Steampunk Clock




Introduction: Steampunk Clock

While exploring the vast maze of IKEA (Canada's Largest :P), I discovered the "Rusch" clock, a cheap item which just screams "MODIFY ME!!".

Well, Mr. Clock, you will get your wish.

The nice thing about this clock is how easy it is to disassemble. It's made of thin plastic, and most importantly, it's cheap! I figured now would be the best time to try my hand at steampunk, 'cause everyone else is!

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Step 1: Materials and Tools


-2x "Rusch" Clock from IKEA (preferably with a clear casing). (approx. $6) (the second clock isn't mandatory, but it does help if you make any mistakes, etc.)

-Thin Cardboard (from soda boxes) ($3 on sale, drink the pop!)
-Paint (I'm using Enamel Paint) ($1-3 depending on colour)
-Thick Paper Leaves($0.50-$2, depending on colour/texture)
-Metallic Brads (or any other rivet substitute) ($5; got mine for $2.50 on sale; the more variety in sizes, the better)

If Installing LEDs:

-Colour Changing LEDs (5mm)
-2032 Button Cell Battery
-micro toggle switch



-Dremel/Rotary tool with various bits
                 -Safety Glasses
-Sharpie or other writing utensil
-X-acto knife and/or Scalpel (Scalpel is better for precision cuts, only costs $4)
-Glue stick or spray adhesive
-Painting Tape (optional)
-Drill with bits
-Glue Gun
-Various Circular Objects *examples include a margarine container, and a pop bottle lid*
-Soldering Iron (Optional)

Step 2: Pre-Construction I: Planning

Before we start chopping up and painting our clock all willy nilly, make sure you have a plan of what you are doing.

-Concept art and/or blueprints can be helpful in deciding what designs you will be making. Details are nice, but it doesn't need to be absolutely perfect (assuming you aren't a perfectionist).
-Assembling all your materials will allow you to plan how each will be used.
-Try and determine in which order you will be working. While I have provided one order (starting with the frame), there isn't really a right or wrong (in fact, I didn't even follow my order).
-Determine how you will be assembling everything.

I have included a rough sketch of my plans for the clock. After scanning my sketch, I added some brief guidelines on how the face will be assembled. Note that I use abbreviations in my drawings.

Step 3: Pre-Construction II: Repairing Your Mechanism

You may never need this step; however, it is here should you be in need.

With cheap parts comes easy breakage. But don't lose hope! Your clock mechanism can be repaired!

The most common thing to occur is the pin will come out of the mechanism. However, all that is broken is the arrangement of the gears; Let's open this baby up! You can do this by using the small latches on either side of the mechanism (see pic).

When you open your mechanism, you will find 3 gears: a small transparent gear, a small white gear and a large white gear. All of these parts are important should you want to keep this clock functioning. It is recommended you keep a battery in the mechanism, so that you can test the parts.

The pin is the first thing to be reattached. Push the indented side of the pin into the smaller white gear, at the smooth end. You can now attach this gear pin first, into the center of the mechanism (see pics).

The next gear to go in is the small translucent gear. It can be placed to the left of the pin gear. Make sure that the gear side is facing downwards. The small pin on the end will fit into the small hole in the mechanism (see pic).

Lastly, attach the big gear into the hole on the right. As the gear side is the only side long enough to fit properly, place it carefully into the hole. You may notice your parts aren't working currently. Until you close the mechanism, none of your parts will be balanced and able to turn. When you are done, close it up, and your mechanism should function properly!

It is important to note that with constant disassembly, it becomes increasingly easy to break your mechanism. The best way to deal with this is to only disassemble ONCE! Set it aside, and don't touch it until you're done! (Although worst case scenario, that's why you have a second clock!)

Step 4: Disassembling Your Clock

The first (actual) thing that must be done is disassembling your "Rusch" clock, using these guidelines:

-The front plate/cover can be popped off with a small object (a pen or pencil) by pushing said object into the holes located on the back.

-The arms of the clock mechanism pull off relatively easy and should not require additional tools; when replacing these arms, do NOT push too hard, as you may break the internal mechanisms (it's a cheap clock, after all). Should you break your mechanism, check out the repairing step.

-The mechanism can be popped out of the frame by depressing the clips on the back (on top and bottom).

-The Numbers can be removed easily with the use of scissors and some pulling. We will not be reusing this, so be aggressive!

Once everything has been separated, put your clock mechanism aside, and throw out the numbers; The frame is the first thing to be prepped.

Step 5: Frame Construction I: Preparing Your Cut

With your frame in hand, and your writing utensil in the other, we are going to mark out what will be cut.

Keep in mind that a small piece of the backing plastic MUST remain in tact to hold the mechanism in the center. Follow the pictures for a general idea.

How much is cut off is up to you; I wanted to show as little as possible, so I left only a couple small patches on top and bottom (at the IKEA logo and the wall mount). Using your writing utensil, designate what will and won't be cut.

X's show what is waste and what isn't.

