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One o’ clock, two o’ clock, three o’ clock….

You can spend thousands on a fancy clock or make your own. Clifford Roberts and Andries Eygelaar demonstrate how to make a trendy wall clock without breaking the bank.










Cold wood glue


Two 1m dowels, 6mm in diameter
A standard plank of SA pine 100x100mm
36 panel pins
A piece of scrap chipboard (for our jig)
A battery for the clockwork

How often have you seen a coat in a high street shop and reflected on how fashions keep returning after generations? And, on top of it, how much these ‘latest’ fashions cost? Well, here’s a trendy, retro wall clock that’s easy to make and doesn’t cost the earth.


The clock is made entirely of wood, except for the clockwork and its hands, which can be purchased from craft shops. The clock comprises a central, circular portion of SA pine into which the clockwork is inserted, and 12 dowels making up spokes onto which wooden balls are mounted.


Step-by-step guide

Step 1: To make this particular clock, we began by drawing a plan for the construction of a jig. An essential element of the project is to make sure that the spokes, which form the face of the clock, are straight and accurately mounted – which is the reason for the jig.


A single spoke out of place will show up immediately on a wall and will forever remain an irritation. Like any handyman task, it is best to ensure that each step is properly crafted before moving on to the next. Patience is the key.


Step 2: To determine the size of the clock, begin by ascertaining how much space you will need to accommodate the clockwork. Ours, which is a standard variety, fitted comfortably within a circle of 100mm.


Using a compass, we first drew this circle and then a second, wider circle of 285mm. This measurement can be whatever you prefer. We transferred the plan onto a scrap piece of chipboard and cut out the two circles using a jigsaw, leaving an object resembling a flattened donut. This is our jig.


Step 3: To ascertain the location of the spokes, take a strip of card and run it along the outer circumference of the jig. Lay the card flat, take its measurement and divide by 12.


Mark the location of each spoke on the card and transpose the markings on the jig by placing the card around the jig again. Then, use a straight edge or ruler to connect each mark along the circumference with its opposing mark on the jig.


Step 4: The centrepiece of our clock is painted white, but this can be any colour you choose. You might even want to retain the natural state – if so, pick out wood with an attractive grain and colour.


The centrepiece starts out as a square, 100x100mm, cut from an ordinary plank of SA pine. Draw a circle onto it, with a diameter of 100mm. On the underside in the centre of the block, trace the shape of the clockwork. Then you need to engage a router, mounted upside down.


The router is used to cut the cavity into which the clockwork will fit. Set up the cutting area so that the router bit protrudes between two parallel stoppers on either side and a straight edge made up of two or three spacers.


The aim is to be able to carve the cavity without being able to see exactly where to cut – the stoppers ensure an accurate job. The spacers along the straight edge can be removed to allow the block to be moved laterally. Here it is important to remember not to cut to the desired depth in one go.


By working gradually, over two or three cuts, you spare your router and ensure that the job is neat and accurate. You will need to ascertain the depth of the cavity – this is determined by how much space you need to accommodate the clockwork and protrusion through the wood for the hands.


Step 5: Use the jigsaw to cut the block into the desired round shape and drill a hole at the centre to accommodate the protrusion for the hands. Sand the centrepiece until it fits snugly into the hole in the jig.


Take a ruler and extend the lines on the jig across the surface of the centrepiece so that the complete construction looks a bit like a pizza with 12 slices that meet in the middle of the centrepiece. Remove the centrepiece and use a square to draw each line down the thickness. These lines will be the guides for straight drilling.


Step 6: To achieve the straight holes, we used our multipurpose Emco Star, which incorporates a fixed drill. You might have another way of doing this, but the goal should be the same – you need accurate drilling.


We created a base with a line extending from the drill bit to indicate direction of drilling. Each marking on the centrepiece is lined up with this guide and a hole of 14mm deep is drilled. The dowels we used for the spokes were 6mm in diameter, so the drill needed to produce holes able to accommodate them snugly.


Step 7: Each dowel is then cut to size and hard edges slightly sanded for a rounded finish. If you’re going to paint your clock, it’s wise to use masking tape on the tips of the dowels on the centrepiece end. If you don’t, you’re likely to find they won’t fit the holes you’ve drilled.


An easy way of painting the dowels is to drill a few holes into a plank; stand them up in the holes and spray-paint at the same time. Also, remember to paint all the components of the clock before final assembly – it makes the job a lot easier.


Step 8: The little wooden balls we used in our clock can be made on a lathe, although it’s much easier to buy them from a craft shop. Creating 12 balls of consistent size is tricky when all you have is small-scale machinery. Drill a 6mm hole through each ball. Also drill a very fine hole into the side of each and tap in a panel pin to keep the ball from slipping along the dowel.


Step 9: To assemble the clock, return to the jig. It helps to add panel pins 7mm apart, on either side of the lines along the outer edge, indicating the location of the spokes. Place the centrepiece just slightly into the jig. Use cold wood glue to fix each spoke in place and the panel pins to guide them straight as the glue dries for a symmetrical finish. All that’s needed now is to insert the battery into your clockwork and mount the new addition on a wall.

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