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Frank Redmile Adjusting A Longcase Most woodworkers eventually find themselves building a case for a mechanical clock movement. I can tell you from painful personal experience that the choice of movement can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. In addition, finding design documentation and support, particularly finding answers to questions that will invariably arise, is almost impossible. Fortunately there are reputable suppliers if you know where to look. One such dealer is Oakside Classic Clocks.

Oakside Classic Clocks of England is a one person business. Frank Redmile, owner and sole proprietor, designs and creates longcase clocks that sell all around the globe. Frank also has the largest inventory of German made Kiesinger movements. In addition to his finished clocks, Frank sells Kieninger clock movement kits to hobbyist clockmakers and woodworkers. If you need Kieninger replacement parts, Oakside Classic Clocks is the place to look. Likewise, you can get movements, movement documentation, dials, pendulums or other accessories. Check out Frank’s website or contact him directly on his Contact page.

Shaker Tall Clock Crafted In Cherry

One of the most frequent requests I get is for a drawing set of the Shaker Tall Clock I crafted for my son to give his wife on their twelfth anniversary. I originally drew the model and plans in TurboCAD and printed drawings for anyone who wanted them. Later, I exported the model from TurboCAD to a .dxf file and imported the file into SketchUp. A lot was lost in the translation. Up to now that is all I had to supply anyone wanting to craft this clock. I recently looked at the translated files in detail and was embarrassed by the incompleteness.

Fortunately, I have completely updated the documentation, inserted missing information and cleaned up the model. You can download the new documentation from my Free Plans page. There you will find a complete SketchUp model with dimensions, a CutList Plus cut list file, an Excel cut list file, a .csv cut list file and a PDF file including both shop drawings and cut list. If you want a LayOut 2 file click here. You should have no problems crafting this clock if you so desire.

This  Shaker Tall Clock was inspired by a clock designed and built by Benjamin Youngs, Sr., circa 1809, of the Watervliet, New York Shaker Village. The original is held in a private collection. A photograph of the original can be seen in The Complete Book of Shaker Furniture by Timothy D. Rieman and Jean M. Burks, page 163.

Slightly larger than the original (81" H x 20" W x 9 7/8" D) this piece measures 85" H x 21 5/8" W x 12 5/16" D and is constructed from solid cherry hardwood.

Other changes from the original are the simple footed base, an arched waist door to complement the  arched hood and  arched side windows in the hood. The piece has been finished with 3 coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil.

The hardware is polished brass consisting of drop pulls, one small pull for the hood door and a larger one for the waist door, a set of overlay hinges for the waist door, and a special pair of hinges designed specifically for tall clock hood doors which allow the door to clear the deep arched inset. The 8-day Kieninger clock movement is cable wound and weight driven with a top mounted bell that strikes on the hour and half hour. It was purchased from Green Lake Clock Company.

Although the design is traditional and simple keeping with the Shaker influence, the construction, on the other hand, is not. This piece is constructed using hand cut dovetails and mortise & tenon  joinery which will last for hundreds of years to come. To see the various stages of construction, details of joinery and explanation of technique, click here.

Shaker Style Chain Driven Wall ClockShaker Style Chain Driven Wall Clock - Side ViewI promised my daughter that upon her graduation from law school I would give her a wall hanging Shaker style clock. She graduated in the spring of 2008. I completed this clock in October of 2009. A little late; but to keep anyone from finding out I printed 2008 on the clock dial. Pretty clever huh?

The clock carcass is cherry and though not visible is constructed with hand cut dovetail joinery. The back of the pendulum compartment is spalted maple which gives this relatively large area some interesting figure for eye appeal. To provide contrast the doors are made of walnut.

In keeping with the Shaker theme the trim is simple bull nose and quarter round. Door pulls are turned "mushrooms" typical of what the Shakers would use.

Clock Dial And Serpentine Hands The clock dial was drawn using Google SketchUp. The four I’s to represent the numeral four is not a mistake. Though four is correctly represented as IV it is traditional in clocks to represent it as IIII.

After drawing the clock dial in SketchUp I applied an antique texture behind the numerals to add a little "age". Next I printed the dial full scale on 13" X 19" premium card stock. To protect the dial I applied seven coats of Spray-On MinWax Satin Polyurethane with the added benefit of still more aging (it dries slightly yellow). Finally the card stock is glued to a plywood backing. – Did he say plywood? Yes, an extremely rare occasion when I use anything but hardwood in my projects.

