Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Home made Clocks: AKA Last minute Father's Day gift

I am a procrastinator by nature.  I have made my peace with it.  I also know that I am my most creative when under pressure.  Its a fact of life, but it usually means I am scrambling at the last second to make creative gifts and that I am frequently late. This is compounded when I have to get things for the men in my life. I never seem to think of something "good" and useful until the 11th hour, and then I usually have run out of time to mail it (my entire family lives in CA, minus hubby and little man.)

Unfortunately for me, my dad was born June 12th, which lands just before, just after, or sometimes, smack dab ON Father's day.  So I am almost always late for BOTH of the most important gift giving days for him.  Well, this year was going to be different.  It wasn't, as it is now the 13th and his gift is only now made and not yet mailed... but I will make it by Sunday! I hope... so at least I was half on time!  All this talk about time... hmm...

Yes, I made him a customized clock.  I ran through about a zillion ideas of ways to make a clock just for him (he is an avid clock collector so this is a PERFECT idea for him), and nothing struck me until today, a day late, of course.  The idea sprang from this post about a recycled plastic flatware clock.  I looked into buying a clock kit, and they were stupidly expensive.  So hubby and I went to goodwill and bought the ugliest clock we could find.  Hey, no sense in wasting a PRETTY clock when its just gonna get destroyed anyway... :-)

I then cannibalized the pieces and decided to mount them on a photo he took.  As I mentioned, my family lives in CA and my dad has this wonderful beachy house a few blocks from the waves.  He is also an amateur photographer, and his pics are often quite lovely.  I took one of his best shots of the beach for the background.  I am terrible at reading analog clocks and my dad has enough other clocks around to actually tell TIME with that I dispensed with the idea of adding numbers, and just went with the clean, spectacular photo.  There are about a zillion awesome variations to this project, so post your ideas and results!

Customized clock

Materials needed:
crappy old clock or a clock movement (mechanism) and hands kit from a craft store
large photo or other face you would like (I used an 8x10)
frame to hold the photo with a backing deep enough to fit the mechanism and still lay flat on the wall (alternately you can use the frame of the clock and cut your photo to fit)
pliers, wrench, adjustable wrench, or socket wrench set
white glue
hot glue
a paper clip
cardboard (optional)

1) If using an old clock, the first thing you will need to do is take it apart.  If you purchased the hands and movement, skip this step.  Don't worry if you break the frame or the cover, you wont be using them.  But do take care not to bend the hands.  To take the hands off, bend your paper clip into an "s" shape and use the small hook to gently pull off the second hand.  The minute hand and the hour hand may have a small nut that you can unscrew with your fingers, then remove them by using your paper clip.  Sorry, I forgot to take photos of this step, but its pretty easy.  If you're really scared, buy two cheap clocks in case you break one. :-)
2) Next, you will need to take the movement off the old clock.  If you are using the clock frame or if you bought a kit, skip this step.  There should be a small nut and washer holding the movement to the clock.  Use  your tool of choice to remove the nut.  I used an adjustable wrench because it was what I had handy, but as it is not on there super tight, even a simple pair of pliers will probably work.

a REALLY ugly clock!
Nut and washer removed successfully.
The movement is now liberated and ready for a happier, prettier home!

3) Next, take the new frame and examine it.  Mine had the unfortunate personality flaw of being a front loading frame with plastic crossbars that met in the center.  I worked around it, but this is by no means a NORMAL frame.  Remove the glass.  Take out the cardboard backing.  If yours has a plastic cross bar, poke a hole in it with the awl and use one blade of the scissors like a drill to cut a hole in the plastic.

If yours is NOT really weird, use the awl and scissors to cut a hole in the center of the cardboard and the photo.  Make sure they line up. They don't have to be perfect since the washer will cover the edges of the hole, but don't make the holes too big or the photo will move around.

4) Take the cardboard backing and glue your photo to it.  You may want to cut an additional piece of cardboard the same size and use that as well to make the clock face stiffer, but it is up to you.

5) Place the cardboard and photo into the frame and using the hot glue, glue it in place.  Make sure the holes line up, and that the photo is in right side up if there is a hanger on the back (not that I am speaking from experience or anything... oops).  (I glued it in as an afterthought so ignore my out of order photos with the movement already installed...)

6) Next, poke the center of the movement through the holes in the frame and photo.  Replace the washer and the nut and tighten with your fingers and the tool of choice if needed.  Make sure to hold the movement in the back while turning, otherwise the whole mechanism will just spin...

7) Replace the hour hand and the minute hand, then screw the little screw back in place and push the second hand back on (if you had one).  Manually advance the clock with the wheel on the movement just to make sure all the bits are on securely and will be moved by the motor.  Then push all the hands up to 12 o'clock so they will be offset by the right amount when advanced to the correct time (ie, the hour hand will be half way between 8 and 9 when the minute hand is at 6 for 8:30).

8) Finally, glue in the movement so that it is nice and secure on the back, using the hot glue.

9) You are done!  Add a battery, set the time, hang it up, and revel in your amazingness.  Or give it to Dad to revel in your amazingness. :-)

Bottom Line:
Old crappy clock from Goodwill - $1.50
8x10 print from Walmart - $3
Frame from Walmart (should have gone to goodwill but I forgot while I was there) - $3
Total cost: $7.50

Total time: about 1 hour, including disassembly

Cost in store - Who knows?  A custom clock?  But expensive fancy ones you could replicate go for about $20.

Total Savings: about $12?

Cool Variations:
use something other than a photo for the face of the clock or use a collage.
Omit the frame entirely and just have a cool open concept photo clock on a piece of cardboard
Do not center the clock hands and have them off to the side or hanging over an edge or something.
If you love a frame that isn't deep enough to conceal the movement, glue small blocks of wood to the top and bottom of the frame on the back, drilling a hole in the top one to hang it from, so the clock can still lie flat against the wall.

No comments:

Post a Comment