New Watchmaker’s Lathe

Wahoo! My new watchmakers lathe finally showed up! I have wanted a watchmakers lathe like this, or a turn, for about ten years. Its hard to find a complete one in good condition.

Making a watch from scratch, meaning cuting everything from raw metal, is one of the projects on my bucket list. That project itself is long time off. For now I am just collecting horology books and tools and working on building basic skills. There’s a lot of skills and concepts to pick up.

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So this type of lathe is made for turning very small objects between centers. What do I mean by very small? Well the lathe is bow driven, and it is not uncommon for people to use the core of a feather as the bow. The lathe dog that came with it is less than an inch long.

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The lathe comes with a number of centers of different sizes, as well as several varieties I have never seen before. Several centers look hollow and bowed out forming a spring, so you can hold the work piece impaled on the pin. It’s a fascinating method for holding the work piece, but given the low masses involved – and the high stiction forces – I can’t see why it would not work.

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I found the graver cross slide support is unusual in that it is only held in place by friction. The graver resting on the support translates into a downward pressure that should hold the cross slide in place. I was surprised at this design choice, since the lathe does use a screw turn just sets the cross slide support angle.

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The turns are held in a bench vise, hanging out over the watchmaker’s bench.

So now to go make some very small round things!

Impressions of the Printrbot simple

The prototypes I am building required enough printing that I decided to get a second printer. Looking at what was available I decided to go with the Printrbot simple, and all and all I have been impressed with it.

Since I was in a hurry I spent the extra $50 and bought the printer pre-assembled and ready to print. Surprisingly it really was ready to print. I just slid it out of the box, plugged it in, and was printing 20 minutes later. Hey, I read the directions.

Even with the heated bed upgrade the printer was only half the cost of the Replicator Mini – so I was pleasantly surprised to see the print quality rivaling any Makerbot I have used. It definitely is better than the uPrint printers I have used. Given that, and that it does not use proprietary filament I have to say I am quite happy with the printer.

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So what I was not happy with was my first real print turning into a blob of molten plastic. It is not as bad as it looks, just 2 hours with a hot air pencil to clean the head up. Recalibrating the auto leveling Z sensor fixed things and the printer has been running non-stop.

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The one horrible thing is the Cura software they suggest using for the printer – so I am planning on at least switching to something like Pronterface soon.

So all in all I am very happy with the printer. The blob was my rushing things because I was impressed with the printer and wanted to play with it. I’ll probably build it an enclosure, and swap out the hot end eventually, but it was well worth the $750.

Now thats an inspirational quote….

So I normally don’t go in for inspirational quote – but a friend recently posted this and it is just too good not to save especially coming up on St. Valentines day.

“Tell someone you love them today, because life is short. But shout it at them in German, because life is also terrifying and confusing.”