Spalted Maple Backing, Brass Chains, Bob & Weights Add Eye Appeal The mechanical clock movement is a German made Hermle model 241-080. It is an 8-day movement with a gong that strikes once on the half hour and counts out the hours. The serpentine hands are not in keeping with the Shaker style. Mother Ann would definitely not approve, but hey, my daughter likes them. The chains, bob and weights are brass plated. If you look closely at the bob you can tell these pictures were taken in my shop. The bob shows a reflection of me and my 15" planer.

To complete this project I used non-mortising hinges and rare earth magnetic catches. The hinges have an antique brass finish. To keep the clock level in the vertical direction I used two adjusting pins that have sharp points which dig slightly into the wall and can also be adjusted for level in the orthogonal vertical plane. These pins are made especially for this purpose and are a traditional piece of clock hardware. I finished this piece with seven coats of hand rubbed MinWax Wipe-On Polyurethane Satin Finish.

The Backs And Doors Are Custom Fitted Spalted Soft Maple With Its Black Lines, Tan and Greenish ColoringThe backs of a custom piece serve a number of functions and they are far from simple pieces of wood. The upper back in this piece provides a mechanism for hanging the clock while it also serves to keep dust out of the clock’s works. The upper back is not, however, visible since it is hidden by the clock dial.

The bottom back is visible, just behind the weights and pendulum that drive the clock. It also serves to keep dust out of the case. However, because the swinging pendulum will draw all eyes to itself and the back, it is important that the back not look like a plain piece of wood, but rather adds to the beauty of the clock. For this clock spalted maple serves that purpose. The random black lines of the early fungus and the tan and greenish color of the wood provides the viewer with an artistic drawing that only nature could render.

Elongated Open Holes, Washer And Screw Allow Seasonal Movement The Backs Are Centered With Gaps On Either Side For Expansion Backs almost always require special treatment to allow for seasonal expansion and contraction. In large pieces I often use ship lapped boards that are spaced one from the other to allow for seasonal movement. Theses backs are not wide enough to accommodate this approach. Instead, after calculating the expected movement, I cut the backs narrow by 1/4” and fastened them with slotted open holes, washer and screws. I cut them narrow because expansion season has only barely begun, and at its peak, the backs will expand to close the gap. If this were peak expansion season I would have cut them to fit and let them shrink to their minimum size. The washer and screws hold the back flat but also lets it move under the washer. I am careful not to tighten too much. Notice that I center the backs so that the gap for expansion is equal on each side.

The hardware and glass are on order and as soon as they arrive I will attach them. Then it is a simple matter of applying finish. For this clock I am going to use Min-Wax Wipe-On Poly Satin Finish.

Thickness Planing With A Drum Sander - The Top Is Open For VisibilityThe doors of this clock are made of black walnut (aka American walnut) chosen to provide contrast to the lighter, and more red shade of cherry. Walnut, while an excellent furniture wood, is not one I like working with much. There are very few adverse health effects related to walnut though there have been documented reports of skin irritation, rhinitis and asthma. But the saw dust generated by walnut is very fine and highly noticeable even with the use of dust masks. I find its taste bitter and unpleasant. So, while it is a beautiful furniture wood I tend to use if for contrasting trim and doors and seldom build an entire piece out of it.

Tapering Legs With A Drum SanderMost of the walnut pieces in this clock are short, about 12”. So I have chosen to thickness plane them with my drum sander and avoid the problem of sniping. I load the drum sander with 80 grit paper. After joining and planing three sides with a power jointer followed by a hand jointer and smooth planes, I cut them to near length and thickness them on the drum sander.

I Use The Table Saw To Cut The Rabbets And Save The Off Cuts For Securing The GlassAfter bringing the pieces to within 1/16” of final thickness using 80 grit paper I switch to 220 grit for final thicknessing. I don’t have to run through all the grits in between because I am taking off more with the 220 grit paper than the depth of the groves left by the 80 grit paper. I would not suggest trying this with a random orbital sander though.

