Tall case clock movement testing stand

A clock test stand is an absolute must for anyone that repairs antique and/or vintage clocks. Quite often minor adjustments are required after servicing that can only be made if the movement is on a test stand.

Years ago I bought a test stand from Merritts Clock Supplies. It is called Gene’s test stand and it is both versatile and adjustable. The stand can be used for many mantel and wall clocks. For those wall clocks that have longer pendulums, I designed what I call a movement stand extension that you can see in the photo below.

Gene's stand with extension and clamp
Gene’s stand with extension and clamp

I was missing a practical test stand for tall case clocks and the recent purchase of a Scottish tall case clock necessitated that I either buy one or make one. I decided to put my limited carpenter skills to use and made one.

Maclachlan tall case clock

I had seen several from online clock suppliers but could not justify spending $100 or more if I could make one myself. Given our world health crisis (April 2020) I was reluctant to wander around hardware stores buying supplies and to potentially expose myself to the virus.

I had to make do with what I had. I had some premium 2 X 4’s on hand leftover from another job and they were perfect for this job. Premium means that they are extra cost kiln-dried lumber and very straight. My plan was to construct a 2 X 2 box frame but to do so I had to rip the 2 X 4’s in half to get the size I needed (1 1/2 by 1 1/2 by 48 inches).

First attempt, an ungainly 5-foot

I measured what I thought I needed based on the dimensions of my newly acquired Scottish tall case clock and concluded that 60 inches should be the correct height. I decided it was too high and ungainly with too much potential to sway with the movement and heavy weights attached.

I took a day or so to think about the height and decided to cut it down to 48 inches. However, I was pleased with the adjustment as it was considerably more stable. I also included side braces for extra rigidity.

48-inch stand cut down form 60 inches

The completed box frame is 16″ X 16″ X 48″, perfect for my needs and it will more than accommodate two or more movements.

Completed stand

I also added two removable hardwood cross pieces to support the movement, in this case, an English bell strike from my Scottish clock.

The clamps on both sides offer a measure of safety

In the above photos, the stand is free-standing in the room. After using the stand for a week I learned that it must be anchored to a wall so as to eliminate sympathetic vibration when the pendulum and weights are at the same height, around day 5or 6 of the 8-day cycle.

The result is a very solid and stable tall case test stand that will no doubt last for years.