How to Make a Custom Clock

comments (10) September 20th, 2013     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
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I used a photo I took—you can use a picture of you with your loved one or anything else personalized!
I can carry supplies around in my working clock!
Contrasting colors really make this clock pop!
I used a photo I took—you can use a picture of you with your loved one or anything else personalized!

I used a photo I took—you can use a picture of you with your loved one or anything else personalized!

Photo: Lee Meredith
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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!

You'll need:

  • 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.

clock diy tutorial   Once you get your recycled clock home from the thrift store, clean it well before redecorating.

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.

frame Get more gift projects:

• How to Make an All-Recycled Sketchbook
• How to Make a Magazine Reed Box
How to Make a Multi-Photo Frame

How to Make a Manly Catchall


custom clock diy how to   Now you have a blank clock canvas to work with.

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.

custom clock diy how to   The back piece is normally held in with a couple of tabs as you can see here.

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.

custom clock diy how to   Using the parts from a thrift-store clock is much cheaper than buying clock parts at a craft store!

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.

custom clock diy how to   I can carry supplies around in my working clock!

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.

custom clock diy how to   You don't have to make the image into a circle-you can just print the whole thing and cut it out.

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.

custom clock diy how to   It's always safer to cut a little too big, then trim down as needed, rather than cut too small in the first place.

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.

custom clock diy how to   Carefully cut the hole out with scissors if you don't have an X-Acto knife.

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.

custom clock diy how to   I used Aleene's Original Tacky Glue for this part.

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!

custom clock diy how to   The buttons I chose are simple, but they coordinate with the look of the clock as a whole.

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.

custom clock diy how to   You could also choose to do all 12 numbers, or just the 12 and 6.

Let dry according to the directions on the glue, and wrap up and gift!

custom clock diy how to   Be sure to use plenty of glue-you'd feel horrible to give a clock that falls apart!

Here are two other examples of clocks with new faces... The one below has a collaged face made with pictures from vintage books.

custom clock diy how to   Bright, solid colors and weirdness are the themes here.

And here's a fabric face with screen-printed numbers and machine topstitching.

custom clock diy how to   Contrasting colors really make this clock pop!



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posted in: recycle, home, scissors, glue, photo, picture, clock

Comments (10)

Moptop27 writes: Going to try it and put grandchildren faces on
Posted: 8:48 pm on September 20th
EchoLin writes: cutton clock, i love the flower inside the clock.
Posted: 5:17 am on March 19th
Nodan writes: I am wondering is these clocks real clocks? I think they are just decorations. I like them as decorations.
Posted: 12:48 am on January 19th
Zadig writes: Interesting...

To Craftyjana: to make a hole in a diner plate you will have to mark the center and put a piece of duck tape on that spot and drill the hole, starting with slow speed, and increasing the speed softly. It work well...
Posted: 1:03 pm on August 6th
EQOnlineFabricStore writes: I love these. I need a clock for my living room. I may try one of these ideas.
Posted: 12:34 pm on August 6th
CraftyJana writes: Great idea! recycle - recycle - recycle
I would be interested in applying an old working clock face to a dinner plate.
What type of drill would one use to drill a hole in china dinnerware?
I have always wanted to make a clock for my kitchen from one of my extra antique plates.

Posted: 11:19 am on January 14th
sergun writes: beautiful!
Posted: 8:56 am on December 24th
ilovetweek writes: me too!
Posted: 2:19 pm on December 21st
AppleSweetTalk writes: Amazing! I love the idea! I'll try to make one.
Posted: 7:30 pm on June 15th
Sister_Diane writes: Fantastic! And I love seeing all these different versions.
Posted: 1:35 pm on November 29th
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