Penmaking articles Penmaking Tips
Mantle Clock Building

Americana Mantle Clock

by Joseph M. Herrmann of Timber Treasures
Reprinted by permission from Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine


Part Description Size in inches Quantity
A Dentil molding 5/8 x 1-1/2 x 24 (rough) 1
B Vertical members 3/4 x 2-3/4 x 10 2
C Horizontal members 3/4 x 2-9/16 x 8-1/4 2
D Clock front 5/8 x 9-1/8 x 10 1
E Cove molding 5/8 x 5/8 x 24 (rough) 1
Top piece 7/8 x 4-5/8 x 11-5/8 1
G Bottom piece 3/4 x 4-5/8 x 11-5/8 1
H Feet 1/2 x 1 x 2-1/4 4
Luan plywood
I Clock face backer 1/4 x 7-7/16 x 8-7/16 1
J Clock back 1/8 x 8-1/4 x 10 1

Rout the details
At this point it is probably a good idea to make the cove molding that goes at the base of the clock. The router table is already set up so you might as well take advantage of the previous step. Dimension a piece of poplar to 5/8” x 2” x 24”. The stock is wider than necessary, but I prefer to run a wider piece of stock for safety reasons. Adjust the bit so a 3/16” reveal is showing on the base of the cove and run the stock. Then, rip the stock to 5/8” wide on the table saw. This should result in a symmetrical piece of cove molding.
I don’t like sharp, square edges on my designs; I prefer softer, more rounded ones. Therefore, I used a 1/4” roundover bit in my router to soften the inside edge of the hole for the clock in the front piece. I also used a 45 degree chamfer bit to add a small detail to the vertical edges of the clock face (see Fig. 7). I set the bit to cut a 1/4” chamfer and stopped the cut 1/2” away from the future edges of the moldings. On my clock, this dimension measured 1-5/8” down from the top and 1-1/8” up from the bottom.

Make the top and bottom
Both are the same dimension except for the thickness: the top is 7/8” thick while the bottom is 3/4” thick. I leave the boards about 1/2” wider than necessary and trim them to the proper width after the edges have been routed. This gives me a little insurance in case the wood chips out when the end grain is routed.
The edge profiles of both top and bottom are routed with the same bit. I used a 3/4” bull nose cutter.
Once the profiles were cut on all three edges of both pieces, I trimmed the stock to its final dimension and jointed the edge. I sanded both the top and bottom surfaces with 120 grit abrasive paper. I attached the top and bottom to the rest of the case with glue and No. 18 x 1-1/4” brads, nailing from the inside of the case to prevent the nails from showing. Then, I clamped the top and bottom to the case with wooden hand screws until the glue dried. This gave me a nice, tight joint.

Making the feet
I wanted to elevate the clock with small feet under each corner.
Because of their small size, the problem became how to make them safely. What I finally did was to surface a 6” x 8” piece of poplar to 1/2” thick on the thickness planer. I set up a 1/4” roundover bit in my router table and ran the top and bottom surfaces of all four edges through the cutter. Then I ripped off a 1” wide strip from the two edges. Using a push stick and the eraser end of a stout pencil, I ran the remaining edge through the bit (see Fig. 8). I cut the ends of the blanks off two inches longer than the finished dimension.

Tools: table saw with dado head blade; jointer;
planer; drill press with circle cutter; power miter (chop) saw; oscillating spindle sander; pneumatic brad nailer with No. 18 x 3/4”, No. 18 x 1”, and No. 18 x 1-1/4” brads; router, router table and bits including 1/2” cove, 1/4” roundover, 5/8” x 45 degree chamfer, 3/4” bull nose cutter, and 1/2” flush trim bits
Sandpaper, assorted grits
Wood glue
Wooden hand screws
Double stick tape
Spackling compound
No. 18 x 1/2” nails
No. 2 x 3/8” roundhead brass screws
Clock face, mechanism, and hands**
Benjamin Moore Satin Gloss Latex Paint***: Cottage Rose, Newburyport Blue, and Navajo White
**Clock face, clock motor, and hour, minute and second hands available from Steebar Corp., P.O. Box 980, Andover, NJ 07821-0980; (973) 383-1026 for $14.75 postage paid Order No. CW-Kit.
***Available from your local paint store or home center.

This produced the feet I needed but they were only rounded over on three sides instead of the required four. I finally decided that the safest way to radius the remaining end would be on my disc sander, being very careful to match the profile on the other three sides (see Fig. 9). In order to minimize any discrepancies in their shapes, I marked the end that I sanded so I could be sure to face it toward the middle when I attached the feet to the base of the clock.

Attaching the feet
To attach the feet, I measured in 3/8” from both ends and the front edge and drew lines with a square. I hand sanded the feet with 120 grit abrasive paper. Then, I lined up the two best feet in the front with these lines and attached them to the base of the clock with two No. 18 x 1” brads and a little glue. The back feet were lined up flush with the back edge and the lines that I drew from the ends and were attached to the base in the same manner as the other two (see Fig. 10).

Cutting the molding to length
If you recall, the short pieces of the dentil molding are still oversized. Carefully line up the miters with the front corners of the box, mark the length of the pieces, and cut them to length on a chop saw. Cut the cove molding using the same procedures as the dentil molding.
The molding will be attached to the clock after it has been painted.

A good finish starts with a good sanding job. Therefore, I carefully inspected the clock and made sure that any imperfections were removed and that the entire clock was smooth. I always use a piece of 120 grit abrasive paper to slightly round over or “break” the corners of the project.
First I applied a tinted undercoater to the entire project, waited for it to dry, and sanded it very lightly with 320 grit abrasive paper. I dusted the clock with a tack cloth to remove any fine dust and applied two coats of latex enamel to the clock.
The top and bottom of the clock were painted red while the body of the clock was painted blue. The two sets of molding were painted white. Take care not to get any paint on the miter joints when painting the trim.

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