How to Take Apart a Battery Clock Movement

Yesterday when I told you about my thrifted mantel clock makeover, I mentioned that I disassembled the “clock part” so that I could sand and paint the clock, and I thought that you might be interested in exactly how I did that.

So, technically, the part of the clock that makes it go is called the “movement” (here’s a Wikipedia article about clock movements). The other parts are the face (the part you look at to read the time) and the case (the part that holds it all).

This particular clock was made with a battery operated movement. Basically you can turn just about anything into a clock if you can attach one of these battery movements to it. They’re not too expensive, either. Here’s an Amazon link that shows a variety of battery clock movements.

So, the way I could tell this clock had one of those was by looking at the back:

Battery Movement Inside Mantel Clock

See the battery case thing back there?

Then on the front you can see the hands are interspersed with a bunch of nuts and washers.

Close-up of Face of Battery Operated Mantel Clock

The first thing to do is pull off the second hand. It just pulls right off.

Taking Second Hand Off of Battery Operated Clock

Next there’s a little nut that’s holding on the hour and minute hands. You can get it off with needle-nose pliers.

Removing Nut that Holds Hands on Battery Operated Clock

There it is! Make sure to keep that and all the other little parts in a container (preferably with a lid) so you won’t lose them.

Tiny Nut that Holds Hands on Battery Operated Clock

With the nut off, you can just pull the hour and minute hands right off.

Pulling Hour and Minute Hands off Battery Operated Clock

There they are!

Hour and Minute Hands from a Homemade Battery Operated Clock

Definitely put those in the container, too.

Under those is the last little nut and washer, which hold the battery case in the clock.

Nut and Washer Holding Movement on Clock

Use needle-nose pliers again to get that off.

Loosening Nut of Battery Operated Clock Movement with Needlenose Pliers

There it is! Another tiny piece for your container of parts.

Nut that Holds Battery Movement in Clock

And with that, the battery case from the movement will come right out. There it is:

The Battery Case from a Battery Clock Movement

That’s it! Now you can sand, paint, or refinish your clock any way you want to!

Sanding a Thrifted Mantel Clock

Fun, huh? This was the first time I had done a makeover project on a clock. I would love to do another one. I’m thinking decoupage, maybe. Anyone?

What about you? Have you ever made or made over a clock?

~Angela :-)

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  1. Barbara H. says:

    Angela, this is so helpful! I have a cottage type shelf with a clock that does not work. It needs a new movement and has been a low priority for years. I thought it must be pretty easy to change but never felt up to it. Now, if I choose to do so, I can! Your clock looks wonderful thanks to its paint transformation.

  2. Lisa Battern says:

    Hi Angela, I wanted to let you know that I just disassembled a slightly different battery operated clock mechanism. Mine had a tiny plastic button instead of the second hand that popped off with a little prying. Next, while holding tight to the serrated dial on the back of the mechanism that is used to set the time, I spun the minute hand counter-clockwise to unwind it from internal threads. Once it was removed, the hour hand popped off the lower part of the stem. Finally, I removed a nut and washer that holds the mechanism to the front of the clock.

    Reassembling was simply the reverse, remembering to hold the time adjuster while “screwing” the minute hand back onto the stem. Don’t forget to line the hour and minute hands up to the hour so that the hour hand tracks along correct. The first time I reassembled it, I couldn’t figure out why the minute hand was at 15 after the hour, but the hour hand was roughly where it would be at 45 after the hour!

    I must admit, I was almost stymied by the clock! I disassembled mine to be able to put a new clock face on. Now I have a custom printed clock face covering the original design and I love it! Lisa

    • Thanks Lisa! That is great information! I should probably add a not that all battery clock movements are not the same and so it’s a matter of figuring it out. I love your tip about the hands, too! Thank you! ~Angela~

  3. A HUGE thank you for the intricate detail of your process. I’ve been hunting online for 3 days to makeover some clocks I have. This is the most helpful post I found. Mwuh!!!


  1. […] Carefully remove clock hardware.  I took a photo of my clock hardware pieces first to remind me how to put them back at the end.  I was afraid I would destroy the clock so I followed the instructions from here. […]

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