Building a shaker wall clock with hand tools (more tools than building)

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Blog entry by RobD posted 07-24-2008 05:23 AM 2224 reads 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

! I took some pictures to “document” my adventure of building these clocks by hand. It is by no means a complete record of the construction process but hey – its my first attempt.

First, some nice boards from my stash on the bench.

boards on the bench

Laying out true and false bottoms and tops


Ripping with a saw over 100 years old but it still works great (after being sharpend of course ;-)


Crosscutting…(too lazy to pick up the other saw…)


Parts are rough cut, back is jointed and being clamped in the background.


Scrubbing the stock to the the correct thickness, starting with the back.


Cleaning up with the jack..


And now the jointer to flatten it all out..


Ok… the boards are milled and ready for the next step…hey… who’s that by my bench?


Hey! Come back with that board! Nice thing about hand tools is my little helpers can “work” with me.

Now some finishing cuts with the 4-1/2 york pitch smoother. Very good therapy

At the front you see the cherry case still under costruction.

Cutting the door rail stock to size,

Squaring up the bottom panel on the shooting board

Plowing the grove for the bottom panel

Paring a tenon cheek

Not bad for being cut by hand.

Dry fitting the bottom door parts

Fitting the glass keepers for the upper door

Fastening the glass keepers. The paper protects the glass as the brad is driven home

Cleaning up the back of the upper door

Quarter rounds, ready to be mitered and glued. These where shaped by putting a block plane in a vice and running the small parts over slowly rotating 90 degrees. The curve was then cleaned up with a little sandpaper.

Mitering the quarter rounds mouldings with a chisel

Here is the cherry one, complete! The finish is hand rubbed tried and true varnish oil on this clock. I really liked this finish but it was a bit of work and takes a bit of time to dry..

Here is another shot to give you a sense of the size..

The clock is done. Working with hand tools can be quite satisfying…Time for a beer!

Hope you enjoyed the show…

6 comments so far

View kem's profile


56 posts in 2717 days

#1 posted 07-24-2008 01:59 PM

Great stuff! You’ve really documented the use of all of your hand tools well. I’m motivated to make a bench hook and shooting board now.

Why did you make your shooting board for a pull stroke? Is it a lefty thing? Also, did you chisel out your mortises in the stiles?

Thanks for posting.

-- Kevin

View RobD's profile


18 posts in 2594 days

#2 posted 07-24-2008 03:11 PM

Hi Kevin. The shooting board is designed for a lefty (notice my left hand drives the tools in most of the shots unless unless the operation was awarkward, or the grain was running against me, or the photo didn’t look right.. For example, plow shot with stanley 45, it “photograhed” better when drove it with my right hand.. so you could see those shavings come out ;-) To make the shooting board I have, for a righty by just swith the location of the fence. Mine is based on David Fink’s recent writeup in Fine Woodworking. Just follow his plans if you are a righty. Lefty’s must adapt and adjust but we are used to that..

And yes, I did use mortise chisel on the stiles. my mortise and tennon jounts are still a “work in progress” Notice you dod not see any close up shots of those jounts!, but they do improve with practice.

If you are thinking about makeing the bench hook and shooting board just do it! They dont take very long to make and they helped my work a great deal. I would say I got a return on my time invested making these after the first project. I regret not making them sooner.

View kem's profile


56 posts in 2717 days

#3 posted 07-24-2008 04:58 PM

Hey Rob,

Thanks for the pointer to the Finck article. Here’s a video of Finck making and using his shooting board. I also found (really just the first google result) this design with a locking knob that looks good. I just finished my Holtzapffel workbench and am building up my accessories. Your post was timely!

-- Kevin

View Betsy's profile


2975 posts in 2895 days

#4 posted 07-25-2008 01:43 AM

Rob – I’m working on learning to do what you did here all by hand tools—- I’m jealous of your talent. Watch your back though—- I’ll be catching up!

Those clocks rock!

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 2787 days

#5 posted 07-25-2008 02:07 AM

Lefties of the world unite! When I built my shooting board, I wasn’t even thinking about it and make a right handed one. I have yet to remake it, but this just gave me the push to do it. Great blog, love the step by step and highlight of the tools. How long did this whole process take you. Scrub planing still scares me. I’m afraid that I might just go off the galoot deep end if I start doing that.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View RobD's profile


18 posts in 2594 days

#6 posted 07-25-2008 04:37 AM

Don’t fear the scrub!

There are many ways to the top of the hill. The best part (aside from the resut of course!) is exploring the different paths.

It’s hard to say how long the clocks took. I never really kept track of the… I was building 4 clocks, 1 pine, 1 walnut and 2 cherry ones and doing it at very small clips – after my kids went to bed, during nap time or for the 1 hour between comming home from work and having dinner. During those times, my two boys (aged 4 and 2) would be down in the shop with me. ...

I will say that the sawing and stock prep took much longer, however I am sure there is muich room for improvment with regards to my methods of work. In addition, it did not help that i was working with 4/4 stock with the cherry and walnut and most of the parts needed where 1/2” or under. The pine clock was some recycled 3/4” T&G stuff, the stock prep on that one went a bit faster.

I was thinking of doing a small simple project – based on a crafts picture frames project in American Woodworker

Perhaps I document it with photos and the time it took each operation if anyone would be interested.

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