Friday, December 11, 2015

Our Glass Nixie Clock Case!

Sometimes John and I go on a multi-project binge, and then I neglect to actually blog the finished products 'til many weeks/months after the fact. So here's an attempt to catch up: our glass Nixie Clock display!

Most Nixie clock kits are displayed in clear Plexiglas boxes, or set in slick, minimalist bases. Those were a little too modern for me, but I also didn't want mine in an antique clock or wood box, since it's being displayed on a dark shelf. I finally stumbled across this inspiration in a Nixie clock discussion forum:

Its maker, Baragon, used upcycled light fixtures for the end supports, but I bet you could also use cheap vanity mirrors. In fact, that's how I set out to build ours, but finding the right size glass quickly became an issue.  I may start looking again soon, though, since I still love - LOVE - those end supports.

The tricky part, of course, was finding an affordable glass tube exactly the right size to house the clock. Specialty places online could make me one, but that would cost at least $60. Pass.

Then I remembered this thing my grandmother gave me a few years ago:

1973 crafting at its FINEST.

Yep, this Ye Olde bottle cutting kit was still new in the box, and begging to be taken for a test drive.

We grabbed a $5 vase from Wal-Mart, and gave it a go.

The kit worked like a charm, but we quickly learned that cheap glass vases can get super thin in the middle - so thin, that the glass will break unevenly, with jagged edges.

So next we found a beautifully thick glass vase over at Home Good for about $12:


This one took forever to cut. You only score it once, but we had to heat-then-ice the score line at least 10 times before we got a beautiful, perfect break.

The kit also came with a glass polishing powder. Pour some into the bottom of a pan you don't want anymore, and rub the cut edge around:

Tadaaa, nice polished edge!

This work has been Lily inspected and approved.

After that John made a quick stand from old Plexiglas he already had in the garage and a wooden dowel:

... which we painted gold:

To suspend the clock inside John replaced the circuit board's existing metal feet with longer plexiglass rods, which you can find at any hobby shop. Easy peasy.

 John also wants to drill a small hole in the back of the glass tube for the wire, but I'm nervous about risking it. Besides, the shelf where we're displaying it is pretty dark, so the wire barely shows:

Aaand one last beauty shot:

Have any of you started your own Nixie clocks yet? John got my kit from PV Electronics in the UK - which has excellent customer service - but there are several places that sell them online.

Believe it or not, the hardest part is just labeling all the components. After that, you only need a little soldering experience and an eye for detail to put one together, since the instructions are pretty thorough. (The high voltage test can be dangerous, though, so if you're a newbie like me, definitely have someone with electronics experience on hand for that.)


  1. My husband makes nixie clocks too!

  2. Beautiful, Jen! One quick idea - I know you're into faux finishing, so why not faux finish some embroidery hoops for the details on the ends? Then you could add PVC or metal "support posts" or something on the bottom? Just a thought!

    1. I really like that idea. The tightening knobs on the hoops would be a cool detail, IMO.

  3. Beautiful! And I love how it looks on your awesome bookcase!!

  4. That is so flippin' cool!!! It looks absolutely perfect in the book case, and the cord is invisible. I wouldn't risk the hole. Excellent work, as always. :-D

  5. Cool! One question- Where are the first two Harry Potter books? ;)

    1. I didn't have them in hardcover back when I took this photo! Not to worry, though; the whole set is up there now. :D

  6. wow that is really beautiful. And on that shelf you really can't see the cord at all.

  7. Are you feeling better?

    1. A little, yes - but still clogged and weak and half deaf. And kinda sneezy. At some point this is going to get funny, right? ;)

  8. I just cut a coin slot in an old mason jar to make a piggy bank, so it's possible to cut a hole for the power cord. Just get some diamond bits for your rotary tool (I found that the rounded ones work best). And remember that the cord either has to come off, or the hole has to be big enough to fit the plug.


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