Pallet Wood Bar Clock

Ah summer.  I love summer and I have been very busy with work, gardening and the local Farmer’s market.  The nice thing about summer too is that most of the time I can do all my sanding and cutting outside and not worry about cleaning up the shop as much.

I was asked to make a clock for a friend who recently moved from our area to another province.  He didn’t give me much direction as to what he wanted other than it was to go over the bar.  Oh so many possibilities!  I asked him to send me a picture of the space he was thinking of, which he did but until you see the whole surrounding area it was hard for me to imagine what to come up with.  All I had was a large wall, a window and what looked like a counter top shelf.  No other pictures of the room or area.

As I had given myself plenty of time, I set out to building the clock first and the design could wait.  Sometimes once your “pallet”, has some structure, be it a color washed canvas or wood you have put together, as you are going along the design will come to you.  At least most of the time for me it does.

I decided that since it was a fairly large wall area I would make a large clock.  I picked out my pallet wood, cut off split and damaged ends and then sanded it with 60 grit both sides.  I then dry fit my pieces on my work bench, measured, decided on center, marked and where my back pieces should go.  I turned over my wood and clamped the pieces with large furniture clamps tight together and clamped it to my table.  Once that was complete I measured my four back brace pieces and cut to length.  I then glued and screwed them to my boards.

I let that sit overnight and then the next day I marked my circle to cut with chalk on the front face of the clock.   It was a rainy day so I had to move indoors.  Oh well.  Marking a circle on a large piece was not as easy as I thought it was going to be.  I nailed the center of my clock tied a string around the nail and the chalk.  I measure my string,  to make a 36″ diameter, circled around my boards being careful not to tip my chalk either which way and keep the sting taught.  Well sting has a tendency to stretch and I didn’t meet my circle properly.  OK let’s try this again.  I took out my measuring tape and kept it around hooked to the nail and carefully using string and measuring tape went around the circle.  Same thing.  Deep breath and hubby to the rescue!

To make an accurate circle we used wood.  Drilled a hole in the end 18 inches from center just big enough to hold a pencil.  I used a colored pencil and then screwed the other end of the piece of wood to the center of the clock.  Around I went and made a perfect circle.  Now time to cut out my circle.  I usedMeasuring circle a jig saw and slowly and carefully went around.  After which I then cleaned both side of my clock with a bit of dish detergent and peroxide.  Once dry I used ajig saw circle well watered down red stain I had sitting around.



cleaning pallet I was now ready to start designing.  I had so many things going through my head and found myself second guessing what I was going to put on there.  I ended up going with my original idea and it started to come together very nicely.  I use Roman numerals and bar coaster for the numbers.  I went to one of our local lounges and asked if I could  buy some of the card coasters they use when serving drinks.  I got them for free.

At this point it is a good idea when you are making a clock to put your mechanism in place.  It helps with proper placement of numbers if you are free designing a clock.  As this is a large clock the hands are quite long and need a high torque mechanism to handle the balance and weight of the hands.  The long hands are counter balanced with weights for accuracy.  I cut out the center the size of the mechanism as the wood was too thick for the shaft length.  This was easy to do as I had already drilled the hole for the shaft so all I needed to do was put it through and trace around it.  To cut out the shape of the mechanism I drilled four holes in each corner of my trace and then carefully cut to each hole with the jig saw.  I still needed to trim off a bit for a nice fit which I easily did with a wood rasp.  Now the mechanism fit very nicely in place.  Of course you could see the mechanism on the clock face.  I had already decided to hide it with a decorative piece which I hadn’t decided on yet.  Otherwise the other option was to router out the back to the proper depth leaving enough clearance on the clock face for the hands.  You can accomplish it either way.

Now that my mechanism was in place I sized my Roman numerals and transferred them on the wood and hand painted.  I was now ready to place his family name and fun saying around the center.  I used PowerPoint and saved to PDF and printed out my size as poster.  Anastasia Vintage has an awesome tutorial on using PowerPoint for making crisp lettering on wood.

I transferred on the lettering and hand painted using a small artist’s brush.  I then placed my coasters around for the remaining number spots and used Mod Podge matte to glue and set.  I let it cure overnight and then I covered the whole surface with Mod Podge.    Once cured I added some fun little stick men and put two coats of Minwax oil modified water based Polyurethane in clear satin.

