One day I happened to be browsing an antique store, and I noticed this shabby old mantlepiece clock case lying amongst some other bric-a-brac on display. It was made of wood which had faded badly, was dry and a little rough, but I figured I could do something with it – like make it into a clock again!

Perhaps you might have something like this lying around, and wondered what you ought to do with it! Let me show you what I did with this!

The case was empty – the clockwork internals had been removed long ago, but it was still in fair condition and I figured I could save it. A big, big plus for this project was that the clock still had its original brass face and hinged glass cover, and the glass was still intact!

The price I paid for it? A princely R20!

I grinned all the way home, thinking how I would refurbish this beautiful item – and how the seller had obviously underestimated my abilities!

The case took a bit of cleaning – it was covered in dust and grime. The brass bits had to be taken off and cleaned – it was attached with small brass nails which I had to remove carefully. After that had been done, I gave the wood a light sanding with very fine sandpaper to avoid scratching it.

The little legs underneath the case were still there, though two of them were bent and deformed, so I removed them and straightened them out again.

Once cleaned, I thinly applied wood sealer to give a wonderful rich, velvety finish and then refitted all the brass fittings.

Next, I got hold of a modern battery-operated clock mechanism and a set of retro vintage clock hands from a local art & craft shop, and fitted them. I opted to remove the second hand to keep the vintage look – mantlepiece clocks didn’t have those, after all!

Looking at it from outside, you’d never guess it had a modern battry-driven mechanism, would you? 😉 It doesn’t chime of course, but things like that can be a trifle annoying if you have the wrong kind of ears for them!

Research later revealed this clock was of German make from the 1920’s and 30’s! It looks really at home on top of our piano in the parlor, doesn’t it? Not bad for a few bob and a little elbow grease!

Pictures below – enjoy! 🙂

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about anything on this site, or her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to or use the Contact form on her author website.

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