How To: Determine What Size Clock Hands to Use

Quartz clock movements vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, making it tricky to find the right clock hands for your clock project. Simply follow these two steps Continue reading

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Selecting the Best Wood for Your Next Woodworking Project

Like many woodworkers I’ve spent considerable time and effort setting up my shop and equipping it with the right tools to produce a wide variety of home décor items. I just haven’t been able to dedicate as much effort to understanding everything I should know about selecting the best lumber for each project. Continue reading

How To: Assemble a Quartz Clock Movement, Dial, and Hands Together

Have a clock with an old clock movement that has quit? Worried that you need to be a technical genius to change out the movement? Fear not! Allow us to show you just how easy it is to assemble a quartz clock movement. But before we go through the steps for mounting a new movement, let’s take some time to identify the key sections of the clock movement.

All quartz clock movements have a center hand shaft which is responsible for driving the clock hands for proper timekeeping. The center shaft is composed of sections: The threaded bushing; the hour hand shaft; the minute hand shaft; and second hand pin shaft. Note that the illustration is generalized (as some center shafts may not have a threaded bushing, and some minute hand shafts will vary from that which is shown). We will touch upon these oddities briefly within the assembly steps and illustrations below. With some terminology under your belt, it is time to dive into assembly.

Quartz Clock Movement Assembly

Step One

Place the rubber gasket over the center shaft of the quartz clock movement. Helpful Hint: The rubber gasket can be omitted if the need should be, more on this later.

Step One

Step Two

Insert the center shaft of the clock movement through the center hole of the clock face (dial) as shown. The battery compartment should be at the bottom (see back view). Helpful Hint: Some faces may be mounted to a board called a dial mounting board/panel. If so, you will need to determine the combined thickness of the dial board and clock face in order to select a clock movement that has the appropriate maximum dial thickness for the threaded bushing of the center hand shaft.

Step Two

Step Three

A portion of the threaded bushing of the center hand shaft should stick out through the front surface of the clock face (this does not apply to movements without a threaded bushing – more on that in a moment). Place the washer over the center hand shaft as shown. Washers are not typically used for movements without a threaded bushing.

Step Three

 

Step Four

The hex nut can be threaded onto the remaining threaded bushing which protrudes from the front of the dial face. A minimum of 3/32” (just under 1/8”) of threading is required to secure the hex nut. If you do not have enough threading sticking through the front of the clock face, try omitting the rubber gasket. If you still require additional threading, you may also remove the washer. The hex nut should be hand tightened + . turn. It is important not to over-tighten the hex nut (as it can actually restrict proper timekeeping if too tight).Step Four

Helpful Hint: Do NOT attempt to over-tighten the hex nut if the movement should want to pivot/rotate. Consider, instead, small dabs of hot glue overlapping the back of the clock face and each side of the movement to keep it from rotating.

NOTE: Clock movements with no threaded bushing will not include a hex nut, and will need to be secured by other means (double-stick tape or a couple dabs of hot glue work really well).

Step Five

The shorter hour hand can be pushed onto the hour hand shaft. Most hour hands feature a “sliced” mounting hub so that the hub can spread slightly for a tight friction fit. For most clock movements, the hour hand will be mounted at the 12 o’clock position (check chiming movement instructions for possible exceptions to this rule).

Helpful Hint: If the hour hand should be hard to mount, consider spreading the hub slightly. A small bend adjustment can widen the mount hole, but make certain to bend in small increments. Inversely, the center mount hole can also be decreased (if need be) by slightly bending the hub flanges (at the slice of the hub) closer together.

Step Five

Step Six

Mount the longer minute hand. For many quartz clock movements, the mount hole should be oval in shape (however, push-on minute hands will have a circular mount hub, similar to the hour hand but smaller in diameter).

In most cases, the minute hand should also point at the 12 position (once again, chiming movements may prove the exception). If it is not pointing to the 12, rotate the minute hand clock-wise to the 12 position. When adjusting the minute hand, you may find that the hour hand may move from 12. If need be, you can pull off the hour hand and re-mount it so that it points to 12.

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Step Seven

Skip this step and go to step 8 if you plan to use a second sweep hand on your clock.

With the minute hand mounted, secure the hand with the cap nut provided. The cap nut simply threads onto the end of the minute hand shaft. Helpful Hint: Push-on minute hands may not require a cap nut to secure the hand (as a push-on minute hand is a friction fit, like the hour hand). Take a moment to use the time-set knob to rotate the hands to ensure they have proper clearance with each other. Also make certain the hands are not touching the clock (dial) face. If there is a glass panel in your clock case, ensure that the cap nut is not touching against the inside surface of the glass.

Step Seven

Step Eight

Proceed with use of the open nut only if you plan to use a second sweep hand. Thread the open nut onto the end of the minute hand shaft to secure the minute hand. Helpful Hint: Push-on minute hands may not require an open nut to secure the hand (as a push-on minute hand is a friction fit, like the hour hand). The stem on the back surface of the second hand can be slipped onto the second hand pin shaft (located in the end of the center hand shaft). Press the second hand on so that it points to the 12 position (as with the other hands mounted previously).

