Pallet Clock With a Twist

2 Materials
4 Hours

When we walk our neighbourhood on garbage day, sometimes I can’t help but get inspired by the bounty of items ripe for the picking – like this pallet and large scale clock found a block apart. You could do this project with just pallet wood and skip the clock frame altogether. But we just can’t let anything go to landfill so snatch them both up.

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Carefully remove the boards from the pallet and give the wood a good sand.

Dissassemble the clock and remove clock mechanism. You will need to replace the clock mechanism to accommodate the extra thickness of the wood. So measure the depth of the wood to determine size needed. Store screws in a Ziplock bag for reassembling again later.

Measure the inside diameter of the clock face to determine the circle you will cut from the pallet. Mine is 22 5/8″. Ensure you have enough width from the pallet to create the circle.

Lay out the wood on a table, good side down.

Line up a batten in the centre and countersink enough holes for each board. Screw the batten onto the back of the wood as shown.

Add two extra supports on either side to keep it steady when you flip it over (they don’t need to be screwed in). You can create a circle template on paper, if you have a piece big enough, or draw your circle directly on the wood.

Any method will do to draw the circle, but here’s what we do. Using a thin piece of wood, drill through the centre and place a nail through the hole. Measure half the distance of the circle and drill a tight hole to accommodate a piece of pencil lead. Centre the wood on a piece of paper large enough to draw the circle.

Cut out the circle and transfer it onto the face of the wood.

Secure the wood onto workbench with clamps and cut the circle with a jigsaw.

Sand the edges smooth with sandpaper and block.

Check the fit in the frame before moving onto painting and adjust if necessary. Temporarily remove the centre piece of wood and drill out to accommodate the width of the clock mechanism.

Replace the wood and leave the batten on the back until after paint is applied. Also number all the pieces on the back. This will keep all the pieces together.


Now it’s time to make a stencil for your clock!

Scale the pattern to the size you need and get it printed by a company that does engineer- sized prints.

Then stick together two pieces of shelf liner to get the size you need. The shelf liner will become the stencil. Peel the backing and stick it to the wood. Save the backing; you’ll need it when dry brushing each section.

Use carbon paper to trace the image onto the shelf liner.

Use an X-acto knife to cut through all markings on the vinyl. Peel up the middle section, but remember to stick it to the saved backing to replace it later.

Dry brush the middle section with white paint.

To dry brush, offload most of the paint onto paper towels.

Layer the white as light or dark as you like.

Lift and replace remaining sections as necessary to complete the red bird and black cog. Finally, peel away all the vinyl and discard.

Remove the screws and batten and apply 2 coats of clear coat water-based varnish around all surfaces of the pallet wood; let dry.

Use double faced tape on back of each piece to stick wood to backing. Reassemble the pallet wood onto the clock backing in order.

With the tape holding the pallet wood in place, use washers and screws to attach the planks from the back.

Paint the Frame

Thoroughly clean the plastic frame with warm, soapy water, rinse and dry. Lightly sand with fine grit sandpaper to remove the shine and wipe clean.

When spraying a round piece, like this frame, it’s helpful to build wood risers to spray on (and dry on too).

Prop them onto a bucket to elevate the frame as you spray.

Hopefully you get the paint perfectly smooth. However, we didn’t shake the can well enough and in some sections the can spat out this textured look I was not thrilled with. But don’t worry, we didn’t leave it like this!

It’s easy enough to sand it back and reapply another coat of paint. However, we switched gears and distressed the frame (more info about that on our blog – at the link below where you see our logo).

Install the clock mechanism according to directions on package. This is my least favourite part; trying to attach all those fiddly little bits!

Since this clock is fairly heavy, a french cleat is a great solution when you have to hang heavy objects.

The french cleat has two parts. One half attaches to the back of the pallet clock and the other half (lower one) to the wall.

Once the french cleat hardware is attached, then use the screws saved when disassembling the piece to re attach the frame to the backing.


There’s one last embellishment. Turn your clock into an air plant holder by adding air plants around the clock face!

If you want to turn your pallet clock into a planter too, position bottle caps around the cogs as shown (that’s the reason the cogs are offset on the stencil if you noticed that).

Then glue the air plants into bottle caps with hot glue! The hot glue won’t harm the air plant if you glue them at the base.

Attach the bottle caps to the pallet clock with pieces of removable doubled-sided nano tape or 3M strips.

The nano tape is reusable so will stand up to removing the bottle caps when you have to water your air plants.

Before and After

Here’s a reminder of the pallet wood and clock we started with:

And now?

Of course you can leave the pallet clock as is. But I think the green air plants look gorgeous against the other colours of our painted pallet clock!

You'll find more tips, tricks and pictures that we couldn't post here (like how to maintain your air plants). So head to our blog, below where you see our logo. I also made an improvement to the original design.

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Suggested materials:

  • Pallet   (curb)
  • Plastic clock   (curb or thrifted)

Birdz of a Feather
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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