Introduction: Homemade Wooden Watch (From Scratch)

Picture of Homemade Wooden Watch (From Scratch)

Hi,

I love woodworking and one day spontaneously decided to make a watch out of wood.

This may not quite be an "Instructables", but rather an explanation as to how I went about doing this with very limited amount of tools.

Hope you guys enjoy!

Step 1: Dismantle an Existing Watch

Picture of Dismantle an Existing Watch

I had a watch that I purchased online years back that I never quite ended up liking all that much.

So I decided to take the quartz movement inside this watch for this project. (And some other parts as well)

I forgot to take picture of the watch before it was dismantled, but you basically want to open up the back of the watch with a knife and a flat head screwdriver (or with a watch case back remover).

Next, take out the crown so that the entire movement can be removed from the watch case.

To do this, you have to find and press down on the dimple located near where the shaft of the crown enters the movement with a sharp tool (like a toothpick), WHILE pulling on the crown. (See the second picture for where the dimple is located). There are lots of videos and pictures online showing how to remove the crown from a watch.

You can now take out the movement from the watch case and VERY CAREFULLY remove the watch hands with a sharp tool.

Step 2: Measuring and Planning

Picture of Measuring and Planning

Once the watch has been disassembled, measure how thick each of the parts are going to take with a caliper. (I used a ruler)

Draw out an assembled cross-section view of the watch movement, and then draw the casing thickness and cover thickness around it. Leave a small gap between the watch hands and the glass so that once assembled, the watch hands can rotate freely. See first picture.

Next, with a CAD tool of your choice (if you don't have one, you can do this very carefully by hand), design your watch and draw out the outlines to scale. See second picture.

In my drawing, I have included a top view of the links for the band and their cross sections, and the top view of my watch case and also its cross section and exploded view.

Step 3: Building the Bezel

Picture of Building the Bezel

Now comes the fun part!

Cut out the plans and with a plain white glue, glue all the plans on to a hardwood of your choice.

I used oak as it was easily accessible.

For my watch, I wanted a gear-like pattern around my bezel, so I drilled a bunch of holes and sanded down around the holes to create a gear-like shape. Feel free to skip this step if you don't want this kind of bezel. At the end of the day, you are designing and building your OWN WATCH!

First, I drilled a hole through the center of the piece of wood I was going to make a bezel out of and then screwed it on a plank of wood so that my bezel piece would rotate about its center and not slide around sideways. I then clamped the plank of wood do my drill press, aligning my first hole precisely.

Then I drilled away, rotating my bezel piece after each hole!

Next, I unscrewed the bezel piece, and drilled a 3/4" hole through the center. Then it was just sanding and sanding (by hand and with my homemade spindle sander!) until I could fit the glass cover very snug through the center of the bezel. This may be a very time consuming step, since if you sand away too much, your glass may fall right off. Make sure you sand off a very small amount at a time and repeatedly check for a tight fit.

Step 4: Sand Sand Sand Away Your Bezel!

Picture of Sand Sand Sand Away Your Bezel!

Now, you just want to cut off any excess pieces of wood and sand away until it's round and smooth and thin.

Again, go slowly and steadily with the sanding!

For my original design (see second last picture), I had the glass sit just underneath the bezel/cover, allowing the glass to get pushed into the watch case if a pressure was applied to it. So I ended up with a new design, where the bezel/cover would be holding the glass, and the 'barrier' layer will be acting as a physical barrier preventing the glass from being pushed further into the watch case, and the watch face from getting pushed outwards (see last picture)

For my new design, it was critical that the bezel was not thinner than the glass, because I did not want the glass to be 'exposed' in case the watch was placed upside down or dropped.

Step 5: Build the 'barrier' Layer

Picture of Build the 'barrier' Layer

You can create the 'barrier' layer very much like the bezel. (cutting, drilling and sanding!)

It should actually be simpler because there is no need to create the gear pattern.

The only thing you have to watch out for is that the barrier layer has a slightly smaller center hole compared to the bezel so as to not allow the glass to be pushed into the watch case. The hole should also be slightly smaller than the watch face that you are going to use.

