How to Build a Mechanical Clock

clock image by Stanisa Martinovic from

Things You'll Need

  • Clock base
  • Stain (optional)
  • Clock movement and hands
  • Clock-face sized numbers and/or face or templates for painting
  • Wood numbers sized to fit your project
  • Wood burning tools (optional)
  • Acrylic paint and brushes (optional)
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • Drill and bit

Making a mechanical clock can be either a very challenging task or a fairly easy exercise. It all depends on the type of clock you want to make and whether you assemble a clock from finished parts or are prepared to assemble some of the parts on your own. You will need specialized skills if you prefer to assemble the parts yourself. For example, if you want to make your own clock base, you will need to have wood carving skills. You can make a clock without too much technical difficulty by choosing the easier method—i.e. using readily available parts that can be purchased at any large craft or hobby store.

Plan the design of the clock you'd like to build. You will need to define the overall look of the clock, its border patterns and the style of the numbering, among other things. You will also have to choose a base for your clock and select the type of hands you'd like to employ. Also, make up your mind about whether to use wood stain, paint or varnish.

Apply a coat of stain or paint on the clock base. After the base dries completely, you can paint or mark a pattern on the clock base. If you are painting your own numbers on the clock face, you can mark the locations for each number and then sketch them in using a pencil. Otherwise, you can mark the locations for decals or press-on numbers. Apply stickers or decals only after all the other design elements are done. Outline the face. Then measure its width and length to locate its center. Mark the center with an "x."

Stain, burn or paint the design that you have created. If you are using a pre-made clock face, then place your design round the area and the edges of the base. If you are using paint, let it dry before proceeding to the next step.

Apply decals, if you decided to use them. Choose a drill bit that is suited to the size of the movement shaft you will install and then drill a hole in the center of the clock face. If you are using a pre-made face with the numbering, remove the backing paper and press it in place. If you are using a decal, wet it lightly with a sponge and then smooth it in place.

Attach the clock movement mechanism to the clock face. Fit the hands around the center hole that you drilled earlier. Insert the shaft and hands of the clock through the center hole. Then start the movement mechanism in the back following the manufacturer's instructions.


About the Author

Eliah Sekirin started writing newspaper articles in 2003. His work has appeared in "Junij Poliyehnik" and on Web sites such as His writing interests are business, finance, economics, politics, arts, history, culture and information technology. Eliah holds a Bachelor of Science in econometrics from Kiev Polytechnic Institute.

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