Cardboard Pocket Watch Step-by-step




Introduction: Cardboard Pocket Watch Step-by-step

About: Hi'o! I am a long-time crafter and a newbie entrepreneur. I learned to craft from watching my mother do her crafts: sewing, quilting, crocheting, painting ceramics, and more. Growing up, I was able to expand...

I started making these pocket watches when the metal one I had cracked the faceplate. I felt compelled to take it apart and build a cardboard replica to house the clock part.

[Recently had a slight problem with this intro and all the previous info I had here got deleted. I am working on re-compiling the materials and tools list. If you have any questions before I am able to fix this, please don't hesitate to ask.]

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Step 1: Disassemble "broken" Pocket Watch

Using the screwdriver, pliers, and pin, disassemble the pocket watch. Be careful to keep all the parts.

1. Pop off the back cover with the screwdriver.
2. Remove plastic insert.
3. With the pliers, hold the thin screw that adjusts the time and unscrew the metal post that goes through the housing.
4. Take out watch mechanism and face.
5. To remove the front cover, open and push the pin through the hole in the hinge. This will push the piece of wire holding the hinge together out the other side of the hole. If this does not work, pry and wiggle it until either the post breaks or the link to the front.
6. Thread a piece of string into the housing under the thin piece of metal that makes the hinge spring. Pull on the string to bend the metal and remove it from the housing. Don't worry about bending it too much, you won't be using this piece again.
7. Detach chain.
8. If your watch's face cover is still intact, you can try to pop it out and reuse.
9. Separate and set aside the watch mechanism/face, plastic insert, metal post for adjusting time, and hinge pin (if you didn't break it like I did). These pieces will go into the finished pocket watch.

Step 2: Begin Duplicating Front and Back Covers

The basic idea of this next step is that wet chipboard, wrapped around an object, will hold the same shape when dry.

1. Using the original housing as a guide, measure the approx size of the covers, then trace circles which are slightly larger. Mine measured 2-1/4," the largest circle on my template.
2. For the front cover, at the bottom of the traced circle, draw a flange 1/4" x 1/2." In the pictures, I originally had 2 flanges for the back cover, but subsequently chopped them off.
3. Cut out circles.
4. In a dish filled with about 1/4" of water, immerse chipboard cutouts.
5. While the paper is soaking, cut a length of ribbon. I used about 6 ft of 3/8" ribbon. You need this much length to wrap around the covers multiple times. For my filagre front cover, I tied the ribbon to it, making sure the knot was on the inside. For the back, and for covers without such cutouts, a piece of tape is enough to secure the ribbon.
6. Remove circle from water and blot with paper towel. Center the cutout on the cover.
7. Gently fold the edge of the cutout and the flange around the cover. Wrap the ribbon over this fold in.
8. Continue the ribbon around the cover and cutout. Coming around back to the inside should naturally fold in the chipboard on the opposite edge of the first fold.
9. Repeat this process around the cover, folding in the next section, and coming around the opposite side. The size of the fold should be determined by the width of the ribbon; too wide a ribbon will result in chunky folds, but too thin will take forever and utilize a longer length of ribbon.
9. To stop wrapping, tuck in the end of the ribbon and tie it off.
10. Set aside to dry and repeat with the back cover.
11. When dry, unwrap to reveal formed cover.

* to speed the drying process, you can cheat like I did and set it next to a source of dry warmth.

Step 3: Begin Duplicate Housing

Starting with the front these are the pieces I cut to mimic the size and shape of the watch housing:

A- circle 1-5/8" od. with 1-3/8" inner circle
B- circle 1-3/4" od. with 1-1/2" inner circle
C- strip 3/8" x 6"
D- strip 1/4" x 6" with 2 flanges, 1/4" x 1/2," positioned 1/8" off center
E- strip 3/16" x 6"
F- circle 1-3/4" od. with 1" inner circle, and two tiny flanges 1/8" wide x 1/16" protruding from outer circle
G- 9-10 circles 1/4" od. with 3/32" inner circle

1. Cut out all pieces. Note: the strips will be cut to fit during assembly, so their final lengths will vary.
2. With a small amount of glue on the inner circle of piece A, attach the plastic face cover. If you don't have this plastic piece, cut a piece of clear plastic the appropriate size from a report cover, used/cleaned food container, or other mylar-like material.
3. Glue piece B on top of A. These three pieces form the front face of the housing.
4. Test fit and trim piece C. Measure piece and mark at quarter lengths; ex. if 4" you would mark at 1", 2", and 3". At the first and second marks cut out a small rectangle approx 1/8" wide by 5/32" deep. On the ends, cut out half circles (1/16" deep each).
5. Glue piece C to A and B, in orientation shown in picture with all 3 pieces.
6. Test fit piece F inside C, widen cut outs in piece C to adjust fit.
7. Create hinge with piece D. Fold in the two flanges and glue with the T-pin inside. Use a small clamp to hold while drying.
8. Trace and cut out pieces G.
9. Trim hinge on piece F. Test fit around piece C and trim. Cut half circles on the ends, see step 4.
10. Glue piece F around C, center the hinge around the second quarter mark (should be directly opposite the top of the housing).

The last two pieces of the housing will be added after the "chain."

Step 4: Finish Front and Back Covers

To begin this step, unwrap the ribbon from the front and back covers and untie or un-tape the ribbon.

