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Repolishing blackmarble French clock and American slate clock

JimmyOz

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Feb 21, 2008
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I am in lockdown for the last week and thought it was time to fix up 2 French black marble clocks. I have seen restorations of these using slate black, however I feel that this is just like painting them so I gave polishing the marble a go. I will show one of the clocks as to how I did it and both at the end after I finished them.
This clock had bad pitting and needed a lot of sanding, started with 60 grit, 100, 180, 320, 500, 600, 800, 1000. I did it in sections finishing one before starting another and at the end used marble polish (Micra dust) and black boot polish. I also had to make a couple of end pices for the top as both had been smashed off and a join on the ledge where that had been broken off. I did one section with photos to show how it comes out.
This is what it looked like before I started.
CIMG1401.JPG

CIMG1403.JPG
Cut the edge with a dimond saw in a dremel, then fitted a piece to the ledge and the upright I made (the upright is just in place to show the differance).
CIMG1410.JPG
CIMG1411.JPG
Sanding the flat to get out the pitting, I will not put in ever grit just to show how it starts to show some reflection. I did not use an electric sander as I thought that if a piece of the marble got under it it would make even deeper scratches.
CIMG1412.JPG CIMG1413.JPG CIMG1414.JPG CIMG1415.JPG CIMG1416.JPG
Polished with Micra Dust and then black boot polish.
CIMG1418.JPG CIMG1420.JPG CIMG1419.JPG
And so on till the top section was done.
CIMG1421.JPG CIMG1422.JPG
On the less pitted sections I started with 80 grit and went through the order. I could not get off the brass work and the capitals were steel, the rest was brass so I had to paint them, however I dabbed the paint with a short bristle brush to look more like gilding, and below is it finished. I took about 4 days of 6 hours a day to do the case, the movement was easy and took a few hours.
CIMG1434.JPG CIMG1454.JPG

The other case did not have pitting, however it was baddly bleached and required the same work. At least the brass work was brass and I gave it a simpathetic polish to keep with the age of the clock.
CIMG1441.JPG CIMG1442.JPG CIMG1443.JPG CIMG1449.JPG CIMG1450.JPG CIMG1455.JPG
The flash makes them look bad, they are better in real life. They have a glass finish that you could shave from your reflection. Although it takes a while they are the better for it. The door on the 2nd case is having the glass polished as it has some large scratches that is why it is missing in the last photo. Any questions just ask.
 
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shutterbug

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Nice work! :thumb:
 

tracerjack

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The polished marble has a very nice natural look to it. A lot of work, but definitely worth it.
 

JimmyOz

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Thanks all for the kind comments.

I know that these clocks will not be something that a customer will want to be done as the cost is more than the clock is worth, however it is a new skill I wanted to learn. I have a small American box type slate clock and I might do that just to see how it comes out as hobby clock repairers may want to give it a go, the time factor will be a lot less as they are simple things to sand. I hope this is my last day in lockdown and I can pick up about 5 clocks that are waiting for repair, if not I will get to work on it. Mind you I have about 50 odd clocks that I have in boxes that also need my attention so I will never run out of things to do during Covid.
 

T.Cu

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Beautiful job! So 1000 grit sandpaper was as fine as you went, then how did you do the micra dust polish? Or did you mix it with the black shoe polish? Such impressive clocks.
 

JimmyOz

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Beautiful job! So 1000 grit sandpaper was as fine as you went, then how did you do the micra dust polish? Or did you mix it with the black shoe polish? Such impressive clocks.
Sorry the marble polish is called Mira Dust it is made in the USA so you guys should be able to find it.
Sandpaper grit, although I only went to 1000 grit, after a few sections it would have been closer to 2000 grit, all the grits apart from 60 and 80 wore down a bit, after the 1st section you have doubled the grits you have, if you give it a try you will see. The Mira Dust is used on its own, dampen a smooth rag dip it into the dust and rub with your index finger, it is the same as doing silvering, you just rub a bit harder. wash off the marble with a wet rag, let dry and use the boot polish to finish, amazing what the boot polish makes it come up like.
 

T.Cu

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Thanks, might get some of that mira dust just for fun. I have used wet sanding at finer grits, (starting at 320 and going up to like 2000), when something is in pretty bad shape and it won't just make matters worse to try it. I can get it (stone) smooth but not very shiny.
To give the stone a nice waxed look, but not too shiny, I have used Howard's "Feed n Wax" (not their Restor-a-finsh), which is a liquid beeswax sort of thing. It vapors off after a few days and just "looks nice". But it's not too shiny after a few days though, if you are after a real shine.
It is good for "thirsty" old wood, I think. But I have used it on black Belgian stone and it makes it look far better, gives it back the wet black look. It will not last as long as a paste wax though, but I fancy it's good for the stone to get some re-hydration of sorts. Which, I think, probably makes no sense :)
The reason I started using it is that paste waxes are very hard to buff on these irregular surfaces, seems to me. Hard enough with the liquid wax to get behind the columns etc. The stuff has no silicone.
I made my own beeswax and turpentine mixture once, didn't love using it though.
I also have used Citrishield paste wax and Briwax too. Nice stuff and far nicer to work with than the old "Johnson's Floor Wax" sort of stuff I used to try to use.
Thanks for the information and great job on your clock... Tim
 

JimmyOz

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Okay, I had a couple of days to get to that American slate clock, mind you it was a lot worse than I thought. Anyway it took about 6 hours to do the case, however I did not give it as much attention as the 2 above as I have no interest in it.

Before I started I noticed that the engraving is a lot shallower than the French, therefore I started with 120 grit so not too sand out the lines (did a couple though). Anyway same procedure as the French cases, just started with a finer grit and it works just as well so I might just stick with that if I ever do another one. Maybe the admin could change the heading to include American Slate clock as well? Pictures attached, I need to get better at taking photos as these things are a nightmare to photograph.

CIMG1484.jpg CIMG1485.jpg CIMG1486.jpg CIMG1501.jpg CIMG1502.jpg CIMG1503.jpg
 
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T.Cu

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Beautiful!
 

Willowind

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I’m impressed. I have two slate clocks that need similar attention. Thanks for sharing!
Great job. Gives me the motivation to press onward.
 

PatH

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Beautiful results! At what point in the process, and how, did you enhance the engraved lines? Thanks for sharing your process, progress and results.
 

JimmyOz

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Hi
I love what you have done to your clock, I have had some good results with Priory slate blacking in the UK. They did a really good article here
How To Restore A Black Slate Clock - Priory Polishes
with a step by step video that is very helpful. With my engraving lines, I used masking tape cut into very fine lines but it was quite simple, not as intricate as your clock.
I must have missed this post, sorry.
I had a look at the website and it seems to work to a degree, I looked at the photos and could still see the bleaching next to the pillar after the clock was finished. I am not having a go at the finish, it looks okay, however having worked as an antique furniture restorer, the hard way is always the right way, short cuts were not allowed. These slate/marble clocks are not worth much and it is fine to use other ways, I am all for it, however I wanted to do it as it looked originally, it added to my skill base.
 
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It does look fantastic what you have done and the traditional way is usually the best way, you just need more time to complete your work. Its always good to add onto your skill base :)
 

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