Introduction: Intro to Woodworking Clock

The goal of this Instructable is to describe a very simple project that was used for an introductory woodworking workshop at Rice University. This project teaches students basic hand tool and power tool usage, as well as some finishing techniques to make the product look nice. We have designed this activity to take no longer than 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Note: Yep it may appear that the stencil was placed incorrectly. This is simply because the picture is misleading. The clock is supposed to be oriented as a rhombus. You can orient it as a square or whatever shape strikes your fancy.

Here is what you will need:

  • Safety glasses
  • two clamps of your choice
  • 3/4" thick wood (we used cedar)
  • 1 saw
  • 1 drill
  • sand paper (or power sander)
  • 1 ruler & pencil
  • an oil wood stain
  • A rag you don't care much about
  • 1 DIY clock kit & batteries

Step 1: Measure and Mark

Take your piece of wood and measure where you wish to cut. In our case, we simply cut our plank so that the resultant piece would be a 6"x6" square (or a rhombus). Whenever you mark your wood, you should use a pencil at light pressure so that the marks are easy to remove later.

Step 2: Secure Your Material

To safely shape your wood, you will need firmly secure it to a table. It may be tempting to have your friend hold the wood while you cut it, but this is not a safe practice or effective practice.

We used two bar clamps but you can use whatever clamp is available to you. You should also always try to have two clamps holding your material. If only one clamp is used, your material could pivot around the clamp point.

Some clamps have a hard metal interface that could end up digging into your wood. To avoid this, you can sandwich your wood between layers of sacrificial wood pieces so that the clamping pressure is distributed.

Step 3: Cutting

Once your piece is secured, start scoring an edge with the saw. This will help guide the saw when you are using longer strokes. Make sure to use the full length of the saw when going back and forth. Tools are designed to provide a mechanical advantage so there is no need to force the saw.

Here is a great video that shows how to use a hand saw in greater detail.

Step 4: Sanding

This is pretty straight forward. Just start with rough sand paper and work your way to finer grits. Most importantly, make sure you sand in the direction of the grain.

Step 5: Staining

  • Wipe the saw dust off with a wet rag
  • Wait for piece to dry fully
  • Pour a small amount of stain directly on surface
  • use a rag to spread stain evenly in the direction of the grain. There should be no runny liquid.
  • repeat with back face (this prevents warping)
  • For the sides, just use a damp rag to saturate the surface.
  • Place your piece on wooden blocks so that it can dry faster
  • Maker sure the clock face is facing up

Note that the end grain will absorb the stain faster than the side grain. Apply a conservative amount of stain to the end grain to avoid making it darker than the other sides.

Step 6: Drilling

Make hole in the center of your wood. If you made a square shape, you can find the center by finding the intersection of two diagonal lines that connect the opposite corners. The size of your hole will depend on the DIY clock kit that you buy.

Here is a helpful video on using power drills.

Step 7: Painting

To make the clock face design, just print out the attached template and use an exacto knife to cut out the shapes. In our case, we used a laser cutter for the stencil because we are fancy (lazy).

Place the stencil over your clock and weigh it down so that it is firmly pressed against the wood. Apply a couple of light layers of spray paint. If you use too much spray paint, you may saturate your stencil and cause the paint to bleed.

Step 8: Clock Assembly

To put your clock together just follow the assembly instructions of whatever kit you bought.

Some of these kits are not the best in quality so be gentle when putting the parts together. As you may be able to see, we ended up slightly bending some of the hands when assembling the clock.

The last step is to place a battery on your clock and set it to the right time.

Congrats. Now you have a functional clock, and you have learned some basic woodworking in the process!