Introduction: Literary Clock

Picture of Literary Clock

Super easy project, make a book into a clock. Perfect for a child's bedroom--use a storybook. Or the kitchen--use a cookbook.

I made one for my friend's two-year-old (who is currently obsessed with clocks) and it went over well.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Picture of Gather Supplies

This is a really easy project that hardly needs explanation. Once you see the idea, I'm sure you'll come up with all sorts of cool variations.


A book*
A clock set**
spray paint (optional)

A drill

*The book needs to be hardcover with a reasonably simple cover (not too much text). It should also be quite thin and large enough for the clock hands. Save money and get your book at the thrift store, no point in ruining a new book and it doesn't have to be in perfect condition.

**I got my clock set at Michaels. I've also seen them at Wal-Mart. Easy to find. Pay attention to the length of the "stem" of the clock. They come in 1/4 to 3/4 inch lengths depending on the thickness of your book.

Step 2: Remove Pages!

Picture of Remove Pages!

I forgot to do this and I'm mad at myself! Before you start, you may want to cut out a few pages of the book to frame to complement your clock. Imagine framed children's book art on the wall next to the clock made out of the cover. So cute but less cute when there is a giant HOLE in the pages :(

Also, mark the center of your book by going corner to corner with a straight edge. Or maybe your clock will be off center on the book? Mark wherever you want to drill.

Ok, moving on....

Step 3: Spray Paint

Picture of Spray Paint

This is optional but all the clock sets I found were in a nasty brass color. I spray painted my hands and numbers matte black.

Step 4: Drill

Picture of Drill

While your paint is drying, drill a hole in the spot you marked. I used a 5/16 bit but you'll want to follow the instructions that came with your clock pieces. A drill press is great. A cordless drill will be fine.

Step 5: Assemble Your Clock

Picture of Assemble Your Clock

Follow the instructions that came with your clock parts. The only tricky part is the thickness of the book. I kept finding my book too thick for the post on the clock. In this case your options are:

1. Buy a clock with a longer post (they vary in size)
2. Make a table top clock by opening the book and inserting the clock back between the last page and the back cover
3. Cutting a large, square hole in the back cover to inset the clock mechanism (or maybe removing the back cover? That might look weird from the side.

Step 6: Stick on the Numbers

Picture of Stick on the Numbers

You may want to use glue, the stick-um on the numbers is weak.

Also, use the longest hand as the guide for where the numbers should be. If you have time, make a circle template so your numbers aren't as lopsided as mine. Either way, start with 12, 6, 9 and 3 and then fill in the other numbers.

Step 7: That's It

Picture of That's It

Seriously easy, eh? And a great gift for a kid. Or for anyone. There is a book for every hobby...

Have fun,


CrazyTicker (author)2016-01-22

My toddler brother tears a lot of books, so I am sure glad to see them recycled!

starforest (author)2015-01-19


snopek (author)2013-09-21

love this kids will love it

Blu smoke (author)2013-08-21

You've just given me really cool idea. Granted it will be similar to your design, but with personal modifications. If I ever add it as an instructible I'll be sure to credit you.

dkimmel-1 (author)2013-08-16

Just made this for a friend. Came out great!

poofrabbit (author)2012-04-14

Oh I think this is fantastic! We have books that get discarded due to age and wear and tear at work all the time. I'm going to look for some cool covers and make one and gift it back to the library, I think it will really spin kids wheels and imaginations! Great 'able!!

porcupinemamma (author)2012-04-05

Fabulous!!!!! I buy books at the local thrift store that kids have scribbled in. There are always pictures that haven't be attacked. I use those pages for gift wrap or I frame them in dollar store frames. Love your clock idea! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

bravesfan13 (author)2010-08-27

Any chance you can make one of these clocks with a chapter book? I want to make one for a teenager. Can you just do it on the cover or something?

mfuller3 (author)bravesfan132011-09-04

If you get a piece of wood the size of the book and use the dust jacket to cover the wood it should be fine. Also you wont have to ruin your book to do it.

jonnadee (author)bravesfan132010-11-04

Yes, you can do this with a chapter book. Just have to make sure you have enough space.

at383 (author)2010-02-28

Do you absolutely need a drill to do this step? I want to make these for my flatmates and am in university so I don't have a drill handy.

ktorruella (author)at3832011-08-05

In a university you should have an art department with a sculpture studio and an artist there who will very willingly drill you a hole with a dremel or drill right there on hand. Just take a walk with your book and see what you find!

Weirdfro (author)at3832010-07-27

I just used one of these. Then I stuck a pen through the hole to make it bigger. It looks fine.

mdhaworth (author)at3832010-02-28

A drill would be MUCH easier if you can borrow one but you might be able to do it with some patience and an exacto knife.  Or a dremel but if you don't have a drill I don't imagine you have a dremel. As long as the front cover looks tidy it doesn't matter how hacked up the inside is. Good luck.

jonnadee (author)2010-11-04

We made these ages ago in Girl Scouts, using old Readers Digest Condensed Books. We spray painted the covers a color we liked, then decoupaged a picture on the front. They turned out very nice.
Since then I've used paperbacks, simply gluing the pages together before beginning the process. (Spray glue works best.)
It's a great project, and the one I had hanging in my preschool classroom was very popular.

LeJudge (author)2010-02-24

Thanks M, I'll try one of them cause I'm interested.  Cheers.

LeJudge (author)2010-02-24

Hi Melissa,

Great time-piece.  Very interesting.  Ideal for my grand daughter's bedroom.  Where did you buy the 'movement'?  Or did you dismantle another clock? :-)

J. Attard

mdhaworth (author)LeJudge2010-02-24

J, the clock parts can be bought at almost any craft store (like Michaels) or online from Clockworks. They come as a kit.

craftdesigns (author)2010-02-09


Today I posted an entry on my blog with a link to this tutorial.

