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  1. #11
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    Re: Can a Sherline lathe make watch parts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Somewhere else View Post
    A friend of mine who occasionally posts on this forum uses Sherline to make balance staffs for both pocket watches and wrist watches. I also know many other people who cut gears on it and do all manners of high precision work on the Sherline. The NAWCC uses it for their clock making school and William J. Smith Jr., one of America's greatest watch and clock makers has written extensively on using it in clock making and watch making.

    The Sherline is designed for much higher precision work than most watchmaking calls for and for much tighter tolerances. The slightest overview of some of the projects people use Sherline will be enough to convince the average working watch maker that criticism of this lathe are based on lack of knowledge of its' true capacities, no more and no less.

    The watchmakers lathe that most watchmakers are now using are anywhere between sixty to 100 years old, maybe even older. To compare these lathes which were made with basically 19th Century technology to a Sherline, which is made with the most modern precision technology available shows me at least, that people are not looking too carefully at what their own aging watch maker's lathes are.

    Watchmakers tend to be very conservative about tools and techniques. This is truly an example of this phenomena.

    I use Sherline collets in my watch maker's lathe, and their circularity as measured by magnetic circular gauge is excellent. I also use their WW 8 mm adapter to mount three jaw chucks , four jaw chucks and jacobs chucks on my watch maker's lathe.

    Not only is the Sherline a highly versatile tool, but the wide range of attachments they make for WW 8mm lathes of fine quality and very reasonable in price. Even if you do not want to use a Sherline itself, I do urge everyone to take a look at their excellent accessories made for WW Watchmaker's lathes, a line they have in addition to their own Sherline lathes, which I think deserves much more publicity than has been given to it.
    I find it amazing that somebody can turn a balance staff for a wristwatch on a Sherline lathe. Do you know if he turned the staff in a wax chuck? Did he use the compound slide or can you mount a rest so as you can
    turn with a hand graver?
    I'm amazed, I truly am...I honestly thought that these were only good
    for clockmaking and less accurate watch work such as stems and the like.
    Those Unimats are supposed to be good lathes too, I read that somewhere.

  2. #12
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    Re: Can a Sherline lathe make watch parts?

    Quote Originally Posted by radger View Post
    I find it amazing that somebody can turn a balance staff for a wristwatch on a Sherline lathe. Do you know if he turned the staff in a wax chuck? Did he use the compound slide or can you mount a rest so as you can
    turn with a hand graver?
    I'm amazed, I truly am...I honestly thought that these were only good
    for clockmaking and less accurate watch work such as stems and the like.
    Those Unimats are supposed to be good lathes too, I read that somewhere.
    It's Vespasian, who sometimes posts on this forum.I think he turned them between centers, and used the compound slide. Ask him for full details the next time he posts.

    He shaped the cone shaped part of the pivots in a Jacot tool, which is what they are for, but everything else was done on the Sherline. I also know a clockmaker who was once called on to make regulator pins for a very fine wrist watch. He turned them on his Sherline.

    I think it's odd to occasionally hear that Sherlines are "only good for clock making". Since when is clock making any less precision than watch making? The Short Pendulum, and some Russian variations on it have only been matched for accuracy by atomic clocks.

    The only criticism I've heard of Sherline is that some people find it hard to work on using a hand graver. But I've never heard anyone who owned one criticize its' accuracy.

    I don't know anything about Unimats, but William J. Smith has written on using them in one of his books, I believe.

  3. #13
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    Re: Can a Sherline lathe make watch parts?

    When turning between the centers, The size of the lathe doesn't really matter only possible play in the bearings, if none you could make a balance staff even on an industrial Lathe (theoratical spoken).
    Maybe watchmaking appears to be less precise as you can SEE your parts when working on them, and touch then with your fingers/hands....

    Nice weekend everyone!

    RJ van Melle.

  4. #14
    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: Can a Sherline lathe make watch parts?

    Well I'm very interested in tools also, but I'm not concerned with
    shiny new tools straight from the box claimed by some young
    whippersnapper to be the best thing since sliced bread as I'm a
    white haired hollow backed stereotypical old **** straight out of
    the dark ages with tools to match...But I do know that the tools
    I have, although old, are very accurate and suitable for the job.

