The Grandfather Clock Page

It wasn't until 2012 that the urge struck me to add another clock to the household. I had always loved the big stately grandfather clocks with their ornate face, slow deep tick tock, and their magnificent chimes and the topic came up in discussions with my boyfriend, a discussion that soon had me looking at grandfather clocks for sale. A new grandfather clock is simply out of my price range and most would totally dominate my small living room but then the thought crossed my mind that I could build a tall case clock and incorporate stained glass panels (another activity I am anxious to try!)

I started by looking for plans on the Internet and started with a design by Dempsey (left). I didn't like the shape of the top and I wanted more space for glass, so I revised the design ... that refined into the next version ... and another one when I decided to go with knotty pine!

While the design process was going on I picked up an older Urgos 32/3 movement with Westminster chimes at auction and the quest was on to acquire enough parts to make a working clock. A moon phase dial came next, a pendulum, weights, chains,and a dozen other pieces to fit an out of production clockwork.


Nothing ever works out smoothly with old machinery, even clocks! The new pendulum wouldn't mount on the old Urgos movement so modifications had to be made.


As things come together, the pieces are assembled on a test stand.

When the chains arrived, I had the last of the pieces to test-run the movement. Of course it wouldn't keep running so it was time to do a complete cleaning and inspection.

   I had never worked on a movement this complex before  and was concerned about getting it all back together correctly so I was relieved to find a picture of  a very similar movement.

Despite doing a careful inspection and cleaning, the movement still didn't run to specs so I purchased a brand new movement of the same type.

While waiting for the new movement I managed to diagnose and repair two problems with the chime and the strike trains and get the chimes all working properly and to set the beat and get the clock close to keeping good time.

With the mechancis of the clock coming along fine and having decided on a design, it was time to start making sawdust! I purchased the knotty Pine and got the shop cleaned up for woodworking.

The first task was to rip the 1x6s into the required widths.

Then cross-cut into the individual pieces.

And then sand the cut edges to final width

Leaving me with a stack of pieces, some of which have to be routed to profile. To keep track of pieces, I numbered each piece on the drawings and put the same number on the end of each piece just to avoid confusion.

After I started routing pieces to profile I realized the number of parts on hand was getting confusing and that I was going to screw up the profiling by routing something I shouldn't and end up having to cut new parts so it was time to start assembling some of the clock case. The front faces (waist and hood) were doweled together and left to dry. (Any available weight is fair game when assembling frames LOL!)

With the face frame together, the side frames are built up. All joints are doweled and glued

With the side frames on, the back stiles were added and it is standing upright.


Added back panel.


The case had progressed to the point where it was time to fit the movement and chime mount - the finicky work! Thanks to the excessive amount of time designing and planning on AutoCAD, everything went together smoothly.

Next step, frame the doors.

With the movement and chimes removed, the final sanding could begin.

I intended to aim for a light yellowish natural pine finish but the alcohol-based aniline stain I normally use has become difficult to find so I tried a different stain, a water-based stain from Min-Wax  - BAD MISTAKE! The stuff is like paint (as you can see from the seat in the following pictures).

I still wanted the preserve the pioneer/rustic look so I went with an oil-based stain I had on hand in "Burnt Almond", applied stain sparingly and removed with vigorous rubbing. Not too bad but not what I had in mind.


Since the weather was favourable (for at least a few minutes) I took advantage of the opportunity to spray the nitrocellulose lacquer, a very high gloss glassy-clear and hard finish.

Nitrocellulose is HIGHLY EXPLOSIVE - I do not work with it except outdoors.

Nitrocellulose also has the advantage of being very quick drying. By the time the spray gun was cleaned and put away, the clock could be moved into the house.

I purchased a new Urgos 32328 movement while I was struggling with issues on the original movement and the new movement necessitated changing the seat board and the chime mount but turned out to run well and keep excellent time.

With time and weather permitting, I took the clock apart again and applied 3 more coats of nitrocellulose lacquer for a deeper finish and got the interior primed.

I still have the interior painting, the lighting, and the glass to do but it is coming along nicely.

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