How to Make a Pendulum Box Clock!




Introduction: How to Make a Pendulum Box Clock!

About: I am an American builder and crafter living in Japan.

My most passionate hobby is collecting and fixing antique Japanese clocks. I am crazy about clocks!

A couple years ago I started building my own clocks from scratch using my own trademark. It's a pretty easy project to do and nothing compliments a room better than a gorgeous clock on the wall.

Step 1: The Movement!

First you'll need to get a movement. I recommend:

I live in Japan and shipping rates are ridiculous! The movements pictured above are from Aliexpress and they are fantastic! Aliexpress also has free shipping to Japan! YES!

A quartz movement runs on a battery and a mechanical movement winds up. Both quartz movements pictured above run on one AA battery with the pendulum being moved by a magnet.

Also pictured is a melody box movement. You'll find these and other chiming movements on the websites above.

It's better to build your clock around the movement, especially if you're a beginner. This way, you won't make any mistakes when you build the clock body.

Step 2: My Trademark!

I love Japanese trademarks.
My trademark is Karasuki. In Japanese 'karasu' is crow and 'ki' is tree. The word means absolutely nothing in Japanese.

Step 3: Building the Clock Box!

It's hard for me to make a materials and tools list for this project, because I go in with no plan.

Basically you'll:

Build a rectangular box using plywood and trim. This is where it starts. Have your movement first! The door comes later.

If you don't have the tools to cut your own wood, look for a lumber yard that will do it for you. Some charge something like 50 cents a cut. Lowe's offers free wood cutting too. Don't be shy about asking for help. If the staff is rude, just start serving up knuckle sandwiches.

You can also buy thin plywood and use a handsaw. If you don't have or want to use a saw, this can be cut with just a metal ruler and boxcutter. There is a large selection of thin types of plywood at your local hardware store. Measure everything out and run the boxcutter along the edge of the ruler a couple times until its cut. Mind those fingers!

For joinery, you don't 'need' to do anything special. You can if you have the experience, but screwing the box together and countersinking the wood screws will work just fine. Use stainable wood putty for all holes and sand when it's dry.

You can use a drill or awl to make holes for screws. I often use trim on the inside of my clock boxes for decoration and to make the box sturdier.

Check out pictures of old antique clocks to get an idea of what you want to create. The possibilities are endless.

If you're not a beginner, I often join joints rabbet or dado style. This is what is used on the antique clocks I own, so I copy it.

Again, all of my clock builds are unplanned. I went moment to moment with this one and used scarp wood I had on hand for the top and bottom molding. They're just simple wavy jigsaw cuts.

Step 4: The Clock Door.

I like to make my clock doors last.

You'll build it like a picture frame, because it'll hold in a piece of glass from the back. My local hardware shop cut the piece of glass for me.

To save money, look for large used picture frames and build your clock door to hold the glass from those. Glass is cheaper than plastic, but plastic can be used too.

You'll cut a window for the face and a window for the pendulum. The glass in my clock is one big piece and is held to the back of the front with trim...does that make sense? I need better instructable writing skills.

You'll make a frame on the back of your door that a piece of glass will perfectly sit in. You'll use trim to hold it in.

This is the most difficult part of the write. It's not too difficult to build this badboy.

Step 5: Clock Face and Hardware!

I made my clock face and logo in photoshop, but you can find free printable clock faces with a quick Google search. You can also draw your own.

You'll need to cut a piece of wood to hold the movement and clock face.

I cut two pieces of wood, because I don't follow my own instructions. One for the movement and one for the face. The movement screws onto the back of the wood and the face printout is decoupaged onto the front.

I have wood installed to the inside of the clock body to hold the face wood. You'll need easy access to the battery for when it's time to change it.

You'll also need hinges and a clasp.

Step 6: Paint and Wax!

I panted the clock body with black acrylic paint and then distressed it with sandpaper.

I sealed it with Annie Sloan clear wax and used Jacobean Briwax on the clock face wood and the decorative wood inside of it.

Step 7: Get More Creative!

I've made a couple more since this and my latest clock has a speaker and plays Ave Maria at the top of every hour.



