A desktop weather station to improve your predictions
can keep abreast of weather conditions and the time of day with this
attractive desktop weather station. Its mahogany plaque and
brass-rimmed instruments are eye-catching, and its compact size
allows you to display it just about anywhere. It can even be made to
hang on a wall. It consists of a combination barometer/thermometer,
a hygrometer and a clock. The barometer/thermometer is useful for
predicting local weather trends because it tells you at a glance
whether atmospheric pressure is rising or falling. The hygrometer
measures the relative humidity, which is the moisture in the air as
a percent of what the air is capable of holding at that temperature.
And the clock is there to remind you how far behind you are falling!
The project is ideal
if you don't have time for elaborate woodworking and you just want
to knock off something in a few hours. It requires few tools, and
the plaque is so small that you can make it from a piece of scrap.
We used a 7/8-in.-thick piece of mahogany. But this thickness is
only necessary if you plan to hang the weather station on the wall,
as the barometer/thermometer is 7/8-in. thick. For a desk set, a
3/4-in.-thick piece will work just fine.
Making The Plaque
Because pencil lines
on mahogany are difficult to see, you'll find it easier to scroll
saw the curved cutting lines if you tape a paper pattern of the
plaque onto the workpiece. If you use ribbon-stripe mahogany as we
did, take a moment to orient the pattern relative to the grain
direction (Photo 1). This will prevent you from making a
plaque with grain that runs in an awkward direction relative to the
plaque's shape. Adjust the pattern to achieve a pleasing
Cut the plaque on the
scroll saw, or use a band saw or sabre saw. We used a blade with 10
teeth per inch and fed the workpiece into the blade at a moderate
rate (Photo 2).
The edges of the
workpiece have to be smoothed after sawing. We clamped the workpiece
in a vise and removed the saw marks with a razor-sharp spokeshave
and worked outward from the curve in both directions (Photo 3).
If you do this properly, you don't even have to sand the edge after
it has been smoothed. If you don't own a spokeshave, you can use a
drum sander in a drill press or even a hand sanding block made from
the mahogany scrap.
- It's difficult to
see pencil lines on mahogany, so tape the plaque's pattern to
the workpiece. Orient the pattern to produce a pleasing grain
- Cut the curved
portion of the plaque to shape using a scroll saw, band saw or
sabre saw. The white pattern is easy to follow.
- Remove saw marks
using a spokeshave. Move the tool outward from the top of the
curve in both directions.
The next step is to
cut the holes for the instruments. Lay out the center marks for each
instrument, then bore a pilot hole through the workpiece at each
center mark. Use a drill bit that has the same diameter as the
centering bit on the circle cutter. The centering bit is usually 3/8
in. in diameter. Adjust the circle cutter for a 2 5/16-in.-dia.
hole. Then, clamp the workpiece firmly in place and bore the hole,
making a partial cut from both sides (Photo 4). Although
mahogany is not a particularly hard wood, don't run the drill press
higher than 600 rpm, or medium speed, in order to avoid burning the
Next, use a router to
make the stopped molded cuts on the plaque edges (Photo 5).
To achieve these cuts, tack nail four corner blocks to a plywood
panel. Each block should stop the travel of the router when the
router bit's pilot bearing strikes it. The blocks also prevent the
router from tipping as you near the end of the cut. It's important
that the blocks be the same thickness as the workpiece. If the
blocks are slightly thicker than the workpiece, the router base will
catch on them and you'll produce a small wave in the edge of the cut
as the router bumps into the stopblock and you jostle the router to
ride over the block.
- Clamp the workpiece firmly while using a circle cutter to make the
holes. Cut from both sides toward the center.
- Cut the stopped molding on the plaque with a router. The blocks hold the
workpiece and stop the router bit travel.
Cut the T-slot hole for hanging the
plaque using a keyhole router bit chucked in the drill press (Photo
6). Again, run the drill press at medium speed. Cut down into
the workpiece with the bit, then switch off the power and lock the
quill in the down position. Turn the drill press on again and push
the workpiece back slightly to make the undercut slot. Omit this
step if you want to make the weather station a desk accessory.
Each instrument is secured in its
hole with a flanged mounting ring that bears against a rabbet cut on
the back of the hole. To cut the rabbet, use a 3/8-in.-dia. router
bit set to make a 1/2-in.-deep cut (Photo 7).
Before sanding and finishing, test
the instruments and rings for fit (Photo 8). The
barometer/thermometer (Part No. 46K50.12, $13.95), the clock (Part
No. 46K50.22, $19.95) and the hygrometer (Part No. 46K50.02, $6.95)
can be ordered from
Lee Valley Tools
Ltd., P.O. Box 1780, Ogdensburg, NY 13669; 800-871-8158. Include
$6 for shipping with the order.
- To cut the T-shaped slot, lower
the bit into the workpiece, and lock the drill-press quill.
Next, move the workpiece backward.
- Hold the workpiece firmly in
place, and cut a rabbet around the mounting hole's circumference
using a router and rabbet bit.
- Before finishing the weather
station, test fit the three instruments and their mounting
Making The Stand
To make the desktop stand, cut the
pieces as shown in the plan. Bore and countersink the two holes for
the No. 8 screws in the upright, then attach it to the base with
glue and nails. Next, use a small C-clamp to hold the stand in
position on the back of the plaque. Then, press a screw through each
hole to mark the position of the pilot holes in the back of the
plaque. Bore 1/2-in.-deep pilot holes using a 7/64-in.-dia. bit.
Attach the stand to the plaque and proceed with finishing.
Finishing It Off
Sand the plaque with progressively
finer sandpaper, from 120-grit to 220-grit. Remove sanding dust with
a tack cloth and apply three coats of polyurethane on the front and
back of the project. Allow each coat of finish to harden thoroughly
before sanding it with 220-grit paper and applying the next coat.
Install the instruments, and you're ready to predict the weather.