You can look at the pictures to see how they start to fit together!

Step 6: Building the Watch Case

Picture of Building the Watch Case

Again, glue the plan on to a piece of wood you are going to use and cut out the rough shape with a saw.

Sand down excess wood at first with a course sandpaper, and use finer sandpaper to get clean, precise shapes.

I made my watch case out of 4 separate pieces (see third picture) and then glued the pieces together at the end.

One important thing in this step is that the watch case should have a curved profile (see 6th picture), meaning it should curve inwards at the center so that it 'wraps' around your wrist when the watch is being worn. I made the mistake of making them completely flat at first (like in the last two pictures), which made the top and the bottom of my watch case extrude out, making it not only uncomfortable to wear, but also awkward to see.

Step 7: Chisel Out Space for the Crown

Picture of Chisel Out Space for the Crown

With a knife and a chisel, I chipped out some of the wood out of watch case to accommodate room for the crown when I assemble the watch.

Step 8: Glue the Watch Case Together!

Picture of Glue the Watch Case Together!

It's time to glue all the pieces together to create the watch case.

In this step, I used a wood glue instead of white glue so that the bond is really strong and durable.

The glue I used is called Titebond III (which is what I use to make my longboards).

Apply a generous amount of glue and clamp the pieces together for 24 hours.

Once the glue is completely dried, cut and sand off any excess glue.

Step 9: Drill a Hole for the Crown and Sand Down Sharp Edges

Picture of Drill a Hole for the Crown and Sand Down Sharp Edges

This step is pretty self-explanatory but first, drill a hole for the shaft for the crown to go through. (Always good to center punch first so that the drill bit doesn't shift as you drill)

Then you want to sand down the edges and corners of your watch case so that it's got a smooth look all around.

Once satisfied, you can glue the 3 layers of the body together!

Step 10: Creating a Custom Watch Face

Picture of Creating a Custom Watch Face

I liked the look of the original watch face with the wooden watch case, but I wanted to fully customize this watch, so I decided to make my own minimalist watch face.

First, score a circle with a compass on a metal plate, cut out its rough shape with a saw, then sand it down with some course sandpaper.

Then, drill a hole in the middle for the watch hands, then another for the date. (Again, remember to center punch)

I sanded down the surface of the watch face with a fine grit sandpaper to give it a brushed metal look.

Step 11: Creating the Center Links

Picture of Creating the Center Links

Now it's time to create the links for the band.

I glued the plan on to the side of a 1/4" oak wood and clamped two pieces of wood to the drill press to create a jig.

For these center links, drill a hole straight through the entire piece and then cut, sand down to appropriate sizes.

You will require quite a few of these to create the whole band, so go ahead and make plenty.

I used toothpicks (Yes, really!) to hold the links together to form the band. You can purchase those screw type watch pins to lock the links together, but I decided to do this the hard, complicated way, for fun. More about the gluing later on!

(SOMETHING TO NOTE FOR THE TOOTHPICKS: some toothpicks are fragile, oddly shaped and weak. I bought a pack of toothpicks and dug into the pile one by one to pick the roundest, strongest ones I could find)

The last two pictures aren't part of the assembly, but rather the way I kept them together for storage purposes.

Step 12: Creating the Edge Links

Picture of Creating the Edge Links

The edge links are different from the center links in the sense that the hole has to be drilled only half way.

Technically, the hole can be drilled all the way through but I didn't want the holes and the toothpicks to be visible from the sides.

Again, make plenty of these edge links! There will be 2 edge links for each center links, so this step will take a while.

Measure how deep you drilled into the edge links, multiply that by 2 (because you will require 2 edge links for each center link), and add the width of the center link. You will need to cut the toothpicks SLIGHTLY SHORTER than this number.

You can see in the second picture how all the pieces start to fit together!

