Forums/Tutorials/Laser Cutting Tutorials & Tips

Make your own clock hands

Josh Reuss
posted this on May 13, 2011 22:27

A while back I was looking for some colorful clock hands for a project but didn't have much luck finding any online so
I decided to make my own... here's a easy way to make custom laser cut clock hands for your next time keeping project!

Note: These hands use Ponoko's 1mm PETG; I have found this plastic has the right amount of stiffness as well as being
inexpensive, currently $1.86 for a P1 at the US hub.

Step 1 Measure: Measure your clock movement to determine how big of a hole is needed in the hour hand
as well as the minute hand. In my case the hour hand needed a 5mm hole. I made the laser cut holes
smaller (4.7mm) as it's always easier to enlarge the hole later if they're too tight. You'll also find they fit easier one
direction due to the laser kerf, do a test fitting before painting.

petgclockhand.jpg

Step 2 Design: With the proper measurements get to designing your new hands, if you already have the clock it doesn't
hurt to print out some 1:1 versions and lay them on the clock face to see how they look visually. I found some
hands I initially made looked better in illustrator than they did on a actual clock face, some ended up too close
to the edge of the clock face or simply looked unbalanced.

You can go modern and clean or look back in clock history for some larger ornate hands. Although
the PETG is thicker than most metal stamped hands the materials light weight allows you to make
similar sized hands without stressing out the clock movement. Take a look on flickr and google images
for some handy ideas.

metallichand.jpg

Step 3 Painting: This set of hands were sprayed on the face side with Rust-Oleum Metallic Finish Silver. The result was
almost a hammered metallic look. I've been somewhat surprised that no crazing on the edges or
surface has happened so far. I didn't have any on hand but you should also
consider paints made for adhering to plastic like Krylon Fusion.

Depending on the paint being used you may have better results if you sand the surfaces lightly with
400 grit sand paper then clean and let dry before applying that first coat.

spray.jpg

Multiple light coats, they should dry fairly quickly. On this pair I applied three coats.

blackclockhands.jpg

This photo doesn't really show it but these hands are glossy. What I did was leave the protective plastic
film on one side (the face) and sprayed a matte black onto the back side and the edges to a lesser degree (see above).
Once the paint dried I removed the plastic film off the faces and was left with a pair of
glossy black clock hands.

goldhands.jpg

Here's a pair of of shiny gold hands for clock going into my kitchen, as you can see I used a small
square glued over the hole in the minute hand to cover the second hand connection (wasn't using one).
I sprayed gold metallic paint on both sides of the hands and sprayed the small square separately on one side
before finally super gluing it on.

metallichandclose.jpg

A closer look at the sliver hands. Although some dust specks got on the hands I tried to keep in mind
how far people typically are from wall clocks :)

If you end up making a pair of your own I'd enjoy seeing how they turn out.

 

Comments

User photo
Camilo Parra Palacio

For me also work with 3mm acrylic just the diameter should be 0.01mm less. Thanks Josh for sharing your tips

December 06, 2012 18:07