Introduction: A (detailed) Beginner's Guide to Rebellowing a Cuckoo Clock

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Everyone loves a good cuckoo clock, but what happens when your cuckoo loses it's cuckoo? Well it's probably the bellows. Sadly at some point in every cuckoo clock's life it will need the bellows replaced. At this point, you have a few options: throw the cuckoo clock away and get another one (quite sad and expensive,) send it out to get it fixed (usually fairly expensive,) or do it yourself (can be expensive or quite cheap!) Now in doing it yourself you have 3 options, the first being to buy new bellows tops (about $15 from ebay and 15 minutes,) releathering the bellows (I don't know what kangaroo leather is going for now, but it's more costly than the third option,) which is under $5! (or free if you don't have to buy glue or tool,) and a little bit of time.

Now this Instructable is intended for handy people who happen to have a cuckoo clock lying around that isn't something special (seriously, if it's your grandmother's 100 year old cuckoo clock that is very special or something that would be missed if you messed up, do not work on it, have it serviced by someone who knows what they are doing.) If not (as in you found one in a yard sale or flea market or something and you have a working knowledge of how to put something together and see it work,) this is the place for you.

Step 1: Materials/Tools

The following things are needed for this project:

1 cuckoo clockin need of some help: (it needs to have the whistle, I have found quite a few that for some reason are missing one of the whistles. It's alright if it's missing the top of the bellows top or the entire bellows though it's easier if you've got at least one piece.)

1/4" or 3/16" plywood: (if you need to remake the bellows top, this step will be outlined but not shown.)

Glue: I will be using wood glue here but I've used white glue and modge podge before and all work fairly well. You can also use hyde glue if you want to be traditional and make your life more difficult.

USPS Tyvek paper shipping envelope: This is very important, you can buy cuckoo clock bellows paper which is the same stuff or you can do what I do and go to the post office and get a shipping envelope for free.

150 grit sandpaper: for cleaning the old paper and glue

Pennies: Optional, this may be needed for extra weight on the top of the bellows when they're new. Gravity is what operates the bellows.

Xacto/hobby knife or scissors: You will need this to trim the excess paper.

Saw: For remaking the bellows top and bottom if need be.

Drill/drill bit of appropriate size: if you're missing or break the bottom piece, you'll need to drill another hole in the same place of the relative same size.

Paintbrush: for the glue.

Flathead screwdriver: to take the screw holding the whistle on to the side of the box.

Time and Patience: Take your time and wait for the glue to dry completely. It will make your job look nice and much easier to work with step by step. Also, if it doesn't work right the first time, don't get mad, get even. Try it again, make sure all your corners are covered and airtight; and because the paper we're using is free, the only thing it costs you is your time and glue.

Step 2: Getting Started

The first thing you will need to do is get the clock apart. After you get the back off, you will find a linkage that goes from the movement to the bellows; CAREFULLY open one end to allow the assembly to come off. Most clocks will have a small screw and a nail holding the whistle on. Some older ones or finer ones may also have glue holding it on; simply snap it or cut it with your knife.

Step 3: Cleaning the Old Material Off

Once the whistle and bellows assembly is free and removed, you will need to clean the old material off. The first part of this consists of taking the bottom of the bellows off the whistle; this may come easy or tough. If it's easy, you will be able to snap the bottom of the bellows old glue off and be able to reuse the bottom. If not, you will end up snapping a piece of it off, or half of it off and then you will need to make a new piece (just trace the old one and drill the hole where necessary.) After these pieces are apart, you can simply scrape the old bellows material (bellows paper or leather) off using your knife or a little bit of sandpaper for the larger pieces of glue.

Step 4: Starting to Cut Your Paper

The first step in cutting your paper is making the hinge in the back of the bellows. I've done it two different ways: a single fold and a double fold (pictured here.) It really doesn't matter, but I've found that the double fold works better for some reason.

The paper hinge will need to cover the whole back of the bellows; this is what makes it airtight.

Cut the paper to size

Fold (or don't)

Glue both sides (and let it dry.)

Step 5: Beginning the Rebellowing

Once the hinge is dry, you can begin repapering the bellows.

For this part you will need to lay the paper out flat.

Lay the bellows on the paper so that they are in the open position.

Glue both the top and bottom to the paper.

Let it dry.

Begin trimming the excess paper (leave a little so that you can attach something to the top and bottom.)

Step 6: Roll It!

Once the glue is dry, roll the bellows on the paper to the front.

Glue the top and bottom again.

Let it dry.

Continue trimming.

Step 7: Roll It Again!

Roll the bellows to the third side and glue it like the other two.

Let it dry.

Trim the rest.

Step 8: Roll and Trim the Excess Paper

Remember that little bit you left around the whole top and bottom? Now you're going to glue it; this helps with making them airtight.

If there's anything left that you can't glue, trim it carefully (I can't tell you how many times I've gotten mostly done with a bellows and made a hole in it at this point. It's pretty frustrating.)

Step 9: Fold the Bellows

Lightly press the middle and outsides of the bellows in and push the top down to make the fold.

(It should look like this.)

Step 10: Reattach the Bellows to the Whistle and the Whistle to the Clock

Line up the holes in the bottom of the bellows and glue them down. When it's dry, test it; if it doesn't work, try it again! These clocks are a labor of love, either you love them or you hate them and if you're working on it, you love it enough to make it work right, if you hate it, it's probably because you live near a real cuckoo bird and you know how annoying they can be.

Step 11: Reattach the Whistle to the Clock

Put your little screw and nail back in place and hook the linkage back on.

Step 12: You're Done!

Hopefully this was helpful, again it's not hard, but you need to focus and be patient with it. If you are, you will be rewarded with the sound of your cuckoo clock happily chirping in your home.

Happy making!

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