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September 11, 2015 at 3:02 pm #49668
I needed hands to replace ones that fell apart when I restored a very old cuckoo clock. This is the process that worked for me.
Tools I used:
I purchased guitar saddle blanks that measure 3” x 3/4” x 3mm. It was not necessary to cut the length or width, but I had to grind the thickness. The hands that I used for the pattern were about 1.55mm thick. After using the grinder for the bulk of it I sanded to smooth out the ridges that the grinding wheel made until the blank measured about 1.8mm thick.
Next, I used Elmer’s school glue to attach the bone blank to a tongue depressor. This gives rigidity, as well as, more surface to hold onto while working. I made a copy of the original bone hands and transferred the outline to the bone blank.
Then I used a Dremel with a diamond cutting disc to make release cuts along the edge of the bone. This will allow me to back the saw in and out easier.
The next step is to saw along the outline using a jeweler’s saw. This takes some getting used to and practice. I broke many blades. Now I know why they sell these blades in 144 packs! The blade that I found to work the best for me was size #1/0. I tried to get as close to the line as possible without cutting off the line. I am actually holding the saw upside down in this picture. It works better if it’s held the correct way.
September 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm #63253
- This topic was modified 2 years ago by Tamas Richard.
I did some of the initial filing around the pattern with it in the vise. If I had areas that needed a lot of material gone, I very carefully used the Dremel to quickly file. Also, the area that needed cut out was drilled so I could feed the blade of the saw through the hole for cutting. I actually did most of the detail filing in my hands, not using the vise but being mindful of where and how much pressure I was putting on the delicate parts.
After I was satisfied with the filing around the outline, I sanded on a flat surface until the thickness of the bone was about 1.55mm. Notice that I have not yet cut out the point of the hand. I left this until the last for fear of breaking it off and also I needed the end of the tongue depressor to use as a handle while sanding.
When I was finished filing the thickness, I reattached the pattern and redrew the point of the hand, then finished cutting and filing.
To remove the wood from the hand, I soaked it in warm water until the glue released. I VERY carefully inserted the blade of an exacto knife between the wood and bone at the round end to help it along. If I had been patient it probably would have released on its own which would have been a lot safer.
I could see now places that needed additional filing and shaping. So, finishing touches were done very delicately.
September 11, 2015 at 3:12 pm #63254
- This reply was modified 2 years ago by Tamas Richard.
I put the jeweler’s saw blade through the hole I drilled at the end of the minute hand and cut out the square. Then on my drill press I drilled the round hole for the hour hand. I had to do some additional filing to fit the hands onto the clock. Just be sure to take it slowly only removing a little and then trying the fit.
To stain the hands I put them in strong hot coffee for about 30 seconds and then wiped them dry.
Here is the finished project!
September 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm #63255willofiamModerator
- This reply was modified 2 years ago by Tamas Richard.
Andrea, excellent thread, you made me smile, then…I saw my teeth 😯 …I love coffee I would have never thought of using my favorite beverage to darken the hands. I guess the saying is true, sometimes the answer is right under your nose .
Guitar saddle blanks are a perfect supply for bone blanks, good idea!
Those hands look great, thank you for posting this, I will definitely refer to it when I need to make some bones hands, or for that matter any cuckoo hands as I am sure most of the techniques would work for plastic and wood too.
Keep on keepin on.
WilliamSeptember 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm #63256
Thanks, William. I really enjoyed this project but is was very time consuming. On to another cuckoo in need of some TLC!September 11, 2015 at 8:17 pm #63257Bob TascioneModerator
Andrea you did a fantastic job on the hands and on this tutorial!
Bone used for guitar saddle blanks…who would of thunk!! Great idea.
I did a search and found a site that has all kinds of bone and horn material for guitar, violin and other instrument restorers and makers. There are many others but here’s a link for anyone interested in supply and prices http://www.guitarpartsandmore.com/?nav=products&cat=1&sub=16
Thanks for putting this up here for us Andrea!
BobSeptember 11, 2015 at 8:48 pm #63258
Thank you, Bob. It was nice talking to you today!September 12, 2015 at 8:37 am #63259Anonymous
Thank you Avittek, I know what I’m going to be working on next week. My cuckoo clock is a newer one with plastic hands but its going to get a face lift now!
Not that it matters but do you know what kind of bone it is that the supply places sell?
DanSeptember 12, 2015 at 9:46 am #63260
The blanks I purchased were on eBay. They are listed as buffalo bone,10 for $10. I think beef bone is what is traditionally used. From what I’ve read, it is possible to buy the white cleaned dog bones at a pet store and slice it on a band saw. I chose to go the more convenient route not knowing even if I could accomplish anything. The hands that I carved, as far as the look of the bone goes, looks just like bone hands that are on another clock that I have. Good luck! The best advice I can give on the process is to go slowly and be patient.
AndreaSeptember 13, 2015 at 5:23 am #63261bernie weishaplParticipant
Great tutorial and nice looking hands.September 13, 2015 at 6:53 am #63262
Thank you, Bernie.
AndreaSeptember 13, 2015 at 11:32 am #63263aruthaParticipant
Very nicely done!
I am so pleased I now have someone to contact when I need new cuckoo hands making
Great tutorial, thank you for taking the time to post it up Andrea.
Paul.September 13, 2015 at 2:14 pm #63264
Thank you, Paul. Don’t know how soon I’ll be dong that again! Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it but it is time consuming, especially because I was learning as I went along. Someday after all the clocks that are waiting for me are finished, I’d like to try something more detailed. (that might be a while).
AndreaSeptember 13, 2015 at 11:36 pm #63265gereneParticipant
Nice work Andrea, thanks for sharing.
JanSeptember 14, 2015 at 9:29 am #63266namonllor1953Participant
Beautiful job Andrea. Thank you for the step by step.
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