How to Make a Custom Clockcomments (9) December 15th, 2011
Everyone needs clocks in their homes, and there is so much creative possibility with them that I think custom clocks are a fantastic DIY gift idea for anyone on your gift list! You can keep the original clock frame, just replacing the face image with a custom picture, or you can take the working pieces out and replace them into a new object—it's much easier than you might think!
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- A working clock to take apart
- Optional new body to become a clock
- Picture(s) for the face
- Optional buttons or other small objects for number marks
- E6000 glue
- White glue
- Scissors (and an X-Acto knife will be helpful)
- Optional basic tools (screwdriver, wrench, pliers), depending on your clock
To find your clock, head out thrift-store shopping with a AA battery in your pocket, so you can test out the clocks you find to make sure you choose a working one. You'll also want to choose one with a cover that will come off—plastic is easy to pry off—and hands that you like the look of. If you want to keep the clock in its frame, then, of course, choose a frame you like. If you plan to print out a photo to use for the face, make sure the face is not bigger than you printer can handle.
Now take apart the clock. Sometimes the top plastic parts will pop right off using only your fingers, but usually you need to stick a scissor blade or a knife in the edge and pry up. Once the cover is out, take off the hands—usually they just pull right off, but there may be a screw holding them on. Use whatever tools you need to carefully get them off, and remember how they were on because you'll need to put them back just as you found them. Then you can remove the original picture, if it is a separate paper; if it's attached more securely, just leave it on and you can put the new image over it.
If you're using the same frame for your new clock, there's no need to take the back off, but if you do want to move the hands to a new body, it's usually super-easy to pop the battery-holding piece off the back. Sometimes there is glue holding it down better, so using your X-Acto knife or a regular knife to pry under it should do the trick.
If you want to install the hands onto a new body, you can leave the clock frame behind now, and all you'll need are that back piece, the hands, and any extra little pieces that might have been holding the hands on, if there were any.
Okay, the rest of the tutorial will be for using the original clock frame, so I'll just finish up the other option now. To install the hands into a new frame, you just need anything that you can cut/drill a hole in, or that already has a hole big enough to fit the piece holding the hands, and room for the back part behind. Boxes work well, records are common and easy, and I made one using a six-pack case, covered in fabric. You'll need to securely attach the back part with glue or tape, and think about the ease of getting a battery in and out. Be creative with the body and face; numbers aren't essential.
If you want to use a photo (or any picture) for the face of your clock, just measure the diameter and print it out the right size or have it printed at a photo lab. I used my home photo printer and didn't want to waste ink, so I cropped it to a circle in my photo-editing program before printing.
If the original clock art popped out, use it as a template for cutting your picture to size. If not, you'll have to carefully cut out the circle to fit the space.
Cut out the hole in the center using an X-Acto knife if you have one and also using the original paper as a template if possible.
Now glue in your new picture. Be sure to position it how you want it, using the wall hanger as a guideline for the top of the clock.
Replace the hands, and you're done if you want to be! You can choose whether to replace the cover—my cover was all scratched up so it wasn't even an option, but I also kind of like the look of the clock with no cover. Now you can glue on "numbers" if you want to. I used four buttons to mark the 12, 3, 6, and 9 spots. When gluing objects to the clock frame, use a super-strong glue like E6000 so they won't fall off!
If possible, you can use the old clock picture placed over the hands to get the number objects lined up perfectly. If this doesn't work with your clock, use a ruler or straightedge of some kind to line up the numbers with the center spot so they're straight.
Let dry according to the directions on the glue, and wrap up and gift!
Here are two other examples of clocks with new faces... The one below has a collaged face made with pictures from vintage books.
And here's a fabric face with screen-printed numbers and machine topstitching.
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery
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