Introduction: Polystyrene Clock

About: Hi! You can call me Ardee. I'm a specialist (self claim) in paper and cardboard related DIY projects. You can see more of my works at

Hello folks! Ever wonder what to do with the white “bubbly” plastic frames usually found in packaging for electronic goods other than throwing it away? Today I’ll share with you my project of up-cycling the white plastic frames or expanded polystyrene (EPS) into a desktop clock. The inspiration comes from a Styrofoam clock design by twistedsistersdesign.

The plot twist here is that instead of using a brand-new polystyrene (or Styrofoam) sheet I’m going to use the polystyrene frames from the packaging box.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Materials


  • EPS Packaging Frame.
  • Cardboard Sheet (1mm thickness).
  • Wall Clock.


  • Handheld Foam Cutter.
  • Cutter.
  • Circle Cutter.
  • PVA White Glue.
  • Scissors.
  • Ruler/pencil.
  • Pliers.
  • Screwdriver.
  • Needle Pin.
  • Paint Brush.
  • Craft Paint.
  • Acrylic Spray Paint.

Step 2: Draw the Letters

You can do it digitally and print out the letter but, in this case, I prefer to do it the old way. Draw the letter on an A4 paper (the measurement is shown in the pictures) and trace it on a cardboard. I actually size my polystyrene clock based on the length of the clock hands that I have (from the wall clock). And mine is roughly 130mm in diameter. So, if you have a clock kit with longer hands you might want to size it accordingly.

Step 3: Cut the Letters

You’ll only need the letter C, L, O and K. For the circle and round edges, I measured and cut the shape using a circle cutter. It’s a tool with a combination of a compass and a cutter – which comes in handy if you want to cut a circular shape.

Step 4: Combine the Letter

Actually, you can skip Step 1 & 2 by directly draw the word “Clock” (either by hand or computer program) on the cardboard. The reason I cut the individual letter is to gauge how much overlap I needed to combine the letter. Once the outline is drawn cut out the cardboard.

Step 5: Dismantle the Clock

You may, of course, buy a clock kit for this purpose. I found a cheap wall clock (about 2 dollars) which is perfect for this (cheap) project. First, remove the screws and the frame. Secondly, use a needle nose pliers to remove the second hand. It’s kinda tight so you might need to force it a little bit - just be careful not to break it. The minute and hour hand can be easily remove by hand.

Step 6: Cut the Polystyrene

The idea is to get usable polystyrene parts from the EPS frame. To do that, firstly prepare two strips of cardboard (any length) with a width of 30mm. Cut the polystyrene into a size of about 30-40mm width. Place the cardboard strips on the opposite sites of the polystyrene and use the needle pins to fix it onto its place. Roughly adjust the cardboard strips so that they are aligned to each other. Trim the polystyrene using the handheld foam cutter. Do it on all four surfaces of the polystyrene so that in the end you’ll get a cuboid.

However, with the unusual shapes of the EPS frame it is hard to consistently get a usable 30mmx30mm cuboid. Therefore, make another pair of cardboard strips with lesser width – 15mm. You’ll have to do more trimming works but its allow you to fully utilize the polystyrene and reduce wastage.

Step 7: Glue the Polystyrene Cuboids

Make a hole on the cardboard for the clock shaft. Trace on the cardboard for the location of the clock and position polystyrene frame around it. Starting from this position start gluing the polystyrene cuboids one-by-one using the PVA glue. Also, cut a piece of polystyrene as a back cover for the clock.

Step 8: Start Cutting the Shape

Use the needle pins to hold the cardboard onto the polystyrene block. Slowly cut the polystyrene using the cardboard as a guide. Once done, remove the needle pins and glue the cardboard onto the cut-out polystyrene.

Step 9: Add Coating and Paint

Before adding the paint coat the polystyrene and the cardboard with PVA glue. Why do I need to coat it? Well, the glue will harden the soft polystyrene a lil bit and also serves as a protection when we spray paint it later. Add several coats of glue, letting it dry in between the layers. Next, add few layers of white craft paint (or any color of your preference, of course) to the clock. And lastly, use acrylic spray paint (plain white) as the finishing.

Step 10: Add in the Clock

Finally place the clock on its position and re-insert the clock hands into the clock’s shaft. All done! Enjoy your new polystyrene desktop clock.

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