In this month’s presentation Bruce Bogust talked about building a 1750’s period Newport Grandfather Clock. This is the same clock design, with some modifications, that is offered in the November/December 1985 edition of Fine Woodworking Magazine. The plans are available online at Fine Woodworking Magazine.
Before discussing the clock build, Bruce brought in a Tea Table that has some of the same period production characteristics as the clock to demonstrate some of the skills that are useful to know in building the clock and period pieces.
The Tea Table shown here is from the same period and is unique in that it has a space under the talons on the legs. This is often referred to as an open claw. Also, there is no webbing over the claw. Similar to the Newport style, there is also a Philadelphia style from the same period. In making a claw, it’s generally a good idea to practice on some inexpensive woods before using up your good stock. Once you’ve figured out the pattern, you should be able to readily duplicate it.
The Tea Table pictured here is made from African Mahogany. It’s unique in that it has carvings on the knees of the legs. There is also the same pattern on each side of the leg. There are several ways you can do this. One way is to use carbon paper, but it doesn’t show up well. Another way is to use a ponce pad, i.e. a cheese cloth with chalk in it. You begin by cutting out your pattern and tap the pattern over the wood. The chalk comes through the pattern and sticks to the wood and provides the lines needed to do the carving. You may also use shim brass (2 thousandths thick) to transfer the pattern onto the legs.
The table top shown here is made from one single piece of wood including the trim on the edges. It is not a glue up. To do this, you start with a roughly 1” think piece of wood, make a pattern and screw it to the top of the wood. Then use a router to cut it out using this special jig . You can screw the jig to the bottom of the router. There are multiple stages of this process so when you get to the end, you just route the bottom and level it out in the center.
The clock design was developed by the same people who developed the designs for this table.
Once you figure out what clock you want to make, the first thing you should do is buy the mechanism, or at least have a detailed set of dimensions including clearances, etc. As Bruce did, you will probably have to change the dimensions of your clock to fit the mechanism. The length of the pendulum swing, size of the mechanism, clock face, weights and chimes can change the entire plan.
Bruce didn’t like the face that was included in his plan so he went to Colonial Williamsburg and took some pictures of the faces on some of the clocks and had a custom face painted with the image that he wanted.
One crucial step in the build is to create a mockup of the clock to get the swing length and size the movements.
In this clock design, there are four columns on the top of the clock. They are turned first into round stock. You will need an index wheel on the lathe so you know where to place the columns. The flutes are hand cut with a gouge. Keeping them straight is very difficult and even small fluctuations are readily noticeable in the final product so this part of the build will require an extra steady hand and careful precision if you want to produce something that’s aesthetically pleasing.
Similar to the table, the moulding on the top of clock is cut upside down if you’re using a router. This is not something where you can just draw the pattern.
After routing, there are some places you simply can’t get into. Bruce used an old hand saw blade and file scribed and snapped the metal to form the shape. Then dremel/hand filed to get the exact pattern, essentially making a scraping tool with the perfect profile to make these mouldings.
As seen in the picture below, this clock design has several quarter columns. These can be difficult to make. These columns are ¼ of the actual column inserted into a recess. These were turned by using some paper to glue four pieces together. This larger piece was then turned as a single unit on the lathe. It’s important not to over pressure the lathe at this point because it will split the wood. Turn it round. Then flute it.
The jig above was used to index the column and act as a guide to route the flutes. Once the column was mounted and indexed, simply side it on the router, turn and repeat.
Then use chisels to separate the 4 pieces where they were glued to the paper. This method was taken from Fine Furniture for the Cabinet Maker – by Marlow. You could also create a box and use a scratch stock to do the same thing.
The shells are made by design using the steps outlined in the same book.
This particular clock has a pine backing and old “aged” cherry was used everywhere else except the top moulding which was newer cherry. This explains some of the coloring differences in the pictures above.
Bruce’s clock mechanism is about 14 inches deep and came with a plan for mounting points. Once that’s built, you’ll have to identify the mounting points for the assembly.
The basic body of the clock, base, center, and top is show above. There are some half blind dovetails used to assemble the base. The legs/feet are cut on the bandsaw. The top box of the clock have hand cut dovetails on all sides.
The rosettes on this clock are not the original ones from the plan. Those were a simple daisy style. Instead, Bruce used a Philadelphia style which was more to his liking. The finials were built by turning the shape and then hand gouged to get the curved flutes.
This clock was started in early 2015 and finished in early 2017 working on different parts off and on in the workshop. Bruce’s next planned project is the Amateur’s Masterpiece desk.
November’s presentation was delivered by Eddie Hamrick. Eddie, currently a Hickory resident has crafted gifts for seven presidents, four North Carolina governors, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Phillip DeBerry introduced Eddie to the club members and we learned about many of Eddie accomplishments as a woodworker. In his own words, Eddie described his God-given passion for woodworking almost as an obsession. He has shared his work with the world and in doing so has received 3 gold medals from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work is displayed in history museums all over the state and nationally. He is an accomplished woodworker and this article from the Hickory Museum of Art details many of them. He’s been designated a “National Treasure”.
