Turn, turn, turn


The last couple of weeks have been spent honing my turning skills

From brass to steel, from shoulders to slots and from 4mm bar down to 1.6mm and tolerances of 1/100mm


Plus we’re now hardening and tempering the steel and cutting threads as practice for when we start making winding stems 


I’m still really enjoying the day-to-day and the sense of progress. This watchmaking lark is a blast!

Week 3

At the end of week 2 I submitted my brass saw stand (pictured above) for assessment and marking. As I’m still playing catch-up to some degree, I knew it had imperfections but felt (as did my lecturer) that it was of a high enough standard to hand in and move on. I’m pleased to say I achieved a high pass mark and I’m also pleased to say that I could recognise the shortcomings and know how to correct them, given a little more time.

Completing the saw stand meant I could move on to servicing my lathe and cracking on with turning. I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve never turned a thing in my life before now so this was new territory.

I spent a day turning random shoulders and diameters into brass to get a feel for things. It’s great! So therapeutic. Admittedly, that’s without any pressure or quality control, but still.

After playing with brass, I moved straight on to the steel project that my fellow students were cracking on with. Steel’s a bit more unforgiving but I’ve not had any real problems. If anything, I work a little too slowly. It seems I have quite a light touch on the lathe so I’m accurate and get a nice finish but it takes me an age to turn the meat out of the metal when I need to bring the diameter right down. I just need to practice being a bit more heavy handed!

The current project requires a series of shoulders with true 90 degree corners and lengths/diameters within tolerances of 0.01mm. So pretty much bang on. I’m about half way through so it’s down to the tricky part, easy to mess up at the very end. Can’t wait to get stuck back in. 

In the meantime, I’ve picked up some light weekend reading. It’s all about the watches right now. 

Suffering for art

This week has been a little painful!

I’m still playing catch-up with the class but joined in with the group to spend Monday and Tuesday sharpening and finishing gravers. That’s 2 days rubbing razor sharp pieces of metal on Arkansas stone to give a perfect surface for turning. My fingers are covered in tiny cuts and the end of my right index finger is numb! Think my hands need to toughen up a bit yet

The second part of my week has been making a sawing support from brass. All dimensions strictly within a 0.2mm tolerance and all angles true. I managed to get it finished by close of play on Friday (it’s still a work in progress in the photograph) and submitted it for marking. I’ll post a photo of the finished piece when I get it back (hopefully with a pass mark)

So that’s week 2 done. It’s early days but I’m really enjoying it, acquiring new skills and refining/reviving long forgotten ones