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Anyone Ever Build a Grandfather Clock?

Ken H.

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If so, any tips?


It's something I've aways wanted to do, so I sprung for a kit from Murray Clock Craft Co.


Just wondering if anyone had any gotchas, etc. Things to avoid, right/wrong ways to do something?


There sure are a lot of little pieces of wood in that box!


BTW, On a scale of 1-10 I would put my woodworking skills at a 5-6.

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I've heard that the number 12 should be at the top-center of the clock face. wink.gif


The father of a good friend used to build them, about one a year, and they were beautiful. He used cherry, maple, pine, oak, mahogany -- everything. When he finished them, he would then give them away to his kids and other family members. A cool idea, and a great way to be remembered. He even installed the most beautiful chimes I've ever heard in a clock.


Good luck! thumbsup.gif

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John Ranalletta

Measure twice, think about cutting, then measure again, then, just before you lower the miter saw into an irreplaceable piece of book-matched cherry, measure again.

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Measure twice, think about cutting, then measure again, then, just before you lower the miter saw into an irreplaceable piece of book-matched cherry, measure again.


Hey, take it from MY Experience dopeslap.gif...JohnR is very correct on that reply.

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Building a Grandfather Clock has been on my list of things to do for about 10 years. Now that I have retired ,it's about time to get started.


Have collected many ideas, books, measured drawing and articles and have a good idea of the design.


The biggest problem for me has been finding a dial. Most of the ones being produced have numbers but I want roman numerals which are more in keeping with the originals. There are folks who paint reproductions of antique dials which is what I will probably have to go with.

I also want a gong or bell instead of those stupid chimes and finding a movement has been a problem.


Thanks for this post, this project has been dormant and you got me thinking about it again. thumbsup.gif

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I have!


built one out of cherry wood, contact the following company, they will sell you plans, parts and kits. I am really satisfied with their clock works. the real important thing is the finishing and lacquering, i sent over $300. to get it lacquered, i have the equipment but when it came out of their spray booth they had a number of offers to buy it on the spot, and i hadn't even done the final install of the components.


(i assembled the wood box, fit the clock works, removed all the clock work, sanded, stained and then had it sprayed, then i reinstalled the guts)




i have pictures, but not with me, so if you want to see a finished one you'll have to wait till the weekend.

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I have!


built one out of cherry wood,

Cool! Any things you'd do different, tips you learned along the way, big mistakes to avoid?
to get it lacquered,
The finishing scares me the most. I believe I can get the pieces together well. Lacking access to a spray booth, I'll have to hand finish it. I've done polyurethane and tung oil finishes. But all the nooks and crannies on something like this, and the potential for puddling and bubbles worries me.
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............ and the potential for puddling .....

Ah, the old puddle muddle. grin.gif

Worries me too. I'm nearly at the point of putting the final coats on my hovercraft and am seriously thinking about having it done in a spray shop.


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measure twice, measure thrice, and then double check before you cut.


i have a good friend who builds office furniture (really high quality stuff sells all over the world), and he also make kitchen cabinets, so visit some of the local kitchen cabinet builders or you must have a local place where handy men meet to oggle tools and a place that provide woodworking classes. any of the former may be able to spray it for you, and the latter may suggest a local furniture refinisher who can do it,


My dad was a european cabinet maker, and part of his work involved refinishing and spraying, i picked it up being the joe boy... i can do it but i know that the guys at my friends shop are professional, while my work is good enough to finish the doors and casing/railings in the house.


my clock had a slit in the front door, and the hards part was fitting the support for the clock and clock face, to ensure the nothing was visible below the split, also replaced some of the orginal mdf material i was sent with a very special furniture plywood (7 ply?) can't remember as the clock seat.


my instructions had the back support bolted to the back of the case, but afterwards i was told that everyone now just uses wood screws to attach the chime rod support...(one of the failings of engineers , we actually read the instructions) dopeslap.gif

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Ken, The finishing is much easier then you think. If you have the time you can do it at home with out using a paint booth. If it is to be a natural finish use natural stain if you need color use a colored stain. ( I had great luck with Min-Wax )Once it is stained,use a lacquer sanding sealer. Steel wool it between coats, if you get a run steel wool it out. Us nothing but steel for the finishing. The sanding sealer will make the fibers of the wood stand up, when you steel wool it , it will get very smooth. After 2 coats of sanding sealer,( using fine steel wool ) it will be time to use clear lacquer. ( with clear lacquer use extra fine steel wool )Add several coats until you gain some depth. By this time the finish should be very smooth. Steel wool the last coat it will have a grayish cast to it. Now it is time to decide if you want glossy or a hand rubbed finish. Hand rubbed, apply boiled lindseed oil, rub it in with a terry cloth towel. Rub it hard until you feel some warmth. You will now see the beauty of the wood, the grayish cast will be gone. If you want it shinier, dip your terry towel into the boiled lindseed oil, then dab it into pumice ( powder form ) and rub. Shinier still use rotten stone with the oil. I refinished a lot of fine anitques using this method. Good luck.

