Banjo Clock Makeover

2 Materials
1 Day
If you’ve spent any time reading our blog, you know how much Handan and I enjoy our weekly shopping trips to the town dump and its famous Put & Take section. Handan always finds something she can use, regardless how small or inconsequential, but I keep my eye out for bigger and more complicated things. On a recent trip, we found a trove we both agreed was treasure. Just as we were winding down our browsing and packing the car with a few of Handan’s bits and bobs, an elderly gent pulled up his car and began to offload clocks – two mantle clocks and a banjo clock. He placed them on an old table that had been left there. Handan and I shared a glance. “Go!” I yelled, seeing a father-and-son duo eyeballing our prizes. We rushed the table and laid hands on the two mantle clocks, but the kid scooped the banjo clock and proudly offered it to his dad. “Could we use this, dad?” The father looked it over, opening the pendulum door and fumbling with the winding key. “I don’t know…” He trailed off. Damn! I know! I can use it! Bah! Oh well, all’s fair in love, war and scavenging. The kid got to it first. By the Law of the Sea, it belonged to him. We scored two awesome mantle clocks, so it wasn’t a total loss. We finished packing our haul, and I reached up to close the tailgate. “Can you use this?” I turned to see the kid offering me the banjo clock. “Wow, really?” I said. “Yeah, my dad said that you guys might want it.” I looked up, met eyes with his father, and gave him a nod. “Thank you!” I said to the man. “And thank you, little man!” I said to the boy. I took the clock and placed it with the others. Three beautiful clocks. Three awesome projects.
When we got home, I took the banjo clock to the basement to check it out.
The clock was made by Sessions Clock Company – a prominent Connecticut clock maker from around 1903 to the 1950s. It is probably around 90 years old, give or take a decade. In good condition, you might get $100 or more for it. In the condition ours was in, it was probably worth $40 or $50. But I didn’t want to sell it, I wanted to use it! The clock is well-made, constructed of mahogany with a maple veneer inlay and a rather cheesy print of George Washington crossing the Delaware River. Though the actual crossing occurred on Christmas night in 1776, so George and his Continental Army could launch a surprise attack against the Hessians stationed in Trenton, New Jersey, the print shows him crossing in broad daylight. So much for historical accuracy. The clock was topped with a corny gold eagle that looked a little too much like the eagle of the Third Reich for my taste. There wasn't much repair work to do, except for a couple of places around the clock face...
I started removing screws and pieces from the clock. The guts looked intact, and after winding it with the key that was inside, I verified that the clock still worked.

Time to start working. I re-veneered the clock.

Handan also painted and stenciled new numbers on the clock face. When all was done, I re-assembled the clock. We're both very pleased with the result. It now hangs in my office, keeping time to my writing :)


Suggested materials:

  • Clock
  • Veneer

Handan & Greg @ The Navage Patch
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