Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Clock is Finished, Best Way to Complicate a Simple Piece of Casework? Add a Clock Movement

Today I finished the clock. If this had just been a wall cupboard I would have been finished many days ago. Adding the glass in the door and a clock movement complicated things a great deal.

These additions added so many processes and required several more individual parts. So next time you tell yourself, "it's just a cabinet with a clock movement," think again. A frame for attaching the dial board is required, and oh yeah, you have to make the dial board and drill it accurately. You'll also need 2 cleats and a shelf board to mount on the cleats that makes a place for the coil going to fasten and this will have to be notched around the space for the clock movement.

Couple other things. You'll need to glue the dial to the dial board quite accurately. Attach the clock movement to the back of the dial board, once again, quite accurately. Cut a piece of glass to fit the door (antique glass does not break reliably on the score line) and then mount the glass into the door with small bead moulding. We still haven't assembled and adjusted the clock movement, in this case a pendulum driven, 14 day Hermele movement that strikes out the hours and strikes once on the half hour on a coil gong.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not complaining. I've made this clock before and I went into this project, as they say, "with my eyes wide open". I say all this because woodworkers are notorious for downplaying everything that is really involved in the making of a functional piece of furniture. This usually occurs when you're convincing your spouse it would be way cheaper to make said item than to buy it. Sometimes our egos cause us a lot of work.

 When I made the pine version of this clock, I also made a key storage block that was fastened to the interior of the bottom panel. As I went to do the final assembly of the door it occurred to me that one of the door battens would make a good place for the key to reside and only required that I drill a hole. Much better than creating an additional part.

One of the nerve wracking things about this clock construction was driving these pyramid head nails thru the top and into the case side. After all the work of creating, fitting all the parts and then finishing all the parts, the last thing I wanted was to have any of the parts split from the penetration of the nails. I pre-drilled the holes and enlarged the pre-drilled holes slightly thru the top panel where the largest diameter of the nail would pass.

Nothing split, I breathed a sigh of relief.

So you've finish making the case and your spouse has asked, "how long will it take to apply the finish?" And you replied, "oh, about a day". YEAH RIGHT!

If you're good with a hand plane then you'll probably spend half of a good day just sanding all the surfaces. That is, if you're good with a hand plane. If not, then it will require most of a very dusty day.

As long as we're talking about finishing I may as well give you the run down on the finishing schedule for this piece. After the sanding, I applied Transtint medium brown dye, I followed that with an application of Provincial stain. Admittedly the Provincial stain made the piece darker than I had actually intended. If I had it to do again I would probably use something more like a fruitwood color, however when all is said and done I liked the end result. Unlike other woods that get darker with time the walnut will actually lighten a bit.

I then applied two coats of lacquer. I let the lacquer cure for 3 days and then started the rub out process. First I sanded all the surfaces with 400 grit sand paper. Next was a rub down with a Maroon Scotchbrite pad, followed by a rub with #0000 steel wool. I cleaned away the sanding and rubbing residue  with Old English scratch cover for dark woods. This cleans the white residue out of the pores and the residue that is left in corners and crevices is darkened by this material to a dark brown color so it doesn't show. The final step was a thorough rub with paper towels. The paper towels remove the excess scratch cover liquid and burnishes the surface to a nice soft sheen.

I did not apply stain or lacquer to the interior of the case sides. Instead I painted them with an ochre colored paint. This lighter color keeps the interior of the piece from looking like a dark cave when the door is opened.

I spent a good day just performing the rub out of the finish. So much for applying the finish in a day. In fact I probably spent as much time finishing this pieces as I did on the woodworking/construction aspects of this pursuit.

I enjoyed this project but I'm glad it's completed. I think I've satisfied my clock building needs/wants for a while.


"The five second rule does not apply if you have a 2 second dog", unknown

P.S. Many of the comments made above were meant "tongue in cheek".


  1. Turned out beautifully! Really like the repeating chamfer detail.

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  3. The stopped chamfer detail seems to have gone out of use for a while. Now I'm noticing more people utilizing it again. I think it works well on pieces like this.


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