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Tools: Where Do I Buy Quality Tools?

EverydayCat

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May 24, 2011
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I have read through the tool suggestion threads and have a fairly good understanding of the 'basic' tools I need to begin a watch repair hobby, but how do I know a 'quality' set of tools—Tweezers, screw drivers etc., etc? Where can I order them? Any particular brands? How about making my own tools?

This company "Roseco" https://ecommerce.cengentech.com/index.cfm?wcode=C11&page=ecwitem is located in my town—Dallas,TX—so I could visit this place and see the tools before ordering. Any input on this company and the tools listed at the link?

I know you guys with experience probably get tired of newbies asking these basic questions, but the knowledge is here and I really appreciate any input.

Thanks...
Everyday Cat...
 

Samantha

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Hi,
I couldn't get the link to open, but looking at Roseco's homepage, you may be able to get a few tools there, but they seem to be more oriented toward the jeweler than the watchmaker, and jewelers use a different tools than watchmakers. Jules Borel, Otto Frei, Esslinger, Cas-ker, and others service the watchmaking trade.
Samantha
 

EverydayCat

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Hi,
I couldn't get the link to open, but looking at Roseco's homepage, you may be able to get a few tools there, but they seem to be more oriented toward the jeweler than the watchmaker, and jewelers use a different tools than watchmakers. Jules Borel, Otto Frei, Esslinger, Cas-ker, and others service the watchmaking trade.
Samantha
Samantha, Thanks for the names. I will search them and take a look at the tools.

You are correct that Roseco seems to cater to the Jewelry business, and I don't want to start out making a mistake.

Thanks.
 

AbslomRob

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Depends on how much money you want to spend, really. You can get a lot of "decent" tools from india/china via the web for a fraction of the cost of ordering from places like Otto Frei. Is the "better" stuff worth the cost? Usually, it depends on the tool. A mediocre tool used properly is as effective as a good tool used badly, and good tools used badly quickly become mediocre tools. So when you're starting out, sometimes it makes sense to take the economy route, and once you have a feel for how to use it properly, then spring for the good stuff.
 

EverydayCat

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Depends on how much money you want to spend, really. You can get a lot of "decent" tools from india/china via the web for a fraction of the cost of ordering from places like Otto Frei. Is the "better" stuff worth the cost? Usually, it depends on the tool. A mediocre tool used properly is as effective as a good tool used badly, and good tools used badly quickly become mediocre tools. So when you're starting out, sometimes it makes sense to take the economy route, and once you have a feel for how to use it properly, then spring for the good stuff.
Thanks Rob, I have been a woodworker for forty years and recently visited a guy that has made some of the most beautiful items I have ever seen. When I arrived in his shop I was stunned/shocked/blown-away by the fact that his tools were—in my opinion—antiquated and probably unusable by anyone other than him. I realized that the artist was in his hands and heart not in the tools he used. I guess the same may apply here...
Thanks.
 

Cary Hurt

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I realized that the artist was in his hands and heart not in the tools he used. I guess the same may apply here...
Thanks.
While that sentiment has some application here, I would not advise going the "economy route" on either screwdrivers or tweezers, which will be what you use 90% (or more) of the time.

You may consider looking for used tools at Dashto, Dave Coatsworth's or Uncle Larry's. High quality tools that have been well cared for will still be serviceable, and you may be able to find tools that are no longer available.
 

EverydayCat

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Well, after giving much thought to my tool dilemma I decided to go the 'cheap' route in the beginning. I ordered a couple sets of tools via Amazon just to get my fingers into an old watch. If this works as I think it may I will invest in the best...I promise.

Now, can someone recommend a book or a dvd course that is worth the time and money? I searched and found several, but in most cases the experts—those with experience—will know the best sources.

Thanks for your help.
 

Jerry Kieffer

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Well, after giving much thought to my tool dilemma I decided to go the 'cheap' route in the beginning. I ordered a couple sets of tools via Amazon just to get my fingers into an old watch. If this works as I think it may I will invest in the best...I promise.

