What Are the Best Tips for Making DIY Clocks?

Megan Shoop
Megan Shoop
Traditional clocks and watches use a system of gears and pulleys to keep time.
Traditional clocks and watches use a system of gears and pulleys to keep time.

When making DIY clocks the possibilities are potentially endless. Typically, all a novice clockmaker needs is a clock movement kit and an object containing a chamber to hold the movement. Using these kits not only takes a lot of the work out of making DIY clocks, it also offers a wealth of versatility. The movements are usually relatively small and battery-powered, meaning the clockmaker can make clocks in many shapes and sizes that don’t require plugs or electrical outlets to work. The hands in these kits are also quite versatile.

One of the most important parts of making DIY clocks is choosing an object for the clock face. Book clocks are popular, as are clocks made from patterned china plates and picture frames. Those that want to make more traditional clocks might choose wooden discs or boxes as their bases. In all of these cases, the clockmaker must modify the object so the movement can be hidden either inside or behind it.

Some objects, like boxes, already contain a chamber for the movement. Those making book clocks typically use a utility knife to slice a chamber into the pages. When using flat objects, like plates or wooden discs, a chamber may be installed on the back of the object with industrial glue. Sturdy, acid-free cardboard boxes usually work well and may be found in most craft stores. The movement should fit snugly inside the chamber without getting stuck.

The second part of creating DIY clocks involves drilling the hole to connect the movement to the hands. The hole should typically be centered at the front of the object, and drilled with a bit about the same diameter as the small metal tube on the front of the movement. For instance, if the tube on the movement is about .5 inch (about 1 cm) in diameter, the clockmaker should drill the hole with a .5 inch (1 cm) diameter drill bit. Centering usually involves marking the object vertically and horizontally with a straight edge and pencil or china marker. Where the two lines intersect is usually the center of the object.

Drilling glass and porcelain, unlike wood and cardboard, may require special tools. A diamond-tipped drill usually works well. The clockmaker should also wear safety goggles and work slowly when drilling brittle materials. Makers often like to spray glass and porcelain with water as they drill to keep the hole from scorching and to keep dust down.

The next part of making DIY clocks mostly involves creativity. Once the object has a chamber and a hole for the hands, the maker may decorate the clock however he or she likes. For instance, the numbers on a clock may be marked with hand-drawn numbers, stickers, or pictures. These pictures may be symbols of the numbers, such as bunches of flowers or photos showing different numbers of family members. The hands may also be modified with paint, wrapped with beading wire, or glued to cardboard cutouts to change their appearance.

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    • Traditional clocks and watches use a system of gears and pulleys to keep time.
      By: tycoon101
      Traditional clocks and watches use a system of gears and pulleys to keep time.