Refinishing an Old Wooden Clock

Whether you have an old wooden clock that you want to restore, or you are looking for a good way to clean and wax your clock, there are many different things to consider. You will want to know the right steps to take to restore it, as well as the steps you should take to clean and protect it.


Keeping an old wooden clock in tip top condition requires a few simple steps. A good cleaning routine will prevent wear and tear and maintain its elegant finish.

Using a good clock cleaning solution is a good place to start. Most of these contain oleic acid, a potent oil and grease solvent. You can find these products at your local clock company or chemical supplier.

It's also a good idea to clean the face of the clock. A quality clock polish can do this job as well. You may want to use a small bristle brush or a soft cotton cloth to do this.

Another trick is to use a fine-calibrating wax to polish the exterior surfaces. It should be applied a few times a year to keep it from rubbing off.

Restoration Vs Conservation

Whether you are restoring a clock, or trying to decide whether you want to restore it or conserve it, there are a few things you need to know. A good restoration will be effective in protecting the value of your object, while a poor restoration can cause irreversible damage.

The clock is a fine example of an artifact that has been used to convey a wide range of value, from status to quality. However, it can also be damaged or missing parts.

The clock's case was in need of some attention. It had a number of issues, including a missing column on the left side of the door, a missing decorative door block on the crown, and a loose molding. The clock was also missing its pendulum.

Protecting the Original Finish

Using a quality wax to protect the original finish of an old wooden clock is essential. The finish of a clock is different than the finish of a modern clock. While it is possible to use a polyurethane finish, it is not an authentic substitute for the shellac finish used on clocks dating to the early 1800s.

The first step is to clean the clock case. This will remove years of dirt and dust buildup from the wood. In some cases, the veneer will have bare patches and chips that can be removed.

Afterward, it is a good idea to use a higher grit sandpaper to smooth out any blemishes. This will ensure that the finish is smooth and shiny.

After sanding, it is a good idea to apply a high quality wax. There are several different types of wax available. Briwax is one type, and it comes in several different colours depending on the timber used in the clock case. You can also use chamois leather, which is available from most high street stores.


Getting a new finish on your old clock is not for the faint of heart. If you're considering a re-finish, it's a good idea to consult with a professional. Leaving it to amateurs may result in a snafu down the road.

Refinishing an old wooden clock is not without its complications. For example, the clock might not be able to keep time when left outdoors in the elements. The key to keeping your clock in tip top shape is to keep it out of direct sunlight and away from radiators. Similarly, you want to avoid placing it near any children. If you do decide to tackle the task, you'll want to ensure you're well versed in the proper tools and techniques.

While the clock's re-enforcement system is probably the most important part of the puzzle, you should also take the time to ensure the mechanism is operating at peak efficiency. This can be accomplished by making sure the key is properly positioned in the rotor. You'll also want to ensure that the pendulum rod is run down completely.

Adjusting the Pendulum

Keeping an old wooden clock running properly requires that you periodically adjust the pendulum. This can be done easily. But, it is important to know the steps to make it happen.

First, you must set the time to the right time. If you are using a clock with multiple weights, it may be difficult to keep the time right. You may need to flex the hands. This is usually the case for grandfather clocks.

You can also check the beat of the clock. If it is out of beat, the clock will not keep time. It will either be too fast or too slow. If the clock is too fast, you can push the adjustment nut toward minus to slow it down. On the other hand, if it is too slow, you should push the adjustment nut toward plus to speed it up.


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