I liked the idea of building an Orrery, not because I knew what it was but rather because it didn’t occupy wall space. I am very quickly running out of wall space to hang a clock on. The Orrery can be placed on a table or a shelf without any trouble.
I built the unit out of teak since I happened to a few pieces laying around. All the gears are of baltic birch.
A special thanks to Clayton for another great project - you can purchase plans at
As always the first step is to read and re-read the instructions and then to start cutting the gears.
Although the gears look identical they are only close with most having a different number of teeth. These are the gears that operate the functions of our planet
The central gear set. These three wheels are glued together so that they turn as one single unit.
The base assembly consists of an outer ring with the Zodiac marked off and the 365 days of the year.
The “Pointer” indicates the day of the year
The central gear is firmly fixed to the base so that it does not rotate, instead the “pointer” rotates on the gears arbor and is in effect a moveable frame.
At the opposite end of the pointer there is a single shaft that will eventually get three gears with “nested” arbors.
The center 3 gears are glued together so that they turn as one. Fitting this gear to the first one is easy
Fitting the outer gear is not so easy because the teeth of the central gear do not match perfecftly.
I ended up sliding the set on their shafts at the same time.
Likewise the second gear in the set on the right would not just slide into place but had to be “pre-assembled” and fed onto their shafts together.
Putting the gears together as a set wasn’t all that hard but it was a bit fussy.
The finished set on the right have a central shaft and then three nested brass tubes of different lengths to carry the driving motion to the three rings.
The gear box is topped off with a teak top.
The first disc carries the eclipse pointer.
The angle of the Node’s Ring is tilted at 5º 18’ to show the Moon’s orbit around the earth’s ecliptic. (That statement is 100% plagiarized, I make no apology only that I’ll study until I figure it out.)
The earth along with a matching ring goes on the third disc.
The final piece is the little arc that indicates the hours of sunlight each day of the year.
The sun and the earth were finished with gold leaf and a pointer from the sun indicates the rays of the sun.
The finished product makes a really unique centerpiece for a coffee table. Now as long as someone doesn’t ask me all the things it can do!!