Literary Clock




Super easy project, make a book into a clock. Perfect for a child's bedroom--use a storybook. Or the kitchen--use a cookbook.

I made one for my friend's two-year-old (who is currently obsessed with clocks) and it went over well.

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Step 1: Gather Supplies

This is a really easy project that hardly needs explanation. Once you see the idea, I'm sure you'll come up with all sorts of cool variations.


A book*
A clock set**
spray paint (optional)

A drill

*The book needs to be hardcover with a reasonably simple cover (not too much text). It should also be quite thin and large enough for the clock hands. Save money and get your book at the thrift store, no point in ruining a new book and it doesn't have to be in perfect condition.

**I got my clock set at Michaels. I've also seen them at Wal-Mart. Easy to find. Pay attention to the length of the "stem" of the clock. They come in 1/4 to 3/4 inch lengths depending on the thickness of your book.

Step 2: Remove Pages!

I forgot to do this and I'm mad at myself! Before you start, you may want to cut out a few pages of the book to frame to complement your clock. Imagine framed children's book art on the wall next to the clock made out of the cover. So cute but less cute when there is a giant HOLE in the pages :(

Also, mark the center of your book by going corner to corner with a straight edge. Or maybe your clock will be off center on the book? Mark wherever you want to drill.

Ok, moving on....

Step 3: Spray Paint

This is optional but all the clock sets I found were in a nasty brass color. I spray painted my hands and numbers matte black.

Step 4: Drill

While your paint is drying, drill a hole in the spot you marked. I used a 5/16 bit but you'll want to follow the instructions that came with your clock pieces. A drill press is great. A cordless drill will be fine.

Step 5: Assemble Your Clock

Follow the instructions that came with your clock parts. The only tricky part is the thickness of the book. I kept finding my book too thick for the post on the clock. In this case your options are:

1. Buy a clock with a longer post (they vary in size)
2. Make a table top clock by opening the book and inserting the clock back between the last page and the back cover
3. Cutting a large, square hole in the back cover to inset the clock mechanism (or maybe removing the back cover? That might look weird from the side.

Step 6: Stick on the Numbers

You may want to use glue, the stick-um on the numbers is weak.

Also, use the longest hand as the guide for where the numbers should be. If you have time, make a circle template so your numbers aren't as lopsided as mine. Either way, start with 12, 6, 9 and 3 and then fill in the other numbers.

Step 7: That's It

Seriously easy, eh? And a great gift for a kid. Or for anyone. There is a book for every hobby...

Have fun,

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    76 Discussions


    3 years ago

    My toddler brother tears a lot of books, so I am sure glad to see them recycled!

    Blu smoke

    6 years ago

    You've just given me really cool idea. Granted it will be similar to your design, but with personal modifications. If I ever add it as an instructible I'll be sure to credit you.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Oh I think this is fantastic! We have books that get discarded due to age and wear and tear at work all the time. I'm going to look for some cool covers and make one and gift it back to the library, I think it will really spin kids wheels and imaginations! Great 'able!!

    Fabulous!!!!! I buy books at the local thrift store that kids have scribbled in. There are always pictures that haven't be attacked. I use those pages for gift wrap or I frame them in dollar store frames. Love your clock idea! Thanks so much for sharing!!!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Any chance you can make one of these clocks with a chapter book? I want to make one for a teenager. Can you just do it on the cover or something?

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    If you get a piece of wood the size of the book and use the dust jacket to cover the wood it should be fine. Also you wont have to ruin your book to do it.


    9 years ago on Step 4

    Do you absolutely need a drill to do this step? I want to make these for my flatmates and am in university so I don't have a drill handy.

    3 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    In a university you should have an art department with a sculpture studio and an artist there who will very willingly drill you a hole with a dremel or drill right there on hand. Just take a walk with your book and see what you find!


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 4

    I just used one of these. Then I stuck a pen through the hole to make it bigger. It looks fine.

    Photo 117.jpg

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 4

    A drill would be MUCH easier if you can borrow one but you might be able to do it with some patience and an exacto knife.  Or a dremel but if you don't have a drill I don't imagine you have a dremel. As long as the front cover looks tidy it doesn't matter how hacked up the inside is. Good luck.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    We made these ages ago in Girl Scouts, using old Readers Digest Condensed Books. We spray painted the covers a color we liked, then decoupaged a picture on the front. They turned out very nice.
    Since then I've used paperbacks, simply gluing the pages together before beginning the process. (Spray glue works best.)
    It's a great project, and the one I had hanging in my preschool classroom was very popular.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Thanks M, I'll try one of them cause I'm interested.  Cheers.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 6

    J, the clock parts can be bought at almost any craft store (like Michaels) or online from Clockworks. They come as a kit.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for letting me know about the link. It's fine with me for you to link back here and it's great to see so many folks enjoying this instructable.