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Design | Cut | Build – Season 3, Episode 4 – Building a Garden Sundial!


Are you constantly competing with your neighbor to have the nicest and most-decorated front yard? We have just the thing to make sure you’re ahead of the game and the envy of your neighborhood. It’s time to make a garden sundial! In this episode we’ll show you how to make one of the oldest known devices to measure time with the Torchmate 4400, Torchmate X, and the MasterPipe Compact Pipe Cutter. The first step is cutting a .25” pipe for the middle portion of the sundial. You can add square slots near the top and bottom of the pipe to insert the sides into.

We decided to design the base of the sundial to look like an old architectural column, but let your imagination run wild! With a metal pipe, you can design the base to be anything you want. To create a three-dimensional effect, we cut eleven profiles of a column cut in half from 11 gauge mild steel, and welded the pieces around the pipe. If you’re not sure on the design of the base, go ahead and cut one profile out to see if there are any cut parameters or design aspects you need to adjust.

Creating your Project in CAD

Ep 7


Your sundial can be as ornamental or simplistic as you want it to be. If you’re feeling more artistic and creative, Torchmate CAD makes it straightforward for you to edit individual nodes in your file to create the exact design you want. The Polygon node editing tool provides an extensive tool to adjust and create the most elaborate designs. On the other hand, if you are looking to create a modest design, the Polyarc node editing option provides a more user-friendly format to adjust your designs.

Torchmate has a complete library of videos teaching the difference between the Polygon and Polyarc node editing tools with Torchmate University, a step by step video guide to Torchmate CAD.


Precise Plate Marking


To create the face of the sundial, you’ll need to engrave the roman numerals and lines. We used our Plate Marking Attachment that is available on any Torchmate CNC plasma cutting tables. The fully pneumatic tool provides permanent, high-precision markings on a range of materials and is even designed to handle uneven plate. With the Torchmate cutting tables, the software will highlight the DXF file with two separate colors so you can easily identify what areas of the material will be cut and what areas will be plate marked. This allows you to fabricate much more efficiently than having two separate processes. In a single operation, you can cut the circular top of the sun dial and the Gnomon indicator, then mark the numbers and lines with a design of your choosing.

The Gnomon is probably the most essential piece of your sundial. You’ll need to make sure that it is set to the correct angle that is based off your location’s latitude and the proper length to accurately measure the shadows. This will provide the exact angles for each hour on the sundial and accurately tell you what time it is based on the sun’s location. We decided to cut out the Gnomon like a fin, but you can cut out any design as the indicator for your sundial.

CAD Drawing of the Sundial

Ready to win your local Yard of the Month contest? Head on over to and download the design files for this project. When your project is complete, share a photo to let us know how jealous your neighbors are!