Cowells CW90 vs Sherline for Watchmaking

Rook

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Oct 12, 2020
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Hello all,

I understand these lathes are in completely different prices ranges. My goal is to make a movement and watch completely from scratch, apart from jewels and springs. I would be able to get a basic set up for Cowells, or a complete Sherline setup with some change. Will I be able to make a complete wristwatch with the Sherline? There are multiple resources for watchmaking with the cowells, but has anyone made a wristwatch with the Sherline lathe? It seems like there is no clear consensus on whether or not the Sherline can make all watch parts. One thing about the cowells for me is that I am in the US and it would take a few months to come. If I got the cowells setup, I would be making or getting more attachments as I go. I am fine with either setup. I am just starting out and would appreciate any help you could give.
 

doc_fields

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Welcome to the message board!

Here is a website I visit often. He uses a Cowells lathe setup to make his watch, but it's not quite finished. Very good and informative website.

www.watchmaking.weebly.com

.........................gary
 

gmorse

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Hi Rook, and welcome,

The Sherline equipment is more than capable of making everything you need, and would cost far less for a comprehensive setup. The Cowells lathes are excellent, (I have a 90ME), but very expensive, especially for all the necessary accessories. One of our members here, Jerry Kieffer, will no doubt be along to explain in more detail what the Sherline system is capable of.

Regards,

Graham
 
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DeweyC

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Hello all,

I understand these lathes are in completely different prices ranges. My goal is to make a movement and watch completely from scratch, apart from jewels and springs. I would be able to get a basic set up for Cowells, or a complete Sherline setup with some change. Will I be able to make a complete wristwatch with the Sherline? There are multiple resources for watchmaking with the cowells, but has anyone made a wristwatch with the Sherline lathe? It seems like there is no clear consensus on whether or not the Sherline can make all watch parts. One thing about the cowells for me is that I am in the US and it would take a few months to come. If I got the cowells setup, I would be making or getting more attachments as I go. I am fine with either setup. I am just starting out and would appreciate any help you could give.
I think you want the Sherline mill for the plates, wheels and pinions. Any small lathe can be used for the turnings. You can use a sliderest on any of them, but the Sherline is not made for graver use. So it depends on your preferences.

I presume you have/will invest in books like Perkins before starting to buy equipment.
 

gmorse

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Hi Rook,

I presume you have/will invest in books like Perkins before starting to buy equipment.
On the subject of books, there's also Hans Jendritzki's 'The Watchmaker and his Lathe' and J. Malcolm Wild's 'Wheel and Pinion Cutting in Horology', and if you have the inclination, 'Watchmaking' by George Daniels.

Regards,

Graham
 

Rook

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Thanks Graham, Dewey, and Gary,
For books, right now I have Watchmaking, but a long with lathe I will definitely get perkins book and possibly some of the others mentioned.
The Sherline equipment is more than capable of making everything you need
Graham, do you know of any resource online which shows the making of a watch with the Sherline. I have found a couple, including www.watchmaking.weebly.com, for watchmaking on Cowells.
Based on reading Jerry's replies to previous thread like this one, it seems that Watchmakers lathes are good for graver work as well whereas Sherline is good for anything non graver. My main concern is that if watchmaking can be done on Sherline, then wouldn't there be more people showing online how to use it for watchmaking.
-Rook
 

gmorse

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Hi Rook,

I think you've touched on the answer by making the distinction between the two lathe concepts of machining with tools in a cross slide as opposed to 'free-hand' with a graver. These are only really relevant to lathes, because mills only use the former. The Cowells does handle free-hand turning with a graver rather more elegantly than the Sherline I believe, although the accessories are available for both. I know that Jerry will say the essential action when contemplating purchases as large as this is to arrange some hands-on time with all the relevant candidates if at all possible. I know what works for me, but I suspect Dewey will have some different criteria, having to earn a living at this as he does, as will Jerry.

I don't know why you can't find more examples of watches made with Sherlines.

