered it would cost around $30. Seeing as I didn't forsee any other need for a 2 3/8" diameter forstner bit, I decided to come up with an alternate method of cutting the holes.

From my previous clock-making experience, I already had a circle cutter. Unfortunately, the hole needed to be non-through, so I couldn't use the circle cutter directly on the base pieces. Instead, I cut out a 2 3/8" circle on a piece of MDF, then used double sided tape to attach the MDF to the base piece. I then used a router with a top-bearing flush trim bit to plow out the hole. I worked very well, and unlike a forstner bit it didn't leave an indentation in the center of the hole.

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This page last updated on 06/28/2018