Junkyard Clock

Introduction: Junkyard Clock

About: A bit of a dabbler by nature with a bent towards working with wood for fun and with technology in the day job, I like to try and make things that allow me to explore the best of both worlds. I write abou…

In recent years a lot of auto manufacturers seem to go towards a more "retro" look in some of their styling. As part of this movement, a number of cars have been using the more traditional analogue clocks versus digital clocks.

As time goes by, all cars eventually end up in the junk yard. In a lot of "you pull" junk yards, clocks are not a very high demand item, and a very well made clock can be had very cheaply ($4 at my local junkyard).

The goal of this instructable is to show how to make an attractive desk clock from a clock salvaged from the junkyard - the perfect gift for the family gearhead!

If you find this little tutorial useful - please take a moment to check out my adventures puttering around in my shop at my website! - https://www.smallworkshopchronicles.com/

Step 1: Sourcing the Clock

First order of business is finding the appropriate donor of your clock. As mentioned earlier, a number of car manufacturers have been putting analogue clocks in their models, however my preference has been to use the clocks that are found in the Chrysler 300M.

The reason for this is that I have found the clocks in the 300M to have a compact footprint and are fairly energy efficient - one of my main criteria for this project is that the clock needs to run off of a 9 volt battery for at least a few months and I have found that the clock from the 300M fit this requirement the best.

To remove the clock, simply gently pry apart the front panel containing the clock and carefully remove the 2 small screws holding the clock to the panel (NOTE: Try not to damage the panel. Someone might need that panel at some point - that person could be you!)

After removing the clock, also remember to take the connector that connects the clock in with the car's wiring harness. We'll need that connector later in order to power the clock. Remove the connector from the wiring harness with wire cutters and make sure to leave a little bit wire on the connector in order to make hooking up a power source easier later on.

Step 2: Building the Cabinet

The cabinet of the clock is constructed from:

  • one 6 inch piece of 2" x 4" pine (cut from a 2"x6" pine board)
  • one 5.75 inch piece of 1"X4" pine

I selected a tombstone shape for my cabinet. To get the correct shape I created a template on a 4" x 6" piece of bristol board and traced the outline to the 2x4 block of pine.

At the same time I also created a template of the clock face and time set button on the clock.

Once the outline has been traced, cut the outline out on the wood block with a scroll saw. Once cut, sand the edges to make the curves smooth.

Next is to cut out the hole for the clock face. The clock face on the 300M clock is 1.75 inches in diameter. On the pine block, I used a 1.75 inch hole bit. Cut a hole 4 inches up from the bottom of the pine block and in the center of the block (I measured in 2 inches from the side).

Using the template of the clock face and setting button, and using the hole that has been just cut as a guide, I marked the position of the setting button (make sure it's also in the center of the block) and drilled a 1/8" hole at that mark.

Step 3: Mating the Clock With the Cabinet

Next we have to create a cavity within the cabinet for the clock to sit in. Taking the clock, place it face down into the holes for the clock face and the clock set button and make sure that the clock is flush against the pine block

Trace the outline of the clock mechanism on the pine block and with a rotary tool or router, create the cavity for the clock in the pine block. Always stop periodically to check the fit with the clock (it should be snug, but easy to remove) and pay special attention that the clock reset button can move freely in its hole.

Continue to carve the clock cavity until the clock face is approximately 1/8 inch from the front of the cabinet

If you want to run the clock off of a nine volt battery, create a cavity below the clock cavity to accommodate a 9 volt battery (make sure to make room for the battery connector!)

You can also power the clock with a 9 or 12 volt wall wart, in which case, a battery cavity is not needed.

Step 4: Finishing the Cabinet

Using the 1x4 block of pine as the base, use a router (if desired) to put a decorative edge on 3 sides of the 1x4 block and drill 2 small pilot holes in the center of the block.

Using 1 inch wood screws and glue, attach the clock cabinet to the base, making sure that the clock cabinet sits in the middle of the base.

The clock cabinet is now complete! - Paint or stain in the color of your choice

Step 5: Putting It All Together

Install the clock into the cabinet by applying a little bit of glue around the outside edges of the clock and seating it in place, again make sure that the clock time set button can move freely

If using a 9 volt battery, solder a 9 volt connector to the clock (wires on the clock match the same colors as the battery connector - red to red, black to black)

For a wall wart solution, solder in an appropriate socket connector for your wall wart.

Once done, tidy up the wiring with a bit of electrical tape, plug in the battery and you're ready to tell time!

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    Matthew Yang
    Matthew Yang

    11 months ago

    Great project! I'm going to do this with every car I use parts from at the junkyard that has a analogue clock.


    7 years ago

    Good instructible. I would love to have that rim sitting on the hood of the car. I put chrysler 300 17" rims on my Cherokee and I'm looking for a spare!

    Small Workshop Chronicles
    Small Workshop Chronicles

    Reply 7 years ago


    As far as I know the rim's still there and their prices in general are pretty reasonable - Though I suspect it's too far away from you (Southern Ontario) to be cost effective :)


    7 years ago

    you are a genius, that would be a great gift for somebody. I don't have wood working skills nor tools.

    Small Workshop Chronicles
    Small Workshop Chronicles

    Reply 7 years ago

    Thanks! - I wouldn't go that far myself :).

    The nice thing with this that you could be as simple or fancy as you want - just 2 square bricks of wood painted black would look good too against the silver/white of the clock - or just skip the base and have it as one block of wood. The biggest trick is getting the cavity for the clock hollowed out - It's more of an exercise in time and patience than skill.