Introduction: Birch Bark Face for Wrist Watch

Ever gotten bored of the same face on you wrist watch? Ever thought that you could make it better? Well, its easier than you think. This instructables will show you how to make a watch face out of birch bark, a wonderful natural material found on birch trees. This will give you a beautifully natural looking watch, which will hold within it the essence of the boreal forest.

The tools needed are very simple:

1. A scissor is necessary (x-acto knife could also work)

2. Glue (any glue works, but liquid yields better results because it soaks into the bark)

3. Compass and ruler (although this is not necessary, it could make the work easier.

4. Of course, birch bark. (can be ripped off of any birch tree. Should be relatively thick.)

Step 1: Preparing the Birch Bark Face

First, use a pencil to outline the rough size of the watch onto the birch bark. It may help for the circle at this point to be larger than the watch, as it will make it easier to work with. Try to use a clean section of the bark, with constant and solid grain, not the cracked bits. This will make the grain more visible on the watch because its finer and doesnt fill up the watch space as much.

Secondly, it may help to shave the back of the bark. (See in picture 2) This will make it thinner and cleaner, which will result in it both fitting into the watch better, and not leaving particles that may come loose with time.

Once this is done you are left with a roundish, clean piece of birch bark.

Step 2: Preparing the Watch

Using the edge of a knife or a scissor, you can pop the back off the watch. Inside you should find a plastic holder for the mechanism, as well as the mechanism itself (of course this is different for automatic watches).

To remove the mechanism and face, you need to find the pin that's holding the crown in (the crown is the knob you use to change the time). Just press the pin down with the tip of a knife or scissors, and pull the crown out. It might be easier and less damaging if you put some force on the crown, and slowly press the release pin. This will release the crown as soon as possible, which prevents the release pin from deforming (due to pressing it down too hard, this happened a couple times for me before I learnt the trick. If it's deformed, it will essentially always be in the "release" position, and the crown wont stay in.)

Once the crown is removed, the mechanism and the plastic holder (as well as the face) can be removed from the watch case. Then you can use a set of pliers to (very, very gently) remove the hands from the mechanism. This can be done with tweezers as well for more delicacy.

To detach the face from the mechanism, you can use the edge of a knife or scissor to pry it off. There are usually two pins attached to the face, which go into the mechanism body. This is fairly straightforward to do.

Now you should be left with a mechanism, a plastic holder, and 3 hands (of course, watch hands).

Step 3: Sizing the Bark

Then, use a ruler to measure the diameter of the watch back. Then divide in two to get radius, and draw that radius onto the birch bark using a compass.

Cut the bark slightly larger than the radius. This is to make sure it isn't too small. Then put it in the watch frame, and slowly shave it down using the scissors until it fits.

This will make the bark just the right size.

Another way to do this is to place the plastic holder on the bark, and trace its circumference onto the bark. Then when you cut it it will fit exactly.

With any method, you should end up with a perfectly sized bark face.

Step 4: Finishing the Bark

To finish the bark, first make a hole in the center using the tip of the compass or a sharp needle. This is to accommodate for the shaft for the watch hands.

To make the hour markings, there are several methods.

While it is possible to draw them with pencil or ink (this would be great if you wanted numbers), I found it easier and more effective to just scrape a rectangle (like a dash sort of thing). I scraped just the top layer of the bark, revealing the under layer, which was darker and browner. To get them in the right spot, you can start by doing them on opposite sides, then cutting the distances in half, and then in thirds. so for example you would do the 12 and 6 o'clock marks, then divide each distance into two and do the 3 and 9 o'clock marks. Then you would cut each section into 3 sections, which would give you each hour in between (there are 2 marks to add within each of the 4 sections.)

Then, before you glue it onto the plastic holder, you can rub some oil on the bark to bring out the color. I used canola oil, because that's all I could find in my house, but any kind of wood finish (not too thick, since the bark is delicate) should also work.

Then its just a matter of gluing it to the plastic holder and fitting it into the watch.

Once the glue is dry, you can put the mechanism back in, and put the hands on their shafts.

Make sure that both the minute and the hour hand are synchronized. You wouldn't want the minute hand to be on 12 and the hour hand to be halfway between the hour.

Step 5: Finished Watch

Then you put the whole piece into the frame, insert the crown, and put the back plate on.

Then put a matching band on (I prefer green NATO straps, since it feels natural, and matches the green leaves on the tree, so it fits with the bark.) to finish the watch.

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