Thursday, January 22, 2015

The making of a Grandfather Clock

The first rule of thumb of making any Long case clock is to have the movement first.  Many good woodworkers have made that mistake.  For this clock, I purchased the Kieninger 9 tube movement from Klockit below.  At $3,300 it is arguably the best new, mass produced movement available today. That cost includes the pendulum, weights, dial face and all.

       The ogee feet design was typical for the period of  the 1780's. 
   The solid Walnut case.  8' 10" tall.  Top of finial is 9' 8" tall.

Notice in the above image that the back of the clock is a solid piece of walnut, 1" thick. This is where the clock strenght is. This way when the hood is slid on and off, the whole unit is sturdy and solid.

Corner fluted columns fitted into place.

Final fit test of the nearly completed case.  The movement is permanently bolted to what is called the Seat Plate.  It is important that this seat plate be removeable for occasional clock smith servicing.  The case is stationary while the hood assymbly slides off and the seat plate can be slid out with the movement bolted to it after the pengulium, the 36 pounds of wieghts and 9 brass tubes are removed.
This grandfather clock lower compartment was designed and built to house a small kid in case of a wolf attack when mother is away as in the Story of "The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats". (Brothers Grimm)
Having been a year now since complete, I miss the time I spent on this very enjoyable piece. I had this design in my head for many years. It was good to let it out and become part of my everyday life as the chimes ring 24 hours a day. As I wind the weights each week, it's as though I have a lifelong friend. A difficult concept to understand for someone with little appreciation for hand made woodwork and beautiful wood.

I only hope that when I am someday unable to wind the weights and it's passed down to a loved one, they will equally appreciate it.

History of   The Grandfather Clock
Today, we know these tall clocks that are set in wooden cases to be "Grandfather Clocks." But, they weren't always called that. In fact, they were first called, "Longcase Clocks" or "Coffin Clocks". So how did they acquire their current name? Read this interesting article and find out the charming history of the Grandfather Clock.
Two Scientists and a Clockmaker Contribute
Although it's usually not among his list of popular contributions to the world, Italian scientist Galileo Galilei discovered in the year 1582 that time could be told by using a pendulum. Seventy-four years later after Galileo's discovery, a Dutch scientist named Christian Huygens built the first clock that used a pendulum. However, William Clement, who was a Dutch clockmaker, realized that by lengthening the pendulum, the time on a clock was more accurate. But, the long, three-foot pendulum he created wouldn't fit into a standard-sized clock case. So, in 1670, Clement built the first "long-case" clock with a pendulum. Clocks like this were also called "Floor Clocks", for obvious reasons, as well as "Coffin Clocks" because they looked like the wooden boxes corpses were buried in. This part of the history of the Grandfather Clock is entirely true. The next part of the story is supposedly true as well. Whether it is or not, you have to agree it makes the clock's history "charming" and certainly more interesting!
Some years ago, two brothers named "Jenkins" owned and operated the George Hotel, an establishment located in rural North Yorkshire, England. In the lobby of this hotel sat a long-cased clock. It just "tick-tocked" away and kept perfect time, until... one of the Jenkins brothers died. Then, the long-cased clock wouldn't keep the correct time. It always ran behind. The surviving brother brought in clocksmith after clocksmith, but none of them could figure out what was wrong with the timepiece. It just kept running slower.
Finally, at the age of ninety years old, the remaining Jenkins brother's heart stopped ticking, and he passed away. And, on that same day, the long-cased clock that sat in the lobby of the hotel stopped ticking too. The new owner left the clock at its location with its hands showing the very time that the second brother had died.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Classes of Saw Cuts

If you have ever been disappointed by your results when hand sawing a joint, the problem could be that you are going about the task in the wrong manner. While sawing requires practice, it also is helped along by a few clever and quick tricks.Years ago I read an English woodworking book that separated all sawing into three kinds of cuts: first-, second- and third-class saw cuts. Each type of cut has a different purpose. Third class sawing is for removing material with little regard for accuracy or appearance. Second class sawing is for cuts that require accuracy, but the final appearance of the cut isn't critical. And first class sawing is for situations in which the appearance of the completed kerf is paramount.

Third-Class Saw Cuts
This type of cut is fast, rudimentary and useful when breaking down rough lumber into manageable pieces. Use it only when the board is going to be refined further; for instance, in circumstances where you will shoot the ends with a plane or crosscut the board to a finished length with a powered saw or finer handsaw.
Begin by marking the cut-line on the face and edge of your board with a pencil. Place the teeth of your saw on the waste side of your line and use your thumb to keep the saw positioned as you make your initial strokes to define your kerf. Advance on the face and edge of your board simultaneously to increase your accuracy. Saw rapidly through the board until you get near the end of your cut. Then use lighter and shorter strokes to cut the waste away cleanly.

Third class sawing.
Third class sawing: A good sawyer can split a pencil line even with a rough cut such as this. However, accuracy isn't as important as cutting the wood to size as quickly as possible.

Second-Class Saw Cuts
This class of cut is used when accuracy is important, such as when sawing the cheeks of a tenon or a lapped dovetail joint inside a case piece. The results of your cut will be buried in the mortise or in the dovetail socket, so appearance isn't of primary importance.
Begin by marking your cut with a knife all around your work. Then, at the corner where you will begin your cut, place a chisel in your knife line with the bevel of the chisel facing the waste. Press the chisel into the work, remove the chisel and then come back and pare a triangle of waste that leads up to that corner.
Now place your saw in this notch and begin cutting. The notch ensures you begin the cut correctly, which is the most difficult part of sawing.
Second class sawing.
Second class sawing: Place the bevel of the chisel toward the waste and press the tool in. A 1/16" or 3/32" depth of cut will do.
Removing corner waste.
Remove waste at the corner: Pare away a triangular wedge of material. This notch helps start your saw accurately.
Sawing true.
Sawing true: If you begin a saw cut in the right place, your chances of finishing in the right place increase.

