Refinements to a tall case clock test stand

Those involved in clock repair must use a special stand for testing tall case clock movements. There are many varieties of stands most of which are home-built though commercial ones are available in the $2-300 range.

Early last year (2020) I purchased a Scottish tall case clock. Those familiar with English bell strike movements know they can be tricky to work on and a test stand certainly helps to fine-tune the movement. I did not have such a stand and wondered whether to buy one or construct one. I was a bit put off at the cost of a factory-made stand so I decided to put my limited carpentry skills to use.

The test stand is in use prior to the finishing touches

Premium 2 X 4’s leftover from a previous job were perfect for this project. The term “premium” means extra cost because they are kiln-dried and guaranteed to be straight. My plan was to construct a 2 X 2 box frame with 4 legs but to do so I had to rip the 2 X 4’s in half. I put my old trusty table saw to good use.

The stand is 48 inches high held together with wood screws

The boxed-in base section (my idea) adds to the stability of the stand. I added two fitted removable hardwood cross pieces to support virtually any tall case movement.

Clock stand two rails off
Clock stand rails made of yellow oak and sprayed with clear lacquer
Clock stand one rail on
Clock stand with one rail on
Tall case clock stand
Tall case clock stand, both rails in position

The rails, made of yellow oak are strong and heavy. They do not require nailing or screwing to the top of the stand as the combined weight of both the movement and heavy weights is sufficient to provide stability. Clamping the movement board to the rails as per the first photo is an option.

After using the stand for a week I discovered that the movement was stopping when the weights descended to a certain level. Upon researching the problem I found that the stand must be securely anchored to a wall or similar rigid structure so as to eliminate a phenomenon called sympathetic vibration which occurs when the pendulum and weights are at the same height, and begin to move in sympathy with the pendulum, around day 7 of the 8-day cycle. In fact, all stands used for tall case clock movements should be anchored.

Tall case clock stand
Tall case clock stand with a couple of coats of paint

This stand will handle two movements comfortably and perhaps a third but I don’t see myself working on any more than one tall-case movement at a time.

Leftover paint (Espresso) from another job gives it a classy look. The result is a very solid, stable, and attractive tall case test stand that will no doubt last for years.