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A Clockmaker's Diary
FIRST INSTALLMENT -- The Hood Assembly


Mind power! That's what this week's been all about. I need to get a good, clear image of this clock so it will all come together. Spent a lot of time looking at photos of clocks, deciding what I like and don't like about certain ones. Found a number of suppliers of clock kits. They'll sell me as much clock as I want -- everything from basic clockworks to the whole kit. I chose an 8-inch dial face with a moving moon dial on top.

It's important to note that the size of the dial face is a key piece of information. For example, the overall size and radius of the dial face determines the size and shape of the dial face frame, the door, the scroll board and the size of the clock housing. In fact, it determines the size of the entire hood assembly and therefore, the proportions of the entire clock! Knowing this information, I can get started on the scale drawings.

I've decided that I want to keep the overall height of the clock at just slightly taller than the height of a typical door (about 6-feet, 8-inches). That way, it'll be a little shorter than a classic 7-foot clock, but will still look good in a typical American home with 8 foot ceilings.

I figure I'll need about 30 board feet of lumber to build the clock, but I've decided to buy about 30% more than what I'll actually need to cover for bad wood, extra pieces for making set-ups and, of course, mistakes. I've pretty much decided to build the clock out of cherry, but checked on the price of walnut, just out of curiosity. WOW! Sure glad I chose cherry!


All the big design problems are now at least solved on paper. Picked up the wood. Received my clockworks and mounted it to a piece of plywood to check out my critical dimensions. It's neat to finally see the actual clockface with the pendulum and chime rods hanging below -- I can almost visualize what the finished clock will look like -- and I LIKE what I see! After getting the dimensions I wanted, I repacked the clockworks and stored them away for safekeeping in a dustproof area.

Took the time to draw full-size profile details on all the turnings and moldings. I'm sure these will change slightly as I do the actual milling and turning, but at least I know what I'm aiming at. I've thought about this project for so long that I guess I'm a little apprehensive about getting started. I'm wondering if I've thought about everything and really know for sure where I'm going.

Okay, the three basic units for the clock: the Hood, the Waist and the Base. Starting with the Hood, I first made the sides and the dial face frame, which was a little challenging. Grain direction will make this arched piece fragile, so I won't cut the arch, yet. Cut joinery, dry assembled frame and set it in grooves between the two sides to get the width for the scroll board and the size of the hood base.

I cut the spindle stock. Doweled all the pieces together dry: the scroll board and sides to the spindle stock to make the scroll board assembly. No gluing yet. No turning yet. The spindles and finials will come from the same size stock, so I cut them at the same time. Used a carbide-tipped blade for my sizing cuts. Reserved my hollow-ground blade for the joinery that will come later.

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