Creating Replacement Back Door to Seth Thomas Clock

Discussion in 'Clock Case Restoration and Repair' started by koslux1, Aug 27, 2017.

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  1. koslux1

    koslux1 Registered User

    Aug 17, 2017
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    Hi, I am in the process of creating a back door for my Seth Thomas Señora Clock. The door was cut using unfinished wood. It took the stain very uneven and it took multiple coatings to darken the door near the color of the back of the clock.

    The stain made the wood's finish look too good for the back of the clock. Now I need want to get a flat look. The stain left the surface too glossy.

    Should I go over the surface lightly with 0000 steel wool or should I apply a finish and lightly sand that. I am trying to get the same unfinished stained look like the other wood on the back of the clock.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks
    Koslux
    View attachment 354871
     
  2. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    Nov 15, 2016
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    I think you'd be better off starting with salvaged lumber from a junk piece of furniture. Something like a drawer bottom.

    Modern lumber has a whole different grain pattern compared with old-growth lumber. The back boards from an old chest of drawers will likely have that naturally oxidized surface your looking for.

    Scour your local flea mkt. Junk pieces can often be found for less that $20.00
     
  3. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
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    #3 Time After Time, Aug 27, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017
    You might try to identify the Sonora model. The type/species of wood will make a big difference of course.
    A view of the front would help tremendously. It looks like you may have a Chime Clock No. 57. If so, I believe the case was originally made from Mahogany.
    What kind of finish do you plan to use over the stain? Shellac is the original finish of choice for most Antique Clocks I've come cross.

    Here's a couple of photos of one we had in our collection a few years ago.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    I would continue to work with what you have and try to make it blend in as much as you can since you've already done a lot of work on it. In the end, if you're still not satisfied do as BLKBEARD suggests and try to source some old wood or at least look for new Mahogany with a similar grain pattern to your clock's case.
     
  4. koslux1

    koslux1 Registered User

    Aug 17, 2017
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    Hi Time after Time. I am posting a front shot of the clock as you requested. I want to thank both you and BLKBEARD for your advice.

    I am now planning to test shellac the interior of the door and lightly sand it to see if I get the simple look of the back. I kind of thought that the clock was made with veneer over less expensive wood. The back was just stained to kind of match the veneer. The clock you posted looks more finished in the back.

    View attachment 354886 View attachment 354886
     
  5. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
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    #5 Time After Time, Aug 27, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017
    Thanks for posting the photos koslux1. Looks like you have a nice, original example to work with there. You must love wood working. I see a lot of nice furniture in the background. Making a well fitting and finished door for your Sonora's case takes some precision wood working. The Chime No. 57 case is kind of a blend of a Doric Arch style with a Tambour. Seth Thomas cases were constructed using a "Built-up" method. "Solid wood core" was mentioned in the Catalog descriptions but the type of wood was not specified except for the Pine bottom sounding board. Numerous veneers which were cross grained with an quality finishing veneer on the front and back were used in the "bent" designs like that seen in the Chime 57 (Circa 1914-1921 +/- a few years).

    Welcome to the NAWCC's message board by the way. Please let us know how things turn out with your project.
     
  6. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    The Sonora posted by Time after Time looks to have been re-finished. Which I'm in favor of since it shows off the nice Ribbon Mahogany veneers chosen by the Maker. The back however is typically not finished on most clocks, though I can't speak specifically to the Sonora. But I suspect the re-finisher just liked it better shellaced, so he did. The secondary wood used on the back appears to be Birch, but it might be a lesser grade of Mahogany.
    Hard to tell from a photo.

    Great looking clocks. One of these days I'll acquire one.
     
  7. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
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    Hey BLKBEARD,
    I think that the back door was also Mahogany but I can't be certain. Reportedly, Seth Thomas used the same type of wood on both the front and back of their cases but that may have only pertained to the case and not the back door.

    I restored the case. As found, it was dirty (of course) with some deep alligatoring and darkening of the shellac finish. After cleaning it thoroughly, I melted the original finish with denatured alcohol, removing all but a thin coat and then went on to apply several new coats of shellac using the French Polish technique. This was an early effort for me.

    Today I might work it more with the Vinegar, Boiled Linseed Oil, Turpentine and Denatured Alcohol mixture to retain a thicker of the original finish, but I was pretty happy with the way it turned out. As you noted, it had a very nice ribbon mahogany grain pattern.

    Here are a couple of additional photos, some before and others after. As you can tell, the original color was preserved as I didn't strip the entire original shellac finish.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    The Sonora Chime Clocks didn't use a Pine Sounding Board. They chimed and struck on 4, 5 and 8 tuned cup bells mounted to an acoustic chamber which in turn was mounted to the case. The clock case was almost formed like a musical instrument.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a video. This particular example has four bells and so it strikes the hours on a three or four bell chord. Personally I prefer the five-bell arrangement which has a separate, deep-toned bell for the hour strike. They're all nice though. I would love to snag one of those eight-bell examples one day but they are relatively rare and in pretty high demand by collectors.

    [video=youtube;mR5QVNtmmSI]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mR5QVNtmmSI&t=11s[/video]
     
  8. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    Nice Clock.
    Thanks for the additional photo's & video.
     
  9. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
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    Thank you BLKBEARD. Not too hard to get good results with a complete clock which was in relatively good condition to start with. OP Koslux1 has a much tougher assignment with a missing door on top of anything else needed to service/restore the clock.
     
  10. koslux1

    koslux1 Registered User

    Aug 17, 2017
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    Well, putting on shellac and going over it with 0000 steel wool gave me the dull finish that I was looking for the back of the clock. I am not too sure if the outside of the door is too dark. I will have to think about that.
    Meanwhile I have some hinges from a broken tambour clock with a wrecked case that I will be using on the door.
    When I got the Sonora, it had new hinges with Phillips head screws attached. They had to go.
     
  11. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
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    Yep, Phillips heads need to go on antique clocks. Sometimes it's hard to find the right size and thread in a slot head but you usually can. I've gone to a local Fastenal several times for help over the last couple of years.

    In your first photo, your door does look a little darker and perhaps more "reddish" than what we can see of the case. Perhaps you can sand it down a little. What type of wood did you use? It almost looks like a burled grain pattern.
     
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