Step 6: Frame Construction II: the Cut!

Please use caution when working with high speed cutters. Use proper safety glasses, work in a well lit area, and NEVER TOUCH THE CUTTER!

With your markings...marked, it's time to do the actual cutting. For this, you will be using a high speed cutting tool, such as a dremel. Make sure your work (the frame) is clamped to a solid surface before doing anything. Also, Safety Glasses! (don't tell me they do nothing!)

Follow your lines carefully, and try and cut on the lowest speed possible; high speeds will simply melt the plastic, and not cut properly. Take breaks in between cuts, to make sure that your bit doesn't overheat. If plastic collects on your bit, unplug your cutter and carefully remove the plastic. Needle nose pliers work well for this. Good luck!

When you're done cutting off the pieces, a wirehead brush is a good way to clean up the edges. This can be run at a slightly higher speed.

Step 7: Frame Construction III: Drilling

(Please note, although my pictures show paint, please do your drilling before hand to avoid unnecessary chipping and scratches).

Up next is drilling all the holes for your "rivets". The bit size you use will vary, depending on the size of the brads used. I used number 1 and 3 bits for this (1/16th and 3/16th). This is where your drill comes in.

We will be starting with the 3/16" bit. Around the top edge, drill a hole where each hour will be located for a total of 12 holes. If you are lacking in brads, you could go with a simpler design, such as at the 3, 6, 9 and 12. Be creative!

Now, using your 1/16" bit, drill a hole between each of the previous holes, for a grand total of 24.

Using the top as a guide, drill 20 holes around the bottom edge, lining them up carefully.

You can try out your brads for a tight fit, but do not open them; this will be done after painting, where we will also glue the brads.

Step 8: Frame Construction IV: Painting

Now that we have all the tough, frame-altering parts done, it's time to do something more...artistic.

You do not need to tape your frame, but if you are clumsy like me, it's a good idea.

Simply paint the inner frame and the outer edge, as shown. Odds are you will need to apply a few coats, so take your time. Enamel paints tend to dry quickly, so that should be a consideration.

After that, paint a 1cm trim around the edge. You can use tape to do this as well, but I found it easier to freehand.

Finally, the last part to do is the connections. Again, you could probably tape these off, but I found it easier to freehand. In my preliminary drawings, I had 8 connections. After painting on the first 4, however, I found that to be enough and altered my original plan. You can do the same, should you choose.

Another thing to consider is to paint the center, where the mechanism is held. This way, if this part shows, it will blend in.

Step 9: Frame Construction V: the Rivets

Now comes the final part of the general construction; the rivets! This step is relatively, since we already have all the holes drilled out.

To do this, simply add all your brads into their rightful holes. Once this is done, open up the brads as wide as they can. Hopefully, they will be snug already. Regardless, we are going to be helping them out with a glue gun.

A small little drop of glue should be sufficient in holding, since nobody should be pulling on these. Continue until all your rivets are secured.

Step 10: The Face, Part I: the Backing

The backing of your clock is probably one of the most important parts you will be doing. For your clock to be stable and functional, it has to be sturdy. It also needs to be thin enough that it will not interfere with your clock mechanism. Finally, it needs to be cut properly so as to not look awful.

It is for this reason I have chosen to use the cardboard from a soda box. The cardboard is easy to work with, is thin, and sturdy enough. The inside faces also adhere well to other materials. It's also a good way to recycle. :P

The easiest way to cut your backing to shape is to use the front plate/cover.

Flatten out your box, and if possible, cut off whatever you will not be using. You will need to use the largest surface of the box, and hopefully it will be in good condition, i.e. no dents, creases, or other structural damage.

Using your front plate/cover as a stencil, you can either trace with a pencil, or go right for the gusto and use your scalpel. Ensure your cuts are super close to the cover, as you want a tight fit. When you are done, try fitting your backing into the frame.

When your backing fits carefully, you will now cut the center hole. With your backing in the clock, mark out and/or cut the small circle at the center of the frame. This is where your clock mechanism goes.

Step 11: The Face, Part II: First Layer

Now that we have the main backing, it's time to layer your face. The first layer (or at least mine) is a white *Mother of Pearl*-like colour.

First, apply some glue onto the front face of your backing, and carefully stick it onto the paper. Be careful not to scratch the paper as it is very sensitive. Apply even pressure and allow it to dry.

Once your glue has dried, carefully cut off the excess paper with your scalpel. ensure not to cut your piece too big or small, and remember to cut out the center hole.

Step 12: The Face, Part III: Second Layer

For the second layer, it is best to find a circular reference to trace. I used a margarine container. Make sure it is the right circumference.

Using your reference, cut out a circle of Gold from your gold paper. Mine was approximately 11.5cm. Clean up all of the edges with your scalpel. This is important, as this face will be seen at the center of your clock.

After it is cut, it is time for any detail cuts you wish. Yours may be different from mine, but some tips:

-cut relief cuts when possible. The smaller the cuts, the better.
-always cut into the waste parts, not your final product.
-its better to cut with multiple cuts instead of 1 deep cut.
-don't cut any details that will be empty in the end; cut those after gluing.

