Crash course on graver sharpening

Discussion in 'Horological Tools' started by J. Graham, Dec 9, 2018.

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  1. J. Graham

    J. Graham Registered User
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    i have several gravers which need to be restored into working condition. I thought there was a portion in the "watch repair manual" by Fried, but I was mistaken, now I can’t remeber where I read it :/

    I have a graver sharpener tool but it looks like it would damage the stone more than sharpen the graver.

    I will be starting my verge staff soon so I need to be practicing. Also I have several pieces of pre-blued steel, do these need to be annealed or is it ready as is

    Thanks....Michelle
     
  2. J. Graham

    J. Graham Registered User
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    Found this video and was helpful. A lot easier than I remembered
     
  3. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    Michelle

    This reminds me why I no longer cut staffs with a Graver.

    My suggestion, for the use of a Graver would be publications by " WR Smith" who was truly a master who made it a point to actually publicly demonstrated his suggestions rather than just publish them.

    Personally, I do not use blued steel or anything else that I have no idea what the alloy or temper is. What I do use is the highest quality drill rod with the least resistance to machining per counseling with a reputable metal supplier. I then hardened and temper to a Rockwell hardness of about 52-55 per manufactures instruction for that particular alloy. Rockwell hardness in this range is not brittle hard, but very tuff while still being machinable with quality carbide.

    Good Luck
    Jerry Kieffer
     
  4. wow

    wow Registered User
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    What a great video, Mr. Graham. Do I need to wear a tux and cuff links? Lol?
     
  5. J. Graham

    J. Graham Registered User
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    So what do you use to cut staffs? Also a search of WR Smith relieved several books but none specifically on gravers, do you know what publication it would be in?

    Thanks for the reply

    Michelle
     
  6. J. Graham

    J. Graham Registered User
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    Actually it’s Ms. Graham, and no I wouldn’t think a Tux is required, but a clean bench is preferable, keep in mind a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind ;)
     
  7. James Foster

    James Foster Registered User
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    Michelle

    Here is a link to a document on Sherline’s website that WR Smith authored. He designed a graver tool rest to use on a Sherline lathe they offer made to his design. The cobalt tool material part numbers are not accurate anymore but with some persistence talking to MSC you can get cobalt and super cobalt tool bit material.

    Jim
     
  8. wow

    wow Registered User
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    Oops, my mouth got me in trouble again. Sorry, mam. And... my mind must be very well.
     
  9. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Michelle,

    Blued steel is correct for turning. It needs to heat treated before you turn because heat treating afterwards can break pivots. So that is good.

    But you should practice on brass rod, then fully annealed steel before moving to steel. Look up steel hardness and color during heat treating.

    Also be aware that pre blued steel (generally from India) can be quite variable. I heat treat my own staff blanks from drill rod. Any of the drill rods are good, oil, water or air hardening. But I would stick to one type after you experiment.

    One problem most learn the hard way is that the stones you use must be flat and clean. Flattening is done on plate glass with steel shot. We even had to flatten brand new stones from Bergeon like the ones pictured.

    Be sure to use oil on the stones, spent cleaning solution works well.

    You may read about carbide gravers, and that is what I use. However, they are very fussy to learn with (they require a very light touch) and you need a diamond wheel to sharpen them. In school we used an Accu-finish graver sharpener. These can be found used for around $200 (or used to not very long ago). The systems that use your WW lathe are generally impractical.

    So stick with the steel graver for now and if you do a lot of turning, then consider carbide.

    Learning any skill on your own is very challenging. Probably the best book today for written instruction is Perkin's "Watchmaker Lathe".

    I suspect you know this, but turning is a collection of mastered individual skills. Graver prep, stone maintenance, measurement, heat treatment, work flow, seeing and self evaluation, getting your fingers to put the graver where you want it, etc.

    You might be interested in this page:

    Notes to Young Watchmakers

    Jerry is a strong advocate for Sherline equipment. But, I have found that for restoration work the traditional WW is the more flexible. While the Sherline excels at slide rest work, it does not facilitate the alteration of things like a staff for one watch to fit another; or making a new jewel setting. The headstock is too clunky for such work. This holds true for the 10mm ww lathes such as the Levin.