Step 13: Glue the Links and the Watch Case Together

Picture of Glue the Links and the Watch Case Together

Once the toothpicks have been cut to the right sizes, carefully apply a little bit of wood glue (I recommend using Titebond III, as this thing REALLY sticks) into the holes of the edge links ONLY.

Insert two cut toothpicks into the edge links, then insert two center links, then seal it off with another edge link.

Two things to note:

1. You will have to glue two sets of toothpicks at a time because if you glue only one set, then you can't take the glued links apart to put in the next toothpick.

2. I reused my old latch instead of making my own wooden latch. You need to take careful measurements of your latch and make appropriate end link pieces that will fit into the latch. See last two pictures.

TO PREVENT THE TOOTHPICK FROM GETTING GLUED TO THE CENTER LINKS, hold (do not clamp) the glued links together with your fingers for a minute or two, then carefully rotate the center link so that the center link breaks free from the glue. Repeat this step 2 or 3 times over the course of 10 minutes or so. After 10 minutes, the links should be good to settle overnight.

Once you have glued enough links together, glue the links to the watch case!

Step 14: Creating the Back

Picture of Creating the Back

With the same metal plate I used for the watch face, I cut out the shape I wanted for the back, then carefully bent it by hand to fit the curvature of the back of my watch case.

Step 15: Seal the Watch

Picture of Seal the Watch

Apply teak oil on the watch so as to protect my watch from moisture.

Do not use varnish/shellac/polyacrylic/polyurethane/lacquer as these will probably glue your links together.

Step 16: Screw Holes for the Back

Picture of Screw Holes for the Back

At this point, you can drill holes at the back of the watch and the cover for the screws to hold them together.

Drill holes on to the metal sheet first, then trace and drill the holes on to the watch.

You don't want these holes to misalign!

Step 17: Almost Done!!

Picture of Almost Done!!

Now, you can assemble all the pieces together!

First, put your new/existing watch face back onto the movement, then attach the hands

Second, insert the movement into the watch case

Third, insert the spacer (from your old watch)

Fourth, screw on the back

Fifth, attach the latch

Step 18: Last Step: Enjoy Your New Watch!

Picture of Last Step: Enjoy Your New Watch!

Last step of making your own watch is of course, wearing it and enjoying every second of it. :)

One thing I noticed while building this watch was that before you wear it for the first time, the band might look crazy thick and bulky. The thickness of my band was 5mm. I was afraid of going thinner as I didn't know how well the wood would hold up, but once I wore it, it didn't look bulky at all.

If you liked this instructables, please like and follow me for future posts!

Aaaaand if you were confused anywhere while following this instructables, leave me a comment and I will try my best to explain it for you!

Thanks!

Comments

pssakal (author)2016-06-19

Really nice project, could you share which tools and models you have used, i'm thinking about setup a small workshop in my garage. And if you have a video about your project could you share?

Thanks

Andrew Park (author)pssakal2016-08-26

Hi,

Sorry, unfortunately I don't have a video of the making process..

The tools I used were:

- a hack saw

- a drill press

- a caliper

- clamps

- screwdrivers

- tweezers

As for the model.. I kind of came up with the design on the fly in my head and you can really use any software you know how to use, like Adobe illustrator, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Google SketchUp (but I used MicroStation)

JoeS142 (author)Andrew Park2017-07-22

If you have room for planer i suggest it.i have done projects where one piece needs to be just slightly thinner then one.on tiny pieces.if you plane larger board then cut off piece.once more through planer and saves time on sanding each one..also on your band..sometimes wood breaks on grains.so if you drill outer pieces slighty smaller then pin you dont have to glue and they can be easly replaced should one break.just need to cut extra one or two when making it.then you dint have to try to match later

S4929 (author)2017-06-30

How thick was the wood that used?looks like 1/4 inch

JoeS142 (author)S49292017-07-22

He used a ruller to measure origonal then cut acordinaluy.i did a simular project to the band.i used a planer to get larger piece of wood to final thickness.but i did not glue together.outer holes were slightly smaller.this was incase the pieces broke at grainline.it could easly be changed because i made extra figuring one would break.