    I think that this idea that any old lathe will do provided that the
    operator is skillful is ludicrous, even the best turner on the planet
    would find it impossible to turn to tolerances of 1/100th mm if the machine
    has a runout of 1.5/100ths of a mm.

    A good Swiss watchmakers lathe that has been cared for and used correctly
    can be just as accurate 60 years after being bought new, mine certainly is,
    it is the self centering nature of the cone bearings which means that any
    wear can be taken up and the lathe is just as accurate.

    Turning between centres is a different kettle of fish and as RMelle has
    pointed out, a balance staff could theoreticaly be turned on an industrial
    lathe as well as a Sherline, if it is turned between centers. The finest
    tool for turning very small, high tolerance parts between centres is
    undoubtably the Swiss turns and one of these can be had fairly cheaply but
    the skill to use one has to learned.

    It's been stated that the Jacot tool is used to form the pivot on a staff
    and that is what the tool is for. This is incorrect, it is used for the
    final finishing of the pivot ie polishing and burnishing. The forming of
    the pivot should be done on the lathe, to grind it to shape on a Jacot drum
    would soon ruin the bed. I grant that it could be done but it would be far from
    ideal and I reckon to turn a wristwatch staff on a Sherline involves a lot
    of improvisation and tool ruining techniques to obtain less than satisfactory
    results.

    Here are the old and decrepit tools that I use....

    An EW 2.5 inch centre lathe .....this lathe is probably from the fifties
    or sixties. It is screw cutting and backgeared. I drive it through a counter
    shaft and so get a large variety of speeds for machining different materials.
    With the backgear engaged the rotation is very slow and it is good for machining
    even cast iron. The lathe is fully equiped and has accessories and tooling
    which allow it to be used as a mill. It's a lot smaller than a Myford 7 and
    is ideal for my small workshop.
    This EW is an acurate lathe, it was previously used in a toolmakers shop and
    hasn't been abused, it is ideal for clockmaking tasks but to turn a wristwatch
    balance staff it falls far short.



    I don't have a clue how old this Lorch & Schmidt watchmakers lathe is but
    it is the finest and most accurate lathe you could imagine for turning tiny
    parts... some will argue that the Sherline is better because it is modern and
    new and shiney and it is made with modern and better techniques so it must be
    better...they are wrong.
    Personaly, I prefer the Swiss pattern to the US or English watchmakers lathes.



    Here it is set up with mandril head, used for uprighting and accurate drilling



    These are Swiss turns, I used to use these a lot to size bushes, turn arbors,
    accurate drilling and even pivot polishing. The work being driven between
    the centres by a bow and cotton or horsehair. To the left can be seen a selection
    of runners, turning arbors and split pulleys which are used to carry the work
    in the turns and the pulleys facilitate the drive from the cotton.
    Nowadays this tool never sees the light of day.



    My Jacot tool, essential for final finishing or refinishing of pivots.
    This is an old tool, I don't know how old...a lot older than me, probably
    as old as the combined age of this forum, who knows. Being so old and made with
    ancient techniques then this tool shouldn't be very good...and you'ld
    be right it isn't very good....it's superb.



    As Somewhereelse says...

    "The watchmakers lathe that most watchmakers are now using are anywhere between sixty to 100 years old, maybe even older. To compare these lathes which were made with basically 19th Century technology to a Sherline, which is made with the most modern precision technology available shows me at least, that people are not looking too carefully at what their own aging watch maker's lathes are."

    Well, that's me told... I guess it's time for me to throw out all my old junk
    and upgrade to a Sherline.

  5. #15
    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: Can a Sherline lathe make watch parts?

    Quote Originally Posted by rmelle View Post
    The oldest lathe I have is mid 18th century, can post a picture if you like.
    This is actual the best lathe I have, for some tricky stuff I alway use that one... it is in money value and technical value unpriceless.
    French made around 1760's
    one turn of nonius only 0,35 mm advance (one turn!), incredible!!! only VERY difficult to operate, always calculating...
    further has it one rough nonius of only 0,75 mm advance (one turn), this one you use to finetune the real nonius when turning, Yea I know sounds complex, it IS! This is thé most incredible machine there is.
    I'd like to see your old lathe, I like old...get thee behind me Miyota.