    For such work I have found most people want a lathe that can be turned to any position and affords "up close and personal" operation. Putting a t-rest on a Sherline is not a workable solution for many people who want to master restoration.

    OTOH, the Sherline mill is perfect for most watchmaking tasks and I recommend it over spending the money on a WW milling attachment.

    I used to think this was an "old dogs/new tricks" problem. But after talking to others, I have concluded that when possible, most workers ultimately look for a WW.

    Problem these days is where to find a good one. After ten years of looking, I finally found a Levin that had its matched headstock and tailstock. And that was 20 years ago.

    Before that, I did all my drilling with a pinvise. A tailstock is far from necessary (and none is better than an unmatched one), but it is a nice thing to have.

    Today my recommendation to graduates is that they bite the bullet and buy a complete set (live and dead center headstock with collets) from Horia and be done with it. While complete sets of Boley or Lorch do show up on ebay for about the same money, might as well buy the new if you expect a lifelong career in the business.
     
  10. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    Here is Another good youtube video on the subject:


    I particularly like his idea of the petroleum jelly to keep oil from seeping into the stone.

    Personally, I rough sharpen my gravers on a Diamond hone and finish them on a lily White Wichita stone that I just happen to have. It Cuts faster than a hard Arkansas stone and produces a similar finish, so I can use it to maintain a good edge while working with a graver, without having to go back to the coarse stone. For reconditioning I Always use the coarse stone first though. I started off using the method descirbed in the Lititz video but found it to be very time consuming. Now I use a back and forth motion on the stone, holding the leading edge perpendicular to the movement. It takes a while to get the feel for when the graver is flat on the stone and how to properly lock your wrist, but now I can sharpen a graver much faster than I could with the figure 8 motion. If I really need to get a graver dead flat I'll do the strokes in one motion (towards me) and re-set the flat between every stroke. Different strokes for different folks! This one is mine. Hope it helps!

    Best regards
    Karl
     
  11. J. Graham

    J. Graham Registered User
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    Thank you very much, this is very informative. I do know the basics and have cut staffs in the past but it’s been a long long time. Was also a tool and die maker apprentice but quit because of an injury which got me into watchmaking, I graduated top of my class but got out of the business in the 80’s, now I’m getting back into it

    I have an old used lathe with collets and tailstock, it’s in great condition....but I have found my skills lacking, so your idea of practicing on brass is a good one I have plenty of that...my tailstock will not hold collets and don’t have the $ to buy one. I don’t have a complete set of collets but it’s pretty close, so I’m good to go.

    I will look up the reading lists u suggested and I’m deeply grateful for all you input
     
  12. J. Graham

    J. Graham Registered User
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    The YouTube link didn’t come through could you post again please?
     
  13. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    That's strange. It shows up for me. Here it is again:

    If this one doesn't work, search "Dean DK watchmakers lathe graver basics" on youtube.
     
  14. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Fascinating trajectory. Tool and Die in the 80's!

    I probably told you things you already know, but I try to be fairly complete.
     
  15. J. Graham

    J. Graham Registered User
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    Got them both this time....guess I didn’t give it enough time to load....thanks a bunch...have a bunch of errands to run then will be all over this :)
     
  16. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    #16 Jerry Kieffer, Dec 10, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
    Michelle
    Unfortunately, Bill passed away a couple of years ago. Each of use that communicated and knew him, treasured the experience.

    While gravers and the use of a graver is covered in many of his publications, I would suggest listing your specific interests in the contact section of his Web site. I am sure they can make a suggestion. Personally, I like the one titled "Clockmaking and model making tools and techniques " .

    First, let me say that if you have natural talent for Graver use and or have mastered it over many years and it meets your personal demands, I see no reason to change.

    However, not everyone has natural talent or many years to master its use. If so there are options. In my personal case, I do not have this natural talent but can cut a functional staff with a Graver. Again however, the use of a graver is a trial and error method of removing metal and I am not wired for trial and error. Many years ago after much frustration on a particular part the light bulb came on. When I stood back and looked at the big picture. Only a tiny few staffs have ever been cut with a Graver in comparison to what have been produced over the years. In stead, they are machined utilizing machine tools. My first attempt at machining a staff in the same manner as they are produced, provided far superior accuracy, metal finish with greater efficiently and I have never looked back.
    When machining new parts of modifying existing parts including micro parts smaller than watch, I use factory stock Micro 100 AR-4 and D-4 brazed carbide Lathe tools.
    They are purposely NEVER SHARPENED but replace after about 100 hours use. The reason for not sharpening them is skill development.

