Adventures in Time And Space!
I like making clocks. I'm fascinated by time and time travel. Possibly because of this, I also like Doctor Who (the longest-running Science-Fiction TV series ever!).
The latest seasons feature a new title sequence that has a clock face spiraling into a sort of "time vortex." Very appropriate and very cool. Amazingly enough, I haven't found anything like this on the internet yet (at least, nothing I liked), so I painstakingly designed my own spiral clock face for all my timey-wimey needs.
What's The Doctor without his TARDIS and Sonic Screwdriver? The hands of this clock are sonic screwdrivers, and the second hand is a TARDIS spiraling into the vortex!
This is very easy to make with only a $4 wall clock, a color printer, a craft knife, and scissors.
And some cardstock and glue.
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Step 1: Procure Clock
This project was bouncing around on the back burner of my mind until my last trip to WalMart... When what did I see? This very inexpensive wall clock on an endcap! (People will buy anything on an endcap!) This clock is WalMart's house brand (Mainstays), it has a 6.5" face (So I can print a new face on standard paper), A glass lens (held in by screws, so it's easy to disassemble), a second hand, and it even comes in "TARDIS Blue!" (Close enough, anyway.) And it costs a whole four dollars! What's not to like?
Step 2: Test and Disassemble
Because you never know if you'll be the one to get a defective product, I stuck a battery in the clock, set the time, and came back the next day. The clock keeps time, so now I can take it apart.
There are six screws on the back of the clock that hold the bezel and lens in. Once the lens is off, the hands can be removed by grasping the hand's hub with fingernails and gently pulling straight off, starting with the second hand, then the minute hand, and finally the hour hand.
Do not throw the hands away! They will be re-used as supports for the paper hands we're going to print.
It's important to not bend the hands; If they're bent, they'll collide with each other, the face, or the lens, and your clock will stop, so keep them straight! They are made of thin flexible metal, so they're not hard to straighten if they get bent.
Finally, I removed the clock movement (The "works"). There are two clips on the back that hold the movement in. Just gently snap it out of the clips. This wasn't strictly necessary, but it made it easier to test-fit without having to cut a center hole in my test faces.
The original face was made of a thin flexible plastic glued into the case, and I removed that also. It's not shown in the photos because I destroyed it in the act of removing it. Another reason to remove the movement: The hole in the center makes it easier to push the old face off. The bonus here is, this clock has a very tacky glue that is still tacky after removing the face, and should work well to hold the new face in.
Step 3: Create Artwork
Using Inkscape, I created a pair of spirals and placed the hour markers on the inner spiral. A couple of sonic screwdrivers and a TARDIS image completed the artwork. This was easily the most time-consuming part.
The pdf attached to this step is the final product, and can be used with any clock having a 6 1/2" face. The svg file can be opened in Inkscape and edited. It also contains some variations on the theme.
I printed a couple of drafts on plain paper and cut out the face for test fitting in the case.
That being done, some modifications to the hands became necessary.
Step 4: Modify Hands
I laid the hands on top of my draft print to check size. The length of the printed hands should be close to the length of the original hands. You can see from the first picture that the original hands are wider than the print. Since we'll be using these hands as supports for the printed paper, They'll need to be trimmed. Because they are soft thin metal, that's not hard. An ordinary pair of scissors will work, although you shouldn't use your best scissors for something like this. I had a pair of heavy-duty scissors handy, so I used them.
A pair of large wire cutters will probably work also.
Again, you must keep the hands flat and un-bent. If they get bent during trimming, gently straighten them out again so they're flat.
The second hand will have the small paper TARDIS glued to it's center. This particular second hand has a domed center, so I carefully sanded it to make it flatter for better glue adhesion.
Step 5: Print Artwork and Cut Out
When printing the pdf, it's important to set the scale at "none" or "100%" so the size is correct.
I printed the artwork on cardstock so it would keep it's shape, then cut out the face and hands with scissors and a hobby knife. (There are 3 copies of the hands as backups!) This is the second most time-consuming part. When cutting out the hands, a very sharp hobby knife is the best thing to use. The white edges after cutting out can be made more attractive and less "papery" by touching up with a marker pen in a matching color, or just use black.
The center hole marking is a bit oversize for this particular clock movement since it doesn't have a threaded shaft, but that's okay, since the hub of the hour hand will cover it up.
Step 6: Install Face
The new face drops right in, and the old glue will keep it in place.
Make sure the 12 O'clock position of the face is correct! The 12 O'clock position is where the hangar is on the back. This clock also has screw holes at 12 and 6 O'clock, and that makes alignment easier.
Once it's lined up, place a scrap of paper over the face to keep from smudging the ink, and burnish it firmly onto the glue.
Step 7: Assemble and Install Hands
I glued the hands to the paper cut-outs with E6000 adhesive, although other glues would probably work. I wouldn't recommend hot glue (Too bulky, and weak) or water-based glue (May cause the ink to run or distort the paper) though.
Get them as centered as possible and press down against a hard table top for a good bond. The TARDIS on the second hand also has to be parallel to the hand to prevent any binding.
Do not cut out the center holes until the glue is thoroughly dry. I wound up just cutting off the ends over the holes; The TARDIS will cover this area up anyway.
When installing clock hands, all the hands should be installed pointing at the 12 O'clock position, so that they will be in proper relation to each other as the clock runs.
Press the hands on, starting with the hour hand, then minute hand, and finally the second hand. The hands need to be parallel to the face and to each other so there's no interference as they move. Adjust the hands on the shafts or slightly bend as necessary so they will clear each other and not touch either the face or the lens.
Test fit the lens and make sure the second hand doesn't touch it.
Step 8: Install Lens and Hang!
Clean all the fingerprints and other dreck from the inside of the lens, drop the lens into the front of the clock, press the bezel on, flip over and reinstall the six screws. Hang the clock in a place of honor.
Good luck on all your time travels! (Remember, we are all time travelers... It's just that we can only go forward one day at a time.)
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