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  • 1 month later...

Well it might be a clock some day!




(Sorry for the poor image, our Canon Digital Rebel shot craps AGAIN while at the UNRally. tongue.gif)

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Never expected to see this. Built a cherry and black walnut clock from Emperor out of Alabama 30 years ago. Without a doubt, measure a minimum of 2x before ever cutting. Back than I had to rent a miter from a store. The saw sat in a spring loaded carrier which really helped. Obviously, a power miter is the way to go. I used the sawdust to make the filler between joints where necessary. Mixed it with Elmers glue. Worked real well and accepted the stain. After staining, I steel wooled the finish. Very lightly with 0000 grade. Sprayed with urethane and than sanded again with the steel before putting on a 2nd coat. Finally, put a light coat of Minwax on. Clock needs to definitly be on level surface to run. Some people put plywood underneath if on carpet. Pretty easy to conceal if cut correctly. Have had no problems running over the years.


Good luck.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Ready for staining! In a plastic walled off part of the kitchen! Sure is a good thing I have an understanding wife!


I've decided to follow Paul Athens' advice on finishing, as I want to avoid the plastic look of urethane. On question though, steel wool between the satin and first sealer coat, or wait until the first coat of sanding sealer is on?











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  • 5 months later...
Five months later, the case finishing is done!




Ken -


From the pics, it looks like it came out perfect! I used to love woodworking. I have all the tools in the garage, including a contractor's grade table saw with a self aligning fence.


Can you tell me how much that kit cost, and if everything is included (other than the finishing products).


Good job!


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Can you tell me how much that kit cost, and if everything is included (other than the finishing products).
The kit is from Murray Clock Craft in Ontario. This is their mission clock kit. The wood kit in cherry was $US999. I added the triple chime cable drive which was a $330 upgrade and an upgrade to the dial for $89. But then I deleted the lyra pendulum in favor of a simpler mission period wooden one. And $150 shipping.


The kit include most everything but the glass pieces. "Hardware store" glass would have been about $100, but I decided to locally order reproduction period-glass, which bumped the project another $560.


Figure another $200 or so in finishing supplies, and at the end of the day I guess I'll have around $2200 in it. eek.gif

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Been there done that....The secret to old time skills is....Take your time and think about the process. Experiment on left overs and not the finished project. But the most important SKILL is to know yourself well enough to know if you feel like working on the project today or wait till another to continue, and to know when to stop before possible frustrations cause a mistake.


Do not allow the excitement of wanting a finished product fog your mind. This should be a lobor of love and enjoyment,


Patience....GRASSHOPPER... thumbsup.gif

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Ken - that sure is a handsome clock pictured in the threads.


I built one from an Emperor kit back in 1990 - black walnut from the Adirondack Mountains


I stained mine using a stain in wax and then waxed it many times using a home-cooked beeswax and linseed oil polish. Its a beautiful finish, rock hard, that only needs the occasional dust from time to time.


I paid extra for cut glass and it was worth every penny. Nice to have something to pass on.

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well Ken that looks great... Do you have household agreement on whether or not the chims are shut off at night?


i can sleep without hearing them... but Loretta has always complained that she can here them bong the full hour...

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Joe Frickin' Friday
...at the end of the day I guess I'll have around $2200 in it. eek.gif


Zowie. How much would a clock of comparable quality cost if you bought it finished from a furniture (clock?) store?

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I've got an Emperor Clock kit grandfather clock that's thirty two years old. Keeps perfect time. I built it in my in-laws garage which is probably why it came out so well. You see, the garage was twenty five miles from our apartment and I could only assemble one part at a time. I'd spend the rest of my time sanding and sanding while waiting for the glue to dry. Cherry shows up every little scratch if you sand against the grain and the extremely fine sanding really paid off when it came to finishing. I used a tung oil varnish that took forever to build up, but gives great depth and has a good warm feel. The finish doesn't seem to be a plastic coating like urethanes tend to be. The only secret I can think of: I used a palm sander with a felt pad to buff the oil into the wood on the flat surfaces.

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  • 1 month later...
Well it's done:






Wait a minute !!...Is that electrical cord going into the clock? lmao.gif


That's a beauty....I really like clocks that go tick-tock..........Congratulations....



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Really nice, I admire your perserverance and skills.


You ever wondered, while toiling away, how many generations of your future family will admire and cherish this wonderful peace?





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