First Class Sawing

This type of sawing is best for parts of the joint that will be visible on the finished piece, such as the shoulder cut on a tenon or half-lap joint. It requires a couple of extra steps, but the results are worth it. 
First mark your cut-line with a marking knife on all surfaces that will be cut. Then take a wide chisel and place the tool's edge into your knife line with the bevel facing the waste. Rap the handle of the chisel to drive it into the knife line all around the joint.
Remove the chisel and then pare away a wedge-shaped piece of wood on the waste side, working up to your now-widened knife line. The second chisel cut must be deep enough so that the set of your saw's teeth is below the face of your work.
Secure your work to the bench. Place your saw into the chiseled notch and make the cut. By using a chisel to define the kerf of your saw, you eliminate the common problem of the saw's teeth tearing at the surface of your work.
Widening knife lines.
Widen all knife lines: Place your chisel's edge into your knife line and tap the handle to drive the edge into your work, widening the "V" left by your knife.

Pare all around: With the bevel of your chisel facing up, pare a wedge-shaped piece of waste away on the waste side of the joint.
Sawing made simple.
Sawing is simpler: The chiseled notch guides your saw and eliminates any torn grain from the face of your work.

Christopher Schwarz,
 Popular Woodworking magazine

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Making a classic Saw handle

After recently purchasing a used, 40 year old Stanley #60 Miter box for a great price, I noticed afterwards that it also came with saw.  I quickly thought to myself, this would be not be a saw of any real value to me.

After making a couple of cuts with it, I was astounded with the speed and quality of the cut.  The cross grain was amazingly smooth.  It had no name on it and is about .032 thick, 26" long.  A little on the heavy side, but then again its a 26" long, plate steel backed miter saw.  

The original ash handle was from the seventies and fairly generic is design.  I much prefer the saw designs of the 1920's and earlier. So I thought, this saw is certainly deserving of a nicer handle.
I have long had a piece of quarter sawn Paduak that was 2" thick and 8" x 8".  You would never want to make a saw handle out of flat sawn wood.  Grain direction is definitely a critical aspect of a saw handle, especially on a heavy saw. 

So step one was to rip the blank in half with a good rip saw at the bench.  Carefully cutting 1/2" kerfs in all four sides helped keep the saw following the desired cut line.

As this is a backsaw with 4 bolts, I used this layout from Two Guys in a Garage

 Here ripping the blank in half.

 You'll want to do some research on saw handle size to determine your hand size, This is one one of the prime reasons for making a saw handle, so you may want to make a test blank, just to be sure.  Then simply trace the design with carbon paper.

 Bore the required hole sizes on the drill press with forsner bits. Or for the old timey traditionalist, with a brace and auger bits.

 Cut out opening with a coping saw.  A fret saw would be too slow.

 It is best to cut out only portions of the saw to allow for the rasp and fill work in the bench vice.  The majority of the work is on the handle so start on that end first.  Don't do any shaping at this stage.  You might mess up on the fitting to the saw and all the shaping work would have been in vane.

 This is the cut out handle after fitting it to the saw.

Shape with rasp and files to ensure you have complete comfort for your hand.  Move you hand grip around and you'll know where to trim.  You must take care not to drop this handle while shaping or sanding.  Just as on the originals from the 20's these delicate handle wings will break if impacted.

 The Paduak grain color comes to life with a little tung oil. As for myself, I used three coats of polyurethane due the quick darkening of Paduak if not sealed.  Although it will eventually darken significantly.
Be careful if you use this wood as it's rich red pigment will actually stain your cloths as you work on it.

Thanks for checking out.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Updated progress of the dresser project.  31 Dec 2014.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A very good Miter box: The Stanley #150

This seemingly simply tool found in many old garages and attics, is a long forgotten gem for a woodworker.
With the cheap manufacturing of electric miter saws used by beginning handyman, to renown craftsman, the old-time muscle requirement for a saw has long since been thrown to the wayside.

Although, if you regularly cut with a hand miter saw and using the proper technique of following carefully cut kerf lines, you can probably get away without ever needing one.  I just think the look so darn cool.   This one below was an eBay purchase for about $30.  It arrived quit rusty and well used so I decided to put in the time to fully restore this 50 year old tool.  I ordered a custom made 20" miter saw from Bad Axe Tool Works to go along with this saw.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

These drawer faces are certainly not lap glued, but are one solid piece of cherry milled to shape.  

The dresser is starting to come together. Dry fitted all the brass hardware.  Drawers and doors are all very tight fitting for now.  final plane fitting to be performed still.  Top boards yet to be made. 

Still have a long way to got on the Newport Shells.  The changing in grain direction while carving is what makes this item one of the most challenging for furniture makers.   

Finished up with the dovetails.  These drawers would function just fine for many years without any glue in the joints what so ever. 

The dresser carcus glued up and squared.

My half blind dovetails are progressing. The Leigh D24 dove tail jig, which I have, cannot make the old-time skinny pins as shown.  If you want this look, you must learn to do them by hand.