Now for the center.  I decided to find a little travel flask in stainless for the center.  I purchased one at our local liquor store at a reasonable cost, ($10.00).  Before drilling a hole it the center I checked the depth to make sure the mechanism shaft would go through enough and the hands would clear.  They did not.  I thought of cutting it in half but then the spout would probably get damaged.  I decided to flatten it out.  Rather than pound it out with a ball peen hammer I put it between cardboard and drove over it with my car.  The top and bottom seams came loose but was able to pry up the ends to put them back in.  I drilled a hole in the center and put it on my shaft for placement.  Once I decided where to put it I used Gorilla Glue secure it to the wood as well the shaft has a threaded washer that holds the mechanism in place.

To protect the walls once the clock is hung I glued felt on the back supports.  This clock looks amazing and I again learned a lot of different techniques to accomplish this piece.

How to Make a Canvas Clock

You can make a clock out of just about anything you can hang on a wall or stand alone.  Some ideas may take a little more work and imagination than some but most are doable.  I have fun making canvas clocks but there are a few little tricks that I found quite useful.  I have put down the steps I use to make a canvas clock from a blank canvas.

First determine the size of the clock you would like to make and if you are painting your own canvas or making one out of a commercial framed print or other framed art.  I usually like the 12×12 or 8×10 size canvases.   You could have a large canvas but only want to put a clock on part of it.  You will still need to determine where you want your center to be.  If you are working with a fresh canvas that you will paint measure the back and find the center where you want to put your mechanism.  To do this mark the edges of the canvas where the clock center will be.  This is an 8×10 pre-stretched and primed canvas from the dollar store. The next step I found very useful.

The first canvas clock I made I just drilled my hole and put my mechanism in.  The minor torque of the hands made the mechanism turn with the hands and it didn’t keep time properly at all.  I thought of gluing the mechanism to the canvas but if I needed to replace the mechanism I would tear the canvas, also the weight of the mechanism though very light would still be enough to stretch the canvas over time.  I decided to try and make a brace out of wood for the back.  If you are using a standard length shaft all you really need is about a 1/8in thick brace.  I thought if I had a extra large tongue depressor that would do the trick but I don’t know if they make them or at least not the length I was looking for. I had some would pieces from another project that I used to mill the brace out of.  A shim works too but they tapper and you might need a longer shaft on your mechanism.

Milling canvas backing supportTo mill my own piece I used a band saw.  In this case I had a 1/2 in thick and decided to just mill it in half.  Not quite but I came pretty close.  Making sure I had a good block to push through my wood and one to support against the fence.  Of course safety glasses too.  I still have all my digets.  Make sure you turn off the saw and the blade has stopped moving before you retrieve you milled piece.  I usually unplug the saw too as an extra precaution.

I then measured the length I would need for my back brace.  Once I had that I tapered and rounded the edges on each end.  This I do so when I put the piece in I don’t end up tearing the canvas.  You can do this manually or with a stationary belt sander.

tapper edgescanvas clock braceIf working with a belt sander hold your piece and work from the bottom up not the top down.  Going top down makes the wood jump and could toss it.  Working bottom up gives you more control and even sanding.


Once done slide the brace into the canvas and square it up with the measurements previously done and find center and mark.squaring up

Once done hot glue the brace to the edge of your canvas frame and let dry.  Next I used a piece of primed 1 x 6 that I have for drilling and covered it with a piece of paper towel so I wouldn’t get the canvas dirty.  To get a clean drill, (splits or splinters) always make sure the piece is supported.drill support and cover-1

drill hole

Now I have a perfect hole and support for my

beach canvas clock

mechanism.  Now the fun part painting the canvas.

On this canvas I decided I wanted it to be a fun “What Ever” clock.  Most of you have seen these.

I washed my pallet with color.  Using three colors and a sponge applicator or large brush.  I was working on several canvas clocks at the same time so I tried different color mixes as you can see.

canvas pallet paint

I painted all over the canvas and wrapped the edges.  While that was drying I picked out my font for the numbers and decided on Ravie in size 90 and 125, which I printed onto paper.  I traced these onto the now dry canvas.  I have tried other methods and am still in the process of trying out methods that would work better.  Any input is greatly appreciated, I have had epic fails with some methods so I felt safe with this one.  At the beach wash

Next I chose a font for my “What Ever” saying, which was Blessed Day size 125.  Again printed and then traced.  Once all was dry I used a silver gel pen and went around all the numbers.  I also went over the saying in a sage green gel.  I liked the end result which was great considering it was my first try with the gel pens.  I wasn’t sure until it was all complete.  I let all sit overnight and then I sprayed a clear coat over the whole canvas.  Once that was dry I attached the mechanism and hands and tested it out.  Worked as expected.

