Tag Archives: Matthew Egerton

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

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Sometimes It’s Best to Scratch

IMG_1426After the holidays, I was back in the shop working to reed the columns for the Egerton tall clock. You all know that I’m more power based when I woodwork, so I first turned to my router and router table to form the reeds. I had a small router bit with a needle point (similar to the one shown below at right). I built a small carrier for the columns, installed the bit in my router table, adjusted the fence to cut at the center of each column then raised the bit ever-so-slightly Pointed Bituntil the two radii were just formed. I thought the cut was a bit deep, but the bigger problem was how to rotate and align for the next cut. Because I was working on the bottom edge, it was impossible to align the bit point to any layout lines. Scrap that idea.

My second power-tool effort was at my lathe. I have a jig built (shown at the right) that suspends my IMG_0311trim router at just the right height to allow a spinning bit to cut at the center on any turned stock. That jig setup, teamed with the indexing abilities of the lathe, suggested success. The bit I used, however, had a squared end (not a fine point) which resulted in a flat area between each reed that was unacceptable. And to use the bit consistently, I needed to run the bearings against the workpiece, and the cut was too deep, leaving the individual reeds too narrow and misshaped.

The only idea I had left was to scratch the design by hand. With eight columns to profile, that’s a lot of scratching. That’s why I looked to power tools from the outset.

IMG_1418The first step was to produce the scratch profile onto a blade, which in my case was an old, previously used scraper. I found this work best completed using files. There are times when you can drill out a pattern, then touch it up. But for this design, I went straight to a file. Using a square file, I cut notches into the blade to resemble a “w.” I found it easier to accurately form the notches using a square file than it was to use a round file to get straight to the radius design. As you work you make corrections to get the design just right.

With the notches cut and located, I switched to a round file IMG_1419(mine was a chainsaw file picked up at my hardware store). Fit into the notches, it was too simple to cut the design to round. Work one side, then move to the second. As this is done, make sure that the two rounded profiles stay tight to the center, and keep the point as small and sharp as possible – you don’t need a deep recess between each reed. One last adjustment to the profile is needed – remove the outside shoulders so the only bit being scratched is the recess and half of each radius design. (You can see the final design in the photo below.)

IMG_1425When I completed the design, I loaded the blade into a simple stock. I used two pieces of scrap through which I installed a couple of bolts and wing nuts. Slip the blade into position then tighten the wing nuts until the blade is secured. The carrier I built when attempting the router cut is what I used to hold the columns for scratching. To center the assembled scratch stock to the carrier, I added a couple of small blocks to the setup – #23-gauge pins did the job.

In the opening photo you can see how the jig is used. The blocks keep the scratch stock in line as the assembly is pulled and pushed back and forth until the design is formed. The blade hangs down far enough so the final depth is reached as the stock sits flat to the carrier frame. When one line is done, rotate the column and scratch a second. You can repeat this all the way around each column, but as Mike Siemsen of Green Lake Clock Company pointed out to me a while back, many of the columns found on antique clocks were not completely reeded. Because you cannot get your head between the hood and column, you cannot see those reeds. As a result, there are no reeds there. (In the past, if it was not seen, minimal time was spent making things look great.)

I have three columns ready to go, so I’m back in the shop scratch the remaining eight. Then I have to cut and fit each column to the capitals and hood. I’ll be busy for a while.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Egerton Moulding Install

I promised last week to show you the moulding installation. But if you stopped by, you found that I was unable to post. So as promised, here is the technique I use to cut, fit and install the lower moulding on the tall clock.

Layout is the important step. First position the arched moulding to the hood. After it’s in position draw a line along the back or top edge. IMG_1365Make the line run the entire length of the moulding, or at least indicate where it crosses the inlay at the center and the lower 2″ at the hood’s base. The second step is to lay in the straight line to indicate where the moulding runs along the base – show the area that fits between the arched moulding and the hood’s return. To obtain the angle needed to fit the two pieces (arched and short straight) draw a line from the two corners as shown in the photo above.