The drum sander has many uses not immediately obvious. For example, power planing a tiger or blistered maple board will often leave tear out because of the rapid grain changes. The drum sander is an excellent choice for final thicknessing in this case. Also, the safest way to taper legs is a drum sander. You might first rough cut the taper close to the line with a band saw and follow it up with a drum sander, or skip the drum sander altogether. Either way you avoid the dangerous step of either a table saw or a jointer.

The Tenoning Jig Makes Cutting The Open Mortises And Tenons Easy And SafeWhen thicknessing is complete I cut a 3/8” wide by 1/2” deep rabbet in all pieces. Normally I would do this with a set of dado blades. But if I do this on the table saw instead, the off cut pieces are exactly the size I need to secure the glass in the door.

For this Shaker wall clock I have chosen simple doors constructed with slip joints. This is consistent with many Shaker clocks in existence. More importantly, for a given rail and stile size, slip joints provide more glue area and are stronger. The rails and stiles on this clock are only 1 1/8”, so this added benefit is quite important.

Final Slip Joint Fitting Is Done With A Shooting Board And Shoulder PlaneSlip joints are basically a mortise and tenon with the mortises being open. The table saw and tenoning jig make cutting the open mortises and tenons easy and safe. I cut the open mortises first and then cut the tenons to fit. The jig has a fine vernier so that I can creep up on the correct tenon thickness.

Two of the stiles for the long door are 37” long, not a piece I would want to hold manually while guiding it through the table saw. This jig is designed to hold them secure, at perfect right angles, and hands safely clear of the blade. It is heavy and tightly fits the table saw groves so the cuts can be smooth and slow avoiding tear out.

Completed Doors - Notice That One Side Has A Rabbet To Provide For Securing The Glass I cut the tenons so they fit a little too tight in the open mortises. Then I final fit them with a shooting board and shoulder plane. This gives me a perfect fitting slip joint. The doors are crafted over sized, one quarter in wider on all sides. This leave me the ability to custom trim them to the carcass. A quarter inch may seem a little overkill, but it also allows for a little tear out on the ends of the stiles and mortises which will not remain after trimming.

The doors, after glue up but before custom fitting, are shown above right. Notice the rabbet shown on the back side of the long door. This rabbet provides and inset for the glass. Tuesday of this week I will be out to the wood yards picking out the figured wood for the back. After that only mounting hardware and applying the finish remains.

Dry Fitting Trim While Shaving The Front Piece To Exact LengthTrimming a piece requires careful attention to the joints. Even simple forty five degree miters can be tricky, sometimes requiring hand fitting with a block plane. But the most difficult part is cutting trim to the correct length; too long it doesn’t sit tightly against the backing and too short it leaves unsightly gaps.

I like to start by cutting the front trim to length first. To do that I cut the miter on the side pieces leaving them long. I clamp then in place and then cut both miters on the front trim, intentionally leaving it about 1/8” too long. I then sneak up on the correct length with a series of very fine cuts. As I approach the correct length I observe how the miters are coming together, and, if they need hand fitting I take thin shavings with a block plane and a shooting board. This is the equivalent of the dry fitting process that precedes all glue ups.

Trimming An White Oak Hutch Once I have the front piece cut to exact length I glue it in place and clamp it. I let it sit for about an hour and then go back and apply the side pieces. The side pieces require special attachment because this is a cross grain situation. Normally I would glue the first two inches of the end that connects to the front trim, and use a sliding dovetail joint to hold the other end in place to allow for seasonal expansion. See picture above right.

With A Software Tool, Movement master, I Check For Expected Seasonal Change However, this piece has relatively narrow sides, only 7 3/8” wide. Using a software tool to calculate the expected seasonal change for the Western MA area and cherry wood, I need only allow for about 1/8” expansion/contraction. Enlarge the picture at left by clicking on it and you will notice that this calculation is a function of stock type (flat sawn verses quarter sawn), area of the country where the piece will reside, current moisture content and species of wood.

An Elongated Slot Allows For Seasonal Expansion/Contraction Since the amount of movement is small, and the side narrow, I can use a simple elongated slot, screw and washer to allow for seasonal expansion. See the picture at right. Notice that I placed the screw toward the right end of the slot because most of the hot humid season is still ahead of us. I tighten the screw just enough to hold the trim in place, but not too tight, allowing the screw and washer to easily slide within the slot.

