Clock Key 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Winding and Setting Your Clock

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A clock key is a small, but essential tool used in winding and setting clocks. It comes in different shapes and sizes and is used to wind the mainspring of a clock. Clock keys are essential in keeping a clock in good working condition, and proper use of them can help extend the lifespan of a clock. In this article, we will discuss the different types of clock keys, how to use them, and tips for maintaining them.

Types of Clock Keys:

There are different types of clock keys, with the traditional ones being square or hexagonal in shape. The size of the key required for your clock will depend on the size of the winding arbor. Modern clock keys come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from simple T-shapes to more elaborate designs. Other types of keys used for clocks include winding arbors and wing keys. Winding arbors are used in long-case clocks and grandfather clocks, while wing keys are used in carriage clocks.

How to Use a Clock Key:

Using a clock key is a simple process, but it is essential to use the right key for your clock. The first step is to identify the right key for your clock by checking the size and shape of the winding arbor. Once you have the right key, locate the keyhole on your clock. It is usually located on the clock face or at the back of the clock.

Insert the key into the keyhole and turn it clockwise to wind the mainspring. Turn the key until you feel resistance and do not force it. Overwinding the clock can damage the mainspring, so it is essential to wind the clock fully. To set the clock, turn the key counterclockwise until the hands are set to the correct time. Finally, remove the key from the keyhole.

Tips for Using a Clock Key:

To ensure the longevity of your clock key and clock, it is important to use the key gently and carefully. Avoid forcing the key or using excessive force. Use the key to wind the clock fully to prevent damage to the mainspring. When storing the key, keep it in a safe place where it cannot be lost or damaged.


In conclusion, a clock key is an essential tool in maintaining the proper functioning of your clock. The right key must be used, and it should be inserted gently and carefully into the keyhole. Always wind the clock fully, but avoid over-winding. By following these simple tips, you can help ensure the longevity of your clock and clock key. Proper care and maintenance of your clock and clock key can help keep them in good working condition for many years to come.

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