What tools to start making clocks?

Discussion in 'Clock Construction' started by Nomad, Jan 30, 2014.

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  1. Nomad

    Nomad Registered User

    Jan 18, 2014
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    Had a search around and found the article on tools to get started with repairing clocks, but haven't found an equivalent for making clocks (assuming there are differences in tool requirements). Is there one?

    Anyway, I have a small hobby workshop at home which is reasonably well equipped, but maybe lacks some of the things that might be specific to clock making. The sort of clock I have in mind at present is something like Wilding's 8-day weight-driven wall clock (just got the book a couple of days ago). For what it's worth, I'm based in the UK, and work in metric (but I can speak metric and imperial).

    Here's a run-down of the equipment I have...

    Machines & Tooling
    Sieg 7x12 mini lathe with 80mm 3-jaw scroll chuck, tailstock, set of change gears (this lathe has cross and compound slides).
    Sieg X1 mini mill.
    6" rotary table with tailstock and dividing plates.
    Couple of machinists vices.
    Live & dead centres for lathe.
    Collets for mill (MT2).
    Jacobs chucks up to: 6mm, 10mm, 13mm, on MT2 arbors (fits mill, lathe tailstock and rotary table).
    Vee blocks, various precision rectangular blocks with holes.
    Edge finder for mill.
    10" bandsaw.
    Small bench grinder converted to polisher.
    Black & Decker mains-powered Dremel equivalent with lots of accessories.
    Clarke belt/disc sander (1" belt, 5" disc).

    Cutters
    Variety of HSS and indexed carbide turning tools.
    Set of carbide slot drills and end mills (3-10mm), some odd HSS cutters.
    Ball-nose HSS cutters, 3, 4 & 5mm.
    Countersinks and centre drills.
    Metric drill bits 1mm to 6mm in 0.1 increments, plus odd drills in larger sizes.
    Metric taps and dies from M1 to M12.
    Coming soon are two gear cutters being made for me: cycloidal, M0.75, 8-leaf and 20+ tooth. Got an arbor for them.
    Saws: hacksaw, junior hacksaw, coping saw, bandsaw blades (wood, coarse & fine)
    Abrasives: belts & discs for sander, sandpaper, foam blocks, scotchbrite type stuff, Garryflex blocks, steel wool.

    Hand tools, measuring, other

    Old tilting milling vice clamped to bench, smaller wibbly-wobbly vice that can be clamped to bench when needed.
    Various smaller G-clamps and F-clamps (smaller in general woodworking terms, that is).
    Various engineers files, various smaller files, 2 or 3 Swiss files.
    Hammers: 8oz ball pein, 4oz cross pein.
    Good selection of small screwdrivers, both straight & Philips, and some larger ones.
    Some centre punches; set of transfer punches in 0.5mm increments.
    150mm calipers: one digital, two vernier; 25mm micrometer, dial gauge (lever type) with 10um per division scale, plus stand.
    Inside & outside bow calipers, dividers, steel rulers, gauges (thread pitch, radius, feeler).
    Small & medium engineers squares, plus a medium adjustable-angle one.
    Pliers, side cutters, vice grips, medium and small.
    Spanners from small to large, nut spinners from small to medium, range of hex keys
    Couple of very pointy tweezers.
    Variety of scalpels.
    Small oxy/propane brazing set.
    Plenty of bench space with lots of lamps.
    Decent height-adjustable swivel chair.
    Radio.


    I seem to have more kit than I thought I had!

    The only clock-specific thing I have so far is a set of movement holder-upper legs that I made a few days ago. The ball nose cutters mentioned above were bought for making the hemispherical countersinks that are used for retaining oil.

    I don't have any broaches. I've seen a few sets in various diameter ranges. If I need these, what's a sensible size range?

    Should I consider an MT2 arbor to go into the rotary table when gear cutting? If so, what diameter? (The one I just got for holding the cutters is 8mm, and is the smallest from that supplier.) At present, my option is to use a Jacobs chuck, but not sure if that will be accurate enough.

    Is my 3-jaw scroll chuck going to be a limiting factor? I keep looking at 4-jaw independent chucks but haven't sprung for one yet.