Wiping The Surface With Mineral Spirits Provides An Easy Check For Glue Stains After the glue dries I like to inspect for glue spots that may have been left during the glue up process. The easy way to do this is to wet the surface down with mineral spirits. Mineral spirits does not raise the grain like water does and dries quite quickly. Completed Carcass With TrimThis procedure also gives me a preview of what the wood will look like once the finish is applied. I’ll again inspect the entire piece this way toward the end of finish sanding.

The completed and trimmed carcass can be seen at right. The trim seems a little weird without the doors in place but that will be resolved shortly. The slots you see in the clockworks compartment is for a 1/4” panel that will slide into place, and on which the clock dial will be mounted. Both the clockworks and pendulum compartments will have backs. I am in search of a highly figured wood for the pendulum compartment back, perhaps spalted maple, because it will be visible through the glass door. The doors will be contrasting black walnut.

The Bits And Stages Used In Milling The Clock's Carcass Trim The clock carcass is trimmed with a sandwich of quarter round and bull nose pieces. This requires two bits: I used a CMT Cove Bit #837.951.11 to form the 3/4” radius quarter round, and a CarbTech Triple Beading Bit #02-03 for the 1/8” radius bull nose. The Cove Bit has a bearing which controls the cut into the side of the stock.  The depth into the face of the stock the woodworker must set. With a bit this large I like to make a few passes, increasing the depth on each pass until I reach the 3/4” depth.

The Triple Bead Stock Is Split Down The Middle With The Band SawThe CarbTech bit cuts three adjacent bull noses, each 1/8” radius. It does not have a bearing so you need to account for its depth of cut into the stock’s side with the outgoing router fence. I sacrifice the middle bead, cutting the stock in two right down the middle; an easy and safe task with a band saw. Next I use the drum sander, loaded with 220 grit sandpaper, as a thickness planer to finish the bull nose. A little glue and a few clamps and we have our trim.

Since I planed all the stock before milling, used 220 grit paper in the drum sander, and used sharp router bits, little or no sanding is necessary. If I do any sanding it is with a 320 grit paper to remove the raised grain resulting from the glue clean up. I am very careful not to destroy the edges that define the trim, and I perform this sanding only after the trim has been applied to the carcass.

Next I will apply the trim and build the doors. We are close to completion.

At this stage in the clock construction it is time to test the clock, pendulum and gong assembly to be sure no adjustments are needed to the seatboard or gong block. Making any adjustments later will be much more difficult. Also, I have been waiting for some time to hear the gong, not at all sure I would like what I heard once I heard it.

Maiden Clock Assembly Including Clockworks, Pendulum And Gong My clockworks are a Hermle 241-080. The instructions for assembly and adjustment received with the clock are for a different model that looks nothing like the works staring me in the face. I called the supplier and left a message requesting the correct instructions. No return call. I sent an email with the same message. I received an email with a PDF file of the same instructions I already had. So I read the instructions carefully and armed with that knowledge attempted mapping it onto my clockworks.

After a day of fiddling I managed to get the clock working. The main problem was that the clock would stop after five to ten minutes. The solution is what clock masters call “putting the clock in beat”. This is a process of adjusting the slip clutch on a crutch arbor until the tick tock sound is balanced. The instructions call out components such as verge, crutch, clutch, leader, escapement and suspension spring. Being a woodworker I have never noticed any of these components in the shop. It was all new to me. But with some perseverance I prevailed and the clock has run for more than a day now.

The Positioning Of The Gong Block Is Critical To Desired Sound The gong sounds great, though it is awfully sensitive to adjustment. A tiny bit left, right, up or down and the sound is totally different. So I have decide not to glue the gong block in place until the clock is ready for finish. I may even devise an attachment method that allows position adjustments instead of gluing it permanently in place.

Next I will trim out the clock, add the pendulum and clockwork backs and build the doors. Stay tuned.

Gluing up the carcass of a project is a major project milestone in my mind. It marks the transition from preparing and milling stock to trimming and finishing. More importantly it gives me the first look at shape and size. I create my working drawings in 3D, which has many advantages, but one disadvantage over a mockup is that you are never really sure about the overall look until glue-up.

