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  Reader's letter | March 2007 | Clocks Magazine

Man-made boards

For some time I have thought that readers should more often view antique longcase clocks from the perspective of an antique furniture restorer/traditional cabinet­maker.

I acknowledge without hesitation the contribution of the clocksmith; without them there would be no clock. Do we not drool over some small artistic refinement by a particular maker? A maker who is more than an engineer, a maker who is an artist too.

Rarely do we see the artistic work of the clocksmith/clockmaker on the dial, for this work is generally done by the engraver or painter. The engineer is primarily engaged in the mechanical side, ie making the clock. It is when the horological engineer takes on the role of the artistic casemaker/restorer that problems can occur.

I am appalled at the use of man-made boards in antique longcase case manufacture and restoration. There is never any justification for using these materials.

In respect of an antique clock with a case, whose base or plinth is rotted as a result of wear and tear and needs replacement, then the appropriate correct materials must always be used, ie oak, walnut, pine, mahogany etc. Similarly an antique caseless clock should be put into an antique case of similar style and material for its period. If an antique case is not available then a new one could be manufactured using the timber, style and regional characteristics of the period. Never, ever, can the use of man-made boards be justified.

I am old enough to remember the saying ‘If a job is worth doing, then its worth doing properly’. No self-respecting horological engineer would use sheet aluminium to repair or make a clock wheel, or a piece of plastic bar to make an arbor or click spring.

I applaud Clocks magazine for running a series of articles for beginners on clock repair/restoration. If we are to educate the young, then we must teach them best practice. That includes cases too.

N Woodford, UK

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