Walnut Bell Frame

Recently a customer called to talk to me about a woodworking project and asked if I have ever built a bell frame. I told him, “No, but I am pretty sure that no one else you are going to find around here has either.” That may not have instilled much confidence, but I got the job anyway (it may have also helped that he was a friend of a friend).

My customer gave the bell to his wife for their anniversary. It was made in 1908 and weighs about 450 lbs. The bell and the new headstock and wheel all came from Whitechapel bell foundry in England, makers of Big Ben and the Liberty Bell.

The frame is made of walnut, which is very durable outside, and is mounted on a slab of granite from New Hampshire. I was able to get all of the major parts from one log that was perfectly suited for the job. It was straight-grained on one end, which I used for the feet and top rails, and it was curved on the other end, which I used for the four legs. I loved using the sawmill to cut the thick lumber and chainsaw to do the rough work.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this job was being able to start with a log, and in a short time end up with a finished piece.

Walnut bell frame

Walnut bell frame 2

 

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About wunderwoods

Hi! My name is Scott Wunder and I am the owner of WunderWoods Custom Woodworking. We build wine cellars, built-ins and furniture from local woods, here in St. Louis, MO. Recently, I finished a three-year term as the President of the St. Louis Woodworkers Guild, which had me writing a monthly article for our newsletter. I love to write, especially about wood, and found that I still had more to say. Every day I run into something wood related that I realize some of my customers don't know and this seems like a great forum for sharing what I have learned (instead of telling the same story to each person). The main thing to remember is that I try to keep it light and as my wife always reminds people that have just met me, "He is joking."

9 responses to “Walnut Bell Frame”

  1. Doug Houser says :

    That is very cool, Scott. Is it your own design?

    • wunderwoods says :

      It is my own design. I borrowed the basics from Whitechapel. Their design was more utilitarian, with straight parts. The curves were inspired by my friend and my customer.

  2. david aion says :

    wow. this is really spectacular.

  3. Dan Brown says :

    Good stuff Scott! I love the curves, the walnut and the through tenons!

  4. Matt says :

    That is super cool! Looks like a fun project.

    Matthew Laposa 636-219-4597 Sent from my iPhone

    >

  5. Glenn Hill says :

    Beautiful! What kind of finish did you use for outside weather

  6. Kim says :

    This my be my favorite project yet. Beautiful.

  7. John.Bronson@emerson.com says :

    Hi Scott!

    Nice Job on the bell frame! How does it sound?

    A bit of Liberty Bell Trivia – The original bell was cast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry, but it cracked on the 1st test ringing in 1751. Philadelphia metalworkers John Pass & John Stow (PASS AND STOW is cast into the Liberty Bell) melted down that bell and recast the Liberty Bell. This bell did not crack until the 1840’s after 90 years of hard use.

  8. Dave Vitale says :

    Scott,
    Another fantastic project – That is one heck of a dinner bell! The whole neighborhood is going to show up!
    Thanks for sharing the story behind it – That is what makes the project meaningful.

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