Things I made at the British School of Watchmaking

Steel Square

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

Wooden Filing Blocks

This was the first thing we made. They have been glazed in my homemade Laquer.

 

Homemade Laquer

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

Plastic Barrel Closer

This was made as an introduction to the Schaublin lathes, a useful tool.

 

Steel Cube

Steel Square

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

 

Try Square

Try Square

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

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.

 

Pallet Heater

Pallet Heater

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.

 

Staking Block

Staking Block

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

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

bsow1

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

5 Responses

  1. DanielB says:

    Colin,
    What are the tips/tricks for achieving a perfect try square? Any advice beyond what the BHI lessons provide? Thanks!

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hey Daniel, thanks for your comment. I found that if you have a decent watchmaker’s vice, then you can set it up in that so that it’s square to the vice and just a small amount is protuding from the top. That makes it easy to keep the top line (that you’re filing) parallel to top edge of the vice and so you can be confident that it’s flat. Draw filing, where you use the file sideways, is essential and helps you to keep it flat and even and it also highlights the high and low spots. Another trick is to use emery paper, you place a the paper flat on a piece of glass and then use a block of square wood that you clamp down on the paper. Then you can hold the try square up to the wood and make back and forth motions along it. You can add some oil, or even water to the paper to make it smoother and help keep it clean. At the end of the day you can only make the square as flat as the tools you’re using, and so you really need a try square to make a try square. It took me around 80 hours or so to finish it, which is probably way too long. I hope that helps.

      • DanielB says:

        Colin, thanks for the answer! I had not used the wood block. I tried using a 123 steel block but it was marring the edges of the work so I stopped 🙁
        I am in the final filing stage where I have less that .002″ to remove (.058mm) and am using draw filing but the two ends have more material than where it is close to the elbow. For the final stage, I might try a diamond plate with a block to keep things square. Then I will use progressively finer wet and dry honing paper. Then, will finish the faces with the honing paper. I like that you stamped your initials and the year. If I get around to practicing engraving, I would engrave it w my name.
        I am thinking of blueing the square to help fend off oxidation. We’ll see…. Cheers!

  2. Stuart says:

    How did you go about getting into the British school of watchmaking? I’m interested in becoming a watchmaker but need more info on becoming a student in the school.

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