1. With the metal cover still inside the formed chipboard, carefully cut off the excess chipboard that wraps around the cover. Do not cut off the flange on the front cover. If your back cover has flanges, cut those off.
2. For the front cover, repeat the process to create a hinge (the same process as with the strip with 2 flanges) with the T-pin.
3. Put the metal front cover back in the chipboard cover, and trace decoration. If your chosen pocket watch doesn't have this decoration, skip this step.
4. Cut out decoration.
5. Cut a new strip 1/8" x 6." Measure and trim strip inside piece C. Glue piece E to the inside of the trimmed back cover.

Step 5: Make Watch Chain

To create the chain, cut the piece (let's call it piece H) in the first photo. The longer the piece of paper you use, the longer the chain will be. My 5-1/2" lengths shortened to about 3-1/2." When you braid the chain think of the paper as really fragile leather; be careful not to pull to hard or you could tear the paper.

1. Trace and cut out 3/32" circle in the middle of the 1/4" section.
2. Back to G pieces. Glue two G pieces together and put them on the metal post piece from the original watch.
3. Next glue on piece H.
4. Glue on all remaining G pieces. Let dry. Note: the metal part should not be glued to these pieces permanently; the white glue should not create a permanent bond.
5. Cut a small slit in piece H 1/8" by 3/16" above the beginning of the 1/8" strips. Repeat on other side.
6. Curl the ends of the 1/4" section up to meet above the top of the metal post. Interlock the ends together by meeting the slits. Follow orientation in the picture: the strips need to be under the small flanges created by the slits. Glue and let dry.
7. Fold strips up so that they come together, clamp.
8. Pour a small amount of water in your dish and set the ends of the strip in to soak. Watch this attentively, it is time sensitive. You need to start the next step as soon as the water soaks up to the clamp. If you wait longer, the water will re-wet the glue and it will fall apart.
9. Secure the metal post to your table or something heavy that will not move when you pull on it. Separate the strands into three sections; the best pairing is parallel strips from one side to the other.
10. Begin braiding: outside left to middle, outside right to middle.
11. The next outside left gets folded to the middle. If you try to keep the orientation of the paper, the curves of the braid will put too much stress on the paper and cause it to tear.
12. Outside right fold to middle, outside right. . . . . . . until you run out of paper strips.
13. Glue ends together. Note: you also need to glue the double strands to their pairs. Clamp and dry.
14. Cut a 1/4" thick strip 3 times the width of the braid. Glue and wrap around the end of the braid. Trim scraggly ends. Clamp and dry.

For the next part, make a simple straight paper braid with 3/32" strips around 11" long. To dry this braid, tape it around a soda can and let sit. When completely dry, the braid will keep the rounded shape of the can.

Step 6: Assemble

Gather all pieces and T-pin. You will also need the wire cutters.

1. Using the metal post to help with alignment, glue the chain to the housing. Clamping these parts is a little problematic, so it's a better idea to hold it for a little bit. Test fit that the watch mechanism lines up properly.
2. Line up hinge parts. Bend T-pin to the approximate curve of the hinge. Test fit.
3. With wire cutters, snip off the pointed end of the T-pin. Hold the T-pin to the hinge to gauge the length of pin needed. Cut to size.
4. Time for strip E. Measure and trim strip around housing (strip D with hinge). Because the chain is now attached, instead of small half circles, you need to cut shallow arcs on each end.
5. Glue strip E and wrap around housing. Clamp and dry.
6. Remove the straight braid from the soda can and cut a clean end. Glue the end so that it doesn't unravel.
7. Measure and trim braid around housing. Glue braid to housing. Use a generous amount of glue so that the rounded profile of the braid has lots of opportunity to stick to the flat profile of the housing. Clamp and dry.
8. To assemble hinge, gently push the pin through the holes in the hinge. This might be a little difficult because the pin isn't pointy anymore, but it will fit together.

Assemble watch pieces:
1. Insert metal post.
2. Screw post to watch mechanism.
3. Pop in plastic cover.

11. Insert circle F.
12. Insert back cover.

Tada! A pocket watch!

Step 7: Do You Have the Time?

You're finished! Now go tell everybody what time it is and show off your pocket watch. It probably wont hold up to too much handling, so make sure everyone treats it like the treasure it is!

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    7 Discussions


    4 years ago

    A cardboard pocketwatch sounded like a terrible idea, but you worked it out great. It looks quite nice, and seems to be reasonably sturdy.

    As far as I know, you can remove the crown of most pocketwatches (and wristwatches) by pushing a small lever or button on the clockwork (sometimes marked with an arrow, or the word "PUSH") and simultaneously pulling the crown out of the watch.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Oh I have been waiting for this! :D Well done! If I get half a chance I'll have a go myself :D

    A well deserved high five for you


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! It was really worth all the effort. Especially because when I want to make another, I won't have to hunt down random notes on sizes and scribbled instructions on scrap papers.

    Let me know if any part needs more explanation or anything.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    hehehe I would LOVE one... my usual medium is cardboard so it would be nice to make something that looks that good... AND works hehe

    I'll have another look through later if i get time and give you some constructive feedback :)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    It was suggested to me that I could sell these, but it feels like such a teeny, tiny, niche to fill, and to attract buyers to.

    Feedback would be great; I've already added a few more photo tags for more clear explanations of what the photo illustrates.