Cherished Grandfather Clock Continues to Inspire

Cherished Grandfather Clock Continues to Inspire

“They call me Geppetto…” our dad jokes to others when he points to the weathered wooden engraved plaque hanging above the workbench in his workshop. Growing up, we believed our dad, William “Bill” Blix, could create and build anything. Now that we’re adults, we know he can! He really is the Geppetto in our lives.

Bill Blix routing wood stack
This handsome grandfather clock has been a Blix family heirloom since Bill built it 40 years ago.

Dad took up woodworking as a hobby after watching his father and older brothers build their woodshop projects. He made his first woodworking creation in junior high school back in 1960 — a flying wooden goose with copper wings that still sits perched on the wall of his workshop today. Recently, he took it down to show us the intricate curves of the wood and how difficult a project it was for him as a teenager. No matter how difficult, Dad loved the challenge. As a CPA and accounting professor by day, he’s a natural at working with dimensions, angles and measurements. When building a project, he never forgets to remind us, “Gracie and Leslie, you measure three times but you cut only once.”

Bill Blix and his daughter with a display case

Of course, Dad has made mistakes along the way. He’s thrown away projects, started over, wasted wood and spent extra money. But once his projects are complete, they are always beautiful and well worth the time and effort. They’re even more special to our family because he made them.

Just Couldn’t Wait!

Page from a newsprint edition of Woodworker's Journal
Here’s Bill’s original page of the clock article, part 2, from an issue of Woodworker’s Journal in 1984.

In 1984, Dad began working on a grandfather clock. He found the design and plans in the November/December 1984 issue of Woodworker’s Journal, as a matter of fact. Falling in love with this new and detailed project, our dad started ordering wood, sharpening tools and getting to work on it — his first grandfather clock! Unfortunately, that magazine issue only provided part one of the clock build. He was so excited to keep building and finished the clock up to the end of part one in no time. He knew he needed part two to finish it and recalls that he just couldn’t wait!

Bill Blix at his workshop table saw

Since Woodworker’s Journal was only published every few months, Dad reached out to the magazine by phone to request the rest of the clock plans, hoping he could continue sooner than anticipated. The magazine staff was kind enough to not only get back to him but also print out the second installment and mail the plans to him before they were even published! Now, four decades later, he still has that printed paper plan.

More Clocks Coming

Patio bench made by Bill Blix

After years of designing and creating new projects, Dad has started to build grandfather clocks once again. He’s working on the second and third clocks now, and we can’t wait to see how they turn out! The original sits in our family home, and the two new clocks will be for us, his two daughters. Reading your articles and thumbing through the pages has led Dad to create the most beautiful pieces of woodworking throughout the years … from small table clocks to outdoor benches, wooden reindeer lining our front yard for Christmas (we even were in the newspaper once for those!), figurine chests, a Murphy bed for Leslie and even a dining room table for Gracie’s new home.

Bookshelf Murphy bed built by Bill Blix

Over the 40 years that have passed since Dad made that first clock, he says a great deal has changed in the woodworking world — digital clock mechanisms, easier tools for creating delicate moldings, new advanced saws and sanding machines … But one thing remains the same: his creations are still filled with beauty and love, and they remain timeless for our family. Dad’s first clock has inspired us every day of our lives, thanks to his woodworking skills and that original two-part article from 1984.

By Grace and Leslie Blix

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