Now, can someone recommend a book or a dvd course that is worth the time and money? I searched and found several, but in most cases the experts—those with experience—will know the best sources.

Thanks for your help.
Everyday Cat
The most helpful book or dvd available will be of little to no help when using cheap poor quality tools.

I woulds suggest that you purchase a seven jewel american pocket watch movement. From this point disassemble and reassemble until you can do it in your sleep. If you retain interest to reach that point, then you will be able to evaluate what you will need as an individual in both text/training and tools.

Jerry Kieffer
 

DVBourassa

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Well, after giving much thought to my tool dilemma I decided to go the 'cheap' route in the beginning. I ordered a couple sets of tools via Amazon just to get my fingers into an old watch. If this works as I think it may I will invest in the best...I promise.

Now, can someone recommend a book or a dvd course that is worth the time and money? I searched and found several, but in most cases the experts—those with experience—will know the best sources.

Thanks for your help.
I'm still quite new at this too but I feel that quality screwdrivers and tweezers are a must before you even get started. I bought bergeon screwdrivers and dumont tweezers and I can't imagine trying to manipulate those little parts with any other tweezer.

Also, I bought a CD of the Chicago School of Watchmaking course and it has been very good for learning the basics. There is a lot of step-by-step instruction and detailed explanations of parts.
 

EverydayCat

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I'm still quite new at this too but I feel that quality screwdrivers and tweezers are a must before you even get started. I bought bergeon screwdrivers and dumont tweezers and I can't imagine trying to manipulate those little parts with any other tweezer.

Also, I bought a CD of the Chicago School of Watchmaking course and it has been very good for learning the basics. There is a lot of step-by-step instruction and detailed explanations of parts.
DVB, The Bergeon screwdrivers seems to be straight-forward, but the Dumont tweezers seems to be a bit more of a challenge as to which ones are best. Lots to chose from so if I am going to invest in nice tools—I probably will—I need to make the right choices up front, so, if you could point me in the right direction I would appreciate it.
 

DVBourassa

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I have the dumostar #5 Dumont tweezers. I haven't tried any of the others so maybe someone else will have some insight into what's best.
 

ben_hutcherson

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I'd suggest a Dumont #2 as a starter general-purpose set of tweezers. I keep a #4 and #5 close at hand, but primarily reserve them for finer work(like hairsprings and shock springs).

The body of the #2 is a fair bit longer than either the #4 or #5, which allows me to rest it on the web of my thumb when working.

Most of my tweezers are carbon steel, which are hard and hold their tip well, will need to be demagnetized periodically. My main #2s are Dumoxel, which is an anti-magnetic stainless alloy. I'm quite happy with them, although I haven't tried any of the newer alloys.

If I had to suggest one pair of tweezers for the beginner, it would be a #2 Dumoxel. They won't be the only tweezers you'll ever need, but will at least get you started.

As far as tool quality-I started with Indian-made screwdrivers and tweezers. Although I used them for close to a year, the quality was quite bad. Good tools are definitely worth it.

I'll also add that, after I'd been at it for a little while, I bought out a retiring watchmaker's shop. This was a great way to get a bunch of superb quality tools for what amounts to a small price individually(although the total investment is not inexpensive).
 

Barb B

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Hey Cat

The FWS301 has a list of tools needed for the workshop. I purchased the remainder of supplies needed from the vendor mentioned on the list. For me, there is the cost of the class, tools, gas, meals & lodging, so money has to be budgeted accordingly.

Being spoiled by German, Swiss & American made instruments when I was employed, I was surprised at the quality of tools made in Pakistan & India when I received the supplies. Let's hope they yield the same pleasure and efficiency in use.

Speaking of Dave Coatsworth, here's a great article he wrote on the pocket watch, posted on Chapter 190.