    Should I be considering a depthing tool? If so, is it feasible to make one?

    Hooky things for encouraging arbors into the plates?

    I'm not exactly sure what the staking blocks and punches are for - something to do with drifting wheels onto arbors? If I need this, do I need a set, or only one or two to suit the bits I'm likely to make?

    At present, I have no coolant system for the lathe or mill, but am looking into it. The small amount of steel I've cut in the past has been done with a bottle of cutting oil, which seems to have worked okay.

    What other stuff should I consider? Quite happy to make some stuff where my kit and ability to be precise is likely to produce worthwhile results, and, within sensible limits, I'm not averse to buying when it makes more sense.
     
  2. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    #2 Jim DuBois, Jan 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
    Well Nomad, you are far better equipped than many people who have built some very nice clocks.

    As to some of your questions:answers in red for purposes of clarity

    I don't have any broaches. I've seen a few sets in various diameter ranges. If I need these, what's a sensible size range? Most of the sizes of broaches you will need will be dictated by the size of clock you wish to build. I have broaches from very small, .010" or less at the tip, up through a couple that measure .375". I use them all, different times and different places.

    Should I consider an MT2 arbor to go into the rotary table when gear cutting? If so, what diameter? (The one I just got for holding the cutters is 8mm, and is the smallest from that supplier.) At present, my option is to use a Jacobs chuck, but not sure if that will be accurate enough. I use the morse taper in my indexing head to hold ER-25 collets available from places like http://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=2229&category=-421559299
    I personally don't like using a Jacobs chuck for these purposes

    Is my 3-jaw scroll chuck going to be a limiting factor? I keep looking at 4-jaw independent chucks but haven't sprung for one yet. Most 3 jaw chucks have too much run out for high precision work making 4 jaw independent a good option, but an adjustible 6 jaw is my favorite for all but the most precision work

    Should I be considering a depthing tool? If so, is it feasible to make one? Yes you will need one and yes you can make one. There are several very good ideas on the various threads right here....

    Hooky things for encouraging arbors into the plates? Always a good idea to have a couple of good tools to position arbors

    I'm not exactly sure what the staking blocks and punches are for - something to do with drifting wheels onto arbors? If I need this, do I need a set, or only one or two to suit the bits I'm likely to make? I have several sets and I use them for a lot of operations, I have them from watch sized to tower clock sizes and try to use them size appropriate

    At present, I have no coolant system for the lathe or mill, but am looking into it. The small amount of steel I've cut in the past has been done with a bottle of cutting oil, which seems to have worked okay. I like and use coolant, flood and micro coolant spray, messy but useful.

    What other stuff should I consider? Quite happy to make some stuff where my kit and ability to be precise is likely to produce worthwhile results, and, within sensible limits, I'm not averse to buying when it makes more sense. https://mb.nawcc.org/clear.gifI find a boring head to be very useful http://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=2229&category=-421559299 this one may be too large for your machine but smaller are available

    And lastly I have attached some thoughts I have put on this site previously for your consideration...maybe they will help, maybe not, but the price is right!


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  3. Allan Wolff

    Allan Wolff Moderator
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    Nomad,
    You are equipped very well for clockmaking. You may as well start on the Wilding clock and when you run into a part that requires a tool you don't have, then go buy it or make it. I estimate I spent half of the time making parts and the other half making tools for my first clock.

    I don't see a jeweler's saw on your list. No need to get every size of blade. I get by with #2/0, #2 and #5 blades. Do get a good frame. I am on my third one and found that I like the Grobet 4" frame the best. It is nice and light and the blades don't slip out of the clamps.

    You are right to consider a 4-jaw chuck to be able to adjust for concentricity. Use collets whenever you can.

    You will need a depthing tool. In clockmaking, you will find that depthing is often done prior to mounting the wheels and pinions on the arbors, so a tool like this comes in handy and is easy to make. If you have the same Wilding book I have, the plans are on page 35.

    You will probably need several forms of magnifiers, depending on how good your vision is.

