Thursday, March 20, 2014

Shaker Clock

Recently I've taken the time to build a clock that's been on my list of "Things I Want to Build". I've wanted to build a Shaker wall clock for some time now but I didn't want to build the clock that is the mainstream clock you've seen in hundreds of woodworking magazine articles. I decided to create a piece of my own design.

Many build Shaker styled pieces because they think of them as easier pieces to accomplish because of the simplicity. I think nothing could be further from the truth. You can't get away with bad design just because the piece is simpler in detail. In fact just the opposite is true. When the piece is simpler in scope the proportions and the exactness of build become paramount in achieving an acceptable result. A white elephant is a white elephant no matter what the style. Everyone has made a few white elephants in their time as a woodworker and that's when we learn how important the overall design element becomes in building any piece of furniture.

Pleasing proportions are pleasing proportions and no matter how well joined or fitted, things that are out of the scope of pleasing proportions are just awkward to the eye.

In this case I've used the design of the simple one door Shaker cupboard. I've made a couple pieces based on this form, This clock being the most recent endeavor. It couldn't be simpler really. Two sides made from two pieces glued into a 90 degree corner or side, a top, a bottom, a simple door and an apron board for visual interest. In this case I also included pine back boards aligned with splines in lieu of tongue and grooves. The splines serve the same purpose as the tongue and grooves and only required one milling setup. Easy Peasy if you think out the process before you proceed.

As more of your work is accomplished with hand tools you tend to take the time to think thru processes in order to ease the burden. One liberating thing about working with acquired skill and hand tools is you just set about your work and in most circumstances in the time it would take to otherwise set up machinery you'll have completed your task. Not to mention the fact that it's a more satisfying way to work.

I don't presently own a thickness planer and it didn't deter me on this project. If you can plane and measure you can certainly thickness materials with a hand plane and some components can be sized using a planing sled jig as long as the part is narrower than your widest plane.

A good 80 to 85% of the work on this pieces was accomplished with hand tools, in fact at this point I don't think I would know how to go about building anything without hand tools.

As you have probably noticed this is a somewhat unique door configuration. A two board door with the boards fastened to battens is pretty common but when you attempt to add a cut out for glass it requires a bit of head scratching to sort out the details.

I finished the case prior to leaving on a trip to meet my new grandson "August Brese Paglia". We're calling him Gus, not Augie. He looks like a "Gus" to me, at this point I've taken to calling him the" Gusling". It was hard to tear ourselves away to return home.

Below is a picture of the completed clock case. I was itching to return home and start the finishing process on this piece. The finishing schedule is quite involved and I expected to spend at least as much time finishing this piece as was required to get the project to this stage.

Next Week: A very involved finishing schedule



  1. Great craftsmanship guys, very impressive!

  2. The clock is quite handsome, and so is your grandson. Must be something to do with the name (my middle name is August :)

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