;)
 

AbslomRob

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Invest in a good oilstone and practice refining the tips of the screwdrivers. Even expensive screwdrivers need to have their tips dressed from time to time, and it's cheaper to make mistakes on a discount set when you're starting out. On cheap screwdrivers, you'll probably find you need to re-dress the tips multiple times during a given watch repair, and they'll will wear down pretty quickly, but that's good practice. Once you've worn them down, you can invest in some good quality ones, and be amazed at how much better they are.
 

tkarter

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Dumont 3c tweezers are what are on my watch bench.
Good tweezers and screwdrivers are a must.
imho
tk
 

ben_hutcherson

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One of the big issues with the Indian-made screwdrivers I had(and most of the other sets I see for sale) was that the widest blade available was about 2 mm. Bergeon and most other good sets have at least two sizes above this-2.5mm and 2.8mm or 3mm.

One of the most important skills in quality watch work is matching the size of the blade to the size of the screw slot to avoid marring the screw head. If you work on pocket watches-particularly 18 size-a 2mm blade just isn't big enough for plate screws-nor is it big enough for the case screws on 16s+ watches, and several other screws found in these larger(easy to work on) watches.

Also, on the cheap sets of drivers I've seen, all of the handles are the same size. Better sets have a couple of different sized handles, both in length but more importantly in diameter. The smallest Bergeon handle is about the diameter of your typical discount driver, but the larger blade width get progressively larger handles. With the good sets, it's a lot easier to apply the needed torque to loosen a tight screw.
 

Randy Hirst

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Craftsman makes some very good small screwdrivers that work very well but the handles break. However with Craftsman's lifetime guarantee, you can always get free replacements. I usually wait until I break 3 or 4 of them and then off to Sears for new ones, no questions asked. They always :confused: break at the same spot, where the metal ends insidt the plastic handle. But they are very good for fitting screw heads good, unlike the ones made in India which always seem too fat for the diameter of the slot forcing you to use a smaller size and increasing the chance of marring the screw.
 

bkerr

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I guess most will go the cheap route but in the end it WILL cost you more. Once you get the FEEL of a quality made tool there is no match to the low cost junk. Yes I said junk. If you inten on doing quality work then you need quality tools. Screwdrivers with the proper handles, good steel and correct blade make all the difference!

Now where to purchase. New these are really expensive! Go to a local NAWCC mart and see what you can pick up. Another place might be the online auction. I think you are money ahead buying a good used tool rather than an cheap tool that will end up in a land fill!

My $.02
 

MrRoundel

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I hadn't worked on watches much with cheap screwdrivers before I splurged on a set by Bergeon. I've never regretted it. The tips hold up well and they have a nice ergonomic design. They're pricey, but you'll be surprised at how important it is to get a good bite with the tip before loosening. Each time you slip out, you chance putting a nasty scratch on the movement, along with making it more difficult for the next attempt as you mar the screw head.
Many a fine watch that has lasted 100 years without a big scratch on its plates has been marred by using the wrong tool for the job. Don't be the one who breaks that ice. You'll always know.
Tweezers too are very important. While the India-made tweezers I have are adequate for many purposes, when it comes to picking up tiny jewel screws, click spring, etc., having a professional tool of the quality of the Dumont line is advisable. I like my #3C's for most work.
The Chicago Watchmaking course is excellent. While I haven't gone through it in its entirety, I have it waiting for me when I start doing a little service work on my watches again. It's been a few years.
There are great books by Henry Fried and Donald DeCarle out there to reference and/or buy.
As far as DVD's: When I began learning how to do some repairs on my watches, I invested in a set of VHS lessons by a guy named Bob Tascione (http://www.tascione.com). I recently looked at his website and saw that he has downloadable tutorials now that you can purchase, etc. The video quality in mine was not great, but it contained most of what you need to know to start off on the path you've chosen. I'm guessing I bought my VHS lessons nearly 20 years ago.
All of the advice about starting on common, 7 jewel watches, is good advice. You might also want to start with 3/4 plate rather than full-plate, as they are a bit easier to reassemble.
Patience is a necessary virtue here.
JMHO's.
 

EverydayCat

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MrRound, Thanks for the online course link. Looks interesting and almost in my price range.
Thank you.
 

Barb B

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Small portion of humble pie, pleeze!