  6. #16
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    Re: Can a Sherline lathe make watch parts?

    The answer to the OP is clearly yes, if a balance staff can be turned on it, then it is good enough. Compared to the traditional watchmaker's lathe, it is rather cumbersome and there is the question of vibration from the motor to be considered. It is certainly more versatile but it is the hand on the end of the tool that makes the part. If you work better with a Sherline than with a Boley, then good enough. If you have no experience of either, take a look at the Chinese watchmakers' lathes as well as the Sherline. They are new and complete.
    The most useful skill to have will be facing the tools. That is something I still find difficult but it is essential to good work.
    But it is the man that matters. Don Corson built his first watch using a £200 Proxxon mill. He did a lot of rework but it does prove that it can be done.

  7. #17
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    Re: Can a Sherline lathe make watch parts?

    Quote Originally Posted by radger View Post
    Well I'm very interested in tools also, but I'm not concerned with
    shiny new tools straight from the box claimed by some young
    whippersnapper to be the best thing since sliced bread as I'm a
    white haired hollow backed stereotypical old **** straight out of
    the dark ages with tools to match...But I do know that the tools
    I have, although old, are very accurate and suitable for the job.
    You're fortunate to have these tools. I've been in the watch making business since before digitals and quartz. Somehow I don't seem to have picked up your attitude of opposition to technical advances per se, and I am willing to judge a tool by it's performance. I feel that many tool in watch making are judged by their mystique.

    A good Swiss watchmakers lathe that has been cared for and used correctly
    can be just as accurate 60 years after being bought new, mine certainly is,
    it is the self centering nature of the cone bearings which means that any
    wear can be taken up and the lathe is just as accurate.
    Cone bearings, which are somewhat like a Morse taper wear like any other bearing. A very common fault of older cone bearing lathes is that they are running elipitically because years of use has caused pressure on one side of the bearing. They then need to be turned and machined to bring them into circularity. There is no tool or bearing I know of that is self healing. There is no tool or bearing that I know of that will resist the ravages of time. These faults are common enough to be written in all books on watch makers lathes. Indeed, I have recently redone my lathe because of scoring of the cone bearings. Have you checked your lathe for circularity lately?


    Turning between centres is a different kettle of fish and as RMelle has
    pointed out, a balance staff could theoreticaly be turned on an industrial
    lathe as well as a Sherline,
    Turning between centers used to be the only way to make watch parts as prior to the invention of the watch maker's lathe in the USA and the mandrel in Europe, the turns were the only tool that watchmaker's had.

    The finest
    tool for turning very small, high tolerance parts between centres is
    undoubtably the Swiss turns and one of these can be had fairly cheaply but
    the skill to use one has to learned
    Really? I'm sure an English, French, German or Dutch turns will do the job just as well. There is nothing special or unique about a Swiss made set of turns. Indeed, Saunier advises all watch makers to make their own turns

    It's been stated that the Jacot tool is used to form the pivot on a staff and that is what the tool is for. This is incorrect....
    Kindly do not misquote me.I said that the Jacot tool was used to form the cone of the pivot (shoulders). It would have been clearer if I had included the word "shoulders" perhaps. The entire staff including the pivots were made on the Sherline and the Jacot tool was used to form the cone of the shoulders. There is nothing wrong with this procedure. As Freid says "...This tool undoubtledly offers one of the very best methods of reducing or polishing pivots to size and shape..."This is what this tool was designed for. The Jacot tool is basically a turns. Anything you can do in a Jacot tool you can also do in a turns. You can't damage a Jacot tool or a turns by making balance staffs in them.


