"If Not Now, When?" Burlap/Cardboard Clock




Introduction: "If Not Now, When?" Burlap/Cardboard Clock

About: Hi! I´m Cristina, and I love to make new stuff using old things! I think it´s just awesome! At the same time I´m trying to help a Foundation that help children in Bangladesh, buy offering my stuff in exchange…

Since I started making DIY projects (not long ago), I became more aware of issues such as recycling and reusing materials, and now have been piling up things that normally would be thrown away. For that reason I now have a huge pile of nice and reusable cardboard that I need to start using (I imagine many of you may have a similar story, and yes, other material are starting to pile up also) :)

So I started this project not really knowing what would come out of it, but making sure that some of that cardboard would go to use :)

In spite of not having planned ahead, I think it went really well, and am proud of this clock I made.

And now I would like to share with you how it was made :) , but I have to warn you... if you have too much storaged cardboard like I have, this project will not solve your problem :)

Step 1: What You Will Need

All the things I used in this project I already had and didn´t need to buy anything. But even if you do have to buy materials for this clock, I think you can make one just like mine on a low budget.


  • cardboard
  • burlap
  • veneer
  • 4 A4 sheets of printer paper (for printing out the letters)
  • black acrylic paint
  • black water based wood stain
  • balck spray paint (mate)
  • clock mechanism (16mm shaft)
  • Wood White Glue
  • Masking tape
  • sanding paper
  • 4 wooden "number sevens" (optional: see step 6 for more info)


  • ruler
  • scissors
  • x-acto knife
  • printer
  • cutting board
  • painting brush

Step 2: Cutting the Cardboard

Measure your cardboard and cut two (perfect or almost) perfect squares the same size. Then glue them together and you´ll have a nice and sturdy clock body.

How I did it: I measured my cardboard and cut a (almost) squared shape.

It ended up measuring : 32,5cm x 31,5cm.

This centimeter of difference happened because of the folds on my recycled cardboard. I decided to use them to guide my cut, so that the cardboard square would be "fold free" , and therefore sturdier and easier to work with.

My cardboard had 0,4 mm of thickness and two squares did the job but you can easily cut a third square and glue it to make it even sturdier. (Just make sure the shaft of your clock mechanism is long enough to get to the other side)

Step 3: Making the Hole

To make the hole in the center, just use a ruler to make two lines:

  1. from the upper right corner to the left bottom corner
  2. from the upper left corner to the right bottom corner.

You have now made a cross, and in the intersection is where you will make your hole.

I used the x-acto knife : I forced the tip of the blade on the spot and then rotated the knife until almost all of the blade passed through. Just be carefull to not make it too wide. If it isn´t wide enough thats ok because you can easily make it wider later.

The rotation movement with the knife will give you a nice round hole to fit your clock mechanism later.

Never cover completely your hole. If you have partially covered it on one side, before proceeding to cover the other side, open it again.

Step 4: Gluing the Burlap on the Clock Face

Cut enough burlap to covers what will be the face of your clock, and with margins that can be folded to the back, as you see in the picture.

Then first spread white glue all over the cardboard face and place the burlap making sure it is strechted (don´t strech it to much or you may ruin your work)

Olnly glue the back margins after the front has dried well.

Step 5: Gluing Burlap to the Back of the Clock

What I did here was to cut (using scissors) a square the same size as the back of the cardboard that was left to cover.

Then I carefully glued it on.

To cover up where the two pieces of burlap join, I made a wooden veneer frame and glue it on top. I´m sorry I didn´t take a picture of that step, but you can see it in step 7, when I painted the veneer.

Note: I painted the wooden veneer frame after it was glued to the back of the watch. This is wrong. It happened this way because I was going for the wooden look, but didn´t like it so I tried to paint the wood black, and it turned out ok. If you was the black look too, my advice is to paint before gluing.

Step 6: Cutting the 12-3-6-9 Hours Marks

I decided to place 4 wooden marks on my clock face, for the 12, 3, 6 and 9.

Initially my plan was to cut 4 equal pieces from the wooden veneer to make the marks. That is waht I suggest you to do, or to find some wooden bits that you fancy.

I had some random wooden numbers, and looking at number 7 I figured I could cut the upper part, and transform it into a bit of wood that would fit the look I wanted. I cut the numbers with the x-acto knife (using an old and used blade, so not to damage the new blade I had just recently purchased) and then manually sanded the bits of wood.

Step 7: Gluing the Wooden Hour Marks and the Veneer Frame

Here I did things in a wrong order. I glued all the wooden pieces, and only afterwards I painted them with wooden black stain.

This happened because I was going for the wooden look, but then changed my mind.

So, if you want colour on the wood, please paint it before gluing it to the clock.

To glue the wooden hours marks, mesure the middle of each side, apply white glue and place them in place. Let dry well.

For the back wooden frame I cut 4 stripes of veneer and glued it on top of the burlap, to cover the junction of the two pieces of burlap (as described in step 5)

Step 8: Making Your "stencil"

In this step you just choose a qoute that you like to go on your clock face.

I chose this one that I really like and was a good fit for my clock's size:

"If Not Now, When?".

On the computer, I used Word processor and wrote one word in each page (page orientation horizontal)

all words in font: Copperplate Gothic Bold

Font sizes:

  • IF = 250
  • NOT = 200
  • NOW = 150
  • WHEN? = 150

Print out your words.

Then carefully cut out the black of the letters using your x-acto knife, making a stencil. Don´t cut all around the inner circle of the letters O. You can leave a little stripe of black paper to maintain the inner circle in place (see photo)

Step 9: Painting the Words on the Burlap Clock Face

Cut and place your words on the burlap as you like. I used masking tape to secure them as it´s very easy to remove afterwards.

When your word "stencils" are all in place, paint the sheets of paper. I used a normal little brush and acrylic black paint. Be carefull because your stencil is not thick but just paper, so paint gently, but use generous amounts of paint.

Let your work dry very well before removing the paper and masking tape.

Step 10: Placing the Clock Mechanism

Open the hole so that the shaft of the clock mechanism fits (if it isn´t opened enough already)

Before definetly placing the mechanism aplly some white glue arround the hole, so that the burlap in time doesn´t become threaded or damaged.

When dry, fit in the clock mechanism, and use some silicon glue to secure it.

Step 11: Spray Painting the Clock Hands

This is a totally unnecessary step if your clock hands already have the colour you want.

Unfortunately for me, mine were golden and didn´t go well with my clock face. So, I spray painted it black (mate).

Let them dry well and then assemble them on your clock mechanism.

Step 12: Your Clock

And then you will have a nice and low budget clock, and a little less cardboard to reuse :D

Hope you liked it! Would really love to see other similar works.

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    5 years ago

    Someday, eventually.

    Cris DIY
    Cris DIY

    Reply 5 years ago