I recently took the PW repair workshop. One of the first things our instructor had us do was to look at our tools. Naked eye - not much to report. Under magnification and lighting, I was able to see that the screwdrivers were horrendous. In the photos you will see that the blade came with a coat of lacquer (for shipment via the slow boat from China:???:). The blade underneath was not only finished off angle but the presumed flat tip of the blade that goes into the screw was not flat. Some of the blades were received bent and since time was of the essence, I was not able to return them prior to using them. It also seems that the tips were easily marred or scratched.

The tweezers recommended on the list take a great amount of effort to close and considerable effort in holding screws without losing them. The Swiss tweezers by comparison do not require an excessive amount of energy to close.

As the others have mentioned, quality screwdrivers and tweezers are crucial. I learned that proper tools reduce time in correcting or fixing them. Also learned that quality tools reduce and perhaps eliminate user fatigue. This is important if anyone experiences repetitive motion pains. Quality tools also seem to enhance my newbie skills when dismantling & assembling a watch. I don't want to spend a 1/2 hour sharpening screwdrivers when I'd much rather be playing with the watch. ;)

Please learn from my mistake & experience. Needless to say, I'll be using the tools recently purchased in non-watch related tasks.

Hope this helps.

;)
 

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Kevin W.

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I had a similar experience like Varb.I opted for a new set of screwdrivers from China. Not a good thing.
I have a set of Bergeron and thought i would wait to get blades for them, this will be my good set.I also have a set of Craftsman screwdrivers for watch work, some of the blades need replacing but they feel good in hand and easier to control than the Chinese ones.
I have bought some Chinese watch tools.But for a screwdriver i would not buy again.
My 2 cents worth.;)
 

Al J

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I have a set of Bergeon screwdrivers, and to be honest I find the blades a bit lacking, at least compared to my second set, which are Horia.

This set is smaller than my Bergeon set, but I find the blades much more durable:

http://www.jewelerssupplies.com/product5317.html

I use the Horia for modern watches, and have the blades fit to the shape those screws normally need, and the Bergeon I have sharpened for vintage work.

Anyway, just anbother option and in my view well worth the cost.

Cheers, Al
 

Samantha

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I have a set of screwdrivers very similar to this that I've been very pleased with.
Samantha

4.jpg Screwdrivers Set of Nine on Stand

Nine premium European, color-coded set-screw screwdrivers with 19 spare blades and two extra set-screws on a rotating stand. Rotating stand gives easy access for busy repairmen. Made in France.
> More details on Screwdrivers Set of Nine on Stand
SKU: Price
Qty. 520.541 $61.95
 

Neuron

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Barb's pics of the shoddy finish on the cheapy screwdriver tips make it clear that good tools are expensive for a reason (actually several reasons), i.e.: material (steel) quality; machining quality; and "quality control" in the factory (this tips should never have gotten past the factory quality inspectors...).:eek:

Nick
 

s. smith

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I have both the Bergeon and Horotec screwdrivers i have good results with both but prefer the Horotec they are not cheap but great screwdrivers.
 

Randy Beamer

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I can second Mr Roundel's vote on Bob Tascione's video,..plus, you can call/write him, and he'll help you out when you get stuck. I also have purchased the Bulova course, and there are many good pages with info on the web that you can simply print off and put into a binder. I've picked up some wonderful technique and shortcuts on message boards such as this one, and Timezone. Best of luck, and feel free to PM me if you need any more assistance.
Best of luck

Randy
 

EverydayCat

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I have a set of screwdrivers very similar to this that I've been very pleased with.
Samantha

4.jpg Screwdrivers Set of Nine on Stand

Nine premium European, color-coded set-screw screwdrivers with 19 spare blades and two extra set-screws on a rotating stand. Rotating stand gives easy access for busy repairmen. Made in France.
> More details on Screwdrivers Set of Nine on Stand
SKU: Price
Qty. 520.541 $61.95
I wonder if these are the same:
https://ecommerce.cengentech.com/index.cfm?itemno=SSE600&wcode=C1146AA&page=ecwitem
 

Randy Beamer

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There are many out there that look like the one's that Samantha has ( I also have the French made set ).
There have been a few threads on various blogs that seem to point to either the Swiss or French screwdrivers as being of really good quality. The French variety seems to offer a good deal from an economic standpoint.

