From now on the time is always wine o'clock! Let's just hope no one ends up an alcoholic because of that.
The idea of making this clock came from a need to utilize some cut-offs I had from making wine bottle lampshades (last picture in step), but I seriously consider this a good alternative of reusing wine bottle bottoms for something else than drinking glasses. Despite essentially being a by-product this came out looking well and does great as a gift for a wine lover or even someone who's not exactly one.
I made this one as a backup gift in case my plan for a gift for one particular person doesn't work out, but am going to make one from every leftover brown glass bottle bottom I have and most likely sell them either on Etsy or locally to fund my further projects.
Update: Now these are actually for sale on Etsy.
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Step 1: Tools and Materials
- A glass bottle (cut bottom of it)
- Some cork of various thicknesses
- A clock mechanism with hands
- An AA battery holder
- Electric tile cutter
- A flat lap or other flat sanding surface
- Solder iron
- X-acto knife
Flat lap is obviously preferred to sanding it down by hand. You still need to sand the cut faces flat here so if doing it manually, some abrasive powder on a flat surface might do the trick.
Electric tile cutter is a must here, unless you can successfully cut a bottle diagonally using something else for which I don't know any other reliable method. Please share if you do.
Step 2: Cutting the Bottle
All cutting was done using an electric tile cutter looking similar to this. It was the cheapest model in the store and that's enough, you don't really need it powerful for cutting glass. It's also a good idea to get another cutting disc for glass which is thinner than the regular one and enables cuts with less chipping.
I already had one cut done before, but there's no underlying magic in it and the technique is the same as cutting off a piece of the bottom, you just do it straight.
For the bottom: set the saw to 45 degree angle and the guide for the cut line to be around the centre (see approximate place in 3rd picture). If you cut too far - it's harder to cut off the small piece of glass with a small diameter blade, if you cut too close, the resulting hole will be too small for your finger. You may have a nice cutter with a big diameter blade, but if the blade is small, like it is for me - you will need to make extra cuts. I recommend not making these free hand and using the same guide to rest one of the corners against, since with a cut like this there's a pretty high probability of cracking if your hand is not perfectly steady. A guide helps to avoid that. You may still want to set the bottle in some kind of holder, but having the support just for the edge is enough to make a decent cut along the same line.
If after making all the cuts there's still a little bit of glass holding the corner left (as in 4th picture) - cut a small groove free hand and then apply a bit of pressure to the parts and it should crack off nicely where you cut the groove. It may be unnecessary to cut the groove, but better safe than sorry.
Step 3: Sanding the Cut Bottle
I used an improvised flat lap to sand the cut part of the bottle flat, but with enough patience it could be done by hand as well, use sandpaper or sanding powder on a flat surface. There are no advanced scientific methods involved in sanding, just start with a rough grit and work your way up as always. For the clock face I went to 500 grit on flat lap discs (because I don't have a smoother one) and finished it off with 800 grit diamond sanding pad which gives a nice matte finish without distinct visible scratches.
As for chippings on the edges you get when cutting and rough sanding (sometimes) which are still left after sanding - I prefer finish them off with a Dremel tool and a 425 polishing wheel (25k RPM works great). You don't need to overdo the inner edge of the clock face since it won't really be visible and it's harder to fit the cork nicely with glass having round edges. However, you do need to work the sharper edge on the bottom well. Not because it's cut sharp as is, but mostly because that's where your fingers will rest while you're setting the clock or taking the battery out. Cutting your fingers hurts and having someone cut themselves with gift you made is even worse.
Step 4: Changing the Clock Mechanism
The inner diameter of a typical wine bottle is around 70mm. The typical clock mechanism is a rounded square of 55x55mm with a diagonal of 72.5mm meaning it doesn't fit in the cut bottle and if you want the spindle to be in the middle, you will have to remove material from both the top and the bottom despite the fact that after the removal of battery compartment alone it would fit the cut bottle.
A really neat way to solve this would be 3D printing a case of a custom shape for your mechanism and I'd certainly do so if I won a Form 1+ 3D printer.
For rough trimming the mechanism case to size I used a Dremel tool with a thin cutting wheel and then sanded the cut edges smooth on a flat surface by hand. Take into account that the mechanism cases are made from ABS plastic most of the times and the fumes and dust of that aren't the best for you, so protect accordingly.
