Fashionable Watches

How To Make A Clock In The Home Machine Shop – Part 3 – Making The Washers And Screws

How To Make A Clock In The Home Machine Shop – Part 3 – Making The Washers And Screws


G’day Chris here, welcome back to Clickspring With the pillars and frames completed, its time to finish the frame assembly by making the washers and screws. The washers are as you’d expect, a simple disc, but with an ornamental groove around the edge. I need 5 like this, and then an additional one with a countersink, making 6 in total. Its a fairly straightforward piece of turning, and I found it easiest to turn them all in the one sitting. The first one I’m doing is the one with the countersink, followed by the 5 with just the simple clearance hole. Wilding recommends in his construction manual that they have a slight undercut at the center of the underside surface, so they seat well on the plates. To do that I turned up a quick cement chuck on the small lathe, bonded the washers on with a little super glue, and then set up for a very light taper cut. Just a few degrees, and then took a facing cut across the underside of the washer. A little bit of heat breaks the super glue bond, and now the washers have a slightly concave base, and should sit nice and snug at the perimeter. So with the washers complete, its time to take a look at the screws. The clock has 5 of these large flat head screws, which are kind of a nice visual feature, all made from mild steel. Again a fairly straight forward turning job. First I roughed out the shape, then undercut the head, and finally I used a die to cut the thread. I parted them off just a little bit overlength to leave a bit of metal for finishing. So next I needed to put in a screwdriver slot, across that top face, and I figured the best way to do it was
to use a slitting saw on the mill For once that little tip left over from parting off came in quite handy. I used it to line up the saw blade with the center of the screw. At this point the screw form is basically complete, it just needs to be brought to final di mension and then polished. So its back to the small lathe for the final operations. Off camera I turned up this little filing guide to help me keep the edges of the screw square during sanding and polishing. Here I’m making a start on those edges using fine grit emery paper stuck on to a brass polisher with adhesive. This is a tailstock polishing tool I made for my small lathe, I’ve tried to emulate the classic screw head polishing tool used by watchmakers. I’ve made discs of both brass and soft steel. Emery paper and wood can be fixed on with adhesive, or the metal discs can be used directly with various grinding and polishing pastes. The lap aligns nicely with the surface of the screw head, and can be lightly rotated to bring a fresh cutting surface to bear on the work, but I’ve found that under power its a bit too aggressive. probably causing more problems than it solves. Operated by hand though, with a reasonably fine grit, and it does a good job. In this case, I’m using a 3000 grit disc of emery paper on the steel disc. After just a few strokes it leaves the surface in quite good shape to start the polishing. Now I plan to do the polishing with Diamantine powder, and I must confess I haven’t had much success with it so far. I can get it to polish, but I always seem to get these little scratches that ruin the finish. So with these screws I was determined to sort out what was going wrong. I figured I would try out different polish consistencies, and a few other things, and see what I could learn. So first up I tried a fairly wet mix on a soft wood lap. Most of the texts also make mention of a putty consistency to the polish, so I tried that too. In both cases the polish cut ok, But I could see that the wood I’d chosen was less than ideal. Its too soft, and slightly rounding the edges of the screw, which I definitely don’t want. I had moderate success with the edges, just using this simple oak polisher. But eventually though, I hit the same snag which put me off last time. The surface was polishing, but I was picking up some nasty scratches too. By the size of them, they weren’t being made by the polish. It looked like contamination of the lap or maybe the paste. It was clear I had to make some changes to what I was doing. So first of all I went back one step to remove the scratches with the emery paper. Then I resurfaced the wooden disc. I tried out a few different types of wood, but I found mdf had an immediate positive effect. I also I charged it using a lot less polish. I got serious about cleanliness, covering up the paste after mixing, and cleaning the work thoroughly after every step. And finally I disconnected the lathe belt. Which allowed me to back right off on the pressure, and to better mimic the action of the classic watchmakers tool. Now I know that the results are far from perfect, but the deep scratching problem all but disappeared, and for the first time, I was starting to see the surface pop out the way I had read in books. Its a huge improvement on my previous efforts with diamantine, and at least now I know what I’m aiming for. Anyway, with that little adventure behind me, I blued the screws to finish them off. And now its time to have a bit of fun and see what it all looks like so far. I’ve got to admit its kind of motivating being able to see the clock start to take shape. That’s it for this week. Be sure to hit the subscribe button if you haven’t already. In the next video, I get started on the wheel cutting. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you later.


