Traditional shellac improves the appearance of an ogee clock case

This Chauncey Jerome 30-hour or one-day clock from about 1844-1845 is the example that I am using to illustrate the advantages of using traditional shellac as a finish coat.

The mahogany veneer is in very good condition and it is evident that the clock was not subject to the abuse one would expect of a 180-year-old clock. There is a small dent in the upper left corner but it is hardly noticeable. There are a few scratches here and there consistent with age but all in all the veneer is in great shape.

As found, a dull and lifeless case

First, is cleaning the case. My go-to cleaner for clock cases is Murphy’s Soap. It does a great job of lifting years of grime and dirt from the veneer. The tradeoff is that once you remove the dirt it reveals shellac loss. It was my intention to apply a coat of shellac in the first place so, when I got through layers of dirt and discovered some of the finish gone, I was not too concerned.

Since there are no veneer repairs, refreshing the case was pretty easy. I am not a big believer in maintaining the patina of a clock. if pt is dirty it needs to be cleaned!

I use traditional shellac consisting of flakes mixed with shellac lacquer. I use a wide artist’s brush to apply the shellac and it always produces a superior finish.

One coat of amber shellac

I have decided to leave the lower tablet as-is and as for the dial, I haven’t yet decided on whether or not to address the faded chapter ring though I am also leaning towards leaving it as-is.

The movement has been serviced, the clock is running and striking as it should and I think it looks great after the case refresh.

2 thoughts on “Traditional shellac improves the appearance of an ogee clock case

  1. Thanks Ron, So many finishes to choose from. Really another skill set to pick the right one. Shellac period correct for a clock this age. Good information, (as always).

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    1. Yes, early clocks were finished with shellac and it produced a superior finish. Modern finishes are more durable but it is always best to replicate the original materials.

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