A passion for working with wood brought two neighbours together to create a beautiful one-of-a-kind grandfather clock.
In 2011, retired school teacher Bill Ferguson told next-door neighbour Richard Goodall he needed a project.
Because he is a talented woodworker, Goodall suggested his neighbour of 23 years build a replica grandfather clock and convinced him they would be able to find a suitable movement on the Internet.
“Bill decided to go ahead and so some time was spent studying pictures of old long-case clocks from the 1700 and 1800s,” says Goodall. “In the meantime, I watched eBay and found a very desirable movement from circa 1760.
It was rare because, not only was it a moon phase and calendar dial, but it was made by John Wyke, one of the most famous 18th century clock makers in England.”
Ferguson, who began carving wood at a very young age, has always loved working with wood.
And while he began by carving small items like boats and airplanes, his talent for much larger, intricate pieces is on display in his home and in all the beautiful accoutrements he has crafted for the Salmon Arm Freemasons hall, of which he is a member.
“The beauty of the wood is something outstanding, and then the challenge is bringing ideas from my mind to the finished project,” he says, noting he researches the works of others, but only for ideas.
“You’ll never see a clock like this anywhere else in the world. I wanted and 18th century clock, not a replica.”
Ferguson hand-picked the walnut boards for the body and chose a piece of weige, a dark and very pricey hard wood from Africa for the inlay on the front of the clock.
Between the wood and clock workings, Ferguson says he laid out more than $10,000.
“If I included my labour, then it becomes extremely ridiculous,” he laughs, noting he would never be able to turn his hobby and charitable work into a paying business. “Even at minimum wage it would be ridiculous.”
Ferguson says one of the marvellous things about retirement is that he could work as the spirit moved him, putting in long hours one day and doing nothing the next.
“A lot of time was spent thinking about what I was going to do and how I was going to do it,” he says.
“I don’t follow directions, I make my own, which is the reward of the whole thing, because when you’re finished, it’s yours.”
Along with the beautifully carved furniture, shelves and candlesticks Ferguson has made for the Masonic Hall over the past 30 years, hang two portraits he has painted of early hall officials.
Ferguson credits his painting abilities to a very good art program in his high school in Nelson.
He says that while woodworking requires total concentration, as it requires working with some potentially dangerous machinery, painting is relaxing.
“You become very absorbed with what you’re doing and there’s a beautiful sense of accomplishment once you’re finished,” he says of his painting efforts.
Goodall, an accomplished guitar-maker and antique furniture restorer, did all the finishing work on the clock.
“Getting a first-class finish is not easy and I do not use anything found on the shelf of the hardware store,” says Goodall, noting he has been restoring antiques and building guitars for the past 35 years.
“Guitars have to have a super-gloss finish and fine antiques often have what is called French polish. Both finishes are unsurpassed in brilliance.”
Goodall says his antique restoration business grew when people would take pieces of furniture to him for repair or restore.
“The guy who builds guitars, maybe he can fix this,” was the attitude, he says, noting a Vancouver Island store found him and shipped items to his Salmon Arm home.
Like his neighbour, Goodall is a consummate artist with wood, making high-end guitars that would cost anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000 should he consider selling them.
He calls his hobby fun but exacting work and says he usually puts a couple of hours into his guitars every day.
In terms of future projects together, Goodall says he’s now suggested his neighbour build himself a high-end liquor cabinet – something he says Ferguson is mulling over.