Moulding Marking

To reveal the cut lines on the moulding, slide the arched piece back into position then use a couple of spring clamps to keep it in place. On the top edge of the moulding, mark where the lines intersect – the intersection of the arched and straight, as well as where the arched crosses the inlay should be marked. Repeat the steps to mark the two points on the inside edges of the arched moulding. Both steps are shown above.

On the back face of the moulding, make a couple of tick marks that show the two points then use a rule or straightedge to draw the line from mark to mark. Strike the lines at the two layout points. IMG_1374I also square the lines down the back edge of the mouldings to provide two points of reference as I cut. Because the moulding is arched, a couple of spring clamps will hold the piece secure as you cut. The easiest way to cut the lines is to grab your handsaw and make the cuts. I like a Japanese saw for these cuts because the finer teeth are easier to start, and glide through the cut better. This saw is from Lee Valley (link). Make the cuts while watching both lines – it’s the same as when cutting dovetails. After the arched moulding is cut (touch-up the cut with a small plane if you’re off your layout line), reposition the arched moulding to the hood.

The next step is to cut and fit the short, straight moulding at the base. You can repeat the same procedure to cut this piece; layout the two points, IMG_1375strike your line then saw the cut by hand. But for this cut – because it is a straight piece of stock – I work at my miter saw. I simply guess the angle then make a couple of cuts to hone-in on the final angle. You could, of course, use a bevel gauge to setup the correct miter. Even using a bevel gauge, I find myself fine-tuning the cut, so I go right to the saw. Make sure your fit is tight and that the moulding profiles align. You will have a small amount of work to do to bring the two profiles to match, but the work should be minimal.

For me the tricky part of this installation is the next step. On the top edge of the straight moulding, mark the start of the 45° bevel, and indicate the direction of the bevel. IMG_1377(That’s where I sometimes have problems.) It’s easy to get things turned around as you move to make the cut. I, again, use my miter saw. This is also a straight piece of stock and easily set and cut at the miter saw. Because it is a small piece, you may not feel comfortable at a power saw. If that’s the case, use your handsaw and a bench hook to do the job.

The last piece – on this first side – is the return. It’s a simple 45° cut at the front with a 90° cut at the rear. With all the parts cut and fit, turn your attention to the second run of mouldings. IMG_1378The process is the identical, but the angles are reversed. When both sides of the mouldings are fit, use spring clamps to hold a run in position as you prepare to attach the pieces to the hood. Working with the arched piece of moulding, add a thin bead of glue to the back face, then position it to the hood and to the short straight piece that is clamped in place. A few #23-gauge pins hold everything as t he glue sets. Work from there to the return, then repeat the same steps to install the second run of mouldings.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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More on a Punched Scroll-board

IMG_1113I’ve been leery of the Egerton tall clock punched scroll-board veneer from the git-go. Until this weekend my concerns were in how to attach the  veneer – backed by what appears to be speaker cloth – over the scroll-board. If I glue the speaker cloth over the holes drilled into the scroll – holes that are to allow more bell sound to emit as the movement strikes on the hour – I’m sure to get glue on the cloth. That’s not going to work. Also, as I then glue the veneered face to the assembly, once again glue seeps into the cloth and the mess continues.

This weekend I found a new concern. How would I finish the clock if I worked out all the attachment issues? There will be no dye or stain, but I will add a layer of boiled linseed oil to highlight the grain in my mahogany. IMG_1109And with shellac as my topcoat, how the hell would I brush, wipe or spray shellac without filling the open weave of the speaker cloth? I’m at a loss and turning to plan B. Or is that E? Not sure.

The next plan was to attach my punched veneer directly over the scroll-board without using a cloth between. To glue the face veneer to the scroll would be easy, but the holes would be a problem. Some of the holes do not go all the way through the scroll and the look in a mocked-up sample was less than stellar. I used a brad-point bit to cut my holes. The center point of the bit left a nasty look in any holes not drilled completely through. IMG_1108Maybe a spoon bit and a brace? Too much work. A round-nose router bit plunged into the scroll? Too much rigging, With another quick look at that arrangement, I knew it was out. Next idea, please.

