Reviving a Vintage Clock




About: I'm a 29 year old guy who's passionate about building and fixing things, sometimes if they aren't even broken. I get a great sense of enjoyment out of creating, designing and building new things. I also love...

I picked up this old wall clock from a roadside antique shop for $15 this past weekend. The clock itself still works fine, but the paint was flaking off in various sections and it had a lot of minor surface rust too. I knew with a little TLC, I could make this old clock look new again!

What you'll need:

-Vintage clock

-Lamp wire (most DIY home improvement centres sell this)


-Spray paint


-Wire brush

-Varsol/paint thinner

-Paint stripper

-Medium steel wool

-Rubber gloves

-Some old newspaper or cardboard

-Wire cutters

-Wire strippers

-1000 grit sandpaper

Let's get started!

Step 1: Clean and Disassemble

You don't need to clean it too well, just enough to get the large bits of dirt and filth off. I used a paper towel with a bit of Varsol on it and gave the clock a good once over.

Once you've cleaned it up a bit, you can disassemble your clock. Chances are you don't have the exact same clock as me, considering it's probably 50 or 60 years old. look for screws or nuts on the back of the clock. Once you take those out it should start to come apart. These things are fairly simple to dismantle. Once you've got it all apart, set the face, glass and clock mechanism itself aside.

Step 2: Rust Removal

Now that your clock is in pieces, you can easily remove the majority of the rust with a small wire brush. Brush each piece vigorously until all of the loose rust is gone and you can see bare metal.

After you're satisfied, wash each piece in water and dry them off quickly.

Step 3: Paint Stripping

Now it's time to strip off any remaining paint from the clock body. Put on your rubber gloves and brush a liberal amount of paint stripper onto any painted surface. Wait a few minutes until the paint starts to bubble and then scrub it with the steel wool until the paint is all gone. I apologize for the lack of photos of the actual process. I couldn't take off my rubber gloves while stripping the paint and didn't want to get paint stripper all over my camera!

Afterwards, wash each piece in water and dry quickly.

Step 4: Primer

Before spraying on a coat of primer, it's a good idea to get a rag with a bit of Varsol on it and wipe the surface to be painted to ensure that it is absolutely clean.

I used a thicker primer so it would fill in the small scratches made by the steel wool and the small amount of pitting from the rust. Spray the primer on in fast sweeping motions, holding the can about 6 to 10 inches from the surface you are painting. Don't spray it on too thick or the paint may run. A few light coats are better than one heavy coat!

Allow the primer to dry.

Step 5: Prepping for Paint

After the primer dried, I used some very fine 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper and sanded it gently just to make the primer as smooth as possible before painting it. This is optional, but it makes the final coat of paint look a lot smoother.

Step 6: Paint!

Now just paint your clock using the same technique mentioned in the 'primer' step. It's better to do several light coats of paint than one thick coat. The patience and extra attention to detail will pay off in the end!

Step 7: Rewire Clock

If you have an antique clock like mine, the plug and wire will most likely be in pretty bad shape. Remove the old wire at the connections on the clock and keep it to measure how long your new replacement wire needs to be. My wires were attached to the clock terminals with two nuts, so all I had to do was loosen them to remove the old wire.

Then cut your new wire to the proper length and strip the ends of the wires and attach them to where the old wires were on the clock.

I chose to reuse the original plug end and just attached it to the new wire.

Step 8: Put It All Back Together

Now that your clock is rewired and repainted, it's time to reassemble it. Take care not to scratch your new paint when putting it all back together!

Just a side note: Since the glass was removed during disassembly, it's a good idea to clean the inside of the glass with some Windex before reassembling the clock just to ensure that no dust or debris is stuck to the inside of the glass.

Step 9: Done!

Now hang it on a wall, set the time, plug it in and admire your fresh new clock!

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable!

As always, any comments, questions, or constructive criticisms welcome!



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    9 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I love the look of these old items and the restoration came out great. the paint is similar to the color that I am going to paint my fridge.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! That would be a neat colour for the fridge. I'm really looking forward to seeing that fridge when you're finished!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    That 60's green color is great! My grandparents had a fridge that color when I was growing up. I really like the look of those old rounded refrigerators with the latch handles... (As I type this I'm thinking those latch handles were how kids ended up stuck inside the fridge, the paint had lead and the insulation was asbestos... they don't make 'um like they used to! Ha! :) Would love to see the finished project though when it is done. Post pics!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Fantastic job! I just love doing this stuff, too. I got an old Seth Thomas banjo clock at a barn sale for $20. It was in really bad shape and ended up looking like this.

    3 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! Wow! That thing looks AMAZING!!! Great job!!!! Did you post an Instructable on it???


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks... no instructable on it. Mostly just taking it apart, sanding, painting and reassembly. I'm just get so inspired by all of you creative types on here... taking old "junk" and making something amazing I had to give it a go myself. Keep up the good work.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! You should post an Instructable the net time you do something like that!