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A Clockmaker's Diary
THIRD INSTALLMENT -- The Base Assembly

WEEK ENDING November 6 :

I started by selecting clear, clean wood for the sides of the Base carcase, just as I did for the sides of the Hood and the Waist. Got the width from the lower base molding, less the split column. Looking ahead to the panel I'll fit in the Base door, I set aside some “interesting” wood -- a piece I can resaw down to expose a beautiful book-matched grain pattern, and some sap pockets. This should add a lot of “character” to the panel.

The front of the frame for the Base carcase is mortised and tenoned together. I could have done it with dowels, but I wanted to use a more classic technique. Beneath the lower rail is what looks like a piece of Ogee molding. In reality, it's a frame that supports the whole clock, distributing its weight evenly onto the feet, underneath.

This also allowed me to make a hidden compartment by installing a false bottom in the base. Made this molded frame with a blind spline (see Figure 1) to reinforce the corners. Put it all together and glued it up, then I molded the edge.

From Hood to Base, the doors on the Clock use the same, simple lap joints at the corners. I used miters to join the thumbnail molding at the corners. The vertical line of the doors continues from the top to the bottom of the clock, so the overall length of the door rails is set for me by the width of the Hood door.

For the Waist and Base doors, the bottom rail is wider than the top rail, lending a balanced look to the door. The Base door stiles are 1/4-inch wider than the Waist door stiles. This adds a little “bulk” to the base. The width of the vertical front frame stiles will be dictated by the size of the split turnings I used for decorating the Base... and by the width of the door opening. That's why I needed to design these turnings before I got very far into building the Base. I want them to look something like the columns on the Hood -- not exact duplicates, though. That would make them too “busy”.

When I got around to doing the doors, I did a mini-production run on them. It saved set-up time. I cut the elliptical contours of the top and bottom rails, then drum-sanded the sawn edges first. Next, I cut the thumbnail on the inside edge of the door frame. Had to use the Shaper because of the curved half-ellipse (see Figure 2).

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