Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mirror Clock Project Part 7 - Custom Cut Hands

In the same way that incorrect hardware can spoil the look of a cabinet or dresser, the same can apply to the hands of a clock. When it comes to clock dials and hands, many people have their own preferences, or sometimes none at all. I have often seen highly skilled clockmakers who will make their own beautiful brass movements, but then fit a cheap dial and mass produced hands onto it.

Whenever I build furniture or cabinetry, I will often agonize over the choice of hardware, since it can really make a big impact, and even change the entire style of the piece. Even something as simple as a knob can make a difference. A small wood knob looks charming, a large wood knob looks very old fashioned (1800s), while a glass knob can give a 1920s feel.

When it came to picking out the hands for my mirror clock, I had several options to choose from. Most hands in this period were fairly simple, and even crude. The main styles include shapes such as arrows or pointers, with several other variations. Below are just a few of the popular shapes that can be found on New Hampshire Mirror Clocks. Some are easily recognizable (such as the Banjo style arrows, and the Moon hands) while the others have no specific names, and were not used or seen again after the 1840s. I have given names to some of them, but they are definitely not official names.

Starting from the upper left: "Willard Swords", Half Moon, Moon. Bottom row: Banjo (Arrows), Crosses, and "Cross and Pointer" (I suspect that the minute hand on this one is a later replacement).

Within those styles are also several different proportions. The cross hands are very popular on mirror clocks, and they range from wide with 3 square tips, to narrow with pointed tips, etc.

I was originally going to choose the "Cross and Pointer" hands but I only found one or two examples of these, and I decided to go with two crosses instead. The hand shapes were hand-drawn to exact size on paper, then transferred (spray-glued) to some steel stock. The hands were cut to rough shape using a jeweler's saw, and then cleaned-up with files.

Here you can see the cut and roughly filed hands (rough edges on the top and bottom).

Smoothed out, cleaned, and ready for heat treating and finishing.

The hour hand was fitted with a pipe, the hands were heat-treated (for strength), and then a light coat of flat black paint was applied. I could have blued the hands, but I preferred a black painted finish for this clock.

Here are the completed hands fitted and mounted to the clock. I am exceptionally happy with my decision to choose the Crosses, and with how the hands turned out. All that is left now is the mirror.

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