How to Turn an Old Book Into a Clock

2012-09-06 3

You finally finished “Fifty Shades of Grey” and want to commemorate your life-changing reading experience. One way might be to turn your hardback novel into a clock. Rather than having the literature just taking up space on the bookshelf, by repurposing it into a useful clock can mix both beauty and utility at the same time.


  • Hardcover book
  • Cheap wall clock (try the dollar store or check out sales)
  • Exacto/craft knife
  • Hot glue
  • Rubber feet (optional)


Choose a suitable hardcover book. Consider a book cover that either has personal significance or one that matches a room décor theme. Make sure the book is sturdy and can stand alone without much assistance––a book with approximately two to three inches (5cm-7.5cm) of pages is your best bet.

Evaluate your room to determine which colors and style work best. For some rooms, a loud, colorful book cover will enhance your style, while for other rooms, a more romantic, subdued book cover cover will work best. If you’re going completely for style, you may want to troll some used book stores for the right fit.

Consider choosing a book that is symbolic of your life. If a certain book has made a significant impact on your life, it might be the ideal one to transform it into your clock. That way, it will always be on show to remind you of the journey you took with this work of literature.

Purchase a cheap wall clock. You only want the clock for its motor and hands, so it doesn’t matter what the rest of the clock looks like. However, do match the hand size and style to the size of your book––if they’re too big, the hands may not fit on the cover.

Remove the clock’s plastic covering, hands and motor with an exacto knife. Pop open the top and gently remove the contents using the exacto knife.

Make sure you don’t damage any portion of the clock when taking it apart––the hands can be fragile, so take care when disassembling the clock.

Drill a hole into the center of the book’s cover. First, open the book cover so that you only have to drill a hole in the cover, and not through the rest of the book. Then, carefully drill a hole large enough so that the clock’s motor rod can fit through the hole.

Alternatively, consider other areas of the book cover than the center for placement of the hands. You don’t have to be “by the book” with this clock––creative license is allowed. For example, if you find a clock with smaller hands, you could place the clock portion towards the top of left of center area of the cover. This could create interest and offbeat appeal.

Prepare the area for the clock motor inside the book pages. The motor will sit nestled inside the pages, so you’ll need to make an exact space using the actual motor as your model. To do this:

Place the motor behind the opened-out cover on the first page of the book, centered directly behind the drilled hole. Make sure that the motor is perfectly centered, as you will want the motor rod to fit through the cover hole.

Trace the motor with a pencil and then set it aside. Doing this will provide you with your stencil for cutting out the exact shape in the pages. It helps also to measure the motor’s depth, so you know how far into the book you should cut.

Using the exacto knife, cut into the pages so that you create a hole for positioning the clock motor. Carefully slice away at the pages to create a nook for the motor. Drop the motor into the nook from time to time and try to close the book to determine if you’ve cut far enough into the book yet. Consider cutting fewer pages at first and checking the depth regularly until it’s just right.

Close the book cover and line up the clock motor rod with the book cover hole. Now you can assemble the clock using the hands and any decorative items to accentuate your new book clock.

Snap the clock hands to the clock motor rod on the front cover. If the book tells the entire “story” and completes the décor, you may want to stop here. This will be the basis and body of your clock and may be perfect the way it is. Or, you can decorate further:

Decorate to fit your room décor. Consider adding decorative numbers, jewels or small items to jazz up the clock. You could also decoupage the clock with pictures to enhance the final look.

Place the book clock on display. Check that it sits solidly without being likely to fall. This may require steadying the book or adding rubber feet.



  • Insert a fresh set of batteries so you can enjoy the clock the minute after you create it.
  • Use a hot glue gun to affix any decorative items to the book clock.
  • Consider using padding if the clock motor doesn’t fit snugly into the pages. If you’ve carved out a section that is either too big or awkward, try wadding up pieces of duct or masking tape and padding the surrounding interior so it holds the motor snugly in place.
  • If your child is making the clock, always supervise the entire process and consider handling the cutting yourself.


  • Reconsider any decorations that could be flammable or destroy the integrity of the book’s structure.
  • Be absolutely sure you can part with the novel before using it this way! You may love the book so much you really can’t imagine digging into the contents with an exacto knife. Don’t torture yourself; just put it back on the shelf and choose something else. Or, purchase another copy of the book to use as your clock. is an online resource that offers 140,000 free step-by-step articles on how to do anything from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

written by ilkadj on 2012-09-06 #gear #tutorials #diy #tutorial #clock #decor #tipster #decoration #how-to #arts-and-crafts #old-book

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  1. samwise_camus
    samwise_camus ·

    Well that's my weekend taken up. This is awesome.

  2. bsdunek
    bsdunek ·

    Great idea! You can get the clock works at a craft store - that's how I make my clocks. If the book-clock is unstable, you could use another book lying down for a base. Fasten them together with hot glue. Ok, I'm off to my workshop.

  3. tiktok_123456
    tiktok_123456 ·

    this is the most hipster thing i saw in my entire life :) i love it. once i get a clock that doesn't break within 2 weeks i will try and do that! but i guess making a hole in the book isn't going to be easy, it'll take the whole day. better do it to Bastille's music , looks like a have weekend planned out!

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