Tag Archives: Tall Clock

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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No Day to Spray

AntiqueBackWhen I got up on Saturday morning, I knew there was a huge possibility that in the shop I wouldn’t be doing what I planned. I was going in to spray the final coat of shellac onto my clocks; I’m looking to darken the overall appearance just a shade more. The humidity was high which means that there was a chance for the finish to blush, or turn cottony white with moisture trapped in the finish.

Instead, I decided to work on the backboards for the two clocks. On most antique clocks, the backs run top to bottom and are not attached to the hoods, so the hood can be removed. The stacked series of three photos at the left show a typical clock back (click on the image to make it bigger).

Generally you see a main board that runs the full length with ears attached at the base and hood areas. That requires a board or panel that’s 90″ in length and 15″ wide. I could have done that – may due it if John and Joe (brothers for which I’m building this clock) want to go with the antique design.

The second clock, however, is for me (at least at this time), so I’m going at it differently. IMG_1767I’m running the boards across the back from the bottom up about 50″ just as would be seen on a case piece of furniture. I then plan to turn the upper board so its grain runs vertical. To make the transition, I’m using a tongue-and-groove joint. It’s a bit more work and will need a few additional fasteners (nails I suspect), but I can use short pieces of scrap cut off from other projects. Frugal, huh!

To make this happen, I first added a shiplap cut to each of the milled, over-long, random-width boards selected for the back. IMG_1768I began at the bottom – the bottom board was cut on only one edge. From there to the 50″ mark (it doesn’t have to be that length, it’s just what I chose based on the number of pieces I had to use and the width of those pieces), I fit and positioned each board. The top board – also shiplapped on one edge – was taken back to the tablesaw for the tongue portion of the transition joint. I then slipped the top horizontal board in place and added a couple of clamps to hold things secure.

IMG_1771I had to get the final length measurement of the vertical board, so I had to stand the case upright and add the hood. With that measurement in hand, I cut the groove portion along the bottom edge of the panel, and laid out the exact spot where the back needed to step out to fill in the extra width of the hood.

Because the glued-up panel had set in the shop for some time,there was a small amount of warp I had to deal with. Here’s a great shop tip: To straighten out the panel, I clamped a straight piece of stock across the panel width keeping the clamps above the height of my saw fence, then made the cuts needed to form the groove.

The ears were cut at my band saw, then trimmed to length at the bench using my handsaw. To final check and tweak the fit, I joined the tongue and groove, then slide the assembly into position. Below you can see how the transition works. Because the top panel extends down the clock’s case, there are more than enough places for fasteners. This setup should work great.

Build Something Great!

Glen

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Reeded Column Round-up

IMG_1455I’ve reached the ends of the reeded columns for my tall clock. Literally. The last step is to round the ends of each reed. I thought I might be able to speed this process along using a lathe to round the ends in one fell swoop, then just touch them with my carving gouge. That, however, was a waste of time – and one good column. Spinning the column at the lathe again meant that I needed to locate the centers, load the workpiece accurately and have it spin dead-on. Looking back, I should have known it wasn’t going to work. But sometimes I’m pig-headed and have to prove myself wrong before I turn to other methods. Boy was I proved wrong.

I then turned to my carving tools. There are eight column, each with 12 reeds. That’s a whopping 192 reeds that needed round ends. (That’s why I was looking for a speedier solution.) I matched the reed shape to my closest-sized carving gouge, which turned out to be a #9, 5mm tool.

The process is easy once you get started. The gouge is inverted on a reed, set close to the end then pivoted upward as the cut is made. It takes a couple of passes to get the end shaped as needed, and to keep the ends aligned with one another. The series of photos below show the actual movement. The opening photo shows three completed reeds.

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Of course, there was more work to do. Each of the reeds needed to be worked a little for a better rounded shape. (I should have set the scratch beader a bit deeper, but hindsight is, well you know.) Each end was shaped and each reed has been sanded smooth. I should wrap up the hood work this week. A few inlaid blocks is all that’s left. We’ll see.

Build Something Great!
Glen

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Bump-cut Band Saw Tenons

IMG_1439Because I had to make the columns on my tall clocks longer than needed so I could form the reeds with my scratch stock, each column needed to be cut to length. (The blue tape held together a fracture at the end of the column – I use this same technique when turning, if need be.) Once at length, each end of the columns needed to be reduced in diameter to fit into the brass capitals. Then ends of the individual reeds are then shaped further.

My first thought was to load a column at my lathe and turn the tenon before I cut the pieces to length. I want a snug fit through the capital, and there would be no way to check the fit while on the lathe – there was about 2″ to remove off each end of the columns, so I couldn’t simply slide on the capital. IMG_1440If I cut the lengths first, I lost the center markings and, for me, that makes loading the piece on the lathe too much of a hassle (I’ve not had success remarking the center whether using a center-marking gauge or not).

