Introduction: Huge Roman Numeral Clock

The purpose of this Instructable was to make a large Roman Numeral clock. The overall diameter is 4 feet (1.22 m), so it was perfect for filling an empty wall in the house. The overall build time is roughly four days (two to cut the letters and face, then paint/stain and two days to assemble and mount). I procrastinated in acquiring the clock The cost of the build was around ~$50 USD in wood, screws, and clock hardware.

Tools Used: Powered drill, jigsaw, mitre saw, table saw, sander, band saw, protractor, tape measure, level, putty knife

Materials Used:

Power Pro One #6 1" screws: 54 total (2.54 cm)

1-1/4" screws - for the clock cleat - 9 total (3.175 cm)

2-1/4" screws - for the wall cleat - 2 total (5.715 cm)

Baseboard molding (8') - 2 total (2.44 m)

1"x6"x8' Tongue and Groove Whitewood Board - 4 total (2.54cm x 15.24cm x 2.44m)

String - 5' strand (1.52 m)

Wood Stain/Stain Sponge

White Paint/Brush

High-Torque Movement, 1-1/8" Shaft Length (2.86 cm)

12" Clock Hands (painted white) (30.48 cm)

Step 1: Cutting Out the Letters

Cut out all letters from the baseboard molding. The molding was purchased from the 70% off bin. This reduced the cost of the letters and since the baseboard was already white, it made for an excellent choice. A template, I, V, and X were cut and used for outlining the remainder of the letters on the baseboard. The letters were cut along the length direction of the baseboard to get the desired size. For the V and X letters, their middles a grooved section of the baseboard. Each letter was about 7.5" tall and 0.5" wide (19 cm and 1.27 cm, respectively). The knobs at the end of each letter had about a 5/8" diameter (1.59 cm). The Vs and Xs were made by tracing an I in one position, then rotating to the next positioning (beginning and ending positions for each letter are shown in the pictures) with the V having the I rotated at its base and the X having the I rotated at its center. Sand the edges once all letters are cut out.

Step 2: Paint Letters

Paint the letters white. The white used was more of a cream than the white of the baseboard; this step took some of the edge off of the original, more clinical baseboard white. Focus was spent on painting the best here sides with the last side ending up being flush with the clock face. Again, since the baseboard was originally white, the non-painted side doesn't need a fresh coat of paint. Once the paint is dry, scrape the edges to remove any excess paint.

Step 3: Build Clock Face

The clock face was made out of the tongue and groove whitewood board. The boards were originally 8’ (2.44 m), so cut the four needed in half and line up side to side. Insert a screw in the center of the middle board. Tie a string to the screw and using a pen and a tape measure, draw a 4’ diameter (1.22 m) circle. Using the band saw, cut the pieces to shape. In the previous step, there will be part of the circle that was not able to be transcribed. The scrap wood from this step can be placed where it is needed and the remaining parts of the circle can be traced and cut.

Step 4: Stain the Clock Face

Stain the clock face. More than one coat may be necessary, depending on the desired darkness of color. Include staining the tongue and groove sections of the boards. This will help with friction fitting all of the pieces together before final assembly.

Step 5: Insert Clock Motor

Drill a hole in the center of the clock face so that the shaft from the clock motor can fit through. The shaft diameter was 5/16” (.794 cm). Make the hole 3/8” (.953 cm) wide and then screw in the clock motor to the face.

Step 6: Arrange Numerals

Each numeral will use 2 screws to anchor it to the face. However, the goal was to not see any of the mounting hardware from the front of the clock. Therefore, the letters need to be attached from the back. To do this, the letters need to be arranged in the mirror image of what they should be. Arrange the letters with the display side in contact with the clock face. With the size of the letters and the length of the minute hand (12” - 30.48 cm) it worked out nicely to where there could be a 2” gap (5.08 cm) from the edge of the face to the top of the letter, then a 2” gap (5.08 cm) between the bottom of the letter and the minute hand. To mark these locations, trace a 12” and 14” diameter circle (30.48 cm and 35.56 cm, respectively) from the center of the clock face in a similar manner as before. (In the picture, the screws have already been inserted into the numerals)

Using a protractor, mark 30-degree increments at the center of the clock face. This will provide spacing windows for placing the letters at their required locations.Once the letters are arranged, trace the letters on the back of the clock face. Double check that they are in the right position and that they are display-side down before tracing.

Step 7: Anchor Numerals

Mark two screw points for each letter on the clock face and on the letter. If the letters are not display side down, they will be mounted as their mirrored self on the front of the clock. If they are cut symmetrically, this will not matter, but if they aren’t then this is a critical detail. Drill two screws for each letter into the clock face so that their tips just protrude through the front of the face. Align the letters onto the screws and screw in the rest of the way. (see previous step for how the back of the clock face looked with the screws fully inserted)

Step 8: Attach French Cleat and Secure the Face

The clock is to be hung on the wall using a French cleat (see images for what it should look like – courtesy of Google Images). This cleat was also used to secure all of the clock face pieces together. The 45-degree cut was done using a table saw. For this project, a 36” (91.44 cm) cleat (from the 1-1/2”x3/4”x8’ board) (3.81cmx1.9cmx2.44m) was attached onto the wall at two studs. The connecting cleat was attached to the back of the clock face using 9 screws with one placed in the center of each panel. This cleat was 44” long (111.8 cm) and placed with the center of the top of the cleat 18” (45.72 cm) below the top of the clock. Ensure the cleat is level on the clock face and on the wall.

A 36" (91.44 cm) piece of wood was also placed ~6" (15.24 cm) below the clock motor to help support the clock on the wall and to further secure the structure.

Step 9: Attach Hands

Install the hour and minute hands and secure with brass end nut (the nut was included in the motor package). With the clock face being ~3/4” (.229 cm) thick, the included washer and hex nut were not attached to the motor.

Follow the accompanying operating instructions for setting the clock time.

Step 10: Mount Clock

Mount the clock on the wall and enjoy!

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