Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reveling in Retro - Wall Clock How-To

Let me start by saying, this project was hard! I mean, five solid hours of work hard. I'm talking, power tools, hot glue, and band-aids hard. Now that it's complete, I continue to wonder why/how I get myself into these situations. Also, this is my first attempt at an actual step-by-step tutorial for the Pinterest world out bear with me on the length/detail of this post. I fully understand that not everyone is as crazy as me when it comes to tackling projects!
The clock hanging in our living room now doesn't work. It's only a year old and cost $25 at Hobby Lobby, but five fresh AA batteries later, the thing still can't keep time. I had settled on it because, even a year ago, I wanted the starburst clock and couldn't find one. It was funky enough to tide me over, but the fact that it says its 12:12 and it's actually 1:20 just wasn't working for me anymore.

I've forever coveted the starburst retro wall clocks that graced the living rooms of the 60s and 70s (along with shag carpet, rotary phones, and funky ceramic ashtrays). While shopping at a HomeGoods store about two months ago, I came across one that looked truly authentic. It was $30, it was awesome, I didn't buy it. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I kick myself daily for not coughing up the 30 bucks, because when I went back a few weeks later, they were gone. Sad face. After a tiresome effort to Google the heck out of "retro wall clocks", "starburst retro wall clock", "70s style clocks", and the like, I couldn't find one for less than $75!! Plus, the majority of the authentic straight outta the 70s versions were electric. Not cool nowadays. And since I wasn't about to drop $100 on a clock, I did what I always do......I made one instead.

So here is what I came up with:
1. Small stencils to make the numbers - $1.79
2. Eight wooden spoons - 3 packs of 3 for $1.49 each=$4.50
3. Eight 1" wooden balls - $2.79 for a package of 20
4. *Optional* Metal accents found in the scrapbook aisle of the craft store - $1.49
5. Clock parts - $6.50
6. Eight metal rods of any type - you could also spray paint wooden dowels - FREE from my dad
7. Silver/chrome spray paint - had on hand
8. Wooden cutting board or similar wood disc - $5.99

Total: less than $25!!

Now, there are several things I need to point out first before we proceed.  First, I bought the stencils for the numbers before I decided to use the face of our existing clock instead.  But if you don't have that as an option, then continue with the stencils.  Second, I bought the cutting board for $5.99 thinking it would work perfectly.  However, as you will see next, it was too thick for the clock mechanism.  So something thinner might be a better option.

Here is where I started:

With the board wedged in the vice (be sure to use scrap wood on the outside to protect your clock from vice marks), I drilled a 3/8" hole right in the center for the clock mechanism.  *The two smaller holes you  might see are for the glass clock face, again only in my situation.*

It didn't take me long to realize that the board was too thick.  The arm of the clock wouldn't fit through from the back.  I had to chisel out a spot for the square clock works to fit.  It was awful and messy, but I got to use my grandpa's wood carving tools, so that was a plus.  So here is the lesson: make sure to use a board that isn't too thick.

Next, using a protractor and my handy engineer husband, I marked out where I wanted the starbursts to stick out from.  There would be eight spoons and eight metal sticks.  That was my own decision, but you could use as many as you want.  Then with the board still in the vice, I drilled where the marks were.  The big holes you see are for the spoons and the small hole is for the metal stick.  I repeated this all the way around.

I had a small amount of space on the wall (about 20") to work with, so I had to be careful how big my starbursts stuck out.  Here is a shot of be Dremeling off the tops of the metal sticks because they were too long.

Next, I had to drill holes in each of the wooden balls.  These are going to go on the ends of the metal sticks.  I thought about clamping them in the vice, but the best way was just to hold them in my hand and slowly drill halfway into each of them.
Caution:  the keyword is slowly.  This is what happens when you go too fast...and also what I meant earlier about band-aids being involved.  It doesn't look too bad here, but three days later it is really sore!

The wooden spoons I bought were of varying lengths, but the spoon itself was the same size.  According to my size constraints, I used the band saw to cut the handles down to be all the same size.  Then I dry fitted the pieces into the board before officially gluing them in.  I used a hot glue gun, my favorite tool, to get the spoons in.  The metal sticks were tight enough that they didn't need glue.  Then the wooden balls got inserted onto the ends.  Is this making sense??

Now here is where you are on your own.  I then added the glass clock face from our previous wall clock to the front of the board.  However, you're going to have to use the stencils to make the numbers on the front.  Or, if you want, you could just use hash marks instead of numbers.  Or just 12, 3, 6, and 9.  Your call.

Here she is!  So you're wondering where the spray paint and metal accents come into play?  Well, the clock piece came with gold hands (boo) so I spray painted them silver.  The metal accents were attached to each spoon as you can see here.  Again, this is optional, but I think it adds a little something.

I'm not a teacher, I get ahead of myself before I realize I missed snapping a picture, and I didn't set out for this to be a how-to.  But I hope it was easy enough to follow along and fix it to how you want.

For a fraction of the cost of the ones I found online, I now have a one-of-a-kind retro starburst clock in my living room :)

1 comment:

  1. Very cool clock!

    Another option for making the cavity for the clock mechanism (Instead of using the wood chisels)would be a router.


Hi there. Thanks for leaving some feedback on all of my hard work! I love hearing from everyone - friends and strangers alike. :)