DIY Spool Clock


I've shared several pictures of my DIY clock on Instagram. And I received so much positive feedback that I wanted to give ya'll a tutorial on how to make one yourselves. All you need to do is find an electrical spool. Mine came from a company that was doing electrical work on my commute to work. It's kind of a funny story... I would pass by there every day, twice a day, often times having to stop and wait for the crew to direct me down the road which had been reduced to one lane. And as I sat there I would ogle the empty spools sitting alongside the road, wondering what they did with them when their work was through. 

It was the Friday before Mother's Day and my husband asked me what I wanted this year, to which I replied that all I wanted was an electrical spool. Maybe an odd demand. Most girls would probably ask for candy or flowers, but not me. No, I'd take a good DIY project over that stuff any day. And as luck would have it my husband had been placed in a rental truck that day. So I pointed him in the direction where he could find me an electrical spool. 

I called him as soon as I got out of work to see if he was able to score one. And he told me that he was not because the crew was done working for the day when he finally finished up at his job and made it out there. I was so disappointed because it was a Friday and I knew that meant that I would not have it for Mother's Day. Well I guess he didn't realize I passed directly through there on my way home. Because I caught him in a lie. The crew was still working away. So I immediately assumed that my husband just didn't want to drive out there and ask!

So when I pulled up to the man holding the stop sign that day I decided to roll down my window and ask what they did with the empty spools. And the man hollered to his coworker across the street, "Another one!" I was a little taken aback by this. I asked if a lot of people had inquired about the spools and he told me that I was the fourth or fifth person. He said that his boss had turned down the first few people who had asked but for whatever reason he had just let someone take one so I should talk to him. But then a light bulb went off in my head...maybe that someone was my someone. So I asked about the person and I was told that it was a really tall guy in a black truck. At this point I was pretty confident that it was my husband so I drove on without talking to the boss. And when I got home this is what I found...... my Mother's Day surprise that I ruined! 

I do wonder what made them let my husband take one when they didn't let anyone else. Maybe they sensed some kind of desperation in him that this was all his wife wanted for Mother's Day which was only two days away! I also wonder why I didn't try to get another spool out of the deal. But this one served it's purpose pretty well because you only need one side of it to make a clock so you can actually make one for you and a friend if you like. I had a lot of friends who were interested. Or you could use the other end for a countless number of other DIY projects.

Don't let yourself feel intimidated by the spool like I did! I let this thing sit for several weeks because I wasn't sure how to get it apart. Again, it is massive! But it came apart really easy with the help of my husband. All you need is ratchet tool with different sized sockets to loosen the nuts on the spool. There are about five or six nuts on each side that are connected with rods that go through the middle of the spool. And once you loosen the nuts on one side you can just give the spool a little kick and it will fall apart for you.

I used an electrical sander to smooth the surface of the spool. I sanded the back, front, and edges of the spool because I didn't want whoever was handling it to get splinters. And at the time I did this project, I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep it or not because of the size of it; I wasn't sure I had a place for it in my home. But I did have a booth that I had just opened at the local antique mall where I was selling vintage and farmhouse decor. I'll come back to that later. If you notice, the spool I got was newer and it had lots of dark black writing on it. I knew that I was going to be using a painting technique that didn't cover the entire spool evenly so I tried to sand as much of the writing off as I could.

Now for painting. I used a leftover can of white paint that I had used to paint my pantry when I moved into my house so it didn't cost me anything. It doesn't really matter what kind of paint you use but I would recommend a flat or matte paint for this project. I used a dry brushing technique in which a relatively dry paint brush is used. This gives the spool clock a scratchy appearance. I barely dipped my brush in the paint. And then I wiped as much of the paint off as I could before brushing it on my spool clock. I brushed the paint on in an upwards motion, remembering that less is more. It's easier to add paint than to take it off. And I didn't want to distress my spool clock much after painting because of the color of the wood underneath. If it had been a nice weathered grey color, I probably would have sanded again after painting.

When I was happy with how it looked I let it dry. Drying didn't take any time at all because I only applied a thin layer of paint. I'd say I let it sit for an hour or so to dry and then I applied a coat of Annie Sloan's clear wax for protection and durability. You can spend a lot of money on a brush intended for applying this or use an old t-shirt as a rag like me. I applied the wax to the top as well as the edge. Application of the wax is easy and fun.

Finally, I attached black, metal numbers that I found in the same aisle as the mailboxes and mailbox posts at Menards. All fifteen numbers cost me about $25.00. That was the only cost for the project because all of the other supplies were things that I had. There may be a better way to attach the numbers but if I'm being honest, I eyeballed them. I wanted to be done, to have that instant gratification. If you want to go a cheaper route, they sell number stencils that are the same size in the same aisle at Menards. So you could paint on the numbers.

And there you have it! I opted not to attach hands to my clock, and to decorate it with a magnolia wreath instead. I look at it more as artwork. It wasn't important to me that it functioned. But they do sell clock kits if that's something that matters to you. Oh and I decided not to sell it because I fell in love with it and I just couldn't part with it!!! But I do still have the other end. I encourage everyone to try this. It really is something anyone could do. I would love to hear your feedback if you do!