Well, about that big.
For my sabbatical John and I completely gutted and remodeled our bedroom, and one of the key elements I was after was a vintage Tower Clock. I wanted that style up there, but not nearly as distressed. I searched high and low online, but everything I found was too small - averaging about 30 inches - and even those were hundreds of dollars.
You know where this is going, of course. We decided to make our own!
Happily the material cost for this project is next to nothing; all you need is plywood or Masonite, paint, paper, adhesive, and time. The tools are a bit trickier, since you'll need a projector and both a jigsaw and a miter saw, but you should be able to rent the tools and maybe borrow the projector, if you don't already have them in the garage.
So let's get to it!
First, cut or acquire a round piece of wood or Masonite. You could use a table top, of course, but I'd advise something not-too-thick, since you will be hanging this on the wall. (If you're just leaning it, though, then have at it with the heavy table top!)
The maximum circumference you can get out of a 48inch sheet of plywood is, well, 48 inches, so that's what John and I went with. I almost regret not going even larger than that now, though, so be sure to err on the side of DRAMA, mmkay? (And if you use the same design as we did, you can easily hide a center seam.)
Paint your circle white and prop it against a wall, taking care to get it as close to 90 degrees to the floor as possible:
Use painter's tape to secure it, since it'll want to tip.
I found a nice classic tower clock face online, and then bumped the contrast waaaaay up to make the lines easier to see. Here's the result, in case you'd like to use the same graphic:
Print that or your clock face style of choice, and stick it under your handy-dandy projector:
(This one costs about $65 online, but I spotted other models on Amazon for less than $30.)
You don't have to print the graphic very large; less than half the size of a sheet of paper will do.
Getting the projection perfectly aligned and centered is tricky - ours ended up being just slightly off - so take your time and make sure it's as perfect as possible.
You could almost stop there, but we wanted some 3D elements. My reveal photo up there doesn't show it much because it was taken straight on, but ours does have a slightly raised grid and "rivets":
So, to make your own grid work you'll want to start with a paper template. White butcher paper is ideal, since it comes in big rolls (check specialty paint or hardware shops), or you could lay out several long strips of baking parchment paper and tape those together:
Once your outside edge and inner circle are done, use a ruler to draw in all the straight lines between the numbers and criss-crossing through the center.
Time for more power tools! Head outside to cut all those little strips and your two circles:
Once everything is cut and fitted properly, it's a good idea to number your pieces on the back and on the paper, so they don't get mixed up later.
Now a quick blast of black spray paint:
Anyone else seeing the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon here? Just me?
And now the fun part!
Prop your clock face up somewhere on a large drop cloth - preferably outside, since this is going to get dusty - and with the 12 facing up:
(It was August, and I live in Florida. I was NOT going outside.)
Now start sanding through your painted numbers vertically - and ONLY vertically. Keep going 'til it's as distressed as you like.
I was going for pretty subtle, but you could keep sanding 'til the numbers are barely visible, if you like.
Now, see how the black paint dust has streaked onto the clock face from my sanding? Well, here's a fun cheat to put that dust to work for you: Grab a wet paper towel, wring it out, and start wiping down the clock face - but again, ONLY IN VERTICAL STROKES. Don't rinse out your paper towel, either - just keep wiping, until...
LOOK AT ALL THAT GLORIOUS GRIME.
(You can tell Lily approves.)
(You can tell Lily approves.)
When your clock face dries again, grab a satin or matte clear spray paint and give it a nice even coating. Now your "dirt" is sealed in, no glaze or extra paint required!
So now that you have a nice base layer of "dirt," you can move on to assembling the grid:
This is where having those grid pieces numbered comes in handy. (You DID remember to do that, right?)
Assemble all your pieces first to test the fit, and then glue everything down with E-6000 or construction adhesive. You'll need two pairs of hands when placing those circles, btw; they're flimsy and could easily crack if you pick them up from one side.
Once everything's glued and dried, go prop your clock against the wall again, 'cuz it's time for MORE grimy fun!
For "rivets" we painted wood furniture plugs, which you can find at any hardware store, and then just glued them on:
To age the black grid and make the rivets stand out, I dry-brushed on a tiny bit of silver paint to the peaks and edges.
All that's missing are the clock hands!
I can't seem to find my process shots, but for the hands I sketched one half of a nice teardrop/flame shape for the hand's tip on more butcher paper, folded it horizontally, and then cut it out so it was perfectly symmetrical. John used this paper template to cut out both hands from Masonite, making one arm longer than the other, and capping both with a circle on the inside edge:
And there you have it!
The concept is simple, but this is a fun project with a big, BIG impact. Hope you liked it!
I have one or two more tutorials from our room to write up before I show you the Big Reveal, but I think you're realllly going to like the antiqued mirror panels we made. (There was a sneak peak in my "rivets" shot.) Stay tuned for those!
Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!