At the beach clock At the beach clock-2


Here is another clock I made at the same time.

Gone camping clock

Clock Mechanisms

I love clocks and only started making clocks this year.  I seemed to be seeing clocks everywhere and thought I can do that.  Also I really wanted to make a huge one for myself and put in on my hubby’s shop.  I found it amazing that you could make a clock out of just about anything, it’s the mechanisms that are the trick.  So far I have only tackled standard clocks, not chime clocks or pendulum clocks.

There are so many types of mechanisms the nice thing is that they are not that hard to find.  You can purchase them on line from a variety of places.  Just type in your search engine DIY clock repairs and you’ll find quite a variety of vendors to choose from.  Or you can re-purpose an old clock mechanism for your own project.  If you source them from overseas I found that the size of the shaft is not displayed or the length of the hands.  The shaft is usually standard which is about 5/16″ in length.  So far in my experience the diameter is usually always the same.  The hands can range anywhere from 2-1/2″ to 6″.  The other problem with overseas is the length of time for shipping.  The mechanisms are usually well priced but the shipping time is weeks, this is well stated in the info on shipping details so you are not surprised.  I am also not certain about the quality of these mechanisms.  Time will tell,  ha ha!

If you are building a large clock you will need to purchase a high torque mechanism which can handle hand lengths over 10″.  This is also usually displayed when you source large hands.  The description will tell you “only for use with high torque mechanisms”.  I have not found a variety of color options for the hands, usually only two, but they are easily painted.  Also if you are building a clock to be placed outside you will want to purchase the extra water resistant backing to protect the mechanism.  I found these to be inexpensive. Or you can build your clock with a weather protection feature, just remember that you will need to get at the back to change the battery.

Most sources for mechanisms and hands will give you a choice of hands for free when you purchase the mechanism.  This usually does not include hands for high torque mechanisms.

I will add new info as I gain more experience.  Have fun!




Pitcher Picture

Here is a simple and fun DIY clock idea that anyone can do.  You can do this with just about anything, a tea pot, a fun canister just use your imagination.  I had a french-white pitcher which I intended to use as a gravy boat but never did.  Oh look I can make a clock out of it!  First thing I did is look up how to drill a hole in porcelain or tile.  I’ve attached the link below.  Tanya has the steps very well done and I followed them to a tee and didn’t have any issues.  I didn’t have the bits to do it so I needed to purchase them.  Which is OK because I’m sure I’ll use them again, however it did prove to be a bit difficult to find in our small town and I ended up going to the next town which had a Canadian Tire and found the exact bits I needed.

I drilled the hole and attached the mechanism.  I have a pretty good inventory of mechanisms the trick was to find the correct shaft length.  Too short and off course it won’t go through and too long and your hands will be out too far.  Because of the curvature inside the shaft length needed to be longer.  If you are re-purposing an old clock most likely the shaft length is standard and will not fit.  I used  9/16 shaft length, (standard is usually about 5/16th).

Before stickers

Before stickers

I displayed it at our local Farmer’s Market with just some small boxes on painted doweling.  The idea was to put your own pictures on the boxes.  Kind of a play on words there.  I got quite a few nice comments on it.

My Daughter had a friend’s birthday coming up and asked me to make a clock for her.  I showed her the pitcher clock and told her it might work well for her needs if she wanted to gather some pictures I could decoupage them on the boxes I already had.  I glued the tops of the boxes on to prevent the doweling pushing the tops off.  I also placed some styrofoam in the bottom of the pitcher and pushed the doweling in to secure them so they would stay in place and not interfere with the clock hands once the clock was active.  Her friend is just crazy about cats and thought I would add some stickers which I purchased at the local dollar store.  I placed some of the stickers around the clock.  The box placed in the middle was to be used for an addition gift my daughter had purchased for her friend in Ireland recently. That was it all done. Pitcher Picture clock 2 Pitcher Picture clock 3