Cat Clock


This is actually cat clock #2. Cat clock #1 was so much fun to make that I had to make another one to keep her company. The two turned out very similarly and the story behind #1 is more interesting, so that's what I'll talk about.

Most non-woodworkers I run into seem to think that woodworkers must devote themselves to filling their homes with beautiful furniture and gifts for friends and family. Most woodworkers I know spend their time bemoaning the long list of projects their spouses want them to do (fondly called "Honey do" projects) as they devote themselves to acquiring more tools, building workbenches and tool cabinets, or (in my case anyway) making things for sale.

For Christmas of 1996, my wife asked for a clock to put on our mantle and I agreed. I'm sure she had a more or less traditional mantle clock in mind, but I wanted to make something a little different and a bit more challenging to the current state of my woodworking abilities. She went along with this, but said that she didn't want anything "too weird". Then began one of the fun parts of woodworking as I tried to come up with a design to match my creative aspirations. I began doodling up various kinds of shapes and designs during meetings at work and during the other odd moments at home keeping in mind Linda's desires.

Inspiration must have struck during one of the idle moments at home watching one of our cats in action. Linda is a cat lover of the first rank. We have five resident in the house, several semi-wild ones use our porch as a feeding station, and if stray kittens show up anywhere in the neighborhood, Linda gets the call.

A cat clock seemed like the perfect answer and now I began sketching drawings of cats using our's as models. I think they began to wonder why I was looking at them so intently instead of barely noticing them (my usual practice- I like to treat the cats the way they treat me.)

I used a nice thick chunk of walnut for the cat body and glued on the tail from a thinner piece. I routed out a hole for the clock mechanism and bandsawed the rough shape. From then on it was all handtool work. I don't fancy myself a wood carver to any extent, but bringing out the cat shape on the piece was what we oldtool lovers (Galoots) refer to as an "eepiffanee" (probably because we can't spell it). I know real wood carver's would laugh (gently I hope) at my results, but at the same time I think they would understand the way the cat seemed to come to life as I slowly carved out the details with chisels, gouges, a carving knife, and rasps and spokeshaves. I knew better than to try for a very lifelike carving and I really didn't want one. It wasn't a cat carving, it was a clock in the shape of a cat and I had to quit at some point. The face was the most challenge and the most fun (particularly the eyes). At some point, the piece began to stare back at me as I worked on it with the same sort of bemused, slightly insolent look that the real cats give me.



 This piece measures about 13" long by 7" high and 2" thick. I finished it with a bunch of coats of polymerized tung oil, rubbed down with steel wool and waxed.  

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