Regards,

Graham
 

Jerry Kieffer

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May 31, 2005
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Hello all,

I understand these lathes are in completely different prices ranges. My goal is to make a movement and watch completely from scratch, apart from jewels and springs. I would be able to get a basic set up for Cowells, or a complete Sherline setup with some change. Will I be able to make a complete wristwatch with the Sherline? There are multiple resources for watchmaking with the cowells, but has anyone made a wristwatch with the Sherline lathe? It seems like there is no clear consensus on whether or not the Sherline can make all watch parts. One thing about the cowells for me is that I am in the US and it would take a few months to come. If I got the cowells setup, I would be making or getting more attachments as I go. I am fine with either setup. I am just starting out and would appreciate any help you could give.
Rook
I have both a Sherline 4500 and a Cowells CW

Both the Cowells and Sherline Lathes are capable of what can be done on these lathes within their envelope. This would include the smallest and most complicated part utilized in horology providing that they are used in the manner they are designed to used. This would also require that they be setup/adjusted for the work required, as well as utilizing accessories/tooling required to do the work desired. Both Lathes have headstock bearings and calibrated leadscrew axis that are designed to machine parts to exact specifications.
This also includes carriage and cross slides designed in a way that allows adjustment of the lead screws to react to the slightest movement. This is a must if you decide to machine parts in the same manner they have been typically machined in the last 170 years or so.

Even though I have both machines, the Sherline Lathe and Milling machine was selected for my first two bar stock watch movements and the third thats half done.
The reason for this is that Sherline offered more accessories that are interchangeable with both the Lathe and milling machine making the process more efficient.
My first movement was started using a watchmakers lathe and cross slide based accessories per various publications. However, this was quickly abandoned in favor of the micro machining procedures and tooling used to make commercial horological parts. (No graver was used from this point on)

My second bar stock movement was specifically designed to be used for educational purposes and is mounted in a container allowing students to closely examine most of the parts. A student can select a part where its construction is explained and then setup a machine tool and machine the part with only verbal instructions from that point on as required.
When utilizing machine tools, tooling and procedures, the students are often successful on their first or second attempt.

This particular movement is currently part of a project where it will be posted on the Craftsmanship Museum site along with a explanation and illustration of how each part was machined. Explanations and Illustrations will no doubt be a little lite at first, but will grow over time. While it would have been up by now, the museum personal are limited due to the virus. It will eventually be displayed in the NAWCC museum providing the request remains.

To Make a long story short, If I knew what I know now, I would never have started my first movement without personally inspecting a functional bar stock movement and discussing it with the maker. It is a long hard road that will take a percentage of your lifetime even with the most efficient equipment. This also goes for publications.
If there are no examples or evidence the author has produced a functional bar stock movement as you wish to build, then they can only offer opinions.

Having said all of that, Everything I have mentioned is also an opinion unless you decide to personally inspect one of the movements along with demonstrations.

If so, depending on the virus, it can be in class or one of the several shows I attend through out the year.

Jerry kieffer
 

Pete Cronos

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What problems does anyone see in using the Sherline T-Rest on their Sherline lathe? It is simialr to the one on a watchmakers lathe. No it does not offer flip over but is solid but adjustable.
 

wefalck

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I think there are two potential problem, but they can be both overcome in one way or another:

- the height of the Sherline above the worktable seems to be a bit low for graver work, the foot of watchmakers lathes raise higher above the table - one may need to put the lathe on a box or a stand or close to the edge of the table, so that one can approach the T-rest from a comfortable angle.

- the price, which seems to rather high to say the least - you have to figure out a way around that for yourself ...
 

Jerry Kieffer

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What problems does anyone see in using the Sherline T-Rest on their Sherline lathe? It is simialr to the one on a watchmakers lathe. No it does not offer flip over but is solid but adjustable.
Pete
In addition to what Wefaick mentioned, the Sherline lathe was not designed to for the use of a graver but as a machine lathe.
Thus no consideration was given for a Graver rest with a rest being offered at a later date.

When you look at a watchmakers lathe, you will notice that the headstock is much smaller allowing greater flexibility in positioning the graver. On a Sherline, the headstock bearings are much larger as required for machining, thus a much larger headstock. As Wefaick mentioned, you can work around this but you may find some obstruction if using the Sherline rest. When I was using a Graver, (I no longer do) one of the ways around this was to make a simple extended length "T" nut clamp for my flip over rests on my various watchmaker lathes per first photo. The second photo shows the clamp mounting one of the flip over rests installed on a Sherline Lathe. Even though the Sherline was never designed for a graver, it turns out that it has one feature that is a great advantage over a stock watchmakers lathe for graver use. The headstock rotates. In the third photo, the extended "T" nut allows the rest to be mounted in such a way that it makes it far more comfortable and accurate to work on the face of larger diameter and some other work pieces with a graver.
There were a couple of other things I experimented with, but can't seem to find the box they are in at the moment.

Jerry Kieffer

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