How to Fix Clock Hands

Written by mary lougee
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How to Fix Clock Hands
Clock hands need occasional repairs to straighten them for smooth operation. (a clock image by Irek from

Most mantle, cuckoo and grandfather clocks have a glass cover over the clock face and hands to protect metal hands from rusting. After years of operation, the hands may become rusty from moisture or humidity leaking into the glass dome and onto the hands. When clock hands rub together, they may bend and not operate as smoothly or stop altogether. Removing clock hands, straightening, resurfacing and painting them return the hands to a new appearance.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Needle nose pliers
  • Towel
  • Small hammer
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Newspapers
  • Black spray paint

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  1. 1

    Grasp the glass face cover on the right side of the clock and pull it out toward the clock face. Swing the face cover to the left to reach the clock hands on the face.

  2. 2

    Place a pair of needle nose pliers on the nut covering the hands in the centre of the clock. Turn the nut counterclockwise to loosen and pull it straight off.

  3. 3

    Pull the second, minute and hour hand straight off the clock face one at a time.

  4. 4

    Set each of the hands on a towel on a table or other flat surface where they do not touch each other with the backside of each pointing up.

  5. 5

    Strike each of the hands with a hammer with medium force to straighten any bends in the hands.

  6. 6

    Turn each hand over and strike with a hammer if necessary to straighten the hands.

  7. 7

    Sand any rust off each hand on the front and back with fine grit sandpaper.

  8. 8

    Place each hand face up on a table with newspapers.

  9. 9

    Lightly spray a coat of black spray paint on each hand. Press the nozzle on top of the spray can and pass from left to right over the hands in a fluid movement. Let the coat of paint dry entirely for about five minutes.

  10. 10

    Apply additional coats of paint to the front of the hands as necessary with five minutes drying time between coats. Let the last coat of paint dry for one hour.

  11. 11

    Slide each of the hour, minute and second hands on the clock face with the hole in the centre of each on the centre bolt. Place the nut on the centre of the clock and tighten it by turning clockwise with needle nose pliers.

  12. 12

    Turn the smallest hand on the front of the face to set the correct time on the clock.

  13. 13

    Close the glass door and listen for an audible click when it is secure.

Tips and warnings

  • All clocks have an hour and minute hand, but only some models have second hands.
  • The traditional colour of clock hands is black. A different colour of spray paint will vary the appearance of the clock. Paint clock hands any colour you wish to coordinate with room decor
  • Do not paint the backside of the clock hands. The backside does not show while the hands are in operation and the addition of weight from the paint can make the clock operate at a slightly slower speed.

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