My mind scrambled for an answer. How about black veneer behind the punched-out face veneer? Finishing would be OK. Oil and shellac would work fine on top of the veneer. The look would be similar. Where was the problem? (There had to be one, right.) Sound. That’s it. The idea of the cloth and holes was to elevate the sound of the bell ring. No holes equals less sound. It’s OK to not have holes in the scroll-board. Most clocks don’t and the sound of the chime is still heard. I moved forward.

IMG_1110Black-dyed veneer was cut and fit to the punched face veneer. A thin layer of glue was spread and the two veneers were sandwiched between wax paper and two make-shift platens. Clamps held everything flat as I waited to see my results.

As the glue dried and I worked on other areas of the clocks, Dave Griessmann, a friend who spends time in my shop on Saturdays – he also forces me to have doughnuts in the morning and lunch at BW3 – suggested that I still place a few holes through the scroll-board to help with the sound. Good idea. I think sound would increase if it only had to pierce two thin layers of veneer. A few well-placed holes are being considered, but that decision can wait until later.

Being the visual woodworker that I am, I thumb-tacked the veneer sandwiches to the hood and stood back to take a look. That’s what you see in the opening photo (click on it to make it larger). The contrast is more now than it will be when the mahogany is colored and finished. I like it, but I need some time to decide. You have any ideas?

Build Something Great!

Glen

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More on the Pierced Veneer

After fooling around with shop-made veneer for the pierced hood on the Egerton clock and not being satisfied, I decided to purchase a wood-backed veneer. IMG_1099I went to joewoodworker.com and bought a 4′ x 8′ sheet of ribbon-stripe mahogany. I opted for the backer veneer to run across the grain for added stability – I am punching through most of the veneered front. I placed my order on July 15th. Friday the 19th my veneer arrived. (Joe has great service. I was notified at every step.)

In the shop I cut off a 24″ section from the sheet. The opening photo shows how I went about establishing the angle of the grain, and it shows that I made a mistake as I rushed to get started – I laid out four sections (two pieces for each clock) angled the same direction.IMG_1100 I needed two sets with the grain at opposing angles.

What I am particularly fond of is how easy it is to work with backed veneer. I cut the pieces to size using a pair of scissors. How easy is that? To get setup to do the punch work, I cut a piece of plywood a bit over-sized to act as a backer, then tacked and clamped my patten (slightly adjusted to show areas covered by moldings in the finished piece) to the plywood. I clamped one end so I could easily check my progress as I completed some of the work.

I began by using an 1/8″-wide chisel to cut at each of the four corners of the small patterns in my design. IMG_1102Work was just as with a machine in that I grabbed the chisel, oriented it for one corner then cut that corner in every contorted square. In the left-hand photo you can see the completed run of the first stage of work. I have to say that my hand was cramping as I worked the corners while holding the chisel between my thumb and index finger. I used a light mallet tap to punch the corners.

As I began step two using the small gouge, I decided that my mallet was unnecessary. Mere pressure could cut the veneer. I worked the small squares one at a time, removing the waste as I worked. IMG_1103A couple times the waste would slide under the veneer before I could grab it, so I had to remove the clamp in order to clear the way for the next square. And I could check my progress.

After nearly four hours I finished with the first half of one pierced piece of veneer. When I held it up to the hood, it looked good. What wasn’t good was the temperature. My shop has no air-conditioning, so I loaded up the necessary tools and veneer and took off for home. I could punch the remaining pieces at my kitchen counter.

Next week I’ll give you a look at the two finished pieces. Not bad so far.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Shop Tips (or We All Make Mistakes)

IMG_1084A few weeks ago, I posted about drawing full-size plans (here’s a link if you need to catch up). As I wrote then, I seldom spend the time to make full-size drawings of a project, but the Egerton tall clock is one of those times I think it’s important.

