How Cuckoo Clocks Are Made

The manufacturing process of an original Black Forest cuckoo clock requires talent and skill.  These clocks consist of many individual parts, most of which are hand-made.

The manufacturing of a high quality cuckoo clock requires 4 main steps:

  1. The woodcarver carves the wooden surface.
  2. The clockmaker builds the mechanical movement.
  3. The joiner builds the wooden case.
  4. Woodcarving, movement and the wooden case are assembled and adjusted to a unique cuckoo-clock by the clockmaker.

The woodcarving is the core of each clock. Cuckoo clocks are made mostly of linden wood using many different types of chisels. Linden wood is used mostly for woodcarvings, because it is not too hard and not too soft.

To start, the layout is drawn on a prepared wooden board with a pencil. Then the shape of the carving is sawed out by using scroll saw. Once this is completed the carving process begins. The wood board is attached to a wooden panel with nails. The carver then works out the coarse structures in order to finish it by using smaller chisels. The first cut is known as the “stop cut”. This requires a solid bench, a solid mallet, and a little violence. The “stop cut” outlines the object and it is cut straight down into the wood all the way around the perimeter of the design, about 0.2 inch deep. The next step is lowering – working all around the “stopped” design until it is outlined with a “lowering cut” at least 0.5 inch across. This procedure repeats itself until the shape of the carving corresponds to the picture which the woodcarver has designed.

To become a woodcarver, you must first apprenticeship for 3 years.

4 thoughts on “How Cuckoo Clocks Are Made

  1. Good evening to you. My 21 year old daughter would love to become an apprentice to a woodcarver in the hopes of designing and making clocks. She loves working with wood and in fact made a beautiful mantel clock in high school. We can not seem to find anything other than cabinet making here and was wondering if you had any advice to help her on her search. We both really love your clocks and apprieciate the work that goes into making them. Thank you in advance for your time. Sincerely Donna Jones, Nova Scotia, Canada.

    • Hi Donna, Woodcarving is actually a family tradition for the Fehrenbach’s and it has been passed down over 5 generations. My suggestion would be to seek out a custom furniture maker rather than a cabinet maker, someone who does intricate detail work by hand. Best of luck!

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