stevenbunn Sat, 12/03/2016 - 18:37

Fitting Tall-case Hood doors take three- Some time you have to do things a few times before getting the hang of it.


A perfect fit, but still shy of perfection
I started making Tall-case clocks with the hope of making a product that I could sell for big money and therefore make fewer pieces of furniture wlile making more money. Then the stock market crashed and tall-case clocks went out of fashion. As I said in an earlier post, when my local antique store had a complete, beautiful, all the bells and whistles English Turban top clock from 1780 listed for $5,000.00, I don't have a chance in hell of selling a reproduction clock for $10,000 or $12,000.00. But this realization dawned on me after I started teaching myself to make clock cases. I always think that I have to make a piece of furniture several times before I get it right. This flat-top clock is basd on plans by Lonnie Bird published a number of years ago in FWW. He teaches classes about building this clock. I built the clock case from the plans in FWW.
Thirty years ago I applied for a job, any job at any rate of pay, at the Irion Shop in Pailoi, PA. While there (they didn't hire me), I saw that they were building eight Philadelphia style Chippendale clock cases. All were pre-ordered for $12,800.00. The price was for the case alone. The clock mechanism and hand painted dial face or faces were additional. This is work that has haunted my dreams for years. One of the sights that made such an impression while at the Irion shop was a show room filled with examples of all the clock hoods they offered. Most of the decoration, and hence the work is wrapped up in the re-movable hood. That was a really good sales idea, I have found that most customers can't really see the piece of furniture they want when looking at a drawing. No matter how detailed. I started working on some clock prototypes based on existing plans, with the long term goal of making a number of examples of different hoods based on photos of antique clocks advertised in Antiques Magazine.
The first door I made for this case was horrible. The dial opening in the inner dial board was out of sync with the bottom door rail by 3/8 inch. I have no good explaination for that disaster. Scribing the assembled door to the opening revealed an oval top arch after I cut the final arch on the top. Think egg shape not anthing symmetrical. I threw the offending door on the scrap pile intending to destroy my disaster before anyone made comments about it. Still, it hung around for years. I couldn't show it off, but I had to much work invested. Some time last month I realized that if I added a 3/8 inch wide filler piece to the bottom rail, I could eliminate the difference in width between the bottom rail of the door and the clock face suround behind the door. With this done I could both raise the door so it was in line with the inner dial board, then recut the square corners at the top of the door, followed by rescribing and cutting the door's top curve of the arch.
And the problem with the reworked hood door. The glued on bottom filler piece stood out like a sore thumb. There was nothing to do but make a completely new door. The new door is pictured at the top of the page. Its about 90 percent perfect. I will tell you about my struggles with the last 10% in another post. I have typed to much, and dinner waits.
Thank you for dropping by. STB