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    15 Discussions

    Very nice! In highschool for our international competition I built a clock from scratch for my woodworking class and I built it around the mechanical works that I had on hand. I love all things clocks, it's a hobby of mine to collect antique clocks and I love building them as well. I actually have a wall clock I'm in the process of drawing the plans up for and this instructable will help out with some ideas. I do find it quite difficult to find any kind of mechanical movement on eBay. There was a website that I found that sold universal mechanical movements brand new that came with everything you needed to make it into a clock. I'm not sure if they ship internationally and what their shipping charges would be, but they have been my go to for clock parts for most of my projects. Their website is called clockworks and they have all kinds of stuff on there from quartz movements to mechanical movements. Just thought I would share my resources with a fellow clock builder.
    Thanks and craft on!

    1 reply

    Awesome! Please make an instructable for your next clock or share pics..or both. I know about clockworks, but the shipping cost as much as the movement. Shipping is ridiculous to Japan. Thanks for sharing though. I order my chime boxes from AliExpress. Free shipping!! I know what you mean about the movements. In Japan, the movement is sold with the clock or it's so trashed, it's sold as parts. I'd rather go mechanical than quartz, but I can't get the movements. I love building clocks too, so quartz it is.

    Love this project. definitely another project that I want to do. regarding have the removable clock face so as to change the battery. you could wire up an AA battery holder elsewhere so you don't have to stuff about with moving parts. years ago , when i was a kid, my neighbour moved out and said I could have any thing I wanted from his garage he had a stack of 7 large round wood clocks (easily late 1800/early 1900). My mother sold the lot for $50 during a yard sale. :( where are you in Japan? I lived in Sendai for 3 years.

    2 replies

    That's a great battery idea! That would make battery changing much easier. Thanks! I live in Tomisato, Chiba. That's a bummer about the clocks. Did you like Sendai?

    really enjoyed sendai. lovely city -skiing in winter and then beach in summer. I also lived in Ichikawa, Chiba for 18 months (Baraki Nakayama station). Japan. It's interesting.


    This is an excellent piece of work, Bryan, save for one thing: faking a pendulum clock is just wrong. I may well build your box but only after scouring eBay and various clock collector websites to find a real mechanical movement. Sorry, but I'm a purist. However, your clock-activated speaker is a great idea and I urge you to do an instruct of that.

    4 replies

    It's not "wrong" if that is what you want. What is wrong is your thinking that you can determine what is right or wrong for others. If you don't like it, move on.

    So much for the Ten Commandments then, eh?

    Thank you very much! You should give quartz movements more credit! They are reliable, precise, cost friendly and some come with melody, silent movement and night time options. I'm always on the lookout for new and used mechanical movements, but even with eBay, shipping is expensive to Japan.

    Bryan, I have no beef with quartz movement, but using them to fake pendulum clocks goes against my grain. (I've yet to see one that's convincing, besides.) But I'd be very happy to get a quartz movement that I could put my own sounds on, or that could handle ship's bells.

    Neat project, but the bottom left pic, I don't understand why it has so much empty space on the bottom. If you had a 3D printer, like a Creality CR-10s, you could make a lithophane and put a LED light source behind it. It could be scenery from a nice, pro pic of Mt. Fuji, or ducks in a pond, or something artsy fartsy like that.

    2 replies

    Thank you! A 3D printer would be a game changer for me! Japan is a couple years behind with technology available for consumers. I honestly still need to use a fax machine over here...a fax machine!! You're right about the empty space and I didn't notice that before. I think the angle that the picture was taken makes the space look bigger. I did have an LED light in the pendulum window but it didn't look right. I'm woking on a clock right now with an Edison bulb under the movement. I love the Mt. Fuji idea and will definitely update the clock once I get the equipment...a fax machine!

    You are welcome, and I am glad you understood my comment despite the typo (which I fixed lol) Just to give you a terse back story on why I questioned the empty space, it hearkens back to my days in Drafting class (pre-internet era) So you can't order from Amazon? If you can, since it delivers from China) do it. :) I own the Creality CR-10s and it's been an adventure. You definitely need to be on your A game, tech wise, if you do get one. The S5 version would be perfect for your projects.

    “The word means absolutely nothing in Japanese.”......dude, hilarious! I love your trademark. Thank you for this great instuctable.....clocks are magical and very significant!

    1 reply

    Thank you very much! I like that: 'magical and very significant'. I couldn't agree more.