Take a moment to use the time-set knob to rotate the hands to ensure they have proper clearance with each other. Also make certain the hands are not touching the clock (dial) face. If there is a glass panel in your clock case, ensure that the second hand hub is not touching against the inside surface of the glass.

Step Eight

Last But Not Least…

Congratulations! You have successfully mounted your quartz clock movement. See, we told you it would be easy. Generally speaking, all that remains is to insert the battery (or batteries) and set the time (noting that chiming movements include specific instructions for synchronizing the chimes with the time).

Just a couple of additional notes: Keep in mind that disassembly of any quartz clock movement will reflect the preceding assembly steps in reverse. Also, if you use hot glue to additionally secure the movement, use hot glue sparingly. Only a couple of dabs overlapping each side of the movement and dial back are necessary, as the movement should be able to be removed if ever the need should be.

Written By: Chris Akright

Chris is responsible for the kit, plan, and finishing technical support, which he has provided to Klockit customers for over 15 years. Chris also contributes new product designs, composes written and illustrated assembly manuals, and works to develop new kit and plan products for the Klockit catalog. Chris’s experience is the culmination of years of training under his mentor, and Klockit Designer, John Cooper.

How To: Choose Between a Quartz and Mechanical Clock Movement

When looking over movement options for a clock design, you can choose between a quartz or a mechanical clock movement. If you’re new to clock making, you may have questions like:

How do you determine which is the best choice? Is there any advantage of one type over the other? Are there any disadvantages that would sway a decision one way or the other?

In this post, we will explore aspects of each in order to answer the question of Quartz versus Mechanical Movements.

quartz-vs-mechanical

What It Comes Down To

The selection of a clock movement really comes down to factors of personal preference, although aspects of an existing clock case can predetermine movement selection for you (more on this at the end). Assuming that a clock case poses no restrictions for either movement type, let’s examine some of the key differences between the two in regard to personal preferences.

Price

Price point can certainly be a main factor regarding movement selection. Generally you will find quartz clock movements to be less expensive than mechanicals. Mechanical clock movements are constructed in a manner that is meant to last (to include the materials selected for movement fabrication).

In short, you do get what you pay for. Quartz movements are primarily constructed from plastic, which allows them to cost considerably less (roughly 1/3 to 1/4 of the price of a mechanical movement depending on the quartz movement features desired). If price-point dictates selection, quartz may prove to be more enticing.

Maintenance

Mechanical clock movements can be compared to a car. They require maintenance in order to work properly for years to come. Would your car last if you elected never to change the oil? No, and the same can be said of a mechanical movement. Mechanical movements must be oiled every one to three years. They must be cleaned and oiled every three to five years.

There are books that can help to guide you through doing this, or you can seek out a qualified professional (it is always good to have the movement professionally serviced every once in a while anyway). If you are not prepared to maintain a movement for years to come, a quartz movement may prove to be the better option.

Longevity

Generally a quartz clock movement will last around 10 to 15 years, although I will admit that it is not at all uncommon to see one last longer. The fact remains, however, that they will not last forever. Inversely, mechanical movements can last well beyond the time-span of the clock-maker himself (and even a generation or a few beyond him/her). There are mechanical clock movements from the late 1700’s that still work and keep accurate time today.

Mechanical clock movement longevity requires maintenance (see above), but you can count that it will outlast a few quartz clock movements in its lifetime providing it is properly serviced at the appropriate intervals. In regard to aspects of longevity, the mechanical movement is the better option. 

Sound

While sound only encompasses chiming movements, sound quality is still a personal preference that many look for. Generally, mechanical clock movements feature mechanical chime hammers which physically strike tuned chime rods of various lengths. The resulting vibrations produce certain notes depending on the length of chime rod. Furthermore, the wood case assembly (due to the structural nature of wood itself) will serve as an amplifier of sorts for those vibrations. This creates a rich, deep chime that is audible in even the largest of rooms.

On the other hand, quartz clock movements have an electronic chime recording, which is typically amplified by a built in (or remote mount) speaker. Inexpensive quartz chiming movements can sound “tinny” and electronic, but (for the most part) chime quality has improved for most quartz movements in recent years. Inversely, certain clock case designs can actually muffle the quartz movement speaker, inhibiting volume. Sound quality aside, the best volume will typically come from a mechanical style movement in a wood clock case assembly.

Precision

Many assume that works of a mechanical nature would be more precise than a quartz clock movement could ever hope to be. Others might argue that quartz is more precise. Actually, neither is necessarily true. Both movement options can prove to be equally as accurate. The main difference is that mechanical movement accuracy is adjusted by us, and therefore only as accurate as we adjust it to be.

That being said, you can always continue to “fine-tune” a mechanical. A quartz movement will always be as accurate as the oscillation rate of the quartz crystal. Understand that this is pretty accurate (less than 1/2 second loss per day if kept at a consistent temperature), however there is no real way to adjust accuracy beyond this. Slight advantage goes to the mechanical from a precision-adjustment aspect.