What I decided to do was to cut the columns to length, then use my band saw to form the tenons – it’s a similar operation as making a bump-cut tenon using a table saw. (You can see a short video of this technique here.) In the photo above right, you see the end of the columns after its been cut to length. (You can also see that there is more work to do on the reeds.) And below you can see my setup at the band saw.

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I used a bench hook to guide the stock, and used a spacer (set between the hook and band saw table) to locate the hook fence just beyond the blade. This setup is somewhat critical. If you’re too far beyond the blade, you will remove too much material. (If you’re in front of the blade, your tenon would be too fat.) I say that setup is somewhat critical because you do have a little adjustment. IMG_1445That comes from moving the band saw blade forward or back using the guide bearings on the saw. A simple tweak can push the blade forward to allow you to dial in the best cut. I went for a tenon that was just too snug to fit my capital so I could lightly sand the tenon to fit. The photo shows a closer view of the setup. (Click on the photo to see it even larger.)

I positioned the column tight to the second block – that piece has a 1/2″ notch which is the tenon length, and I’ve clamped it tight against the bench hook to make sure the two are aligned. With the column set against the second block, I spun the stock to cut the tenon shoulder. I then nibbled away the waste in one area of the tenon – it takes a bit of wiggle and movement. Once that area is flat and clean, I began the bump-cut technique. IMG_1446Back and forth into the second block while rotating the column; it’s like rubbing your head as  you pat your stomach.

When a full rotation is finished the tenon is formed. Two clocks, four columns per clock and two ends per column left me with 16 tenons to form. Taking the time to set up this method saved me time in the long run. And I didn’t waste a column that needed to be replaced with another – that would have burnt at least an hour of shop time.

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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Goose-neck Mouldings

Kasper Bonnet TopGoose-neck mouldings are, in my opinion, the great equalizer in any discussion of moulding planes or power tools for curved designs. Sure straight runs of moulding can be made using hollows and rounds, but the curved mouldings are a completely different animal. With goose-necks, you better be thinking kindly about a router, router table or shaper. And, you probably should have a selection of carving tools if your design has a rosette and doesn’t return on itself (as shown in the above photo).

#5024-01Of course, the Egerton clock has rosettes. This translates into more hand work using carving chisel. But the bulk of the waste is removed with power tools. You just need to find the correct profile, and that can be tricky as you flip and turn the profile looking for a match, especially if you’re using bearing mounted router bits. (I’m tossing out shaper work, because most woodworkers are not working with a shaper – router tables have all but replaced the shaper in home shops.)

The best way to run these profiles using a router is with the face of the goose-neck moulding facing up. To do that you need an over-arm pin router setup, or you need to create a method to hold your router above the workpiece as you guide the cut, as shown to the left. Router_JigThis setup uses the guide-fence holes and scrap pieces to raise the router cut abilities. The setup is easy to duplicate, but using the arrangement is not that simple. You need to accurately guide the router along the curved lines of the goose-neck while holding things at 90° to the workpiece. Slow and steady wins the race, but even then you have clean-up work to do. It is much better if you can use bearing-mounted router bits. To do that in this scenario, I had to run at my router table, keeping the face of the mouldings against the table.

The problem with bearing-mounted router bits is reach. On wide goose-neck mouldings, you often cannot reach back into the profile enough to make things work. IMG_1399On the Egerton moulding, though, that’s not a problem because it’s only 7/8″ wide. I was able to use the bearings on my router bits of choice to get the job done, so the first bit used was a cove design for raised panels. That router bit allowed me to reach back 3/4″ of the 7/8″ needed – that left an 1/8″ of flat at the top edge of my profile. On the straight runs, cut from end to end. On the curved work, you need to stop just short of the rosette area.

The second profile I used was a simple 1/4″ round-over bit, but I switched out the normal bearing to use one that was a 1/8″ smaller in diameter. IMG_1401That change moved the round-over profile in slightly on the workpiece. Height adjustments need to be accurate. Because I was looking to flow the second profile into the larger cove cut, I found it best to sneak up on the final setting. I could have stopped at this point, but the square edge left after the second router cut was smaller than what I saw on the original clock profile. I wanted more.

Deciding to make the last router-bit cut added the needed square-edge to my profile, but it also caused more work after routing work was complete. IMG_1403To achieve an additional 1/16″ of square edge for an 1/8″ total, I used a rabbet bit to push the design up into the moulding. That cut removed a lot of the round-over profile, but that would be easy to replace with carving tools, and the extra square edge made the design of my goose-neck more in line with the original.

To complete the mouldings, both the curved and straight pieces, I use a couple carving gouges to re-round the profile. Work on the straight pieces was easy. I found and carved with the grain direction. On the curved pieces, carving required that I move in different directions due to the grain changing as the curves undulated. Even with that need, the work was not difficult.

Next week I’ll show the completed and installed goose-neck moulding with the carved rosettes in place. I’m getting close to finished.

Build Something Great!
Glen

 

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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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