    My Jacot tool, essential for final finishing or refinishing of pivots.
    This is an old tool, I don't know how old...a lot older than me, probably
    as old as the combined age of this forum, who knows.
    the Jacot tool was invented towards the middle end of the 19th Century about the same time as the American pattern watchmaker's lathe. Saunier, writing in 1870 doesn't even mention it . Like the watchmaker's lathe or mandril, it's not an ancient tool




    As Somewhereelse says...

    "The watchmakers lathe that most watchmakers are now using are anywhere between sixty to 100 years old, maybe even older. To compare these lathes which were made with basically 19th Century technology to a Sherline, which is made with the most modern precision technology available shows me at least, that people are not looking too carefully at what their own aging watch maker's lathes are."

    Well, that's me told... I guess it's time for me to throw out all my old junk
    and upgrade to a Sherline.
    While I did not have anyone specifically in mind when I wrote this, I've seen similar sentiments to yours on several forums. Commonly they attribute what I consider mystical virtues to "Swiss made" and insist that no contemporary manufactured tools will reach the so-called "standards" of accuracy necessary to do watchmaking. These standards sound to me like they would be excessive anywhere outside of a space program. Also, it's typical of these posts that all the machines that encompass these mystical Swiss virtues have now long since gone out of production, or reached prices so stratospheric as to require a second mortgage on your house at the very least.

    In contrast to this, the Sherline offers a lathe of extremely high accuracy that can be adapted--perhaps not perfectly--for watchmaking and give satisfactory results. It exists here and now and for a reasonable price. It will do everything required of it. What is more, it looks to the future as well as the past as it is CNC capable.

    It is a attractive modern alternative to tools which are no longer available. If your have these older tools you are lucky. If not, then the Sherline (and Taig) are alternatives that all amateurs and many professionals might want to seriously consider, at least as a first step into the more complex areas of watch making.

  8. #18
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    Re: Can a Sherline lathe make watch parts?

    Hear, hear.

  9. #19
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    Re: Can a Sherline lathe make watch parts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Somewhere else View Post
    You're fortunate to have these tools. I've been in the watch making business since before digitals and quartz. Somehow I don't seem to have picked up your attitude of opposition to technical advances per se, and I am willing to judge a tool by it's performance. I feel that many tool in watch making are judged by their mystique.

    Or perhaps a traditional watchmakers lathe is so well designed
    and of such good quality that it's yet to be improved. Even
    brand new Bergeon watchmakers lathes are built on traditional
    designs...You seem to be saying that the Sherline lathe is not only
    suitable for watchmaking, but is actually an improvement on traditional
    design and accuracy.


    Cone bearings, which are somewhat like a Morse taper wear like any other bearing. A very common fault of older cone bearing lathes is that they are running elipitically because years of use has caused pressure on one side of the bearing. They then need to be turned and machined to bring them into circularity. There is no tool or bearing I know of that is self healing. There is no tool or bearing that I know of that will resist the ravages of time. These faults are common enough to be written in all books on watch makers lathes. Indeed, I have recently redone my lathe because of scoring of the cone bearings. Have you checked your lathe for circularity lately?

    Have you ever wondered why so many old watchmakers lathes are
    still in use? Surely you don't think that watchmakers all over the world
    are using rattly old machines which wobble and chatter all over the
    place because their bearings have worn eliptical. The whole point of
    the cone bearing is to retain circularity as it wears, of course it has
    to be adjusted from time to time and any endshake taken up. If your
    lathe is running elipticaly then that suggests the cone bearings need
    tightened or somehow they got out of shape.



    Turning between centers used to be the only way to make watch parts as prior to the invention of the watch maker's lathe in the USA and the mandrel in Europe, the turns were the only tool that watchmaker's had.



    Really? I'm sure an English, French, German or Dutch turns will do the job just as well. There is nothing special or unique about a Swiss made set of turns. Indeed, Saunier advises all watch makers to make their own turns

    Well I called them the Swiss turns because that is the name of the tool
    to which I was referring.


    But you miss the point.....

    We are referring to wether or not a Sherline is suitable for watchmaking.

    I apply the ultimate test....can it be used to turn a wristwatch balance
    staff. You reply yes it can because you know someone who's managed
    it....but it turns out that he used the Sherline as a set of turns, and yes
    anyone can make a set of turns, two nails and a piece of wood can be
    made into turns.