Intimidation

Many customers tell me that mechanical clock movements are quite intimidating. I can certainly relate, as they do look fairly complicated. But the truth is that they are not nearly as complicated as one would think. Similar to a quartz movement, there is no real sub-assembly required. You receive a factory-assembled movement ready for mounting with the provided hardware. Mechanical clock movements include accessories for ease of perfect mounting (in terms of centering the hand shaft and key-winds).

Many also feature auto-beat adjustment, which allows you to simply over-swing the pendulum so that the clock can regulate the beat on its own. Fine-tuning adjustments can take time, but are relatively easy to perform. Bottom line: While the quartz would appear to be easier to work with, do not be intimidated into purchasing a quartz movement just because the mechanical seems too “complicated”.

Movement Replacement For Existing Clock Cases

This was the topic we initially skipped at the onset of this article with the assumption that the clock assembly would present no issues. Generally this is not the case when selecting a mechanical or quartz movement replacement in an existing case. In this realm, quartz movements have the distinct advantage being that they are less restrictive in regard to case assemblies being able to accommodate them.

If you are replacing a mechanical clock movement in an existing clock case, the best replacement is usually the same make/model as the movement being removed. Purchasing a different make/model mechanical can (more than likely) require some case modifications and possible replacement of the clock face (not all key-wind hole patterns are the same).

Modern day cases should allow you to locate an exact replacement, but antique cases may house a movement, which is no longer produced. Since quartz movements only require a center hand shaft hole (which is typically a part of any existing clock case anyway, whether mechanical or quartz), they will generally require little to no case modifications and the same face can almost always be used.

So Which Is Best For Your Project?

In summary, a mechanical clock movement will typically be more expensive and require periodic maintenance, but has the longevity to last years into the future. Quartz clock movements are less expensive, however they will not last forever. Quartz movements have made some great strides to improve chime sound quality and volume, but chiming mechanicals remain the better of the two. Expect precision with either movement selection, and do not be intimidated by the appearance of a mechanical. Finally, remember that quartz will probably be the simplest option for replacing a movement in an existing case, but might also be the only option unless possible case modifications to accommodate a mechanical are considered.

Written By: Chris Akright

Chris is responsible for the kit, plan, and finishing technical support, which he has provided to Klockit customers for over 15 years. Chris also contributes new product designs, composes written and illustrated assembly manuals, and works to develop new kit and plan products for the Klockit catalog. Chris’s experience is the culmination of years of training under his mentor, and Klockit Designer, John Cooper.

Mechanical Clock Movement Maintenance

If you have invested in an authentic mechanical-style clock movement, it is important to understand regular maintenance will be involved to protect your investment and ensure that it will work for years to come. If you have just purchased and received your mechanical clock movement, it will be factory-oiled and ready to run right out of the box (after mounting and adjustments, of course). Eventually, however, the clock movement will require a bit of upkeep.

How To Clean Your Clock Movement

Clock movements should be cleaned every 3 to 5 years. To clean your clock movement, you will need mineral spirits, clean cloths (soft and lint-free), and small artist brushes.  Use the minerals spirits and small brushes to clean away all dirt, grime, and old oil. Wipe brushes often on a clean cloth so that you are not re-applying dirt/grime to the movement. Wipe away excess mineral spirits and allow enough time for any remaining mineral spirits to completely evaporate.  Once the movement is dry, proceed to lubricate the movement.

cleaning-prod

Oiling Your Clock Movement’s Bearings

Would you run your car without any oil in it? You could, but we all understand that eventual damage will occur to the engine. The same holds true for a mechanical clock movement. Bearing points require a drop of lubrication to keep everything running smoothly. Bearings devoid of oil are subject to excessive friction which can eventually lead to expensive repairs or the need for movement replacement. As a rule of thumb, mechanical movements should be lubricated every 1 to 3 years – once every year in drier climates.

How To:

Generally speaking, oil all bearing surfaces which rotate against each other.  Grease surfaces which slide against each other. Here are some tips to keep in mind when oiling your clock movement:

dodont

Lubrication is not the only aspect of maintenance that is important.  As clock oil ages, it can become tacky. Also, oil will collect dust over time. When the dust mixes with oil, it forms an abrasive grime which can quickly wear away at bearings and such.  This is why it is particularly important to clean the movement at intervals in between oiling.

Should You Have a Professional Inspect Your Clock Movement?

While cleaning and oiling your own movement can save you some money, it is still a good idea to have the movement professionally cleaned and oiled every once in a while.  For example, there are some points that may only be oiled while the clock movement is disassembled.  Above all, a qualified professional has the ability to completely clean the movement beyond novice capabilities and can inspect the movement for any signs of wear as they do so.

Written By: Chris Akright

Chris is responsible for the kit, plan, and finishing technical support, which he has provided to Klockit customers for over 13 years. Chris also contributes new product designs, composes written/illustrated assembly manuals, and works to develop new kit and plan products for the Klockit catalog. Chris’s experience is the culmination of years of training under his mentor, and Klockit Designer, John Cooper.