Wood Carved Clock

Introduction: Wood Carved Clock

In this Instructable I will be making a wood carved clock, with a wood spirit's (also known as an old man of the woods) face.

Some wood carving terminology I will be using:

A Carving burr - This is the bit that goes in the end of your rotary tool, that actually carves away the wood. There are lots of different brands, but I recommend Kutzall burrs.

Feathering away - This means if you have cut a valley in the wood, you smooth out the transition from the valley to flat wood.

In the first steps I kept the carving as one large log, but if you want to cut a slab to carve straight away, skip to step 6, and then back to step 1.



  • A rotary tool, sometimes known as a Dremel.
  • Carving bits/burrs.
  • A drill and drill bit.
  • Orbital sander (optional, but makes sanding much faster), or sandpaper.

Other supplies:

  • A log or piece of wood.
  • A pencil or pen.
  • Clock module - these can be purchased off an online website like Amazon or e-bay.
  • Epoxy (this is optional, but can be useful for filling cracks).
  • Varnish (this is optional, but it makes the finished carving look much more glossy).

Step 1: Selecting a Log

There will probably be lots of spare wood around you if you or someone you know has a firewood store, or you could carve a piece of store bought wood if you wanted.

I selected a log that was fairly circular and was a relatively soft type of wood.

I sanded the top of the log down a bit with an orbital sander, this is an optional step, but makes drawing on the design easier.

Step 2: Drawing the Base Design

First mark the approximate centre of the log, and then find the direct line across the log that splits the log into two equal parts, or as near as possible to it. This means that the face will not look lop-sided due to the shape of the log.

Mark the place you want your mouth to be, which is where the clock will be coming out of, and place the centre of the clock over this spot. Draw around the outside of the clock module, this is the area that will be recessed out from behind, so you will not be able to carve too deep in this area, or else you will penetrate through and create a hole.

Draw a line where the eyebrows will go, the eyes will be underneath this line.

Next draw a line where the base of the nose will be, in the next step we will draw the nose.

The eyes will be drawn on later, when the rest of the carving is started, to make it easier to plan out what the eyes are going to look like relative to the whole face.

Step 3: Drawing the Moustache and Nose

Draw the outside of the nose by drawing diagonal lines to create two triangles, one on each side of the nose. Now do the same thing but upside down, joining the lines up with other ones.

For the moustache, draw two sweeping lines, starting from the bottom of the nose and the top of the mouth and joining them up further down the face to create a moustache. Repeat this process for the other side and tweak the lines and change them until they look even. This is why you draw the lines with a pencil, to allow for changes.

If you cannot get the moustache to look even, you can trace one half like I did. If you draw one half of the moustache, it is fairly simple to trace it on to the other half, and bear in mind that you can adjust the moustache while you are carving.

Step 4: Carving the Outline of the Eyes and Nose

To carve the outline of the eyes and nose you carve around the outside of the lines we drew for the nose and carve below the line that we drew for the eyebrows.

At the moment you are just carving a valley in the wood, you can take a few passes to get the depth right if you need to, gradually getting deeper and deeper into the wood.

The next step is to 'feather away' the wood, by holding the carving burr at an angle to the wood, this will smooth out the transition from the valley to flat wood.

Feather away the wood that is on the outside of the valley you just carved, this will raise the nose out of the face and carve the eyes deeper.

Step 5: Carving the Outline of the Moustache

To carve the outline of the moustache you repeat the steps for the eyes and nose. You carve around the outside of the lines we drew, and you can take several passes to get down to the required depth.

Feather away the wood on the outside of the lines, making the transition from the valley to flat wood more gradual.

Step 6: Separating a Slab From a Large Log.

You could do this step at any time, it is just that until now I kept it as one large log to keep the rigidity of the slab.

You have to cut a thin slab because you will have to carve a recess in the back of the slab to allow the clock hands to project above the surface of the slab.

If you bought a clock module with a long stem, you would not need to cut a thin slab, but I only had a module with a short stem.

Step 7: Carving the Eyes

Hold the carving burr as shown in the first two photos, and carve in the directions shown. This will create an eye shape, and then you can draw on the eye design. Carve inside the line of the eye design, creating an eye shape that is set back from the rest of the face.

Step 8: Adding Detail to the Eyes

Up until now with carving, I have been using a Kutzall carving burr, that is good at removing lots of material fast, but not as good at doing precise work as some smaller carving burrs are. When I bought my rotary tool, it came with a set of smaller carving burrs and sanding drums.

Go over the lines you carved before with the smaller carving burr, this will neaten up the edges of the cut. Draw a pupil in the centre of the eye, and carve down around the edge of the pupil, leaving it raised up in the centre of the eye.

Step 9: Drilling the Hole for the Mouth

To drill the mouth hole, find a drill bit that is a little bit larger than the shaft of the clock. Use a drill and drill a hole completely through the wood, this is where the clock shaft will come out of, and where the centre of the clock will be.

I also coloured in the clock hands which were red and blue with a black marker pen, this made them blend in better with the overall clock .

Step 10: Recessing the Back of the Log

Place the shaft of the clock in the hole you drilled in the previous step. Then draw around the clock module when it is facing straight up, parallel to the face. This will create a border for you to carve inside.

Carve inside this border, gradually getting deeper and deeper, and putting the clock module into the recess to ensure it fits. Keep going deeper and deeper until the clock shaft sticks out of the face enough for you to attach the clock hands.

A crack was starting to form, so I filled up the back of the crack with hot melt glue, this solved the problem of the log cracking while not being visible from the front of the clock.

Step 11: Epoxy and Varnish

This step is optional, but I decided to fill in some of the smaller cracks with epoxy, and injected some into each of the little cracks with a syringe. I waited 24 hours for the epoxy to dry and sanded it down for one last time.

I then varnished it with a clear coat of varnish, this is also optional, but it makes it look much more glossy.

I also wrote some numbers around the mouth to enable you to tell the time more easily.

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