Reader Comments

  1. Really interesting how you tracked down the polishing issues. I've tried diamantine powder on watch screws and have never been able to get it right. I'm going to have to go back and try again! Thanks for the amazing videos.

  2. Hello, First I would like to say…. WOW…
    Your work is very precise and amazing.

    Love how the clock is turning up.

    I have a question for you: I have a brass screw from a Stanley hand plane that is a bit mushed up in the screw slot, is there a way to fix that?
    Either filling it in and cutting a new screw slot, or some other magic way/simpler way?

    Thank you very much, and keep up the great work, always lovely to see how much detail goes into your projects.

  3. Your workmanship is very much appreciated. Couple of questions.

    How did you determine the expected diameter for the die you used?

    I am having some difficulty using watchmaker screw plates as to find out what the expected diameters are for them.

    I have charts with the designated sizes of Martin

    One example size 20 has diameter of 0.367 with pitch 0.087. I take this to mean that the results after threading produce these numbers. 

    What would be the expected diameter to make the stock so to thread it?

  4. Very well for your realization a real masterpiece may be careful the white balance in the video is not good whether it is steel or brass these the same color so if you shoot put the white balance on incandescent .

  5. A really excellent series of detailed construction videos which I have enjoyed very much – BUT wouldn't it be so much enjoyable to watch WITHOUT the endless inane "musak" which accompanies it!! I think it would have been much better with just the original sounds of machinery etc together with the detailed commentary.

  6. Wow! I have been a wood carver and tool enthusiast all my life. Your machine abilities are extraordinary. I also agree your video skills are equal to the task. I was wondering if you would ever consider specialized carving tools? I would love it if you could. I understand you must be very busy. Warm regards, Cam, from Port Hope Ont., Canada. Cheers eh!

  7. Hi Chris. Would you be willing to do a workshop tour, or possibly a general guide on your tools?

  8. Beautiful work and I love that bluing you did. Other than heat what was the liquid that seem to change the colour???

  9. I've watched all of these videos dozens of times. You're as masterful a filmmaker as you are a clockmaker. Beautiful work in both regards.

  10. "I know the results are far from perfect" o_O. I've never considered a small screw polished so well I can see my face in it.

  11. "I know it's far from perfect"

    In my 42 years on this rock i have never made anything as excellent as this screw. Including my children. :

  12. Heh, when the world gives me lemons I make lemonade and watch your video's. I am still deciding over a lathe…..saw a very nice ML7 on fleabay with some micrometers but too much for a noob like me. It's easy to buy a fantastic lathe and break it, Id rather get a crappy one and learn how not to wreck it. Cheaper too, hee

  13. Your technique in this video(especially in regards to polishing and bluing) are very different from your later videos. Did you discover new/refine your methods? Would you change anything if you did it again?

  14. Very nice all the way around! The craft work, presentation, and videography are all well done! Makes me want to clean up my aluminum bed hobby lathe and get to work!

  15. So after mirror polishing screw's head, and then after bluing it, there is no need for aditional polishing of the oxide? Can it even be polished as it is so thin?

  16. Beeing on Part 3 now i really want to compliment you for your Craftsmanship and Presentation. Very well done.
    I have to admit i expected you tu turn the Thread tho instead of using a Toll for that but i think i´ll give it a pass lol

  17. I doubt many others can do the work you do, true craftsman. I will add to the below blueing comments about seeing how it is done with the uniformity you repeated.