Yesterday I worked on the hood door. The design, as it is on many clocks, has two stiles and a lower rail that are straight. The upper or top rail is arched to follow the design of the dial. The door for the Egerton clock has a small molded edge on the inside. Because I’m using traditional joinery – mortises and tenons – I have to assemble the door parts with mitered sticking. There are quite a few extra steps on your parts if you’re working this way. Add to that the rabbeted area for the door glass and there’s a lot on your plate. That’s why I took the time to draw it full-size.

As you can see in the opening photo, I got the joinery complete and had my door frame assembled. I located the top rail center then with my compass in hand, I marked the interior arch. IMG_1085That arch needs to be cut out, the inside edge is molded to match the rest of the frame and it’s rabbeted, too. Before I did that work, and while I had the door parts assembled, I reset my compass and drew in the outside arch. That’s when I knew I had a problem.

If you look at the right-hand photo, you can see my problem. (The pencil lines are a bit hard to see, but if click on the photo the image get bigger.) The outer arch hit in no man’s land. My stiles were not long enough. After 15 minutes of self cursing and trying to figure out a way correct the problem, I did exactly what should have been done. Make new stiles.

New stiles meant that I had to re-create the entire setup again. Shop tip #1 is to leave your tools setup until you’ve completed the work. IMG_1088My router was not changed, so I easily routed the profile onto my new pieces. Also, my mortiser was not changed making those cuts a breeze. Everything else had to be re-set. Sucks for me.

Part of my 15 minutes was spent trying to decide why I had missed this minute-but-huge point as I studied my full-size plans – that’s why you draw them, right. That is Shop tip #2. Study the plans. I had the information right in front of me, but didn’t pay attention. In the left-hand photo, you can see that I should have picked up the small detail. In fact, the line drawn that extends from the inside edge of the door stile to the arch above was not drawn in. Bad move. It was only afterward that I penciled in the line.Lesson learned.

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As you can see in the photo below, I finished the new stiles and now my arch hits into wood instead of open air. I lost about 1 1/2 hours of time, but as it is when we screw up in the shop, I learned a valuable lesson. Mistakes make us better woodworkers. I just hope I remember it the next time.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Punching the Scroll

IMG_1076In April this past year I first wrote about the perforated or punched scroll-board on the Egerton tall clock (read about here). Since then I’ve been working on the details, trying to get patterns complete and finally decide how I plan to go about the work.

This weekend I began experimenting with a couple of different materials to see if one would be better than the other – I have yet to decide if this is the actual process I plan to use to punch my scroll. IMG_1077The first material was a scrap of the backed veneer I used for the clock’s door and base front (click here if you want to take another look).

I placed half of a paper pattern of the scroll onto my scrap and went to work. Each small cutout requires eight stabs, four using a carving gouge and four with my 1/8″ chisel. In the backed veneer, I needed a bit of force to push through. After a number of holes were punched, I took a look at the cutout area and decided this would work. The problem I have withthis material is that the veneer is crotch mahogany. Being crotch, the grain pattern is somewhat wrong for the scroll-board. In the original, the grain pattern is more straight, and it runs at an angle that directs your eye toward the top of the clock – one of the woodworking rules to which I like to adhere.

IMG_1079In order to use a piece of straighter-grained veneer, I had to turn to a paper-back veneer. First I had to see if it works; my primary concern is that the veneer, along the thin connector lines between the cutouts, splits and cracks. My second concern is using a paper-back veneer. I cut a piece of of material, laid the paper pattern on top and again went to work.

After working for about 30 minutes – yes, the work went quicker than I expected due to the material being thinner and because I developed a better routine – I peeled off the tape to take a look. You can see the results below.

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I like the look and either material seems to work out, but I think I’ll pass on the paper-back veneer. This week I’ll make some pieces of shop-cut veneer just so I can get the grain right. And to provide support for those small connectors, I’ll add a cross-grain backer. I expect that the work will be more difficult due to the thicker veneer, but I’ll stay more true to the original and the look should be right-on.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Filed under Hand Tools, Shop Tips, Tall Clock, Veneer