Holiday Countdown Mini-Project

Home Model Engine Machinist Forum

Help Support Home Model Engine Machinist Forum:


Well-Known Member
Mar 16, 2018
Reaction score
Central Florida, USA
Often a family member will see something, and ask if I can make it. Yesterday I was challenged to fabricate a Christmas count down similar to this....
Holiday Advent Calendar Idea.png

While I discussed the design constraints with the customer, we said " wouldn't it be neat if the star was brass?" I had a leftover 3" cast brass flywheel billet" in the scrap bin. I attempted to sketch and use trigonometry for the dimensions but couldn't remember the secant formula. Resorting to the "Google it" process of memory, I just opened up CAD and sketched it there.


Set up the blank in the lathe and roughed it out, then used a rotary table for indexing the teeth. One pass on the left side every 45 degrees, then same depth and off center dimension on opposite side, but changed the angle 20-ish degrees to give the points the obtuse angle we wanted. I just eyeballed where the cutter intersected the tip while rotating the table. Then set the dial to an even repeatable number. Parted it off the stem, milled flat and then deburred and polished using red rouge. It has porosity, but looks homey.
milling star.jpg

The "rack" was cut out of some left over 3/4" red oak scrap on the table saw. Several practice cuts while adjusting depth of cut and blade angle were used so the gear/star rode smoothly but remained stable. 0.800" centers was chosen based on 25 days and the 22" length of the scrap. The customer, my daughter, was well engaged cleaning up the swarf and texting her incredulous work friends as the job progressed. She sanded the rack with 220 grit and applied boiled linseed oil as a finish. Tomorrow she will apply a coat of paste wax and then paint the numbers on.

Brass was chosen as it is very heavy and stable. It will set on her bedroom dresser top, and her curious chocolate lab enjoys "booping" things with his nose. Happy Holidays!


Staff member
HMEM Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2016
Reaction score
That is so nice. A project to make and take orders for, so extra funds for next year? That could even be used for birthdays, and other special dates.

I'm thinking of a bride that was counting down the days to the wedding. That is another use for such as that.
Feb 26, 2020
Reaction score
Good as it is.

It came to my mind to give the star 7 spikes, add days of week per spike.
Add puzzle connectors on both ends. Then the ends can be swapped out. It will be able to count up or down, as you whish.
It can stay in the room forever. Easter bunnies, Halloween pumpkins, Birthday cakes, possibilities are endless. :cool:

Greetings Timo

Latest posts