TuckerS11 (author)2017-07-15

I was wondering if it was possible to make this watch with a laser cutter and if so it would be very much appreciated if you could please share your CAD files.

SpeedP (author)2017-05-03

Great work! Sir, i want to learn more about making the case. Please tech me. What is your email?

mopvl (author)2016-12-22

Amazing! I tried to find written instructions and then I found yours, I will definitely try to build one now when I know what to do!

Kcuboo (author)2016-12-16

Great instructable!! I haven't read one straight through in awhile, like I did yours.

Summer SED (author)2016-06-17

That is an amazing looking watch. I would imagine your wrist does not get a moist under it as it did with medal, plastics or leather. It is great you had the tools to make this with the precision work you must have had to do. I have not read all of the instructions yet. Did you use a sealer or were you able to skip that by using a particular type of wood instead. Perspiration from your wrist would I assume discolor the wood touching the skin. Thank you for sharing. Have a blessed day.

Andrew Park (author)Summer SED2016-08-26

Hi,

I just used Oak wood and sealed it with teak oil.

The color did get a bit darker over time due to dirt and sweat, but the reason why I used teak oil was so that strap links didn't get glued to each other.

I don't use this watch on a daily basis, so minimal exposure to sweat, rain, sunlight doesn't seem to affect the watch too much. :)

Supreme Overlord (author)2016-06-16

This looks awesome! I intend to make one myself in the next few weeks.

How well has it been holding up? Is there anything you've noticed that you might change if you were to make another one?

Thanks for posting this!

Hi!

It's been more than a year and I don't wear this one as often as my other watches, but it's still completely intact and I think it'll remain like that unless I hit a wall with it or something. :)

pssakal (author)2016-06-19

Really nice project, could you share which tools and models you have used, i'm thinking about setup a small workshop in my garage. And if you have a video about your project could you share?

Thanks

owatson (author)2016-04-19

Congratulations, your watch looks amazing.

impied (author)2016-04-14

this is really amazing!!!

stillash (author)2016-04-08

Did you cut all the pieces with a coping B saw?

Andrew Park (author)stillash2016-04-12

As ironic as it may sound, I actually do not know the proper name of the tool I used.

It may be a coping saw, but the blade width was slightly wider than 1/4".

You can see the saw I used in the photo under step 7.

ZacT (author)2016-04-05

Amazing! Good job!

Andrew Park (author)ZacT2016-04-06

Thank you! :)

tetrahemicon (author)2016-04-03

Your watch looks great!

I don't wear watches, but I want to thank you. You inspired me to go on Tinkercad and design links for a bracelet or watchband for my friends daughter.

Today I printed it in Glow in the Dark PLA on the Makerbot 2 at my local library.

My links are longer with holes spaced farther apart, but that gave me more length for the amount of print time, (2 hours for 45 pieces). This will also allow me to design sprockets and put teeth on the flat side of the links in order to make it a track for a toy vehicle or robot. I sized the holes to fit 1.75mm PLA filament pins and then mushroomed the ends with a butane lighter.

Andrew Park (author)tetrahemicon2016-04-06

I'm glad I helped!

Those glow in the dark links look great!

amwill (author)2016-04-01

this is just a mindblowing project and so, so perfect...very well done for your ingenuity...I love,love, love it....xxx

Andrew Park (author)amwill2016-04-06

Thank you so much for the compliment! :)

smiler1 (author)2016-04-01

hi I absolutely love this but don't think I have the patience, any chance you would make and sell me one please .

Andrew Park (author)smiler12016-04-06

Haha thanks for liking the watch so much!

macananadado (author)2016-04-01

I must say this is really amazing! I have been looking for wooden apparel lately such as sunglasses and such, but I never would have thought it possible to make something like this. These can sell for a pretty penny to. I was just wondering about how long it took you from start to finish? Great project!

Andrew Park (author)macananadado2016-04-01

Thank you!

It took a total of 22 days, but I was working on it after work, and some days I didn't work at all.

