Help re collets for 8mm lathe

Discussion in 'Horological Tools' started by gingi310, Mar 21, 2011.

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  1. gingi310

    gingi310 New Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    Allow me to briefly introduce myself and thank you for allowing me to participate in this forum.

    I am a watch enthusiast (primarly Japanese and lesser-known Swiss automatic watches from the 1970s) and novice tinkerer - I have started to give tired watches frmo this era light "refreshers" that involve removing the movement, cleaning the case and bracelet, strating to do some light case refinishing, replacing crystal if needed, seals and putting it back together. I've done some simple repairs and the nextt step will be to learn to service the movements.

    The reason for my post is that I sort of "backed into" an old 8mm watchmakers lathe - it is something I find fascinating but have no idea at this point how to use it or what I will do with it. I've been quickly educating myself, hwoever and have gotten up to speed on some of the basics. Most of the guys I see post here are clock builders/repairers, not watchmakers. I understand the lathe is much more important in the clock industry where you ahve to make many of your own partes and is somewhat obsolete in the wristwatch industry where spares are generally available.

    Nonethless, I look forward to getting to know this fascinating old tool and finding uses for it.

    That out of the way, here is my immediate concern: the seller has offered to let me choose 5 collet sizes from his collection, with 15 additional to be filled out from his duplicates. I've read up on the difference between the old collets and the new, non-harded ones. Well, these would be the better, older ones.

    So I have come to ask your advice on which 5 sizes I should choose? It's a difficult question for me to answer (and perhaps for you as well!) since I don't know exactly how I will be using the machine - I suppose it will be more or less a specialized shop tool as I learn to use it.

    Perhaps some sizes are more intrinsically valuable than others? Idid see a similiar question answered in the forums from a clockmaker's perspective - is it different from a watchmaker(tinkerer)'s perspective?

    Thanks for considering my question and tolerating my intrusion into your fascinating world!

  2. John P

    John P Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Sep 17, 2010
    Looking after the cats
    North Carolina
    Country Flag:
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    Hello and welcome to the Message Board. I can only advise on what sizes I find more useful in working with clocks.

    You will need to get good quality collets, and you will need about 30 of them. Start at about size 8, 10 ,12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24. 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36. 38, 40 42 etc up to about size 50. You can fill in sizes as needed but these will get you going and able to do quite a lot of work.
    8mm collets have a wide key-way and narrow so look carefully at what fits the lathe and collect accordingly.

    This is just my 2 cents worth and the guys here are very helpful so you should have no problem with information.

  3. gingi310

    gingi310 New Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    Thanks John - but remember - I can only choose 5!

    It's like Survivor, Carribean Island only with ancient, obscure little tools substituted for comely young females in sports bras and abtastic, hairless males wearing bandanas.

    May only the best wn!


  4. Dave A

    Dave A Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Roslindale, MA
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    When I was starting out, I found it very helpful to have a few collets that would hold standard sizes of stock. That way I could order practice material and get used to using the lathe. Based on that, I'd suggest a number 32 (that will hold 1/8" material) or a round number like 30, 40, or 50 (that will hold 3, 4, or 5mm rod). Then you can order some 360 brass rod in those sizes and get a feel for using a graver before you start making parts. And even when you're turning your own balance staffs you'll likely want to start from a piece of drill rod.

    Hope that helps!

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