    Some things I don't recommend:
    Hooky things, (otherwise known as pivot locators) some like them, I don't. I have 2 and never use them. Until you start building very complicated clocks, most movements will have plenty of room to manipulate the arbors into position with your fingers.
    I also don't stake any parts; I am a Loctite fan.
    Coolant, if you have it, use it. You don't need any coolant for brass and the little steel work that we do can be handled with any cutting fluid applied with a brush or squirt bottle (I use Tap Magic for everything except aluminum, that gets WD40).
    Good luck,
    Allan
     
  4. tok-tokkie

    tok-tokkie Registered User

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    About the 3 jaw chuck. I have only recently learned of the system used on cnc lathes. They have several sets of soft jaws. Fit the set that matches the job in hand then bore them true. There must be a step in the jaw so you can close the jaws onto something held in the step at the back so the truing is done with the jaws loaded.
    When changing to other size need to repeat the truing.
     
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Registered User

    Jan 18, 2014
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    Many thanks for the responses so far. I'll respond to specific points a little later, but I wanted to ask about collets...

    Is it unwise to use a collet chuck in a collet? I'm in two minds about whether to go for ER25 or ER32 (the latter is attractive for the larger 20mm size, which would let me use some larger cutters as well as hold larger diameter work - not necessarily horological). I noticed that the same supplier does an ER11 chuck with a straight 16mm dia shank, which can go into a 16mm ER35/32 collet. They also do ER collet holders that fit onto the lathe spindle.

    For small work (up to 7mm dia), it strikes me that an ER11 chuck could be used as a work holder that is transferred between machines that are semi-permanently set up with 16mm collets. Could also double as a handle for things like hand grinding on a wheel. (We have a small workshop at work, and our mill uses ER collets - they seem like a good collet system, but I've never considered this idea of doubling up before.)

    Worth considering?

    On the 3-jaw chuck, I checked the run-out about 60mm from the jaws, and it's around 0.15mm. A 4" independent 4-jaw and backplate will be getting bought fairly soon, to be used for at least some turning. With collet sets coming into the picture, the overall spend is increasing, so I'd like to try and get a good balance between precision, convenience and versatility, bearing in mind that the workshop is more general purpose than specific to horology. In other words, if I buy collets to use in the rotary table, there may be an argument for using them in the mill and on the lathe as well (work holding on the lathe, tool holding on the mill), for some work at least.
     
  6. Nomad

    Nomad Registered User

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    On to some of the other points raised...

    Broaches. Seems that there are too many sizes to just rush out and buy a full set, so I agree that buying small sets to cover current requirements makes sense. That said, I was reading a thread elsewhere about whether a broach makes the 'right' kind of hole, given that it's tapered - a tapered hole being subject to higher initial wear as the ridge is flattened off. In that discussion, it was suggested that broaches are better suited to bushing because the slight taper can be used to ensure a good friction fit for the replacement bush. I don't know what the actual taper is on these things, or how thin the plate would be after the oil well has been cut (0.5mm?), so maybe the difference in diameter at each end of the hole is tiny, such that the increase in size due to wear is also tiny. For certain values of 'tiny', I guess - I don't know how much side shake is acceptable in a movement the size of the Wilding 8-day clock (haven't read anything on that yet).

    Collets. I like that idea and, per my previous post, am looking into it with one eye on what they can do for me in a more general sense. We have a small machine shop at work, and use ER collets on our mill. While I don't think I've had much trouble with run-out with the MT2 collets at home (the cutters all seem to be a nice sliding fit), they only work with certain drill bits, and I have to say that whacking the drawbar with a hammer every time I change cutter diameter is a bit tedious. I think I prefer the idea of collets for smaller stuff and a 4-jaw for general work, rather than using soft jaws (which seem rather expensive).

    Had a search on depthing tools. It seems that there are two types: the hinge with hollowed pins for wheels already on arbors, and the flat plate (which is indeed on page 35 of Wilding's book) for wheels that aren't. I'll have a go at the latter first.

    I'll hold back on the pivot locators until I feel they're needed. They look straightforward to make.

    The staking tools seem to be quite pricey, so I'm leaning towards trying the Loctite approach first. Is soft soldering a viable alternative?

