Pin Clock




About: The V&A Museum in South Kensington, London is the world's greatest museum of art and design, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. Discover 3000 years' worth of amazing artefacts, includi...

Make this clever pin clock following the step-by-step instructable by our HSBC Designer in Residence Lao Jianhua.

You can read about Lao Jianhua's residency in his Blog:

Victoria & Albert Museum
London, UK

Step 1: You Will Need...


- 14 map/push pins
- A piece of soft wood (eg. pine). It could be any size as long as it's about 3 cm deep
- Small, battery-powered, clock mechanism. You can get clock parts from craft stores, speciality
stores, 'Pound' stores, the internet, or you may want to recycle an old one, like we did for this
- 1 battery


- Ruler
- Pencil
- Hammer
- Saw
- Screwdriver
- Drill or chisel and hammer to carve a hole in the wood

Step 2: Disassemble the Clock

If, like us, you are re-using an old clock, carefully dismantle the whole unit.

Step 3: Draw a Square

Decide what size your Pin Clock is going to be and draw a square of that size on your piece of wood.

Cut it to size using the saw.

Step 4: Find the Centre

Find the centre of your piece of wood by drawing two diagonal lines from opposite corners.

Step 5: Draw an Outline

Place the clock mechanism on top of the wood, trying to match the centre of the wood with the centre of the mechanism.

Draw around the mechanism to create an outline.

Step 6: Drill a Hole

Using an electric drill or a screwdriver, make a hole in the centre of your piece of wood.

(in this image, we haven't cut the square out of the bigger piece of wood [Step 3] yet!)

Step 7: Hollow Out a Space for Your Mechanism

Hollow out some of the wood from within the outline you drew in Step 5.

Do not remove all the wood, but remove enough to house the clock mechanism so it sits flat within the carved area.

You should leave about 3 mm of wood. You can use the hole you made in Step 6 as a guide so you don't carve too much.

Step 8: Mark the Places for the Pins

Download and print the pattern at the bottom of this page.

Put it on top of the wood and mark the 12 points where the pins will go.

Step 9: Insert the Pins

Insert each of the 12 pins on the marks that you previously drew.

Step 10: Insert the Mechanism

Insert the clock mechanism into the hole that you carved.

Insert the battery.

Step 11: Assemble the Hands

Assemble the clock hands.

Make sure that they don't bend.

Place them pointing to the 12 o'clock pin (middle top).

Step 12: Use Two Pins to Create a Support

Use 2 pins at the back of the clock to create a support.

Alternatively, you could drill another hole and hang it on the wall.

Step 13: Voila!

Adjust the hands to the current time and you are ready to tell the time.

Step 14: Variation

Here's a variation using a bigger piece of wood and metal pins.



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    24 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I love clocks and this one is a perfect project for the g/son and I

    Thanks for sharing


    Reply 5 years ago

    you can get the motors from old clocks, Lowes (I think, ) but I do know that Michael's and AC Moore have the motor kits.


    5 years ago

    I am going to do this one with my cub scouts this year. looks so cool.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    it would've been more attractive if u replaced the pins with LEDs..


    If you made it a bit bigger, you could use the pins to hold notes for appointments throughout the day.


    Thanks for all your comments!

    We thought you'd like to know that we have setup a new Flickr Group called ‘Clever Design Solutions’. The group is devoted to ingenious design solutions, professional or amateur, commercial or domestic: wherever you discover clever design, we want to see it. Or maybe you yourself have figured out a new and simple way of solving an old problem. Just capture a good image and add it to the pool! (please include a short explanation if needed).

    Anyone can take part in this project and no invites are needed to join or to add pictures. You only need to have a Flickr account.

    Lao Jianhua, our designer in residence, will be periodically selecting and reviewing the designs on his blog.

    Victoria and Albert Museum Webteam
    London, UK


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Clean and simple design, that should get the creative juices flowing for those who want an one off clock. Thanks for proving the clock face template, I could have drawn it out myself, but I'm basically lazy sometimes.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    They also have clock mechanisms with different shaft lengths. You could get one with the 3/4" length, and you might not need to chisel out as much (if at all) to get it to fit through the wood.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    True, but the assembled clock wouldn't set flush against the wall. However the longer shaft clock works would work well with a desk or mantle clock.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice Instructable , small and looks great. Anyway thanks for clock template,been looking for ages .

    Uncle Kudzu

    10 years ago on Introduction

    OK, this is just brilliant! something very handsome and useful that is easily and cheaply doable for lots of people. hats off to Lao Jianhua and VAM for making this instructable available!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Minimum of work to get the maximum effect. Are Lao Jianhua's projects displayed anywhere apart from this website? It's quite cool to think of a display of Instructables in the V&A. (And if there isn't one, there ought to be! I'm sure any of the UK iblers would be happy to pop in and contribute something.)