Paper Plate Analog Clocks




Introduction: Paper Plate Analog Clocks

About: Professional Educator for over 25 years. Avid DIYer! Why pay somebody to do what you can do yourself? Active in web design and development for over 20 years. After discovering have starte...

This Instructable will show how to make a clock from a PAPER plate and a clock unit that was destined for the TRASH. I literally found the clock in the trash at work. Let's make this Trash into Treasure!

This idea came about as I was working on another clock project with my 8 year old son. While working on the project we discovered that the clock time piece I salvaged from an old cheap wall clock would not meet design specs for fitting a clock made from plywood. The clock shaft was just too short. So we brainstormed and came up with a solution to replace the plywood material with a paper plate.

Paper Plate + Salvaged Clock = Paper Plate Clock

This is a great Instructable you can do with the kids of all ages. Most tools and materials you may already have with exception of the clock mechanism.

Make an interchangeable clock on the CHEAP!

Step 1: Gather Materials

This is not a definitive list by any means. Actually, you may modify this list in whatever way suits you.

The Clock

The clock mechanism was salvaged from an old sad looking and boring clock that someone had tossed into the trash. The clock was mechanically sound, as it just needed a battery. But the look of the clock was just boring. If you have an old analog clock in a drawer or closet, salvage the mechanism and give it new life. The big challenge will be to find an analog clock. If nothing at home, try a garage sale. You will probably find an analog wall clock or alarm clock there.

If you can't salvage one, then Amazon or your local craft store sell them starting at about $6 per kit. For the paper plate clock faces you would want to purchase the short shaft or 1/2 inch shaft models.

The Plate

We used what we had stored in the garage from summer picnics. The Chinet brand offers a nice rigid and thick structure without the waxy finish. Almost cardboard if you will. The non-wax surface may be your best option. You will have more flexibility in art supplies to use, especially if you use paints.

Art Supplies

This is where you have the most flexibility. What do you have available? Here are just some ideas of supplies to decorate your clock faces.

  • Water Based Paints
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Colored Pencils
  • Stickers
  • Whatever you want. There is no wrong answer here.

Drill and Bit

If you are doing many clock faces as we did, then take a few minutes to get out your drill and a 5/16 inch drill bit. This can help save time as you can drill the center hole in many clock faces in just a matter of seconds.

Step 2: Drill the Plates

What you need..

  • 12-20 plates. More or less, depending on how many different clock faces you would like to craft.
  • 5/16 drill bit
  • Drill

Now some might decide to punch a hole through in someway, but I recommend the drill solution as it will leave a cleaner hole to insert clock shaft later.

A fun thing about this project is that you can make many different clock face designs in a relatively short amount of time. If there is a design you do not like, trash it. Or maybe even use it as a flying disc (Frisbee) If you get bored with a design, swap it out for a new one.

  1. Grab a stack of plates and find the center of the plate.
  2. Place convex side (bottom) of plate down toward scrap piece of wood.
  3. With drill and bit, drill hole in center of plates from concave side toward convex.

I drilled form convex (top) toward concave (bottom) so not to smash or crinkle the plate from downward pressure of the drill. The clock hands will later be mounted on the convex (bottom) side of plate.

Step 3: Simple Numeric Design

My son's first concept was pretty simple. Just numbers.

NOTE: When working with younger children you might want to pencil in the 12, 3, 6, and 9 for spacial reasons. Let them draw in the other numbers.Otherwise you can guess what happens with alignment of numbers and clock hands later.

  1. Use pencil to sketch the numbers on the clock face. Pencil use allows for correction instead of trashing a plate right away.
  2. Use Markers of your choice to go over pencil drawings

Step 4: Clean Up Design

With a pencil eraser, clean up any pencil outside the marker lines.

NOTE: I learned this clean up technique from my son that probably learned it from his Art teacher. Way to go Art Teacher! One of the tricks of the trade.

Step 5: Paint Designs

After doing a few designs with pencil and markers it is time to get really creative. Time to get out the paints!

Give yourself plenty of space for this option. Especially if you plan on doing multiple clock faces, you will need space to let the paint dry.


  1. Get out your paint and brushes
  2. Use some plates to make paint pallets.
  3. Use one brush per color.

Step 6: Be Creative and Crazy!

There is no wrong way to do this. Place the plate down and start painting. Encourage your youngster to cover all the white space. Invite family members to take part too. This turned into a family craft time. Great way to spend an hour or two together.

Step 7: WoW!

Before you know it, you will have more clock faces than you will know what to do with.

Step 8: Mark Placement of 12,3, 6, and 9

For the Kiddos, mark where the 12, 3, 6, and 9 should be placed on the clock face. This will help them get the rest of the numbers placed relatively close to where they should go by eyeballing the rest of the numbers.

Step 9: Label Clock With Numbers

Next start labeling the clock faces. Try to use colors that will pop out from the background design colors. We had to dig out a bottle of neon orange nail polish from Big Sis' nail polish basket for one of the clock faces. Shhhh... Don't Tell.

Step 10: Install Clock on Clock Face

Now that you are finished with all your clock faces it is time to install on your favorite clock face. It will be hard to choose your favorite.

  1. Disassemble the clock. This should be rather simple. Just pull each hand off evenly one at a time. They slide on and off of the clock shaft rather easily.
  2. Insert clock shaft through back of clock.
  3. From clock face side install hour hand on shaft.
  4. Install minute hand on shaft.
  5. Install second hand on shaft.

Step 11: It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

Now set the clock time and your are DONE!

I recommend setting the clock to 5 O'Clock and grab your favorite beverage and relax!

You Earned It!

Step 12: Mount Clock

Find a favorite spot for your Paper Plate Clock and Let the Good Times Roll!

If you get bored with the clock face, change it to one of the others.

In total we created over a dozen clock faces. The only additional cost for supplies we did not already have for the project was a AA battery to install in the clock. After all we saved the clock from the Trash!

Overall, and simple craft that the kids can enjoy for a LONG TIME!

Don't Trash It! Re-purpose It!

The Water Dog

Trash to Treasure Contest 2017

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Contest 2017

Papercraft Contest 2017

Participated in the
Papercraft Contest 2017

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    4 Discussions


    3 years ago

    This is a really neat idea! They probably would be very fun to make. You should make a clock that looks like a tire.


    3 years ago

    a few years ago, I had my class take apart 15 or so clocks to make custom designed mathematical clocks. This would have been a lot easier. Oh well--next time.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Live and learn. Right?


    Reply 3 years ago

    My clock wall was very cool though. I had clocks for all the trig functions. You kind of have to be a math geek.