I think it maybe took anywhere between 15 to 20 hours to complete. (This is neglecting dry times for the glue and sealing, which took 48 hours.)

StefanoQ (author)2016-03-31

Amazing! Good job!

joshiii92 (author)2016-03-31

now he def got time on his hands... i had a wooden car once, wooden go. (okay, all out of my dads dad jokes...)

awesome project!

tetrahemicon (author)2016-03-31

Nice piece. I wanta try making a length of that type of band.

Suggestion, if you use a scraper with the profile of a link to make a stick with that cross section along it's length, you could cut the links from it. Drill the holes before you cut each link. Depending on the wood species, it might be good to pay attention to the direction of the grain.

Andrew Park (author)tetrahemicon2016-03-31

Haha sorry if I misunderstood what you wrote, but

yes, I pre-drilled all the holes before cutting out each of the pieces and sanding them down to the proper size.

Since I wasn't using plywood, I made all my links such that the direction of grain was parallel to the length of the band, or else they would have been too brittle.

Let me know how your band goes! Would love to see how they turn out!

tetrahemicon (author)2016-03-31

Nice piece. I wanta try making a length of that type of band.

Suggestion, if you use a scraper with the profile of a link to make a stick with that cross section along it's length, you could cut the links from it. Drill the holes before you cut each link. Depending on the wood species, it might be good to pay attention to the direction of the grain.

WyldStyl3 (author)2016-03-31

I agree with everyone else...this is amazing! Some stabilized amboyna burl or redwood burl would look out of this world.

CKL (author)2016-03-31

Fabulous! I've just started woodworking and this is a great intermediate project to add to my must-do list. Thanks for the share.

Flecks (author)2016-03-31

Very very nice! How come you used toothpicks instead of a small steel wire? Isn't toothpicks a little fragile?

Andrew Park (author)Flecks2016-03-31

I thought of multiple ways to hold the links together (including using a wire), but I ultimately settled with toothpicks because of aesthetics (no visible link pins) and I was also afraid of breaking the links in the process of inserting the wires.

The toothpicks I used are made out of bamboo trees (I think all of them are? Not quite sure). They actually are quite strong I find. I have seen longboards and skateboards made out of bamboo trees because of their durable characteristic.

I was initially scared of the links falling apart after a while, but with Titebond wood glue and teak oil sealing the watch together, I find that I have absolutely no issues with fragility.

I am a huge watch fan and I use this one quite often. I have even tried to bend the links to see if I can easily break the links, but so far they are holding up quite well.

Flecks (author)Andrew Park2016-03-31

Awesome.! I absolutely agree on the asthetics, pure wood is way cooler. Very nice job, I hope I'll get the time to try this out someday.

Fleder (author)2016-03-31

Wow, really nice work here, except for the watch face. I would have preferred a darker wooden one, to stay true to this wooden watch topic.

But apart from that, really, really good work! I would not have the patience for this without a laser cutter for the small pieces, especially for the links.

Andrew Park (author)Fleder2016-03-31

Yea, I liked the original watch face that I had, but the reason why I made my own is because I actually wanted it to look like it was homemade. :)

Thanks for the feedback though!

KevinA5 (author)2016-03-31

I've been wanting to do these for a while. Thanks for a preview of your process. It helped me to think of my approach and the amount of time/effort required.

Andrew Park (author)KevinA52016-03-31

Awesome!

Glad that it helped!

ramk7 (author)2016-03-31

can you please send me the pdf file of design and all ram.kartik204@gmail.com

Andrew Park (author)ramk72016-03-31

Hi,

I have uploaded my template in the intro section.

Thanks!

Dustin Rogers (author)2016-03-31

Stellar!!

okolenc (author)2016-03-31

This, my friend, is purebred awesome!

ClenseYourPallet (author)2016-03-30

This tuned out gorgeous... Wow! Thanks for sharing

Thanks for your interest!

EngrDanny (author)2016-03-30

Amazing! I'm really into wood watches and you my friend should go pro

Andrew Park (author)EngrDanny2016-03-31

Haha! Thank you!

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