    When hand sharpening cutting tools, as with any tool, they will have a particular cutting characteristic. As they are used, one will developed a skill level based on that cutting characteristic. However, when resharpened by hand, that characteristic will often change requiring redevelopment of fine cutting skills.
    In the case of quality factory lathe tools by the same manufacturer, factory sharpening characteristics remain the same from tool to tool. Thus with each tool, one simply takes off where they leave off and skill levels continue to rise without interruption reaching higher levels much faster.

    In my case, the two tools are setup in a single double sided tool post and the cutting tips are set to spindle center of rotation under distortion corrected optics per attached photo. They are not removed until being replaced.

    For anyone who may be interested, the above discussion is covered in the NAWCC workshop WS-117.

    Jerry Kieffer

    fullsizeoutput_52.jpeg
     
  17. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    #17 Jerry Kieffer, Dec 10, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
     
  18. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Jerry,

    Yes, it depends on the application. Beating the horse after its dead ain't gonna make it get up.:)

    Have you thought of making your own cutters? I use shanks from carbide drills and grind them to need. Instead of a cutter library for each lathe and the gravers, I have a single library that fits everything from the graver and ww sliderest to the 102. I made a bunch of bit holders for the tool holders all the same size as well.

    It is very nice to make a slotting tool to the size you need when you need it.

    I bought a Deckel SO for a couple hundred bucks only to then find an Agathon for $500 (both on ebay). I use the SO for graver touch ups and the Agathon for making the cutter.

    The carbide drill shanks are the best carbide; equal to micro 100. And I do not throw out my micro 100 boring bars. I resharpen them.

    But first, we gotta get Michelle back into the swing of things. Can you imagine, a Tool and Die maker apprentice in the 1980s that was a female:???: I'd love to know the back story on that. I can imagine she has some things to teach us.
     
  19. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    Dewey
    I use the factory tools mentioned for about 90% of my general machining.

    I have a Accu-Finish grinder (As you mentioned) for grinding specific lathe tools for specialized projects. Works better than anything else I have tried.

    While I have and do grind my own cutters and sharpen some for general use, the time involved for what I want is not practical in most cases for tools performing the most critical machining operations.

    Happy holidays

    Jerry Kieffer
     
  20. J. Graham

    J. Graham Registered User
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    No I can never know to much, I’ve probably forgotten more than I learned so everything is helpful...sorry if it came out wrong

    My dad was a machinist and I was daddy’s girl ;)
     
    kevin h likes this.
  21. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Michelle,

    Send me your email via my email at the bottom of my website pages. I have a PDF I want to send you.

    Also, put that Perkins book on your Christmas list. I think you are someone who will put it to good use.

    FWIW, I know one woman who ran a small arms development program for the Pentagon from the 70s forward, and another who was a senior banking VP. Plus I went to college the first year they admitted women. Know some of the stories.

    But a GURL machinist! You got my respect.
     
  22. J. Graham

    J. Graham Registered User
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    Done :)
     
  23. bytes2doc

    bytes2doc Registered User
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    I believe that Bill Smith had a video on making, sharping and using gravers.
     
  24. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    There is also the possibility that the NAWCC lending library has the Wm. Smith books and/or the videos available for lending. I have a couple of his books and one of his videos and I highly recommend them.
     
  25. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    I did a quick search of the catalog of the lending library and found these Bill Smith videos. There may well be other publications or videos available that I missed. A call to the library to check on other Smith books, etc might get more results.

    Wheel cutting, pinion making & depthing for clockmakers & modelmakers Smith, W. R.
    Tooling the workshop for clockmakers & modelmakers / Smith, W. R.
    Workshop procedures for clockmakers & modelmakers Smith, W. R.
     
  26. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Did not get your email. I just sent a NAWCC private message to your account. I do not use that service much; prefer email.
     

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