I Always Dry Fit Before A Glue Up Like most woodworkers I never glue-up a piece without first dry fitting it. This accomplishes a number of things. First it lets me know if I need to trim a joint for fit. Second, it gives me a chance to practice the steps I will use in the glue-up, which uncovers all the tools and aids I will need, saving me from hunting down something while glue is setting up. Lastly, and most importantly, it helps me develop a glue-up strategy and sequence. Without this dry run a merely stressful step becomes a disastrous and disheartening one.

While Inspecting The Dovetail Joints I Look For Proper SeatingMost of the joints in this carcass are dovetails. I like to inspect them for tightness and gaps. I also check to be sure they seat completely. Dovetails will almost always go together smoothly if the pencil marks that mark the transfer of the tails to the pins are still visible. This is a check that can be made before the dry fit but it never hurts to double check.

Dovetailed carcasses are unique in that, while clamps are useful, and sometimes necessary to seat all the joints, clamps can be immediately removed. The dovetails are enough to hold the carcass while the glue sets up. This allows for easy checking and correcting for square.

I Use Clamps To Seat The Joints But Remove Them For Dovetail Joinery Even with all this checking and dry fitting mistakes can still be made. After I glued up this carcass I noticed one. I have marked the outline where a hole is supposed to be in the picture at right below. This hole is intended to allow the pendulum and weight chains to drop from the clockworks compartment to the pendulum compartment. I should have milled this hole before glue-up. Fortunately, while more difficult, it is still doable after the glue sets overnight.

Oops! I Should Have Milled That Hole Before Glue Up Next I will mill the clockworks and pendulum compartment backs, sand the carcass and backs, and permanently install the lower back before moving on to the doors. Stay tuned for more updates on this project.

SketchUp Drawing Of Seatboard With Dimensions One of the more important components in a clock case is the seatboard. The seatboard is the board on which the clockworks is mounted and secured. Its placement determines the vertical and horizontal centering of the hour and minute shaft relative to the clock face. It also determines the clearance, or depth of the shaft relative to the clock face.

Drilling Large Chain Holes With Forstner BitThe seatboard consists of a number of holes that must be accurately placed. Two small holes are for threaded pins that secure the works to the seatboard. When installed in the clock the seatboard itself is fixed (no mechanism for adjustment). The positioning of the works on the seatboard directly affects all positioning mentioned in the previous paragraph. So these holes too must be accurate.

Roughing Out The Pendulum Rectangle With A Sabre Saw Since this is a chain driven clock there are four larger holes that allow the chains to move freely and hang in the pendulum cabinet (lower section of the clock). These holes need to be large enough to permit “pulling” the weights once a week for winding and to ensure no interference as the weights slowly drop while driving the clock.

Scrap Wood And Double Sided Sticky Tape Form A Template One rectangular hole is needed to allow the pendulum to pass through and swing. This hole does not require critical dimensions, simply enough room for clearance.

If you have been following this project on my blog, you know that the clock works for this project came with no documentation. I had to reverse engineer the seatboard design by taking very careful and difficult measurements of small, and deeply imbedded parts in the clockworks. I am sure you are asking yourself, “How can this be difficult? After all, there are only four holes we are talking about”. Well, let me assure you that positioning a 6” steel pocket rule inside the delicate works of a chain driven clock to make accurate measurements is all but impossible.

The Finished SeatboardI meticulously took measurements and used them to create shop drawings. After milling my first seatboard and mounting the works, I made further measurements to test whether alignment in the final clock would be correct. This resulted in changing the position of three out of six holes.

A Test Mount Of The Clockworks On The Seatboard I corrected the shop drawings, milled another seatboard and tested again. This time everything worked out perfectly.

Milling this component provided the first opportunity for me to use my new Supreme Drill Press Table purchase from Peachtree Woodworking Supply, Inc. It worked like a charm, allowing me to quickly, accurately and repeatedly drill the holes. For the larger holes I used a Forstner bit with a backing board to ensure no tear out of the opposite side.

The rectangular hole was a three step process. First I drilled two holes, near each end and inside the rectangle, and large enough to accommodate a sabre saw. Second, I used the sabre saw to rough out the rectangle. Lastly I used scrap wood pieces and double sided tape to form a a template for a template router bit to follow. The completed seatboard is shown above.

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