If I remember correctly, I got mine on EBAY for less that what you're seeing, and the replacement blades from Borel, Otto Frei, etc. fit perfectly.

Just my 2 cents

Randy
 

Watchfixer

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How can I tell this is same ones I seen on ebay as shown here? Also
I have a interest in made in japan screwdrivers, small grub screw secure the blade.

Cheers, Watchfixer
 

Dean Williams

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How can I tell this is same ones I seen on ebay as shown here? Also
Cheers, Watchfixer
Write the seller and ask the brand name, and where they are made. If the answer is China or India, don't buy them. If the
seller doesn't write back, don't buy from him.
Also, if you find new "jewelers" or "precision" screwdrivers on places like ebay, and they are selling for apprx $13, they are most likely
junk. Don't buy them. The way to be sure of what you are getting is to buy a brand name, such as those mentioned here, or buy
those made in a country that still cares about some kind of quality.
 

gruesome

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I bought a set of AF screwdrivers, I think the AF 1240, from Otto Frei 10 years ago. The only criticism I have is that if you pull hard on the rotating metal cup at the end, it comes off (pulls out of the colored plastic ring). I think they roughly doubled in price since then.
 

Moebius

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I still use the same set I've bought 5 years ago, a Lerrac french set (about 40€ then). Never changed a blade, juste a bit of touch up on a diamond stone.

71.jpg

Tried the Bergeon set, nice (but not much more than the one I have) but too much expensive for what it's worth imho. Cosmetically pleasant, nice stand, nice colors, that's for sure.

I've tried the indian cutting-broaches, they're junk: pits of rust everywhere.

Though I have Dumont steel tweezers (for hairspring work), I mostly use very cheap (indian ?) brass tweezers: 3 minutes of redressing and they're fantastic. I've bought Asco swiss ones, they're not better.
 

Watchfixer

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Alternative brand is suissetek made in france. I inquired to the ebay seller about the item because I never heard of Suissetek brand tools and seller says they specificed the quality level that they compete between high end tools and low quality from chinese and india. Which is good thing to me and reasonable price.

Cheers, Watchfixer
 

Kevin W.

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Jason check put Uncle Larry, he has a few deals at times, and also Dashto.
I bought India made broaches for clock work and they still work fine for me.I have a good set of Bergeron that just need the blades replaced.
There are good deals on vintage tools, used but you have to look around.
 

Watchfixer

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Hold your hands or rather talk more, hehe. :) I already bought one bergeron screwdriver new to experience what this is like (is deep discount so cost is not that bad). And intend to buy suissetek screwdrivers or buy up old screwdrivers with collet that grips blued rods instead.

Right now I have sufficient basic tools (tweezers and screwdrivers) on hand, also I have already bought stones and special tools individually. and I have no luck yet winning big lot of tools on ebay but dashto and uncle larry will be tapped later on if I cannot acquire a lathe from ebay. And lathes on ebay have dried up lately except for questionable chinese and odd animal lathes with non-standard size like 6mm so on.

I need a old school pass through demagnetizer (found two on ebay) but I'm not sure if they would go stay low to be reasonable. I can make one myself if necessary because my full-time job is TV and electronics repair.

Cheers, Watchfixer
 

Stanley Stocker

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Greetings,

The French screwdrivers that sell for around $30 a set are pretty good. I have Bergeon, I like them a tad better, but maybe not $60 more for the set better. The French and Swiss AF screwdrivers seem to be collet style blade holders, while the Bergeons use a screw against a flat. I think in at least the < 1.5mm sizes that it really doesn't matter too much, just how much torque can you apply anyway?

No name gummy metal cheap screwdrivers will waste your time and damage the watches you work on. There is a huge difference between a $1 Indian or Chinese screwdriver and a $5 French or Swiss screwdriver.

I like Dumont tweezers, and use #3 and #5 tweezers often. Then again I used to spend hours doing bare chip hybrid work under a scope using 3C style tweezers, so my sense of what feels right is likely a tad different from more traditionally trained folks.

