How to finish a cuckoo clock case?

Discussion in 'Clock Case Restoration and Repair' started by RichSW, Aug 23, 2019.

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  1. RichSW

    RichSW Registered User

    Aug 11, 2019
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    I've given this cuckoo clock case a fairly conservative clean using mineral spirit [white spirit]. I wasn't brave enough to prise off the surround so cleaned around and under the leaves using Q-tips. The box/house is made of pine with veneers. I guess the carving is linden wood. There was some sign of historical woodworm, mostly in the pine box but a little in the surround. I wasn't going to treat it but eventually decided to do so.

    Now I need to finish it off with either a wax or an oil. I've read quite a few threads about the best thing to use but I'm still not sure of the best way to go.

    I've only used waxes in the past, both solid and liquid, on flat surfaces like oak doors and beams. I think a wax is going to clog up the details in the carving as well as being harder to apply, and I don't want it filling the worm holes and drying white.

    Should I try and fill the worm holes with a dark wax before applying any other finish? Or just leave them? [the clock is only for my own enjoyment anyway so I'm not bothered about the holes - I just don't want them filled with a pale wax].

    I've also read that oil doesn't dry completely and attracts the dust? Will the veneer take the oil or will it sit on top? The final look I'm after is something that enhances the grain visible in the wood and the depth of the colour without tuning the wood very dark. The case looks great immediately after the mineral spirit is applied! Something that replicates that would be good. I'm in the UK and have used Liberon waxes before. They do a range of oils but I've never used them.

    Thanks for reading.

    Rich

    P1030173ed edit.jpg
     
  2. Joseph Bautsch

    Joseph Bautsch Registered User
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    The best first cleaner I have found of any wood or veneer on wood is a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Use it sparingly with a a brush never soak it and wiped dry. Vinegar is a mild acid and should get the majority of the crud and dirt off. As far as I know petroleum based cleaners or finishes were not used on Cuckoo Clocks. Most of the older clocks used Linseed oil. They also added a dryer to speed drying up. A color was also added, often burnt sienna, or other color shades as a rub on finish. After drying nother coat of linseed oil with no color was applied to give it a luster finish. Latter paint was used for brighter coloring. Your clock looks to be of the older type of finish. From the photos you provided I would not do a re-finish other than cleaning and if you want a little more of a luster look rub in a coat of linseed oil. Note, linseed oil takes a long time to dry. If you use it it will take a couple of weeks for it to completely dry.
     
  3. RichSW

    RichSW Registered User

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    Thank you for the reply. I'll get some linseed oil and test it on a small area to see how it goes.
     
  4. Joseph Bautsch

    Joseph Bautsch Registered User
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    You can use boiled linseed oil or double boiled. The double boiled is lighter in color but more expensive. The double boiled is used by artists as a finish on their canvases and art work.
     
  5. RichSW

    RichSW Registered User

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    Do you have any experience with Tung Oil? The only thing that concerns me with linseed oil is the drying time. I once used some [unboiled] on a stone floor and it never seemed to dry at all.

    I'd prefer to use a wax, and if it was a piece of furniture, or a door, then that's what I'd probably do. I just don't see wax as a viable option given the nature of the carved wood.
     
  6. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I'm not sure you need anything. The clock looks good, and better than it's age. I'd leave it as is....as long as the boring critters have been eliminated.
     
  7. Joseph Bautsch

    Joseph Bautsch Registered User
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    The clock does not really need anything done to it. Tung Oil will probably give it more shine than than you want. I would leave it as it is. The white spirits most likely killed any wood beatles (commonly known as 'wood worms') that may have been alive.
     
  8. RichSW

    RichSW Registered User

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    Thanks for the replies. I think the photo flatters the current finish on the clock case a little and makes it look better than it is. I've decided to use some Liberon clear liquid wax on it, warming it through in a pan of hot water so it's very liquid, almost like water. It means I'll be able to apply a thin, controlled layer that doesn't clog the carvings and then buff it slightly with a cloth and soft brush. It's probably the least intrusive thing I can do while improving the overall look.
     
  9. gleber

    gleber Registered User

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    I'm looking forward to the results of that. Before and after pictures would be great.

    Tom
     
  10. JTD

    JTD Registered User

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    I was going to suggest using Renaissance wax, but I think your idea should do very well. Be careful not to heat the Liberon too much - it is quite flammable!

    JTD
     
  11. RichSW

    RichSW Registered User

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    #11 RichSW, Sep 1, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
    I had a slight change of plan in the end and used a Liberon Black Bison wax 'Dark Oak' on the carved portions. I got it to a warm room temperature so it was like cream cheese and then applied a fairly thin layer to all of the carved areas using a small brush. I waited for a couple of hours then gave it a buff using a soft brush and lint-free rag.

    I didn't want the front, the bit that the frame surrounds, going too dark so blended a little of the dark oak wax with the Liberon clear liquid wax and applied it in the same way. The black part of the dial with the numerals I left untouched as I didn't want wax on the numerals and wasn't sure how to avoid it.

    It probably looks a little darker in the photos compared with how it actually appears but I'm happy with the result! The woodworm I treated by injecting directly into the pre-existing flight holes with woodworm killer.

    P1030309ed.jpg P1030307ed.jpg P1030311ed.jpg x.jpg
     
    PatH and gleber like this.
  12. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Be proud. It looks amazing! :D
     
  13. RichSW

    RichSW Registered User

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    Thank you. :cool: Hopefully the movement will go back in eventually. :confused:
     

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