Tag Archives: Federal Period

Tall Clock Fast Finish

IMG_1874If you’ve followed this blog for anytime at all, you know I’ve been working on two tall case clocks. I’m happy to say that one of the clocks is done. Mine! Why is the clock I built for me complete and the other for a customer not yet finished? The answer is two-fold.

If you watched any of the episodes of the New Yankee Workshop, Norm always built a prototype. Even though I was building two clock simultaneously, I worked out the details on  the clock I was building for myself before moving to the customer’s clock. (Believe me, there were quite a few adjustments along the way.) As a result, their clock is much better. I experimented on inlay, door design and most recently on how to best position the hood door; it took two attempts to get the location right.

The second reason my clock is complete while the customers languishes on is due to the clock dial pan. Many of these antique clocks had hand-painted dials. We’d talked about the dial many times, but it wasn’t until recently that final decisions were made as to what would be painted. With a decision made and the painter contacted, the customer’s dial should be completed in November. Step_1I, on the other hand, have not yet determined what I’d like to have painted on my dial. So how did I get my clock finished? I cheated.

I visited an antique clock dealer’s web site, selected a clock that I liked, checked that the dealer had shown a front-on view of the painted dial (where the red arrow points), then copied the dial into my computer. You can see the page at the right. (If you click on any of the photos, they will enlarge for a better view.)

Step_2Once the dial was loaded, I went in and stripped the interior of the image out using PhotoShop – I’m not overly experienced with this program, but I squeeze by. I pulled the interior out because I have a movement complete with hands that I want to use, so there was no need for the hands. Also, don’t have a sweep second hand (the miniature dial just below the XII) although those are very cool in antique clocks. Lastly, I didn’t want my clock signed by Aaron Willard from Boston (not that I wouldn’t be thrilled to own such a clock). With those steps complete, I manipulated the image to match the dial pan size and hit the print button.

And in case you think I’m pulling one over on you, below is a photo of my clock with the hood off. When I figure out the painting for the dial, I’ll make the change. But until then my paper cheat is going to work fine.

Build Something Great!

Glen

IMG_1875

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Shop Tips, Including a Backsaver

IMG_1396This week I jumped full-force into carving the rosettes for the tall clock. I don’t often carve; it’s not one of my favorite things in woodworking, which is probably why I moved so quickly into Federal-period furniture. As I worked the first ten minutes in earnest to produce the final design of the rosettes – I need two rosettes for each clock, or four total pieces – I knew it would be a short work day if I didn’t find a way to ease my back pain. My bench is set up more for power-tool woodworking, so it is a bit higher by design. But that height wasn’t cutting it for carving.

My quick solution was a carving lift that would raise the work surface nearly 12″. As stated, I’m not an every-day carver, so I didn’t need anything that would be worthy of a magazine article build. I needed quick and simple. Thank you Kreg jig.

I ripped a few pieces from my collection of scraps, chopped the appropriate lengths at my miter saw then screwed together my carving lift. The additional length at the bottom, plus the wide-open area between the ends, makes clamping the unit to my workbench a snap. The top, over-hung in both length and width, allows me to easily clamp and re-position the work as needed. Will this lift be around forever? Nope. That’s the way it was designed. When I’m finished I’ll pull the screws and stack the pieces back in my scrap pile.

Did the extra height work out? You bet. The only pain I felt the the balance of the day was from a few carving mishaps and a couple of wood blowouts. My back was fine.

A second tip I found useful as I carved on the clock’s goose-neck mouldings was a technique I discovered as I built my first goose-necks for a highboy years ago. I think it’s worth repeating.

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In the above photo, you see that I have made a pattern of the half of the top edge of the scroll board. The mouldings for the clock are 7/8″ tall, so I need to produce a line that is exactly that distance down from the pattern. I could use a compass to scribe the line, but that would require that I be consistent as I trace the pattern. That’s room for error.

To make it almost foolproof (nothing is completely foolproof), I cut and shaped a piece of plywood to 1-3/4″ in diameter, or a 7/8″ radius. When I slip a pencil through the small hole at the middle of the wheel and roll the wheel along the pattern, I’m assured of an accurately marked distance.

I use this technique whenever I need to produce an accurate offset line. Most times I find a washer (fender washer) that works for the necessary size. But as you grow in the distance you need to offset, you move beyond typical washers found in a home center or hardware store. It’s then that I turn to shop-made wheels. This is one to keep in your pocket. It works.