    Never used a boring head before, and always had the impression that they're for bigger, heavier work (my mill is pretty dinky). I'll do some reading and try to work out what things it might make easier/better.

    Forgot about the jewellers saw - will seek out a frame and blades. Can this be used for cutting slots in screw heads? Do the thin Japanese saws have a use in clock making?

    Magnifiers is something I lack somewhat - got a loupe around 4x which is quite useful, but I sometimes wonder if something with binocular vision would be worth getting. Not sure about those magnifying lamps - have used them at work, and have to say that I wasn't that keen. Maybe I prefer things that are attached to me.

    Aside from cost, coolant on the mill is slightly problematic because the table is just a rectangle with the T-slots running to the ends - there is no well with a drain hole, and no tray underneath. (It's an earlier version of this one: http://www.arceurotrade.co.uk/Catalogue/Machines-Accessories/Milling-Machines/Model-Super-X1L-Mill/SIEG-Super-X1L-Mill) Something to think about.

    Jim, thanks for the attached docs - are there others and, if so, is there an index somewhere that would allow the reader to browse them? I was looking at the encyclopaedia section of this site, but found that many of the articles seem to be stubs with no actual content (unless I'm missing something).
     
  7. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    #7 Jim DuBois, Feb 2, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
    here is how I make screws for clocks....also, screw slotting files, a small boring head (1/2" shaft, I have still smaller) and a couple of shots of a "MicroMister" for use with mills and the like to supply miniscule amounts of cooling and lube. The lube "wets" extremely slightly, the air flow supplies most of the cooling and chip clearance. I have crossed out hundreds of wheels on this mill and have not yet refilled the oil the mister uses, you can see the level remaining even after years of use....

    And then a photo of 2 boring heads, one uses an 8mm stem and the other uses a 10mm stem. Both are Levin and are not cheap.....but they work well for clock sized projects....and lastly what happens when someone crosses out using a mill and no coolant or lube....
     

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  8. Nomad

    Nomad Registered User

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    Thanks again, Jim. What sort of clock making jobs is a boring head used for?

    The 4-jaw chuck has arrived. It looks much bigger than expected, considering the original 3-jaw is 80mm and the 4-jaw is 100mm. With the backplate the ends of the jaws extend about 27mm further over the bed, so not too big a sacrifice. The biggest difference is the capacity - it can hold much larger work, and the through hole in the middle is about 28mm instead of 16mm. Plenty of room left in the lathe's 7" swing as well - the jaws can be well out and still comfortably clear the bed.

    When I first put it on, I was getting some large amplitude, low frequency vibration from about 600rpm - the whole lathe was wobbling slightly on its rubber feet. After some searching around, my attention turned to the backplate - it's drilled for chucks that have 3 and 4 fixing screws, meaning there were two empty holes. Sure enough, with only the backplate fitted, the vibration was still there, and making a couple of brass plugs for the empty holes helped a lot. With the chuck back on, it all runs much more smoothly, with maybe a little vibration around 8-900rpm.

    I've yet to do a test where I skim a piece true and then put the other end into the jaws to see how accurately it can be dialled in, but I seem to manage getting raw brass round down to about 0.015mm run-out - about 10x better than the 3-jaw. A very worthwhile investment, I think.

    I've been thinking about collets a bit more, and I'm starting to feel that it would be easier (quicker, and possibly more accurate) to put a straight shank collet holder directly into the chuck than to remove the chuck and fit an ER lathe collet holder in its place.

    Alan, I bought a saw that was shown as a Grobet in the photo (on eBay), but turned out not to be - it's the type with wing nuts on the screws, and with a tensioner at the end away from the handle. Seller said they had used a photo given by their supplier, and was happy to refund more than 50% of the cost (less hassle for me than shipping it back). Still after a Grobet, but will give this a go at some point. Maybe the cheapie can be used for rougher cuts.
     
  9. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Well, I use a boring head when I want a truly round hole, or a hole with no taper and round, or when I need a hole in a size that I don't have a drill for, or when I need a counterbore in a plate, or a recess in a wheel, or a flat bottom dead end hole in something....
     

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