Learn to sharpen and modify screwdriver tips and how to dress tweezer tips. I don't care if it's a $18 lower end Dumont or a $40 Dumont tweezer, sooner or later you're going to have to deal with tip wear or damage. There are some lower cost Swiss tweezers that feel pretty good also, Jules Borel, Otto Frei, Merritts, and other suppliers carry various brands.

Happy shopping,
Stan Stocker
Bentonville, Virginia
 

Watchfixer

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I'm no stranger to dressing cheap screwdrivers and they hold up fine but I wanted to move up to decent ones, how one dress and sharpen tweezers?

Cheers, Watchfixer
 

Stanley Stocker

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Hi Watchfixer;

You need a very thin very fine stone. I have a slip of ceramic that's about the grit of a moonstone. A thin piece of any metal with 2000 grit silicon carbide glued on would probably work as well, it isn't as though sharpening tweezers is done frequently enough to wear it out in any hurry.

Typically, you will remove such a minuscule amount of material that it seems almost a waste of time - you think "all that for a faint silver smear or two on a stone?". The point is that we're not grinding or hogging material here unless you have a pair that is so torn up that you're making a heavy blunt point pair from a #2 or the such.

The first thing to do is fix any bent tips. Sometimes a tip will be curled up.I put a bit of sheet steel between the tips and gently work the tip back down. There is almost always a bit of spring back, but the roughing in of the tip must be backed up to avoid creating a wavy end. Once the tip is close, you can gently rub the outer face of the tip against a polished or at least very smooth hard surface. Check often until the tips look good.

Next, flatten and level the inner surface where the tweezer grips. Gently hone the inner faces of the tweezers flat. Remember that the center of the joined end of the tweezers will usually be below the sharpening plane as the tips should meet at the tip first. Just a few gentle passes on each face, then check with light from behind the tweezers to see that the tips meet and black out first, then the contact area slowly grows as the tweezers are squeezed a bit more. It may only take three or four gently passes on each face to get things right. Remove as little as possible, if the face geometry changes, the feel and grip force of the tweezer with change.

You may be done at this point, or you may want to dress up and repoint the tweezers too. It can be helpful to hold a small bit of flat stock, wood, a coin, just a spacer of some kind in the tweezers so the tips just meet when you grip the tweezers, particularly with very fine tips. This keeps the change in your grip force from changing the tip form as you roll the tweezers in your hand. Then using a very fine stone or super fine lapping plate (even the silicon carbide on a plate if that's all you have) stroke the sides to shape, then the top and bottom so that the line where the tweezer tips meet is as close to invisible as possible. Having a new pair of similar tweezers or a large catalog picture at hand helps you decide just what should be rounded, and by how much.

It isn't needed often, but as soon as you notice that a pair of tweezers just doesn't feel quite right touching up the gripping surfaces can make a world of difference is how pleasant or irksome your day ends up :) Quite often in the microelectronics world, we would gently close a pair of tweezers on a piece of 20 pound paper and pull the paper through the tips several times. While more of a cleaning operation, there is a small bit of abrasive action as well. It made a perceptible difference in grip.


Hope this is helpful,
Stan Stocker
Bentonville, Virginia
 
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tkarter

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Apr 14, 2011
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I use Bergon screwdrivers and Dumont tweezers. Have to dress them both regularly but that is how they are being used more than the quality.

I was handed some India made screw drivers today. I tried them out.
I shall stick to what I like which is the Bergon.

Dressing tweezers I agree with the more knowledgeable post on that subject.

I buy most of my tools from Caskers as they arrive faster.

tk
 

Watchfixer

Registered User
Jun 11, 2011
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My norton fine 1"x4" india stone arrived, very solid and well made by looks and like how bright the color is. Big difference from cheap grey one that crumbles too easily and hardly sharpens. Arkasanas stone hard is coming ( 6" x 2" ).
I have enough screwdrivers and tweezers to do what I need till funds is available to gather more better ones. I need to get lathe first but I either miss or bids went too high. Budget is about 200 to 250 or so for lathe.

Cheers, Watchfixer
 

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