How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

Beauty is in the mind of the beholder, just as I suppose ‘junk’ is… but when I show you how I turned this $10 piece of junk into a masterpiece, and you can really see the ‘before’ of this antique clock, I’m curious to know if you would have bought it for $10 if you would have been there??? How I turned this $10 piece of junk into a masterpiece

This is the before: How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

The antique clock was in parts. The wood case and door were missing parts, the door falling apart with joints cracked and broken parts, some of the wooden parts looked to have been replaced and the worst part of all, at least to me, was the strong odor of old cigarette smoke it bore. I’ve become so ridiculously sensitive to that stench, it gags me! Yuck!

Yet, even with all that being wrong with this antique clock… I was thrilled to find it online for sale for $10!  (I’m sure my husband has quit wasting his time wondering about what I’ll drag home next… the bigger the piece of junk it is, the more intrigued I can be)

The lady that I bought it from said she thought all the clock parts were there, but didn’t know if it worked. Truth is, I didn’t really care if it worked… I thought it could be pretty, more in a sculptural sense of decoration on the wall, working clock part or not.

So the first thing I did was to lay it out on the table to try to analyze just what the wooden clock case, door included, was going to need to get it looking less like a piece of junk and more like a masterpiece. (that’s something my husband hasn’t quit wasting his time on… asking me why I would bring a filthy thing like that into the house and work on it in the dining room on the table… but alas, after 36 years, it’s just who I am. I am my dad’s daughter! 😉 Plus, I have plans to redo the dining room table, so I don’t care if a few more scratches wind up on it… but he doesn’t know that yet… ) How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

Once I started to really examine it, I saw there was a thin piece of wood broken and missing from the bottom of the door, there was a missing piece of trim too, but fortunately that piece was found inside the clock, so I only needed to re-glue it back on.

The bottom of the clock case looked pretty original and intact. 

Just doing a quick online search, I found out that this clock was made by Badische Uhrenfabrik A G in Germany before 1900… Fun! My pile of junk is seeming a little more legitimate…

Now onto the fixing…

I found the exact thickness of wood at Menard’s for replacing the missing wood on the door: How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

I used a simple handheld jigsaw to cut the right size of wood for the patch. (of course I sanded the edges of the new patch before I glued it on)

Here is a close of of the crack in the door frame: How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

Using wood glue, I’ve found that just dabbing some glue on isn’t enough… How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

it’s much more effective to actually brush the glue around, being careful to spread it on the entire surface needing to be glued: How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

After I spread the glue to both sides, I needed something to ‘clamp’ them together.

These little ‘chip clips’ actually worked great on this small project. How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

The top arch detail of the door was totally broken and falling apart: How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

Here is a great example of why using a small paint brush for applying the glue is good… How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

I could really get into the cracks with the brush bristles and smear it all with glue.

There was some loose & missing veneer or thin wood pieces on the top sides of the clock case I needed to patch and glue too… Blue painter’s tape worked for me to hold those patches on until the glue dried. How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

I decided to paint the clock case inside and out, so I needed to remove the clock ‘guts’. To be sure I put them back how they were supposed to be, I took pictures of the clock guts with each step as I removed them.

Here’s a picture of the chime piece behind the clock. The CB is the identifying mark for the Badische Uhrenfabrik AG company. How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

There is the ‘gutless’ clock case, ready for painting prep: How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

To soften the hard edges where the old veneer had chipped, I just simply smoothed over them with wall patch and fill stuff, applying it with my finger. How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

I could tell the trim along the top edge of the clock case had been replaced in more recent years, and there was a rough crack along that edge. But nothing that a little wall filler won’t take care of:

After all the filler was dry and I lightly sanded it, it was time to paint…

Remember I said how the clock really smelled of old cigarette smoke? I cleaned the clock case, and glass with window cleaner and paper towel several times, but the smell still persisted. As I started to paint I sure hoped that the primer would seal the odor back into the wood.

That why, even though the paint I had said it was paint and primer, I still primed the whole clock first, just for extra precaution to seal the smell into the wood. How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

After the primer dried, I started painting… How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

This dark paint basically took 3 coats to cover completely.

I liked the dark robin’s egg blue color only on the inside back of the clock. (don’t ask me for the color… I custom mixed up a ‘batch’ from a few leftover paints I had) How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

It’s starting to look sharp now… and yay, the cigarette smell is gone. Whew!

Lastly, referring to my pics I took when I was dismantling the clock guts, I put it all back together.

That’s how I turned this $10 piece of junk into a masterpiece.

Truth is, this was a really fun project for me to just putz on, for my own use. However, if I was trying to make ‘a living’ at this it’d be a different story… I’m not sure I would have bothered with it. It took me a week, working on it little by little each day… I guess it depends on how much it’d be worth in this finished painted ‘masterpiece’ state, to decide if it’d be worth it for a financial investment. How I Turned this $10 Piece of Junk into a Masterpiece

The clock now hangs on the wall of the stairway landing, and guess what???

It works perfect!! Yup! The key was with it, and after I hung it, (using a level for determining where exactly to hang it, helped to insure it would work properly, if it was going to work at all) I wound it up and it worked wonderfully, keeping perfect time all week long! Wow, what a bonus!

So, what do you think? Is it a masterpiece now? Would you have bought it back when it was in it’s ‘junky’ state?

There are so many wonderful junky treasures out there just waiting to be flipped to masterpieces… Ebay is one of my favorite places for treasure hunting. What have you found lately?

Here are a few other junk projects I’ve snagged up and re-did!

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I appreciate you stopping by.

Yay!! This post was featured here: My Thrift Store Addiction

This post is linked up at: Savvy Southern Style, My Repurposed Life, Pocketful of Posies, The DIY Dreamer, My Thrift Store Addiction, French Country Cottage, The Charm of Home, Funky Junk Interiors, Between Naps on the PorchThrifty Decor Chick

Reader Interactions


  1. Pam says

    This post looks incomplete. You may have stated somewhere before, but this is my first time here and I’m wondering whether you painted the remainder of the clock with primer and black paint. That’s what it looks like to me, Is it a glossy finish? Spray or canned paint? The clock looks so good I’d like to try it. Thanks.

    • Liz says

      Hi Pam, Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I didn’t spend too much time writing every single detail about the paint, so glad you asked if you had a question. I did prime both the inside and outside of the clock. The inside back I painted my mixed concoction of blue paint, and the outside I painted in a satin black latex paint. Did you find an old clock to renovate too?

  2. Phyllis E says

    It turned out fantastic—and isn’t it nice to know you saved this beautiful old clock from a landfill?
    I wouldn’t have had the courage to have bought it (since you asked.) How wonderful that the original clock works still work! Those old clock makers made quality clocks!

    • Liz says

      Thank you Phyllis. 🙂 yes, if one compares a modern clock to one from a hundred years ago, there’s just no comparison. (I’ve bought new clocks that broke within a year! And there’s just no fixing them)

  3. Susan says

    You did a fantastic job, I am in awe of your vision. How nice that it works, too. I wonder if that is in “thanks” for saving it from the dump…nope, they just knew how to make quality pieces in the past. Wonderful work and perseverance.

  4. Bobbie T. says

    Definitely would not have bought it but you have made a “masterpiece” out of this old clock. Should be very proud of yourself and thankful for the talent to make something so beautiful.

  5. Donnamae says

    Wow Liz…you did a fantastic job! In answer to your question…no…I wouldn’t have seen the possibility like you did. Nor, had the patience! It looks great! ?

  6. Michelle says

    Came out so beautifully! And the fact that it works? You’re right, that’s such a big bonus. Congratulations on a great find and a re-creation of the masterpiece!

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