The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Mini Grandfather Clock

I saw this neat pattern in the catalog from

I thought this was a neat looking clock, and would make great Christmas gifts for family members.  I ordered the materials from ScrollerOnline, enough to make 2 of these clocks........

The walnut was expensive, but I don't have a lower cost source, so I bought it from ScrollerOnline.

Entering Pattern into Google Sketchup

I entered the pattern into Google Sketchup..........

As-Received Parts for this Project

Photo below shows all the items needed to build 2 mini grandfather clocks, received from ScrollerOnline.....


 Stain Selection

This project needs the sharpest contrast possible between the dark walnut and the light colored scroll work and spindles.  I usually don't use walnut stain, because it finishes the walnut so dark, but I'm going to try it on this project. The other option is to use Spanish Oak, which I may try on the 2nd clock.

1st Clock Pieces Stained with Walnut Stain

Here is all of the pieces for the first clock stained with the dark walnut stain.  I wanted to stain these before I attach the spindles or scroll work.  It would be about impossible to stain the walnut on the assembled clock, because you will get some of the stain on the light colored parts.

Problem with Top Finial

The plans say to drill a 3/8" diameter hole in the top trim piece to accept the top finial. The top trim piece is 1/2" thick, so this would seem to be about right.

The finial that ScrollerOnline sent as part of this project, has a 1/2" diameter dowel on the bottom.  I put the finial into the wood lathe using a 3 jaw chuck, and turned it down from 1/2" to 3/8" diameter.

How to Line up Pieces for Glue-Up

I marked the center of front and RH side of mating pieces, then used Nexabond glue to join them.  I erased the pencil marks after the piece was glued up.

 Scroll Sawing

I taped up 2 thicknesses of the maple, so I could saw 2 at a time........for 2 clocks.

I was surprised that I broke the curly cues several times while scroll sawing.  The cross section is so small that they broke. I repaired some pieces, but had to re-saw some others.  This was much more trouble than I anticipated!  I have scroll-sawed many items, and never had breakage problems like this before.

Assembly Check Using Rubber Bands

Everything looking good at this point.


 I assembled and glued up the clock from the bottom up, on a flat piece of particle board. After I got it assembled, I noticed it is not vertical from a front to back perspective .


 For the long skinny middle section, I did not use a stop to make sure I sawed each piece exactly the same length. I also did not use a square when I glued up this section. It appears this section does not have horizontal and parallel bottom and top planes.  Darn!

 Repairing the 1st Clock

I had to saw with the hand jig saw a little bit, but then using a screwdriver, I was able to break the glue joint between the tall skinny center section and the next base plate up.  Thank goodness I did not glue in the 4 spindles :)

I used my Wagner Saf-t-Planer attachment on the drill press to plane the top of the clock parallel to the base:

I used my digital angle finder to make sure the clock angles were correct this time!

The 1st clock is ready for its first coat of polyurethane.

On the 2nd clock, I will build it a little differently and make sure everything is square as I build it!!

 2nd Clock

I used a temporary stop on the radial arm saw, and made sure each piece was cut exactly the same length for each box on the clock.

I also used the big plastic square and clamp to make sure I glued up the box at 90 degree angles........


 1st Clock Finished

I applied 2 coats of polyurethane using a brush.



Finished 2nd Clock

I used the lighter Spanish Oak on this 2nd clock.  I like this color better. It is more of a brown than an almost black color like the first clock.


Lessons Learned from this Project

The biggest lesson I learned was the importance of making sure all the sub-elements are square as you assemble and glue up the clock. Use an angle guide as you glue up the 3 boxes that make up this clock. If necessary, use the Wagner saf-t-planer in the drill press to make the tops parallel to the bottoms.

Another lesson learned is how to scroll saw these patterns. I broke two of them which is unusual. I had more success drilling the small hole in the center of the curly-cues.  This leaves less time where these small curly-cues are under bending stress.



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