Scrap Wood Challenge – Simple Modern DIY Clock

DIY Clock from scrap plywood

Clutter.  Yuck. I hate it!  It’s not unusual to find me filling up boxes of unwanted items to toss into the trash, give away, or drop at goodwill. I just really don’t like having too much stuff hanging around the house, and when it starts piling up, my stress levels start rising.

When it comes to wood, though, I am a completely different person.  Lumber hoarder may perhaps be too extreme a term (ha!), but I DO NOT get rid of wood scraps like I do most other items in my home.  The more woodworking projects I complete, the bigger my scrap pile gets.

Here’s one corner of my garage:

wood scrap pile
wood scrap pile

And let’s not even get into my new obsession of browsing the free section of craigslist. This is some great stuff, all free:

scrap wood pile

The point is, I’ve got lots of scrap wood, which often comes in handy while I’m working on a project–for making test cuts, putting together jigs, etc. etc.

But these wood scraps can also be great for a project all on their own, which is what today is all about–it’s the #scrapwoodchallenge!

Scrap Wood Challenge

Last month Jen Woodhouse invited me and a handful of other DIY bloggers to participate the the Scrap Wood Challenge. The rules?  Make something awesome from scrap wood–NO NEW LUMBER can be purchased, though stain, paint, fasteners, etc. can be purchased if necessary. Challenge accepted!

I’ve got a whole Pinterest board dedicated to wood scrap projects, so I went there first to get some inspiration. And then I reflected on the sad fact that there are NO CLOCKS IN MY ENTIRE HOME, other than the ones on the oven, microwave, phones and ipads.  How about a DIY clock made from my scrap wood pile?!

DIY Modern Clock Instructions

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  • One scrap of plywood/mdf
  • 3/8″ dowel, cut into twelve 1/2″ slices
  • One Clock Repair Kit (clock hands)


  • Drill & 11/32 sized bit
  • Miter or hand saw
  • Router with circle cutting jig OR jig saw
  • Piece of yarn and pencil to use as a compass

Make it Yourself (affiliate links)

DIY Modern Clock How-To

1. Once you’ve got a clock repair kit, dig around your scrap pile to see what pieces are large enough to work. I initially picked out this piece:

first try wood scrap clock

It was a touch short so I was going to add more scraps as a frame around it.  But the further I got with it, the less I liked it.  Back to the scrap pile to hunt around . . .

Then this scrap of 3/4″ plywood caught my eye:

wood scrap clock and clock hands

Wide enough? Check.  And I kind-of loved the modern feel of the colors and highly visible grain.

2. Clean up the scrap if needed (mine was a freebie rescued from the side of a dumpster–it had some dust and dirt that needed to go!). Cut down to a square just slightly larger than the dimensions of the finished clock.

cleaning wood scrap for project

3. Using a pencil, draw a circle onto the scrap wood.  I looked around my garage for something to trace (a bucket, etc.), but nothing was quite the right size. So I made a circle the way my high school geometry teacher drew circles on the whiteboard–with a piece of yarn tied to a pencil:

using yarn and pencil to draw a circle on scrap wood

4. Cut out the circle.  My first attempt was with my jigsaw from 2003.

cutting a circle from scrap wood with a jig saw
scrap wood clock with hole drilled in middle

The jigsaw did an okay job, but it wasn’t perfect. The longer I looked at it, the more it bothered me.  The whole appeal in this clock is it’s modern simplicity, but if it’s not a clean, perfect circle, it just doesn’t work. How to get a perfectly cut, clean circle . . . ?

using a router and jig to cut a circle in wood

With my router, of course! But first, I had to make a circle-cutting jig for it (using…scraps!)

using a router and jig to cut a circle in wood

This image hopefully gives you an idea of the simple circle-cutting router jig I made.  The rectangular plywood scrap is acting as my “compass.”  The router is screwed into the plywood “compass,” and the compass is attached to the clock through the center hole where the hands will eventually be attached. It is attached in a way that the plywood can still rotate 360 degrees.  (The connection here is actually an old piece from some baby gates we had in our house, but a nut and bolt from your local hardware store will work.)

using a router and jig to cut a circle in wood

I clamped the clock and jig to the edge of my workbench, then unclamped and rotated the circle until I had cut all the way around. Because you can’t make just one deep pass with a router, I had to flip it over and repeat the process on the other side.  After that, I had my perfect circle. Much better!

5. Drill a hole through the center of your circle using a 11/32 drill bit.  I had already done this for my router jig, but if you cut yours out with a jigsaw, etc., now is the time to get your center hole drilled.

6. Insert the shaft of the clock kit through the hole in the center.

clock repair kit back piece
DIY modern clock, back side

7. I didn’t take any photos of putting the clock hands on, but the instructions on the back are pretty clear:

instructions for assembling pieces of DIY clock

8. Make clock “numbers.” I like clean and modern, so I searched around for something simple, eventually finding the remains of the 3/8″ dowel I had used to make drawer knobs for Jim’s nightstand. I sliced it into 12 pieces about 1/2″ thick, then spray-painted white.

pieces of wooden dowel spray painted

9. Once dry, attach the “numbers” to the DIY clock with wood glue.

closeup of DIY clock from scrap wood

9. Hang it up! Your modern DIY clock from scrap wood is done!

DIY clock from scrap wood

I’ll be honest.  Every once in awhile this DIY modern clock makes me start craving mini marshmallows . . . ha!

closeup of DIY clock from scrap wood
DIY clock from scrap wood in bedroom

Check out these other Scrap Wood projects:

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