I find myself revisiting old projects a lot just to improve them or make more just because it is fun to do so. The pool table clock falls under both of those categories in the sense that these clocks are so much fun to make that I've made several and have perfected the craft over the years.
For this project you will need one of those toy tabletop pool tables, strong epoxy, screws and a clock kit.
This is a perfect piece for any wall or garage and quite a conversation starter. Lets get started!
Tabletop toy pool table
two part epoxy
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Step 1: First Watch the Video!
I like making videos but I am slowly learning to make them better. Check it out and leave some criticism if you wish!
Step 2: Prepare the Pool Table
There is a lot of room for personalizing your own clock but here is how I did this one.
You will want to first remove the rails under the table to reduce weight and free up space. For this clock I wanted to use the left side of the table. I had to find the center of the table using calipers and a ruler. I then drilled a hole in the center to allow the clock movement kit to fit through. Once the kit was installed I then used a template I created online to help ensure accuracy of the pool ball placement. You can create the template here https://www.blocklayer.com/clock-face.aspx
After securing the template to the table using tape I then used it as a guide to drill holes for the mounting hardware. I also drilled four more holes in random spots on the right side of the table for the remaining pool balls. After all the holes were drilled I drove my screws through the holes. The screw dimensions depend on how big the pool balls are. You'll want screws that are just long enough to reach halfway through the balls after the surface. The use of the hardware will be further explained in a few steps.
I used sheet metal screws because of the flush head. I was limited to what Walmart had at 12am.
Step 3: Drill Into Your Pool Balls
Let me first start off by saying that a drill press would make this part a lot easier but I don't have one so I had to use a power drill.
I start by securing the pool balls in a vice with a cloth. The cloth helps prevent any damage from the vice. Then I drill a small hole in the dead center of the ball and slowly increase to a size that is just barely bigger than the diameter of the screws used. You want the ball to slide over the screw and fit loosely.
If you skip drilling a pilot hole you risk breaking the ball and slipping away from center.
For the balls not used for the clock (13, 14, 15 and cue ball) you don't have to worry about being center. In fact if they are off center it adds character.
Step 4: The Mounting Explained,
Now you fill the holes you drilled with epoxy then slip the ball with the epoxy over the screw and give it a turn to ensure the epoxy wraps around the screw threads.
You may be wondering why we are using epoxy and screws this way and I can assure you that there is a good reason! In my trial and errors with this project I have discovered this to be the best way to mount the pool balls to the table. The first clock I made worked but not for long. I used hot glue to secure the balls to the table and it worked but after a hot summer the balls just fell off one by one and so I moved to other methods. Naturally I went with hardware but this was part of the learning process. I first wanted to drive hardware directly into the pool balls and this failed for a few reasons. The first one was trying to maintain center even with a small pilot hole, the second was that once the screw started to drive into the ball it would cause the ball to break in half or crumble. This was due to the material not being released and being forced to expand. A few worked and a few didn't so I moved onto drilling out a hole and tapping threads into it. Now this again worked but due to the weak material the threads would just rip out with small force.
After those attempts I somehow arrived to using epoxy with the screws. The screws themselves are not holding onto the ball in any way, they are simply used to 'stake' the ball in the sense that they just enter it. The epoxy that is poured into the ball expands into the porous material and once its put onto the screw the epoxy wraps around the threads of the screw and cures around it and inside of the ball thus creating a really strong bond.
I made one of these clocks for the one and only Florian Venom Kohler and shipped it very far from my state to his using the epoxy method. Here is where it proved its strength. I was very nervous shipping this so far due to possible damage and I was right to be. Once Florian received his clock he said that the shipping was so rough that the table surface was broken away from the frame BUT the balls and clock mech survived! He was able to fix the frame issue but this proved the epoxy method to be the best in my case. I am sure someone can figure out how to secure them using just hardware but not this guy.
Step 5: Take Your Time!
When you place the epoxy filled balls over the screws you'll want to take your time to ensure that the balls are aligned correctly. Doing so will offer a really clean look!
Step 6: Add Picture Wire and Hang It or Gift It!
After all the epoxy is cured you can go ahead and hang it! I like to use picture wire for this but you can hang it just about anyway you hang pictures. For the wire I like to use two screws to tighten down on the wire.
Despite its size it is really light!
That's it for this project! I hope you enjoyed and please let me know if you make your own! You can find these pool tables for cheap during Christmas time but they are also sold online. I lucked out with finding this one at a secondhand store. This project proves that there is always room for improvement and learning! Have a good one!