I'd appreciate your letting me know if that's OK.


Nancy Ward

mdhaworth (author)craftdesigns2010-02-09

Hi Nancy,
Thanks for letting me know about the link. It's fine with me for you to link back here and it's great to see so many folks enjoying this instructable.

lukeea (author)2010-01-25

Thanks for the instructable! I'll be making one of these for my English major girlfriend. I found using a dremel to cut a square into the pages worked quite nicely.

katznemma (author)2010-01-03

I loved this idea!  I made this for my daughter's 1st grade teacher for x-mas.  I used an old book my daughter had colored in long it wasn't really going to waste. 

Again---great idea!  Thanks for sharing!

romanyroamer (author)2009-12-26

Great Idea, however if I was given one of these, I would want to read the book especially if it was on a fav. topic! I still see it as book murder but it looks good!...romanyroamer

jbicb3 (author)2009-12-22

Very cool idea! And I like Layan's comment on doing one with a cookbook. This way it can go to someone who enjoys cooking, not just for kids. And the same principal can be used for almost anyone with a hobby. Science book, sailing book, photography book. The list goes on and on! Love it!

Lolabella (author)2009-12-20

 Wow, this is a great way to reinvent books!  Especially if you don't want to read them.

Hazel Twig (author)2009-12-20

Brilliant Idea. Going to make 2 of them for my twin Grand-kids b/day. Good job they're a boy and a girl.

Hazel Twig (author)2009-12-20

Hope you didn't really spray paint "your hands"

njenkins (author)2009-11-28

Great job!  Super cool idea, it looks like something you'd pay $50 for in a department store!  Someone is definitely getting one of these for their birthday!

chile.limon (author)2009-03-30

wow, those were my fav books growing up. i love this instructable!!

TeachKidsArt (author)2009-03-11

I LOVE this idea!!! This will be my next baby shower gift! Thanks!!

The Lost Carol (author)2009-02-11

First time instructable, first time post. Just completed the project, using an old hardcover book I didn't like, but I did like the cover. It took awhile, but I like how it looks, and the feeling of accomplishment feels great. Great instructions, pictures, and results. Thanks for the idea!

mdhaworth (author)The Lost Carol2009-02-11

Great, glad it worked for you!

The Porsche Fan (author)2008-12-23

Well, I just did this project, and it turned out pretty good looking, but it took a lot longer than I thought it might take. Here's a few pictures of mine, I added a stand so It could stand up, and cut a square out of the back cover because my book wasn't thick enough, and I also posted a picture of the clock post from the side because I was wondering how it went the whole time I was doing this project. This project requires alot of patience, but it is worth it in the end. Thanks for posting this :)

I like the bookstand :-)

thanks, I just asked my mom about it and we had one in a drawer, so I didn't have to pay for it (yay a bonus!) also, the clockwork has a space on the back so that it it that can hang from a nail. I just checked up on the clock this week and it's still working great :)

HongKongSuperCop (author)2008-12-24

There's a great selection of clock inserts, hands, and parts at I've found them to be cheaper by far than Michael's, although I can't compare to Wal-Mart. I don't know what their prices are.

You're right, Klockit has great prices and excellent selection. I have ordered from them and was very satisfied but the shipping was a touch slow. Walmart is cheaper than Michaels unless you are using the Michaels 40% off coupon from the Sunday paper.

The Porsche Fan (author)2008-12-23

Is there any way to use a paperback book? I've tried drilling holes in a coupon book (also paperback) and They aren't coming out very round... can anyone help me?

Big Bear (author)The Porsche Fan2008-12-23

Try clamping the book between two pieces of wood.

mdhaworth (author)Big Bear2008-12-23

clamping it between two pieces of wood should work. I'm not a sure a paperback will work well for a clock, though...

I just did this project, and it worked out alright, I'm working on uploading the pictures right now

and I clamped a piece of wood ontop of the book and used a workbench for the bottom of the book

The Porsche Fan (author)Big Bear2008-12-23

"between"? as in one on top and one on bottom? or what? thanks

airrikajswan (author)2008-09-23

I modified this a little bit. I made this as a B-day present for a friend that is a teacher. I knew she didn't need it to read to the class... it is her favorite book and already has it. So I wanted the "boxy" part of the clock to be a little more hidden so I cut out a space with an exacto knife in the pages. It concealed it perfectly! When I put on all the numbers it looked a little weird (my book was on the small side) so I used the rubber things you put on the bottom of objects so the table doesn't get scratched... worked out good!

thant looks good

paganwonder (author)2008-12-22

This site is sooo inspirational! My DIY projects are a greater adventure now that I try to recycle/re-use more material/supplies. The Habitat for Humanity resell store is my new favorite hardware/project center. Many thanks to all who submit ideas.

StoryAddict (author)2008-12-09

Very cute, but I'm not sure how I feel about massacre-ing a book :/ Good recommendation for a thrift store, though. Although I imagine one could just as easily "make" a book with some thicker cardstock or similar and a laser printer?

mdhaworth (author)StoryAddict2008-12-09

I know, it is hard. If you makes you feel better I mostly use books in bad condition (pages colored on inside etc) NEVER new books and I remove pages to use to make greeting cards and other items so the book gets well used.

AznPanda (author)2008-12-06


airrikajswan (author)2008-09-23

I found it helpful to take them off he little rack, cut of the little leftover knobs, then spray paint.

About This Instructable




More by mdhaworth:"Drawing" on fabric with yarn (aka couching)First Aid Kit (with instructions for making a lined zipper pouch)Felted garland for your Christmas tree
Add instructable to: