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How to Choose the Correct Size Clock Movements and Hands

Use these simple diagrams to assist you in determining the best length of clock shaft and hands for your clock making projects.

How to choose the right clock movements | Bear Woods Supply

Choosing a clock movement - the key measurement is the threaded shaft length that goes through your clock face material and then holds your clock hands

Step 1. Step 2. Measure how thick your clock dial/clock face will be.  Your clock face will have the numbers/numerals that clock hands point to.

Step 3. Referring to the clock movement side view diagram, choose from the types of movements listed in Step 1 based on the measurement in Step 2.

Example 1- Using a dial face made of 3/8" thick wood. Use a mechanism for up to 3/8" thick dial face.  A longer shaft can also work - but you will add some material to the back side of the clock. (Use Q-13 for a standard style, or Q-18CS for silent.)

Example 2
- Using our aluminum clock dials which are 0.5 mm thick. Use a mechanism for up to 1/8" thick dial face. (Q-11 or Q-17CS) Note that with using this dial, you will want to add material to fit between the aluminum dial and the mechanism. This will push the dial closer to the clock hands.

Side View Clock Movements Diagram Guide
A) The Threaded Shaft Length. Bear Woods lists all of our clocks according to the dial thickness they are suitable for.  Mounting hardware requires 1/8" of threaded shaft.
B) Overall Shaft Length. Only used if you are mounting the movement and dial behind glass.
C) Clock mechanism thickness (most are 5/8" thick if running AA Batteries).
D) Mechanism diameter. (AA battery powered clock cases are 2-1/8" square)
E) This is where the clock dial sits, between the movement and hands.  Measurement A will represent the thickness of your material such as plastic, wood, pallet wood, metal, etc.

What Length of Clock Hands Should I choose?

How to choose the right size clock hands

Step 1: Measure the diameter of your Clock Face (A in the diagram)

Step 2: Measure the Radius of your Clock Face (B in the diagram - it will be half of A if your clock face is a circle)

Step 3: Measure the Numerals Distance - (C in the diagram).  This distance goes from the outside edge of your Clock Face to the middle of your numbers or numerals.

Step 4: When choosing clock hands, you are going to want to factor in both B and C. Take measurement B and subtract measurement C. This will give you a typical length that most makers set for the minute hand. Typically, the hour hand is just short of touching the numerals, and the minute hand just covers about half the number.  These are typical examples, as there are many design preferences you can employ when making clocks.

At Bear Woods, all measurements of the length of hands are based on the Minute Hand, measuring from the mounting hole to the tip of the hand. (The overall length of clock hands is often longer.)

Example 1 - A Round Wooden Wall Clock with a 15 inch radius (B) where the middle of the the numerals is 3 inches from the outside edge (C), you can choose clock hands between 8 and 12" Long.

Example 2 - Using one of our aluminum clock dial faces that are 6" in diameter (A) and Radius of 3" (B) and the numerals measurement of 1" (C), You can choose clock hands Choose Hands between 1-7/8" and 2-1/4"

Choosing Clock Hands Diagram Guide
A) Dial Face diameter/width
B) Dial Face radius. (Half the width if circular)
C) Numerals Distance/Numerals Placing. This measurement is the distance between the end of the dial and mid-way through the numbers on the dial.

Clock Hands Shopping Tips:

1) Standard Size Hands up to 4.5 inches are included with Pendulum, Chime and Hands only clock mechanisms.  Add one to your shopping cart with each movement you purchase. They can also be purchased from us per set if you want extra. 

2) High Torque Hands (5 inches and up) are sold separately.

3) Make your own clock dial, or try one of ours.  

4) At Bear Woods, all measurements of the length of hands are based on the Minute Hand, measuring from the mounting hole to the tip of the hand. (The overall length of clock hands is often longer)

5) If you choose a High Torque, Continuous Sweep Movement, you can add a Sweep Second Hand (sold separately).  We don't recommend second hands for regular high torque movements, as they will drain the battery quickly and not look as smooth.

6) All movements except High Torque come with free hanging brackets.  For many designs our Picture Hanging Hardware (click here for details) will be a great option for hanging your clocks.