Making a carriage clock handle

A friend brought in a one piece carriage clock minus a handle and asked if I could make something suitable. It was a striking clock with a shuttered back door of the lift up type. A nice clock and worthy of restoration. These clocks normally have a fairly simple swinging bar handle like the one pictured which was on another clock.


I took some measurements so I would get the proportions right. The project clock was slightly bigger so I intended making the handle slightly larger than these dimensions.


I did a bit of scrounging in my junk box and found an old wheel I could use to make the hinges. It was 4mm thick so it gave me some room to move. I always like to make anything where two are required slightly oversize. That way the final finishing can bring them closer together to make a matching pair. You can always take some metal off a project but it sure is hard to put it back on.



I marked out the shapes on the brass and roughly ground to size on my bench grinder. This bench grinder has a 3mm thick wheel on it on one side which speeds up the metal removal process no end. Plenty of hand filing is still required of course.



Making the hinge joint is the tricky bit so I thought I’d tackle that before doing much more to the two parts involved. The lower part needed recessing either side to fit into the slot in the top part of the hinge. I wanted it to look reasonably neat which meant it had to be a rounded recess. This can’t be done by hand filing so I needed to make a cutter

I made this cutter on the lathe from silver steel and so it would fit in my bushing machine. It’s a simple two edged cutter with a 1mm pilot spigot. I turned it to size in the lathe, filed the flats and the cutting edges, heated it all up to bright red and dropped it in cold water. This makes silver steel go extremely hard, certainly hard enough to cut brass if the edges are stoned sharp. I have used this technique to make wheel cutters also.


To cut the recesses I needed to be able to hold the part securely but without damaging  the brass. This is where a finger clamp comes into its own. I clamped the unfinished part, drilled a 1mm hole and then used my cutter in the bushing machine to recess the hinge joint both sides.



After much filing and fitting the two parts were riveted together. I used a piece of brass rod 1mm thick . The hole ends on the bottom hinge mount were slightly chamfered both sides so the brass rod could be swaged out on the ends when riveted and not come loose.

Inevitably the two joined halves were less than perfectly flat and in line. Because I had allowed a bit extra in the dimensions I could now sand level both sides of the assembled hinges until the halves matched and looked like one piece. I did this on a 400 grit diamond lap but it can be done just as well with wet and dry sandpaper laid on a flat piece of glass.

A bit more judicious sanding was undertaken with successively finer grits and a lot of comparing of respective dimensions until finally the hinges looked like this. In fact even after this photo was taken I took a bit more metal off one of the hinges to improve the shape.



The handle was a simple turning exercise on the lathe with a threaded knob either end holding it all together.

With this clock I had to put the screws down from the top rather than from underneath as the case design didn’t allow this. A final polish and lacquering and it’s all done.