  18. There's no one better for this, so much information perfectly paced. I'm still drooling over Sherline lathe stuff right now……have been for months. The big question I ask is what do I need, a hobby or a passing fancy. A newly furbished Ml7 is the thick end of 4 grand for starters

  19. Crazy I'm sure it will be a nice piece when your done but I feel like it could never sell for what you have into it

  20. My lathe is puny and I am an amateur. I will look at it with scorn fooshing out of my eyes :< then probably cry and curl on the floor.

  21. Chris,
    Just watched the whole series on building this clock. And, I have say, "My, Brotha, you got skills!" I'm not an aspiring clock maker. I'm professional ship model builder, so your attention to detail and abilty to work to the finest tolerences is something I deeply appreciate. It is something I strive for in my own work-and once in a while I actually hit it. Your videos have inspired me to try to take the metal work on my models to the next level.
    Thanks for the good hit!
    Tom Lauria

  22. the scratches were from silicates in the wood (that's why mdf was better, covered with the bonding resin). glad you found tin. way to go. thanks for the videos.

  23. Ever since I watched you ToT collab I've had a great time watching your work. Your a true artist, keep up the great works 👍🙂👍

  24. hey Chris, Those screws came out beautiful. I have difficulty making my screws blue like that I almost always go too far on one! Purple and blue don't look good together. So now I cut more screws than I need and then I have another ready for bluing. I would love to find a watchmakers lathe video or class. I have always cut by hand because I chiefly worked on watches. My eyes are not young anymore and I have just tooled up for doing clocks. I have a full set up of Derbyshire, lathe, cross slide and milling attachment. Also counter balance and idler pulleys.
    I wish I could find a good tutorial because to get good with the lathe in anything but hand cutting I need to learn to set up the cross slide, and milling attachment. Thanks for sharing your extensive knowledge. All the best, Sean

  25. the first time i saw a screw that beautiful, btw what i do is smooth the surface with 1000 grit then polish with leather piece, turns out quite beautiful,

  26. Nice to see you have a Sherline lathe. Sweet little lathe. One of my local watch repair shops uses one. Wish I'd bought one, but I at least bought the Sherline 8 way milling machine, with all the goodies to go with it. Again thank you for posting all your videos. They are absolutely marvelous.

  27. My old man used to fix watches, about 30 odd years ago…had two pocket watches he never got round to fixing. Big heavy ones too, can't remember the make. What I can remember is they had casings that let you take the watch from the case, for some odd reason he kept them in the car's glovebox…… no idea why. We no longer have them or him but I know he'd love this series, he was a mechanical minded guy, always tinkering.

    Still the best video's on youtube

  28. As a machinist…I must say…..much respect…this is the kind of attention to detail I use even when not seen
    but your results are masterful!
    FYI you may wish to try a product called "Blue Magic" for polishing

  29. Use a biffing Compound and cotton wheel to have the perfect polish effect. You get a range of compounds that are suited for each type of metal. Not sure where you would find it other where you are located, but in South Africa i use a product called Rebuff, maybe try find something similar. Great lathe skills, keep up the fantastic work

  30. Hi! great thanks from Canada for your serie of amasing videos! I've got a lot of inspirations for my hobby(I'm gunsmith) and got e real lessons of quality of finishing. thanks!

  31. PRO SANDING POLISHING TIP from a guy that used to cut and polish opals by hand
    CLEANLINESS AND QUARANTEEN – keep each grade of abrasive in a separate sealed container. Wash hands and workpiece/lap etc between grades. Always buy abrasives in SEALED FULL PACKS. Keep used pieces in separate plastic containers of there own 1each grit. You want laps of annealed aluminum or tin OR as a cheap alternative the reverse side of laminate flooring.
    A SINGLE grain of 240 grit can ruin 3 hours of work! Contamination from 1 grit to another is the biggest cause of bad finish.

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