We are all very aware of time. It shouts out at us from every device in our lives and even makes itself heard audibly through beeps and ringtone alerts. Life is very scheduled in this digital world of ours, but how often do we think about analog time? How often do we think about the sun when we're trying to make it to the office on time? That's why I love sundials, particularly this sweet little DIY version.
All you need is the sun. . .
. . . a few simple tools. . .
. . . and materials. . .
. . . and a little time. . .
. . . out in the wild.
DIY Portable Sundial
- 4-5" diameter piece of wood about 3/4" thick (I just cut mine off of a log, but you can find wood discs often at a craft store)
- 3" piece of 1/4" wooden dowel rod
- 1/4" drill bit
- drawing compass
- compass or compass pin
- cloth bag
- permanent marker/colored pencil
Place the point of your drawing compass roughly in the middle of your wood disc. Adjust the radius arm so that it makes the biggest circle possible on the wood surface. Draw a circle.
Use the indentation left by the compass pin to help you center your drill bit. Drill a hole, but stop about 1/4" short of going all the way through.
Cut your dowel rod to 3" and sand the edges slightly so they are smooth. If it's hard to fit the dowel in the hole on your disc sand it slightly with sandpaper until it fits.
Mark "North" on your sundial at the top of the circle. Go out to a sunny spot and use a compass or compass pin to point the "N" directly north. Make a mark on the edge of the circle where the shadow is cast. Come out every hour and do that again until you have a full clock or at least enough tics to help you fill out the rest.
When you're done using the sundial, remove the dowel from the disc and place them in your cloth bag along with your compass.
While this sundial isn't a precision instrument, it's a great way to begin learning how to use a compass and how to tell time. Plus, it's a great excuse to spend the day outdoors, reading stories and playing with friends under the shade of a tree as you slowly mark the hours with the sun.
*Last time in Crafts and Activities: 4th of July Fun