    Kindly do not misquote me.I said that the Jacot tool was used to form the cone of the pivot (shoulders). It would have been clearer if I had included the word "shoulders" perhaps. The entire staff including the pivots were made on the Sherline and the Jacot tool was used to form the cone of the shoulders. There is nothing wrong with this procedure. As Freid says "...This tool undoubtledly offers one of the very best methods of reducing or polishing pivots to size and shape..."This is what this tool was designed for. The Jacot tool is basically a turns. Anything you can do in a Jacot tool you can also do in a turns. You can't damage a Jacot tool or a turns by making balance staffs in them.

    You said

    "He shaped the cone shaped part of the pivots in a Jacot tool".......


    Fair enough, I had visions from your statement that your friend was
    grinding away on the Jacot drum with abrasives a bit coarser than
    diamantine.


    Since the Sherline was being used as turns, then with a tool rest and
    graver the pivots could be formed, no doubt.

    It might be very awkward though and my point was that a cheap
    pair of Swiss, Dutch or even homemade turns would do the job better,
    after all that's what these tool were designed to do. The Sherline was
    not designed to be used as watchmakers turns but could be converted
    to 'turns'





    the Jacot tool was invented towards the middle end of the 19th Century about the same time as the American pattern watchmaker's lathe. Saunier, writing in 1870 doesn't even mention it . Like the watchmaker's lathe or mandril, it's not an ancient tool.

    But don't you find it amazing that these tools were so good that if used
    correctly and cared for they are still viable workshop tools 100 years on.






    While I did not have anyone specifically in mind when I wrote this, I've seen similar sentiments to yours on several forums. Commonly they attribute what I consider mystical virtues to "Swiss made" and insist that no contemporary manufactured tools will reach the so-called "standards" of accuracy necessary to do watchmaking. These standards sound to me like they would be excessive anywhere outside of a space program. Also, it's typical of these posts that all the machines that encompass these mystical Swiss virtues have now long since gone out of production, or reached prices so stratospheric as to require a second mortgage on your house at the very least.

    I know you didn't have me in mind specifically...

    I'm here as the defender of traditional, high quality tools and I like
    debate.

    There's nothing mystical to the virtues of traditional tools, be they
    Swiss US or English. It is an evolutionary trait that tools are tweaked
    and improved, I just don't see the Sherline as being the peak of that
    evolution.

    In contrast to this, the Sherline offers a lathe of extremely high accuracy that can be adapted--perhaps not perfectly--for watchmaking and give satisfactory results. It exists here and now and for a reasonable price. It will do everything required of it. What is more, it looks to the future as well as the past as it is CNC capable.

    It is a attractive modern alternative to tools which are no longer available. If your have these older tools you are lucky. If not, then the Sherline (and Taig) are alternatives that all amateurs and many professionals might want to seriously consider, at least as a first step into the more complex areas of watch making.
    Your summing up is good and you put a good case for the Sherline as a
    serious watchmaking tool, even though you seem to have a distinct lack
    of experience with the machine.

    But although this machine undoubtably has uses in the workshop I still
    maintain that the ultimate test would be...
    Can it produce a wristwatch staff'? and by that I mean as a lathe
    with blued steel chucked in a collet or by other means and turned
    by the lathe itself and not turned on dead centres....

    So far ....
    traditional watch maker lathes Lorch, Boley etc etc ...
    umpteen millions of staffs produced.
    Sherline
    One staff produced

    Edit....My replies are in blue inside the quoted box
    Last edited by radger; April 18th, 2010 at 16:26. Reason: [QUOTE=Somewhere else;2909181]You're fortunate to have these tools. I've been in the watch making business since before digit

  10. #20
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    Re: Can a Sherline lathe make watch parts?

    And that naturally makes it an inferior machine and the rest of us wrong.
    Poor argument.
    If modern machinery evolves to make the job more easy or productive, then it is the way of the craftsman and tradesman to embrace them which is why we no longer use oxen for ploughing. How many of today's staffs are turned by hand anyway?

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