Eddie was a very early presenter at the Charlotte Woodworkers nearly 30 years ago and today our infamous Bob Fields who was around during his early years has a nutcracker that was donated by Eddie as a gift for the One Special Christmas Auction and purchased by Bob. Bob holds onto it as a special treasure. (Bob and Eddie are shown together in the feature image.)
Among Eddie’s accomplishments, he boast musical instruments, many pieces in Williamsburg, 19 churches of many denominations, governor’s desks, puppets, the Catawba County seal, awards trophies, and bats for All-Star Baseball games.
Although Eddie has many works to be proud of, he says, “I’m just faking it”, implying that although by some standards he produces some wonderful pieces of art, he has a long way to go. He says that “Someday I’ll wake up and be a real woodworker”. But that’s not what he thinks about when he’s woodworking. He focuses on the art and what he is trying to produce. People seldom consider woodworking an art, but Eddie is quick to point out that it deserves it’s merit along with other forms of art.
Eddie has a special gift for taking an idea from concept to a piece of artwork. He researches and spends time studying the nature of the item and how to make it durable then picking items around a theme. He uses no measuring tools in his work, but prefers to work the craft using his eyes and carefully honed skills as a woodworker. He looks at the detail of the concept he is going after and pulls it out of the piece of wood using a repeatable process for identifying the details and achieving the look he is after.
His craft has gained him an audience with the Queen of England in London when he was invited to the Phantom of the Opera where he provided the masks and several props used in the performance (the mask is show below).
Eddie is trying to teach others what he has learned and has taught at the John Campbell Folk School across from Newton Courthouse. He enjoys telling stories about life and woodworking and he shared some of his life with the club members. In his words, life wasn’t always rosy, but he’s been given a gift and loves using in a variety of ways.
There was a point in his life when he spent 9 months in a coma. Eddie, a man with faith in God, shared that during this time the plans for a new chapel were revealed to him.
Eddie uses no paint on his projects. He prefers to use the natural characteristics of the wood to bring out the colors he needs. The last thing he remembers actually painting was Bob’s nutcracker so many years ago.
In his work, Eddie will often develop a concept piece before making the actual piece. Sometimes it takes many repetitions before he lands on a final product.
In closing, Eddie shared many of his pieces and encouraged us to “never stop learning and trying to grow”.
Presenter: Damon Barron
Damon Barron from Carolina Urban Lumber / Treecycle America presented at our September meeting. Live edge slabs are very popular and Damon has delivered 4 tables just in the last month and has completed more than 290 to date.
We learned that in our region, bark will come off of the piece about 99% of the time. The only exception to this is when a tree is felled in February and when not working with wood more than 12 feet above the trunk. This the period when the tree is dormant and the live part of the true essentially forms a glue that helps the bark stay on a dead tree. For this reason, Damon removes most of the bark from his tables.
Preparing a piece involves cleaning the edges where the bark was located. The easiest and best solution is to use a stiff bristle brush after removing the bark with a putty knife and mallette.
In flattening a slab, one of the most difficult things to work are knots. They are always present and will usually result in some form of movement in the wood while it is drying. Sometimes it will crack. Other times, it will crack the entire slab if it is in the right spot. These can also cause the wood to curl. When working with a curl, it is generally a good idea to take the same amount of wood off both sides of the slab. Otherwise, a cup will form due to the change in the wood stresses. Leaving a slab in the sun will also result in a cup.
Damon shared a story with us of a large slab he put in the sun which resulted in a huge cup and it took a number of days of flipping the slap to resolve the issue, but he was eventually able to get the cup reduced enough to finish the piece. The sun can do a lot of damage and can create a lot of extra work in dealing with large slabs of lumber. The choice of wood does make a difference. Cedar almost never warps and rarely moves. It also has a very low moisture content so it is an ideal wood for these projects. Large slabs require a lot of drying and therefore patience. Keep it out of the sun, wind, and rain. Once the moisture content is down to 20% put it in the kiln. Never put different sizes in the kiln at the same time because they will dry at different rates.
Live edge slaps are very heavy and will require a hefty base. Damon uses metal frames for most of his tables, but trestle bases are also popular. When fastening the legs, it is important not to over-tighten the screws and washers. The weight of the slab will generally keep it from moving and the screws are simply there to insure it stays in the right place over the legs.
The picture to the right shows the various levels of sanding that Damon performs on his pieces. This demonstrates a rough CNC surface, 25 minutes Rough Sanded, 25 minutes of 80 grit sanding, 25 minutes of 120 grit sanding and finally 35 minutes of 150 grit sanding before wrapping up the finish.
Damon finishes his work with a two-part conversion varnish, but will sometimes use a water-based varnish instead.