Tick Tock...designing the Grandfather Clock

Grandfather clock.jpg

Tick Tock...designing the Grandfather Clock


The Grandfather Clock.

A piece that is arguably described by some woodworking publications - as the ultimate project -  on account of the advanced cabinetmaking skills that can be involved in the making process.

Also known as the longcase clock, or tall pendulum clock, the name ‘Grandfather clock’ was adopted after the well-known song ‘Grandfather’s Clock’ written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work.  

“My grandfather’s clock

Was too large for the shelf,

So it stood ninety years on the floor.”

Fitting to the namesake of the song’s writer, our student Henry, happens to be in the early stages of planning his very own design/make of a Grandfather clock.

Henry has been inspired to make this piece by his own grandfather’s love of the longcase clock and the numerous clocks that adorn his grandparents’ house.The clock case design is an excellent study for Henry, because it calls for two very different functions.

The first is practical – how to enclose the clock, protecting the movement from dust and displaying the dial.

The second is the aesthetic function; how the case design and timber will reflect the owner’s tastes and interests - and the impression that it will create in a room.

Over the course of centuries, the practical and functional role of clocks has been masked by design and embellishment. In the nineteenth and early 20th century most clocks were made to convey an impression, usually of opulence, to make a statement about the owner. The lavish designs and exotic timber of some clocks made them more of an ornament, than a timepiece.

From a practical cabinetmaking perspective, the grandfather clock will present many interesting making challenges for Henry, including mouldings, veneering and jointing.

Moreover, Henry’s grandfather clock project is a great example of the freedom our students have on our bespoke and full time courses -  to choose and drive forward their own ideas, projects and designs.

If there is something you want to make, we will get you there in terms of both practical and theoretical assistance. 

From planning through to completion, our teaching team are there to support, advise you and demonstrate the techniques you need realise your designs  - while all the time broadening your skill set.

If you too are passionate about a beautiful piece that you’d like to make and feel that one of our courses may be for you, then please feel free to call us for an informal chat on 01984 667555  or e.mail us on