Once you are satisfied, glue this second layer onto your face. Make sure its centered.

If you have any other details to add (such as through cuts, like mine), then do so now before we move on.

Step 13: The Face, Part IV: the Numbers

Now comes the most important part of any clock; the numbers. How you go about this will depend on the following:

-The style of numbers you've selected.
-How you plan to implement your numbers.
-How much detail you want to put in.

There are two ways to do this; You could draw in all of your numbers, or cut them out by hand.

If you want to pour your heart into this, I suggest you cut out each number by hand. It's long and tedious, but in the end it's all worth it. Before you start, figure out some base measurements to ensure equality. The nice part about roman numerals is everything is linear.

For a general idea, I tried to keep each I to about 5mm, each V to about 7.5mm, and each X to the same 7.5mm. I also tried to ensure a max size of 30mm across and 20mm high. How you do it will be up to you.

To glue them on, use your glue stick and your best judgement. If your rivets were accurate, you could use them as a reference. Also, use another clock face as a reference for position.

In the end, I copped out and did the smaller detail work (the dots in between the numbers) with a sharpie.

Step 14: The Face, Part V: Attachment

The day you've been waiting for has finally come: It's time to attach the face to your frame. This can be done with either your spray adhesive or your glue gun. If using your glue gun, make sure that your glue is spread out evenly, so that you don't get any bubbles on the surface. Carefully press your face down, and let it dry for a while.

With that done, put your clock assembly inside, set the time, and mount your steampunk clock with pride!

Step 15: (Optional) LEDs, Part I: the Chassis


Do you want your clock to glow? I thought you would. For the next part, we are gonna put some LEDs into our clock to make it nice.

The first issue is, where are we going to put these LEDs? By building ourselves an LED Chassis, of course!

Do you remember that second clock you bought? If you're like me, you used the clock mechanism (cause you're clumsy) and now you have an empty frame. Why not put it to use?

(you can use something else, if you'd like).

Step 16: (Optional) LEDS, Part II: Cutting the Chassis

This step may seem like deja vu, since it is very similar to prepping the frame.

The theory is that we will be cutting off everything but the top rim (where the rivets are on the clock), which will make up our chassis. Leaving about 10mm of the side will allow for good placement.

As with the frame, use your rotary tool or dremel, and safety first! When you're done, clean up your edges with the wirehead brush, and ensure that the chassis fits inside the frame of your clock.

Step 17: (Optional) LEDs, Part III: Setting Your LEDs

As you may have noticed in the previous step, I have already marked where I want to place my LEDs. This was not random. If your clock is like mine, you will have painted 4 pieces that connect the top rim to the outer rim. I decided to place my LEDs where there were no connectors; according to the clock hours, these positions are at 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11.

When you have these positions marked out, its time to pull out the drill again. Using a number 4 drill bit (the 1/4" one), drill out holes in each of the 8 positions. If you left the 10mm on the edge, it shows you were paying attention; drill your holes into the edge. If not, you can get away with drilling into the bottom of the chassis. At the same time, drill a hole at the bottom for your switch.

Once your holes are drilled, place your LEDs into them, in orientation that makes access easy. You can secure the bulb with a small glob of glue (from your glue gun).

Step 18: (Optional) LEDs, Part IV: Wiring

Before we go headfirst into the wiring, a few thoughts:

-My circuitry knowledge is limited, so if you have any suggestions, please comment. Constructive criticism is appreciated.
-The whole circuit will be powered by a single 3V 2032 button cell battery.
-The circuit will be in parallel, so that all 8 LEDs can draw power from this battery.
-The switch will be located at the bottom, for easy access.

To do this, start by connecting all the positives of your LEDs (preferably with red-cased wiring) and all the negatives (preferably with black-cased wiring). I used 18 gauge wire, but something smaller would probably work better. With the LED closest to the switch, leave a bit of slack for the negative (about 10cm) and half that for the positive (about 5cm). The positive will be connected to the toggle switch.

Once all your wiring is soldered (I will not be going over how to solder), the last step is to attach the battery. If you have some sort of battery holder, you could use this. Otherwise, the safest way is to attach your positive and negative wires with electrical tape. AGAIN, NEVER SOLDER A BATTERY! IT COULD EXPLODE!

Once this is done, test out your circuit. If all the LEDs light up, then you did everything alright. Now to merge our two creations into one!

Step 19: (Optional) LEDs, Part V: Final Assembly

Now comes the last step: attaching our LED Chassis to the clock.

If your chassis was made properly, it should be able to fit snugly into the back of your frame. Position it properly, and lightly secure it with a couple drops of glue from your glue gun. If not, you may have to trim it down until it fits. A properly fitting chassis will barely extend past the back of the frame. It should not interfere with the wall mounting process.

Now, turn on your clock and marvel your friends!

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    3 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    That's a well-documented project, and a cool clock to boot!