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How to Make Cuckoo Clocks

Cuckoo clock with traditional stag's head decoration.

Cuckoo clocks have been a favorite of Black Forest clockmakers since the 18th century. The traditional style clock is known as a Schilduhr, or shield clock. At the stroke of the hour, a cuckoo emerges through a door at the top of a square wooden face. The clock face is usually simply painted and decorated at the top with a semicircle of richly carved wood.

Draw a 6 by 6 inch square on the wooden board. Draw a triangle on top of the square. The square and triangle together should resemble the profile of a house. Draw a second house exactly like the first.

With the saw, cut both houses out of the wood. These are the front and back of the clock case. Cut two more sections of board with the saw, each 6 inches by 4 inches. These are the sides of the clock case.

Cut a circle, 3 inches in diameter, out of the middle of the square portion of both the front and back boards. Use a drill to begin each circle and complete it with the coping saw. Use the saw to cut a rectangle in the center of the triangular portion of the front of the clock case. The rectangle must be large enough to comfortably accommodate the clock's cuckoo.

Saw a circle, 3-1/2 inches in diameter, out of some of the unused wooden board. Use the drill to start the circle and complete it with the coping saw. This is the clock face. Paint the Roman numerals I through XII along the perimeter of the clock face. Use a drill to make a small hole in the center of the clock face to attach the clock hands. The hole must be the size of the screw that will hold the hands in place.

Cut small wooden shingles with the saw, and use wood tacks to attach them to the top of the clock case to form a roof. Cut a small piece of wood with the saw in the shape of the rectangle at the top of the clock case. This will be the door for the cuckoo. It will be attached to the cuckoo mechanism.

Install the clock movement on the inside of the clock case. Attach the wooden cuckoo and its mechanism, the bellows, the chimes and the weights. Connect the cuckoo mechanism to the door. Attach the clock hands to the front of the clock face and the interior movement.

Things You'll Need:

  • 1/2-inch thick wooden board
  • Saw
  • Coping saw
  • Clock hands
  • Paint
  • Wooden shingles
  • Wood tacks
  • Wooden cuckoo and cuckoo mechanism
  • Chimes
  • Cuckoo clock bellows
  • Clock movement
  • Clock weights


Paint and carve the front of the cuckoo clock. Traditional designs include hunting scenes and stag's heads.


  • When installing the inner workings of the cuckoo clock, do not deviate from the manufacturer's directions. The slightest errors in assembling, for example, the cuckoo mechanism and the bellows, can cause the clock not to work properly.
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