I also recommend removing the mechanism itself from the case before cutting and sanding unless you like cleaning dust from cogs. Also, if you aren't exactly good at puzzles - take a picture of the clock mechanism after the removal of lid to have at least some reference of how it sits in there since the cogs will probably fall apart. You should also check out or make a picture of which side is positive and which - negative for the battery, since you will cut off the compartment where it's written.
You also need to solder the battery holder wires to the original clock mechanism contacts. The issue here is that at least in my case the contacts are stainless steel and I don't have any fancy soldering paste for soldering to that. Therefore my solution is to drill tiny holes for the wire to go through, then cutting the contacts just below it and soldering the wires to themselves while looped through the clock contact. From what I've tried - this gives enough electrical conductivity in this case. I would hesitate to try that on something with higher currents however.
Now that everything is done it's a good idea to assemble the mechanism and put it back in a case for a test (use only a second hand). Possible issues: clock doesn't go - check for electrical contact between battery holder and steel contact in the case (multimeter does the trick), clock goes, but second hand sometimes skips a position or get stuck and ticks in a single position - take the mechanism apart, clean cogs, think about what the heck did happen and hope for the best. No real advice for the last one - it's a hit or miss. Fastest way to solve - get an identical mechanism and swap the guts into the cut case (and hope it works).
Step 5: Making a Cork Clock Face
To make the clock mechanism fit nicely and not detach during a hit or something it's a good idea to have a two layer clock face. The base layer is of a thicker 10mm cork (I used a pad intended for kitchen) and the top layer is a leftover from the cork wall I have and it's 3mm thick. You may need or want to use layers of a different thickness, it depends on the clock mechanism and other factors. For most of the cutting I used an X-acto knife.
Since the bottle is not a perfect circle, the easiest way to mark a good fitting base layer is by putting the glass on it and marking a line, then cutting around the marking lines as in the 1st picture. And yes, around the marked area, don't cut exactly along the line - the resulting piece of cork will be too loose for the bottle. A bigger one will compress as it's cork and fit snugly.
As for the thin layer - I just prefer to cut a circle bigger than necessary with scissors and cut edges away later.
While not a must, it's a good idea to find the centre point of the clock face right now and mark and drill it on both pieces of cork. If the outer layer of your spindle is rotating as is in my case - make the hole on the thin layer bigger than the spindle is so there's no extra friction for clock. It's also wise to punch the hole instead of drilling, since tear-out's are easy in cork.
By drilling the centre hole on the thick layer you ensure that your markings for clock mechanism cut out on the thicker base layer will be where they need to be and your spindle will end up in the middle (or where you drilled). Also, while it's not marked, it's good to remember that the wires need to go somewhere - therefore you need to cut out some space for them below the mechanism - the little triangles you see in the last picture.
Other than that, it's pretty useful to mark a known spot on both pieces of cork in a place where it won't be visible - i.e. back or side. By doing so you can easily align both pieces as needed for a perfect fit, always in the same direction. This is done due to glass bottles being far from a perfect circle.
Step 6: Putting It All Together
Just the joy and a little impatience is left now until the time you can see the end result.
I prefer to glue the top layer of cork to the mechanism and the base layer using some thin double sided adhesive tape (I believe it is the so called red tape used in electronics for screen changes), but any other glue could be used, given that it sticks to both ABS plastic and cork.
After all of that all that's left is putting on the clock hands, putting in the battery and setting the correct time. Cleaning the outside with a microfibre towel might be a good idea too and if you've marked something with a permanent marker, give it some acetone treatment to remove.
A note just in case: when putting on hands, it's easiest to align them at 12 or 6 o'clock as seen in the last picture.
Enjoy the fruits of your work now!
Step 7: End Remarks
As for colours I've found that brown + gold is the best looking combo as of now. I tried a green bottle as well, but it's lacking something in the looks department, maybe clock hands of some other colours would help. I'd love to hear suggestions since I still have some green cut-offs from making lampshades. The 2nd picture in this step is of a green one, for reference.
Other materials could be used for the face of the clock, i.e. leather or wood, but I think cork fits best because it's wine related and easy to work with.
If you're making one as a gift - don't wrap it with the hands on, that's a sure way to bending them. Take the hands off and put them in a small plastic or cardboard tube or at least hide them inside the glass body of the clock, if you manage to fit them in there.
For a little bit simpler seasonal gift idea - check out this instructable for festive bottles. They are always well received!
If you have any further questions ask them here in comments or via a private message. I try to answer them all.
Make cool gifts and be merry this season!