Build Something Great!
Glen

Next week I’ll post about the goose-neck mouldings. The profile comes off the router table using easy-to-find router bits.

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Filed under Jigs, Methods of Work, Shop Tips, Tall Clock

WIA Class on Inlay

The purpose of my Woodworking in America session on inlay, “Understanding Inlay: A Key Piece in Connoisseurship & Identification” wasn’t to provide rules of thumb to discover the orientation of antique furniture – the idea was to give a few general guidelines that A1_New York Card Tablewould help identify from where a particular antique piece of furniture may have been built. We focused on card tables from the Federal period due to the fact that each major city built card tables from the simplest designs to the most intricate, heavily-inlaid tables. I emphasized throughout the class that the information presented should be grouped with other gathered information so one could draw a conclusion. That stated again, I’ll pass along a few of my comments.

The first and easiest way to identify a card tables point of origin has nothing to do with the inlay, although you could also establish the same origin if you studied the banding and pictorial inlays on the table. Here, however, construction techniques are a dead give-away. The table pictured above is from New York. We know this because of the fifth leg. In almost all cases, if you have a fifth leg, you are looking at a card table built in New York.

ACD_Dunton_NH TableLet’s get back to inlay. The most fascinating of inlay banding, at least to me, is what is known as lunette inlay. There was a time in our furniture study that whenever this inlay was found on a piece of period furniture, that piece was immediately associated with the father and son team of John and Thomas Seymour. Later, a similar inlay was found on other signed furniture not built by the Seymours. That caused dealers and collectors to question the attribution of the Seymour work. The table shown above is a signed piece built in New Hampshire, and not a card table built by a Seymour.

ACC_Bradlys Seymour SimpleAs a woodworker, I wonder how this inlay was made in the period. (The left-hand photo is a close-up look at lunette inlay.) Was it laid up in a pack then sliced as was other inlay? Some woodworker think so. Or was it laid up a stick at a time? There is a camp of today’s woodworkers who think that was how it was done in the late 1700s. Regardless of how you may think it was made, it is a great piece of work and worthy of the amount of study it has received.

DE_Eagle PateraAnother area that I find interesting is to look at the use of eagles in pictorial inlay. The image at the right is a grouping of eagle patera  I pulled together from “American Furniture The Federal Period” by Charles F. Montgomery. (I highly recommend this Winterthur book if you are at all interested in inlay.) If you study the eagles, you’ll notice a few interesting things. First of all, Connecticut inlay – not just the eagles, but most of the inlay work found in this area – is very artistic and quite different from work found elsewhere. Pinpointing period work from the Connecticut River Valley and from Connecticut is rather simple.

Of the remaining eagles, take a close look at the inlay from New York. Notice how lifelike the eagle appears. This eagle looks bold, strong and very patriotic. The Federal period in which we’re looking is right after the Revolutionary war when New York was the nation’s capital, until 1791 when it was moved to Philadelphia before moving to Washington DC. Patriotism had to be extremely strong at the time. Was this strength reflected in the inlay produced at the time?

DEA_Bradlys_Eagle on ClockOne last thought on eagle inlay: If you study the eagles shown in Pennsylvania, Maryland and the South, you’ll see that each of the eagles have something in the mouth, a streaming banner. This could be a telltale of furniture from these areas. Shown at the right is a door from an antique clock. The clock is known to be from Pennsylvania. And the eagle has the banner held in its mouth.

This is just a taste of the what can be discovered when studying inlay. Over the next couple of months, I’ll present another post on what I’ve discovered about inlay. If you have some interesting information to share, please do so in the comment section below.

Build Something Great!

Glen

 

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Filed under Antique Pieces, Design, Inlay

Egerton Tall Case Clock

Photo from C. L. Prickett Antiques

In New Brunswick, New Jersey between 1788 and 1802, Matthew Egerton built this clock case. The scroll board is pierced to allow a richer and more clear sound to waft from the clock as the bell is struck. Of the five known Egerton clocks that have a punch-work scroll board, this is thought to be the finest. And the inlaid “liberty cap on a pole” adds a bit of whimsy to the design.

The best part of any piece of furniture I build is the beginning. One of the reasons I enjoy woodworking is that about every three to five weeks another project begins. It’s a fresh start.

On Tuesday, after my return from Woodworking in America – West Coast, this Federal-period tall clock is in my sights. I can’t wait.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Antique Pieces, Design