With loved ones overseas or out-of-state nothing says I’m thinking about you better than always knowing what time it is for them! My retired in-laws were getting ready to serve a church mission in Berlin, Germany and my wife came up with the great idea to give a small clock on Berlin time to each of their children’s families. Also, one for them to be thinking of us back in the states. A simple way for Grandkids to remember them and all of us to keep track of when to call. The goal was to keep this small, so you can use a small travel-size clock laying around the house or purchase a cheap one at the store.
- Small battery clock (sharp has one for $4.88 at Walmart)
- Scrap wood board (1” x 3" or 1 x 4” less than 6” length)
- 1” wood screw
- Stain and Polyurethane (if desired)
- Mod Podge
- Tape Measure
- Sandpaper (120 to 400 grit)
- Sponge Brush
Step 1: Finding the Right Clock
If you look around your house you may already have an old battery alarm clock to use. If not, you can pick up a cheap one from the store. The main thing you are looking for is what most cheap clocks have based on their packaging: a small screw hole in the underside of the clock. This will be important because it will make it easier to mount. Most clocks at Walmart will have this, especially the smaller ones that are connected to their packaging.
Step 2: Preparing the Wood Base
1. Set the clock on a piece of paper, trace the outline, then measure to get the size. The best size for the board is just about even with the length and width of the clock. My clock was about 3.75” x 3”.
2. Choose a piece of scrap wood large enough for your measurements, or purchase a 1” x 4” or 1” x 3” board to cut the base. Using a miter saw, chop saw, or hand saw, measure and cut the wood.
Step 3: Sanding and Drilling the Mounting Hole in the Wood
Next, use a wood block and sandpaper (between 120 and 400 grit) to sand each edge and side of the wood base.
After dusting it off, set the clock on the base and center it. Using a pencil, mark just beneath the clock’s underside screw hole.
Removing the clock, drill a 3/32” hole down through the wood base.
Now take your wood screw and drive it from the bottom of the base up through the hole, set the clock on the other side, and screw on into the hole. You may have to adjust the size of the screw for your board or clock as needed, but the goal is to get the clock tight to the board. DON’T OVERTIGHTEN OR YOU MAY BREAK THE PLASTIC!
NOTE: Make sure the wood screw is able to inset in the underside of the base so it won’t scratch a desk or shelf when set down. You may want to use a bigger drill bit (7/32”) on the underside of the base to enlarge the bottom side slightly as needed.
Step 4: Staining and Finishing the Wood Base
Make sure to wipe all the dust off the wood base, then stain and add a polyurethane finish. We used Varathane briarsmoke (1 coat) for the wood, putting it on with a paper towel or brush, waiting 5 minutes, then wiping the stain off with a cloth. It dries within an hour, and we then applied a single coat of polyurethane. Gloves always come in handy with stain. Allow time for each coat to dry.
Step 5: Printing, Cutting, and Attaching the Words
1. Create your document with the words you want. We used Microsoft Word, put the location in bold, then used text boxes for the “Somebody in” and “Loves me” so they could be as close as possible above and below the location. The text boxes were formatted with no outline, no fill color, and layout options set to behind text. Attached is the file we used.
2. After printing it, you may have to adjust the text sizing as needed.
3. Cut out the words to the desired size. (We used regular scissors, but a paper cutter would produce more precise cuts.)
4. Using a sponge brush, apply a thin layer of mod podge to the front face of the wood base. Place the paper on the surface, smooth out thoroughly and align trying to get out any bubbles. Once the paper is thoroughly down, brush another thin layer of mod podge over the face.
Step 6: Attaching and Setting the Clock
Once your mod podge has dried, reattach the clock with the screw, attaching it firmly. Don’t forget to put batteries in the clock and set to the right time!
You can either look up the time online or the clock on an iPhone has a World Clock feature where you can easily look up current time throughout the globe.
Add your own finishing touches by painting the country’s flag or some other design using acrylic paint!