Hard Drive Platter Clock.




After ripping some ancient hard drives appart to get the magnets out I was left with some cool looking platter stacks. They sat there for a few years until I came up with the idea of making a clock for a good friend of mine for Christmas a couple of years ago.

This year, I decided to make 2 more (one for my brother and another for a long time family friend). This gift is perfect for any computer nerd out there. Actually, it is a pretty cool idea for just about anybody. It is cheap and fairly easy to make.

Items you will need to make one include:
- Quartz movement with clock hands
- AA Battery (for the quartz movement)
- Clock numbers (to tell what time it is)
- Nevr-Dull polish wadding. Or other types of polishing compounds.
- Torx screwdriver set.
- Hammer, Punch, and small chisel
- Hack saw
- Metal file, file card, or power sander w/ sanding belt
- Gorilla glue or epoxy
- Goof-off (cleaning gluing mistakes)
- Windex (final cleaning)

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Step 1: Gather Items and Disassemble Platters.

First thing to do is to take your hard drive and a ruler to the local wood working store. I chose to go there rather then the local Hobby Lobby because their quartz clock movements seem to be a much better quality. The 2nd clock later in this instructable (one with 4 platters), unfortunately, has the lesser quality Hobby Lobby quartz movement.

I found that I preferred the 3/4" quartz movement. This gave me the option to put in a 3rd platter which looks pretty nice. The cheaper Hobby Lobby movement was also a 3/4" but it allowed me to put in 4 platters instead of 3.

Some examples of the movements I found:
Wood Emporium 3/4" quartz movement = $8.50
Hobby Lobby 3/4" quartz movement = $4.99

After you get back home put the hour and minute hands on, put the battery in, and hang it on the wall. This will make sure it works and keeps accurate time by the time you assemble everything.

You can also pick up your clock numbers at the wood working store. However, I later found some cool looking ones at Hobby Lobby which I eventually used.

To disassemble the hard drive platters I used a T10 Torx bit. Yours may be a different size. After the platters are off the spindle put them in a very safe place so they don't get scratched. Also, try to avoid touching the platters to avoid fingerprinting them.

Step 2: Remove the Spindle Core.

Punch out the motor out of the spindle. I ended up using a 1 3/8" socket on the bottom so the motor will just fall out easier. Put all of this on top of an anvil. Place the punch in the center hole and then popped it with a hammer 2 or 3 times. The motor will fall right out.

There will be a bearing on the inside of the spindle and it will start to loose some of the metal clips from the inside of it now that the core is removed. Needle nose pliers are needed to pull them out from the inside of the spindle so you don't mark up the outside face. If these clips aren't pulled out it will be very hard to push the quartz clock movement in the hole when it's time to assemble the whole thing.

Step 3: Measure and Cut Spindle.

Now it is time to assemble the whole thing. Put the face plate on the spindle with 2 screws. Now place the platters and separation rings on the spindle in the order they will be when the clock is complete. Then measure how far down you want to cut the spindle with the platters and separation rings together. Draw a line with a pencil and cut it with the hack saw.

After the cut has been made you will see there is a magnet sleeve inside of the spindle. This will need to be removed. I used a small hammer and a "Pin Punch" which was ground down to an angle.

After the magnet is removed, the cut end of the spindle will have to be smoothed and straight. A file could be used but a sanding belt would be much quicker. If a file is used the aluminum can gum up the file and a file card will be needed to clean the file. During this phase the platters and separation rings will need to be put on the spindle many times during the grinding process to see if enough metal is ground off or if it is even with the last platter.

During this process I realized that I had to cut a notch out of the spindle that had the better quartz movement on to get everything to fit better. The reason for that notch was because the metal hanger on the quartz movement stuck out farther then the cheap quartz one did. The notch can be seen in the 3rd and 4th pictures. I used a Dremel tool with a bit used for metal cutting. I don't know the name or number of it but it looks like the multi purpose cutting bit. But the teeth are much closer together and it's used for metal.

In the last picture has the 2 spindles that I made so far. The one on the left I learned the hard way about using the punch and hammer to remove the motor. I attempted to cut the whole thing in half. Notice the bearing is gone and the notch that I cut for the quartz movement. The one on the right I used the punch and the black bearing still in the spindle

Step 4: Shine It Up!

After everything fits together and looks ready to for final assembly it is time to shine it all up. I didn't have any buffing stuff for my old Dremel so I used Nevr-Dull by Eagle One. It looks like a huge cotton ball stuffed in a can. I found this can at the local truck stop for $10-$15. A couple of years later I found the same stuff by Eagle One but in a blue can at K-Mart for only $5 in the automotive department.

Only a little piece needs to be torn off. Rub it in circles or back and forth over the piece to be polished. It works great. It will turn your fingers black so latex gloves may be a good idea. I found an old penny to help demonstrate how well it works. I only polished 1/2 of the penny.

One of the face plates for the spindles wasn't in the best shape even after using Nevr-Dull. Since this was a present and I wanted it to look the best possible I opted to fix it with 1000-grit wet-dry sandpaper. Yes, you read that right, one thousand grit. It works best to use some soapy water and rinse the sandpaper often. Go in one direction back and forth. Then when it looks great, shine it up with Nevr-Dull.

Shine up the screws, separation rings, and spindle. In the last picture all of the spindles but two bottom rings look great after getting polished up.

Step 5: Assembly

Now it's time to glue it all together. The first clock I made I used an epoxy glue that I had to mix together. That worked just fine. This time I decided to use Gorilla Glue for the first time ever. Gorilla Glue will expand three to four times the amount that is put on. So use very little!

