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Creating and manufacturing of German Black Forest cuckoo clocks

Creating a Cuckoo Clock takes much skill and experience. The high percentage of handicraft makes every Cuckoo Clock almost unique. The clockmakers do not intend to produce the cuckoo clocks as cheap as possible but have unchangeable quality standards that have to be met.

Many of the work procedures have been existing for centuries and are passed on from generation to generation. Not all of the specific procedures are publically known because most cuckoo clock manufacturers protect their knowledge. A knowledge that has grown for many centuries and that is the basis of the German cuckoo clock production. Besides the general high demand for cuckoo clocks, the protection of knowledge has helped the Black Forest clockmakers to continue to be successful in a globalized world. Cheap Asian plagiarism has not yet been a critical problem for the major manufacturers of cuckoo clocks.

Many different workings are necessary until a high quality clock reaches customers. Experts in various handicrafts are involved. Most manufacturers have their own cabinetmaking and carving workshop and almost entirely count on own employees. At first, the right wood has to be chosen. Normally linden tree (lime tree) is taken for cuckoo clocks, because it is ideal for woodcarvings and grows in Black Forest. The wood is cut and then has to dry for several years so it does not move or get cracks later on. When the wood has completely dried out, it is cut into pieces corresponding to the sizes of the cuckoo clocks. Already at this step quality control is very important. All wood pieces that have irregularities or cracks are separated.

One of the most important parts cuckoo clocks is the front side. It is the figurehead of a clock and demands more production time than most other parts. Experienced woodcarvers realize the specific designs of each black forest clock. If you take a close look on the clock you can see the typical traces of a woodcarving knife which machine carvings will not have. Chalets often have shingle roofs with hand carved shingles that are laid individually.

Another important part of each cuckoo clock is the movement. Usually it is either a German or a Swiss movement that is used. Some manufacturers buy finished movements and install them into the cuckoo clocks, while others buy individual parts and assemble the movement in their workshops. Hubert Herr makes the entire movement in his own workshops. The movement is the heart of every mechanical cuckoo clock. Together with other mechanical parts it is installed into the clock. An experienced clockmaker connects the movement to elements of the clock it has to drive (hands, cuckoo, dancers and moving figurines). Before a cuckoo clock leaves a Black Forest clock company, it has to pass many quality tests. Experienced inspectors check every detail of the clock, before it is boxed and shipped to the customers.

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