The idea of making this DIY clock came from a need to utilize some cut-offs someone had from making wine bottle lampshades. Yes, lampshades. Who knew that left over wine bottles could have so many uses? Most people know that you can make them into drinking glasses, but this is pretty original. This would be a great gift for a wine lover or even someone who’s isn’t. Everyone needs to know what time it is, right? Read on for the instructions, so you too can make every hour of every day wine o’clock.
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.
Step 2: Cutting the bottle
All cutting was done using an electric tile cutter looking similar to the one pictured above. 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.
For the bottom: set the saw to a 45 degree angle and the guide for the cut line to be around the center (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 here, 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
Here they 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 they went to 500 grit on flat lap discs 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, you can 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 the 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.
For rough trimming the mechanism case to size, you can use a Dremel tool with a thin cutting wheel and then sand 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.
It is also recommended to remove 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 the 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 is 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.
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 . 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, you can use 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.
While not a must, it’s a good idea to find the center 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 so there’s no extra friction for the clock. It’s also wise to punch the hole instead of drilling, since tear-out’s are easy in cork.
By drilling the center hole on the thick layer, you ensure that your markings for the clock mechanism are cut out on the thicker base layer where they will 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.
Step 6: Putting it all together
Just the joy and a little patience is left now until you can see the end result.
You can glue the top layer of cork to the mechanism and the base layer using some thin double-sided adhesive tape. Also 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 microfiber towel might be a good idea too and if you’ve marked something with a permanent marker, give it some acetone treatment to remove.
And there you have it!
You can use a number of different color combinations for variety.
Here is a little tip, 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. Now go and pour yourself a glass of wine, you totally deserve it!
Now you finally have something to do with those empty wine bottles. Cheers.