I put everything I could think of on the kitchen counter just in case I ran into problems. Everything was cleaned up that was to be glued together with Goof Off. This left smear marks on the platters. Windex cleaned up those smear marks with ease.

The latex gloves were a great thing to have working with the Gorilla Glue. I also used several Q-Tips to apply the Gorilla Glue onto each platter and separation ring. The instructions said to wipe one of the things to be glued together with water and apply the glue to the other item(s). I wet down the spindle then applied the glue to the inside of each platter and each of the separation rings.

The instructions also say that the glued objects need to be clamped together. This is where the quartz movement comes in. When everything is glued together put the quartz movement on and tighten the nut down.

Step 6: Next Day... Final Touches!

Everything should be dry by now (next day). It is time to make sure the platters are free of any glue or marks. Also check between the platters and the separation rings. Windex is great for getting everything looking better.

Pull out the clock numbers now. The first picture I have the original small black numbers (on the bottom) that I was planning on using. These work great if you want all 12 hours put on the clock. I, however, couldn't pass up the cool looking silver numbers from Hobby Lobby. These numbers are too big and you can only put on 12, 3, 6, & 9 O'clock. All of the numbers have self-adhesive on them.

Some examples of the clock numbers and hands I found:
Small 1/2" black numbers = $1.45
Large numbers = $4.99
Extra clock hands = $1.99

Set the clock at 12:00. Add the one to the left of the hour and minute hand. Add the two to the right of the hour and minute hand. Then move the clock to 3:00. Put the three right on the center of the hour hand. Do the same to 6:00 and 9:00.

Step 7: Done!

That's it. Congratulations, you are now finished.

Things that I learned from this project:

- Use a more expensive and better quality quartz movement from a clock or wood working shop.

- If the cheap quartz movement isn't working after you have it assembled then you may have the screw that keeps it all together way too tight. Loosen this up and keep an eye on it. If you have a second hand on your clock you will see it stick. Loosen it some more.

- I found another wood working shop outside of town that sold different type of clock hands. Much nicer looking ones. Problem is, that they only had one of each type.

- Test out the quartz movement as soon as you buy it. The very first clock that I made worked very well when I had it here at home. It was tilted against some books and it kept time. When it was hung up on the wall it didn't work so well.

Please check out my first clock that I made. It is a different configuration with the platters and spacer rings.

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    43 Discussions


    I think I'm going to try this. I have a couple old Hard drives and a few ideas to embellish this project and give it my own spin! Thanks for the Inspiration abetcha!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    First thing I thought when I saw this was that you should have used the drive head for the clock hands.

    You could always just use it for the second hand, since it's easily longer than the radius of the platter.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I think this is very creative... I recently took apart a 250Gb drive that didnt work. I may make a tesla turbine or a clock out of it... Which should I make?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I made this project before and my project went to the school exhibit :D


    9 years ago on Introduction

    if you can find a 20GB seagate barricude HDD it will have 6 disks inside it. I really like the look of this so am presently collecting parts to make one, im planning on using the drive arm from a 3.5" and the arm from a 2.5" drive for the arms of the clock as well


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Classy Job, Well Done I love having all the hour increments on my clocks but your style makes that hard to do. One idea that comes to mind tho is to scribe the platter with a razor blade at the appropriate places, should serve the purpose without detracting from the appearance, as long as they were done neatly enough... A circular paper template that was smaller than the disc platter by the required length of your scribe marks & with the exact position of the hour positions marked on it would do the job. Use a metal ruler so the blade doesn't bite into it tho! Again, Top Job!

    5 replies

    on my watch it has these bezzed metal line (i dont know what else to call them but they are on top of the face and are about the same shinyness as the metal platter) and i belive that somthing similar would look good i would post a picture of the pieces bu all i have is my phone and it would not come out good sorry


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Scribing would look good, but good luck to anyone attempting it. Just keep in mind that the best possible outcome would be to screw up on the very first line, thus retaining as much sanity as possible. Normally, I would advise against using a razor blade unless you have the hand strength, and mental acuity of a Jedi knight. An awl and a straight edge might work. But, the odds of hitting all of the marks exactly where you want them and not where they want to go make it a potentially fruitless endeavor. So a razor blade and paper template might just cut out the middle man. I can imagine making every mark perfectly and cheesing the very last one. Nice clocks, the fact that they aren't all scratched up is impressive.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Cause I use HDD's for electricity generators/audio devices not clocks but I can still share my experience/ideas don't you agree?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, sorry. In your comment above, you talked about your clocks, so I thought you made clocks. I am always interested in clocks people make, hence my request.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    the first time i opened up a hard drive i thought you know what? that would make a cool looking clock, but i never followed through. is there any way you could use the hard drive arms as clock hands?


    12 years ago

    please don't ever remove this instructable. I'm making one of these once my mom lets me have her old one.

    4 replies

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Perhaps someone needs to create an instructable on how to save information found on the internet? ;) The new tech way would be to copy and paste into a word processor or open the file menu and click on save as. Explorer now lets you save it all in a single file. The old tech way is a pen and a 25 cent spiral bound notebook.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    i always just copy and paste to a notepad document, they can be opened on almost any hp computer from window 95 to the vista i think.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This is a really cool instructable, the only critique I have is the numbers you used. I think they take away from the "professional/steampunk" kind of look it had before hand, though I could be completely full of it.