Steps to Building a Wooden Clock

Written by danielle hill
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Steps to Building a Wooden Clock
Build your own wooden clock. (Old Clock image by Varney from

If you enjoy the steady tick-tock of a well-running wooden clock, build one for yourself. Depending on your experience, select authentic clock plans with homemade wooden gears or opt for a ready-made mechanical element and focus your attention on building the clock's decorative elements.

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Clock Plans

To spare frustration and produce a well-crafted wooden clock, it's vital to select plans you are capable of executing. A beginner might opt for a plan with ready-made gear housing and a homemade wooden face. Look at clock plans that complement your design sensibilities. For an easy-to-build clock with a mid-century aesthetic, Apartment offers plans inspired by the retro George Nelson Ball Clock. It requires basic painting and assembling of precut wooden elements and a ready-made battery-powered clock housing. For a more advanced do-it-yourself project, build your clock from the gears up. Follow online file patterns such as from


For simpler wooden clock plans, you may have leeway in selecting materials. The mid-century clock plan calls for cutting decoratively-shaped clock hands out of black aluminium sheets; however, if you prefer to produce a completely wooden clock, a lightweight and sturdy sheet of wood such as balsa, works well. For the keynote of the "George Nelson Ball Clock," its many-spoked crown with rounded finials, replace the wooden globes with styrofoam balls for an easier project, or coat them in glitter instead of paint for a space-age effect keeping with a futuristic 1960s look. The plans online recommend using any close-grained wood, such as beech. For an even simpler clock project, simply select a wooden plaque and mount clock hardware. Decorate the clock's face to taste using paint, carving or découpage.


The more advanced DIY clock projects typically include a large number of small parts, including numerous finely-toothed gears. After checking that you have all the necessary materials, measure your lumber twice to be exact and cut it to the size of each of the required parts. Make sure each piece's dimensions exactly match those of the patterns. Particularly for the moving mechanical pieces, variations of mere millimetres may interfere with smooth operation. When so instructed, or in the case that any of your elements' dimensions exceed those of the instructions, sand the components down, beginning with coarser sandpaper and proceeding to finer papers.

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