Do you ever have a project that you’re super nervous to tackle? For me, it was this grandfather clock:
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I picked it up over a month ago for $25 at my local Habitat for Humanity Restore. And since then, it’s sat in my “future projects area” (aka, the dining room) waiting for me to be brave enough to start it.
It’s not a super-duper valuable grandfather clock. And yes, I know that for sure. I found an appropriately-labeled envelope inside the clock answering every single question I had about the origins of this clock.
Really. I even have the original purchaser’s address and SSN. Lucky for them, I’m not an identity thief (and I’m kind enough to black out the info before posting pictures on the internet.)
The clock is a 1977 Ridgeway originally purchased for $412. While it might work, (the pendulum and chimes were wrapped up in a plastic bag in the bottom of the clock,) I’m not betting on it, especially after the bumpy 60 mile unpadded trailer ride it took home from Habitat.
Plus, the majority of this clock is not real wood. The carvings and frames? Yes. But any large flat sections (the sides, the bottom front) are all particleboard.
So why was I nervous? A couple reasons:
- Grandfather clocks don’t fall into my possession everyday. If I screw up a coffee table, no biggie, there are plenty of those that need a little love. Grandfather clocks are a little harder to find;
- This clock did not start ugly. It’s a nice clock, in decent condition. Most things I start with are hideously outdated or damaged. This was not. It just didn’t fit the style of my living room, so I wanted to change it. There was a distinct possibility it would end up uglier than what I started with, and that’s nerve-wracking.
While some people might like the original “fine furniture” finish better than the “after,” I think the clock’s new look fits my living room much better than the original dark faux walnut. I’m calling it a win.
Remodeling a Clock Plan
I really wanted the clock to have a “weathered wood” look to it.. problem is, the weathered wood look starts with a light base. And because so much of this clock was veneered, I had no good way to remove the dark stain from the clock. The finish? Yeah, I could strip that. But sanding away the stain would mean sanding through the veneer, which was a non-starter.
So I decided to try and get the “weathered” look with a dark base. I had no idea how that would turn out, or if I’d like it in the end, which was probably reason number 3 I was hesitant to get started. But I told myself if it turned out awful, I could always paint it in the future.
Step 1: Strip the Clock
The grandfather clock came with a traditional finish, but for my weathering technique to work, the grain needed to be accessible. So I grabbed a stripping agent (Jasco stuff- it burns like crazy and I don’t recommend it) and got started.
I went in small chunks at a time, since the stripping goop dries fast, and then is difficult to remove. I applied the goop, let it sit for 30-ish seconds, then started scraping it off. 30 seconds was really all this stuff needed to work.
You’ll note that the original finish had these weird black dots all over it. Some research told me this is called “flyspecking” and is done to make wood look older. I am really not a fan, and was super glad to see them come off with the finish.
It was a slow process, and it probably took me 3-4 hours to work my way around the entire clock. Eventually, though, my clock looked like this:
Step 2: Weather
To weather the wood, I watered down some white paint and used a paintbrush to spread it on.
Then I grabbed a rag and wiped the paint away until only a slight dusting was left.
Thankfully, this went much faster than the stripping process of the previous day, and was done in about an hour. Since I had some extra time, I decided to paint the inside of the clock white to provide a contrast with the outer darker/weathered wood.
And then the clock was done!
I love how it looks in the living room.. it’s the perfect decor piece to go in this awkward, empty corner.
If you love it too, go ahead and save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again later!
Tuesday 25th of February 2020
Great job!! I'm a clockaholic and have redone lots of grandfather clocks. My last one was to convert it to a grandmother clock....granny shoes for legs, painted it pink, etc. My next one will be (hopefully) a cloisonne grandfather clock. If you want to spiff yours up a little, you can get a piece mirror and velcro it to the inside back .
Wednesday 26th of February 2020
That is mirror idea is gold!
Friday 17th of January 2020
I like it! I found this project on HomeTalk, through your burlap wall post! I am trying to do a weathered finish on some golden oak tables, stripping is a lot of work!!
Monday 20th of January 2020
Thank you! It's a ton of work for sure!