I joined the British School of Watchmaking (BSoW) in September 2012. Everything shown below is what we made during the first 8 weeks. After this we spent time concentrating solely on making a winding stem, and then later a balance staff.
Wooden Oak Filing Blocks
This was the first thing we made. They have been glazed in my homemade Laquer.
This is a pure shelac piece disolved into some methalated spirits, it takes about half a day to disolve properly and when it’s the right the thickness it looks like a toffee colour. You have to apply it really sparingly, as the meths will evapourate quickly and leave streaks if you’re not careful. The wooden blocks that I coated this with had about 12 coats of laquer in total. The finish looks really great, and it really protects the wood. In my mind it gives it an expensive antique feel.
Plastic Barrel Closer
This was made as an introduction to the Schaublin lathes, a useful tool.
This was made from a cut rod of steel. It took about 1 week, so 40 hours, to finish. It has a brushed finish. This was teaching us how to file a flat and to work within tolerances, and to get every side perfectly flat, parallel, perpendicular and within the tolerance which was +/-0.05mm. It is 1.5cm cubed
This is sometimes called an engineer’s square. This took almost 2 weeks to finish as the working tollerance on this was +/-0.00mm, or zero. No side could be under, or rounded, or not parallel or perpendicular. Any deviation had to be unmeasureable with our tools, which meant it had to be less than 0.005mm or 5 microns. For an indication of the scale, a piece of paper is about 100 microns thick and a human hair is about 70 microns. Once done I stamped my initials in, and I also decided to put the year on too. There are already a few rust marks on the surface, a hazard when working on untreated steel.
Scriber and Centre Punch
These were both very quick to make. I initially was going to make an ambitious sciber with adjustable heads and a brass body, but it was pretty pointless, so I went for a basic design and knurled the shaft. Both are hardened and tempered slightly.
This is what you put a pallet on and heat over a flame to melt the shellac so you can adjust the jewels. The design we were given was a rectangular shape with 4 feet that were friction fit in place. But I decided to make a pentagon shape with 3 feet as it would be harder to make, and then I chamfered the edges. I decided to rivet the feet into the base and a steel handle threaded and screwed into the end. It inadvertently looks a bit like a wand, which gave everyone a good laugh.
This was made on the Schaublin lathe using the milling attachment and the dividing head. It took about 2 days to make. Basically there are a number of drill holes on the top of set sizes, and then more open holes drilled on the reverse side. You can test the thickness of a rod by seeing which hole it fits down. I decided to write the size of the hole next to each one with my scriber to make it more useful. Scribing is hard and the writing is a bit scrappy. but it looks ok from a distance.
Balance Hairspring Holding Tool
With the remains of the staking block that we had cut off, some of the students made a spike. This goes through the screw hole in the balance cock and allows the hairspring to hang freely and avoid damage. I rivetted the spike through, and then just to be sure, added some soft solder to the joint.
Experiment for Spherical Blued end for Hand Levers
This was an experiment to make an end piece for some hand levers I am making. I tried to make the end as spherical as possible, which is harder than in looks. I then blued the entire piece and polished off the blue on everything other than the rounded end.
See also: Things I made at the School of Jewellery – Horology Class