Potential Summer Project

Since I’m taking a break from my normal blog topics (for reasons mentioned in the previous post), I figured it would be a good opportunity to take a look into some other personal life details and some things I’m personally interested in and love.

So one of my weird fascinations ever since I was a little kid has been clocks. Yes, seriously: clocks. Those things that tell time. What’s so fascinating about clocks? Well, perhaps the mechanism itself and how it works, and in the case of mechanical clocks, how little they’ve changed over millennia in terms of the principle of operation yet they still tell time to a more than acceptable standard. There might not be any electrical parts but there’s just something so amazing about the level of engineering and precision in a mechanical clock. These things are epitomized probably by the tallcase clock (more often referred to as a “grandfather clock” – a colloquialism which came from a 19th century ballad by Henry Clay Work).

Just admit it, there’s just something so magical about a grandfather clock. The ticking is like a heartbeat that brings the house to life, and when they chime they can make even the smallest and humblest of abodes seem somewhat like a mansion. The only problem: they come with a stiff pricetag. A very stiff one if you want a nice one, anyway.

So I got to thinking, I have some basic woodworking skills and horological skills, there’s no reason I can’t take this on myself and build my own. I have sources for the parts and such and can probably build a much nicer clock for the price than I could buy in a store. So out of curiosity I went to an online shop and specced out what I’d want in a grandfather clock and was pleasantly surprised by the total cost: about $2,600 for raw materials and clockworks (including a Hermle cable-driven triple chime unit w/auto night silencer, deluxe engraved/backlit Roman numeral dial with moon phase, matching embossed lyre pendulum and “wedding bands” on the weight shells, beveled glass on the doors and side panels, hinges/handles/etc. and pre-cut wood that only needs sanding, finishing and assembly). To buy a clock from say Howard Miller or Ridgeway at that price you’re looking at a very plain clock with a single-chime unit. Nah, I’ll save the money and make up the difference in sweat equity, not to mention if I built it myself it would be that much more personal to me.

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve built a clock from such a kit so I do have some experience. I have a mantle clock I built about 14 years ago from a similar kit and it’s about as nice of a mantle clock as they come (Hermle triple chime keywind movement, glass sides for viewing the movement and a roman numeral dial with raised embossed corners). Alas, I’ve not taken on something on the magnitude of a grandfather clock so it’s definitely something that will take a considerable amount of time.

Alas, I think it would be fun and rewarding. The “heartbeat” of the clock combined with the deep, mellow¬†chimes would definitely make my home feel more like home. It’s soothing in a way. I might only have a small bachelor pad but I might as well make it as much like a true home as I can, right?



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