Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The "The Work Of A Master Craftsman" Story

Grandmothers's clock which stands in Hal and
Jeannie's home in Lancaster County.
It was an ordinary day.  Carol and I have been invited to the home of Hal and Jeannie for an evening meal as well as a viewing of Hal's latest creation which he just completed for one of his three adult daughters.  A few years ago Hal told each of his three daughters that he would like to build a piece of furniture for them.  All they needed to do was tell him what they wanted and he would take it from there.  One daughter selected a grandfather's clock much like the one Hal had made for his home some time ago. His next daughter asked for an entertainment unit for her home.  And, his third daughter asked him for a grandfather's clock much like his first daughter, but taller since her home had nine-foot ceilings. I should tell you that Hal and I taught high school together for over thirty years; Hal teaching wood and metal lab as well as drafting courses while I taught photography and graphic arts.  Hal is a skilled craftsman who is very meticulous and precise in just about every thing he does.  
The seven-foot grandfather's clock that
Hal built for his daughter.  Notice that
the top of the clock is slightly taller than
the floor joists in his home.  The clock
will have to be tipped carefully to be
able to remove it from his workshop.
A few years ago he built an entire set of wooden bee hives for a new hobby he was beginning.  After seeing what Hal had constructed and what others were using, the comparison was remarkable.  Hal selected the proper type of wood and made the most perfect joints to construct his bee hives.  I'm sure there weren't many bees in the country who had a better place to live than those bees at Hal's house.  So, as I began my descent into his basement workshop, I knew that I would see something spectacular!  And, I wasn't disappointed!!  The most beautiful seven foot grandfather's clock I had ever seen.  Wasn't too long ago that I visited the National Watch and Clock Museum in nearby Columbia, Pennsylvania and no where in the museum did I see anything that could top the clock I was standing in front of in Hal's basement workshop.  Hal spent the next half-hour telling me how he constructed the clock and all the problems he encountered and how he solved them.  He first started with a set of plans that were purchased from Klockit.  He then searched for the best cherry lumber that could be found in Lancaster County.  It had to have just the perfect grain with no warping or twisting to them.  Next came ... well, I think I'll just show you some photos of the rest of it.



Hal began each shop session by turning on his clock so he could tell how many hours it took to build the grandfather's clock.  He began working on the clock January 4 of this year and spent 343 hours on it's construction.
Hal points out the moulding that was both interesting and tedious to make. 
Here is a sample of how Hal glued three pieces of wood together after he had created the shapes he wanted.
This is one of the router bits he needed to purchase in order to form the moulding for the clock's bonnet.
A pattern Hal made to help him create the openings in the side access panels.
A view of the side access panel that is partially removed so you can see the face of the clock.
The center part of the fluted column mouldings was made by gluing three strips of wood together with paper between them, turning the moulding on the lathe and then breaking it apart.  The bottom part was made with a router.
This is a tool inherited from his father that he used to place the small brads in the mouldings that hold the beveled glass in place.
If you look closely, about halfway between the top and bottom of the photo, you can see one of the metal brads that was put in place by the tool above.
On the right side of the clock's face can be seen these settings: Silent (remains silent), 4/4 Silent (chimes only on hour), Whitt. (Whittington chimes), St. Mich. (St. Michael chimes) and Westm. (Westminster chimes).  You may choose any one of the settings on this clock movement.  The clock has 8 chime rods that can produce just about any melody within an octave range that doesn't require flats or sharps. 
On the other side of the clock face is "On" (chimes are activated at all times) and "Night Off" (chimes are activated except for hours between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM)
The phases of the moon will rotate in the face as the clock runs.  Around the moving moon dial is a brass dial that runs from 1 to 29.  These numbers represent the days of the moon's cycle around the earth.  A full moon cycle is 29 1/2 days.
The decorative locking hardware is displayed in this photograph.
The clock was stained with a slight red cherry stain which was rubbed on and then four coatd of Minwax Tung Oil Finish was applied. After sanding with 400 grit abrasive paper, and polishing with 0000 steel wool, a coat of wax finished the job.
The proud craftsman locking the door on the beautiful grandfather's clock he just finished.
This plate gives the name of the craftsman who built the clock.  Hal mounted it behind the center cross piece of cherry wood so you would have to open the door to see the plate.  He doesn't feel he needs to have his name displayed on the outside of the case, but he truly is a master craftsman.
There are many other features that I could attempt to explain to you, but I tried to show you some of the craftmanship that Hal built into the clock that will soon stand in his daughter's home in Lancaster.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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