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Looking to set up shop...

Desolus

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#1
I'm a hobby watch assembler currently... and

I'm wanting to tackle watchmaking as a hobby (expensive hobby i know) and I am looking for some advice on what kind of machines I should be budgeting for. My requirements are pretty straight forward I need a mill and some way to turn work either on that mill or on a dedicated machine(I think I could get away with turning the work in a rotary table around an end-mill instead of CNC of the 3 axis on the mill); I'm also strongly wanting a way to rotate the work in the mill perpendicular to the axis of the spindle on a, index-able tilt, index-able rotary table, to access more than one side of the work. That rotary can be manual as it is only for quick precision indexing of the work. Unfortunately i have not been able to find such a table, so perhaps someone's googlefu is more powerful than mine?

I've thought about the possibility of purchasing a 3 axis mill and then making a rotary table on it, for it. It does not seem incredibly difficult, if incredibly time consuming. but hey it's a hobby.

I don't necessarily need 5 axis(and would probably not be able to afford anything resembling a full CNC 5 axis machine), but i need access to all 5 sides of the work and not having to re-clamp the work for machining on each side would save an incredible amount of time making cases.

As for what I need out of the machine I don't really know how to better explain it than to explain the kind of parts I would be making. I'd be making predominantly:
Gears, with a module of 0.2 - 1 mm (tiny).
Plates, for those gears to set inside of with press fit pockets for jewel bearings.
Cases, requiring significantly more power, and less accuracy from the machine and also being the only part that would really benefit from that rotary table.
Screws of many different kinds and many different sizes including screws with a hole down it's axis.
Pushers and crowns, having pockets at the base of a long shaft.

Any help on locating equipment sufficient to my needs will be rewarded with a digital chocolate chip cookie. :grin big:
Thanks in advance.

The written word isn't my strongest suit, I did my best to make my disorganized and disjointed thoughts understandable but if clarification is needed somewhere please let me know.
 

terrywerm

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#2
Welcome to H-M, Desolus! I myself am not a clock or watchmaker, but we have some members here that are and they should be able to answer some (if not all) of your questions.
 

Desolus

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#3
Thanks Terry, I do look forward to that. I am patiently awaiting such guidance while working on the drawing of the movement I want to make. It's a fairly slow process working out how to best fit a train of gears in such a confined space, the case was much easier to design as all i needed do was come up with something aesthetically pleasing.
 

mikey

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#4
Here is an example of a watch case made on a Sherline mill: http://www.sherline.com/pages/workshop.htm

To use a rotary table at an angle with a small Sherline mill, the rotary table is mounted on a tilting angle table and this allows all sorts of difficult angles to be machined.

I don't know if there is currently a better product on the market for a watchmaker/clockmaker but the Sherline line of tools seems to be very popular. They are good machines for the scale of work you anticipate and they have a line of accessories that is second to none. WR Smith, a horologist of high repute but recently deceased, used Sherline tools for his work.

I own Sherline machines and they are capable of high precision while being comparatively affordable. Check them out. If I was going to make watch cases and crowns of my own I would definitely look at Sherline.
 

Desolus

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#5
Huh, I looked at sherlines because they came up in the google search but at first glance they didn't look even remotely capable of that... Thanks for the tip about the rotary on the tilting table as well. They are really cheap comparatively too.
 

mikey

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#6
Sherline machines are far more capable than you might imagine. In my case, I was the limiting factor in what could be done, not the machines. Anyway, they are what I think would best suit your needs - check them out.
 

David S

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#8
I repair clocks ...no watch work. However I would strongly recommend the Sherline series of machines. I don't own them, but if I was starting today I would seriously consider them.

You can google Jerry Kieffer and see all the fantastic work he does with Sherline equipment, including complex horology repairs and replacements.

David
 

RJSakowski

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#9
If watchmaking is your only use for the machines, I would definitely look at smaller rather than larger. As Mike has suggested, 3 or 4" tilting rotary table or horizontal/ vertical rotary table and a tilting table will give you the versatility required to make your parts. You will most likely need a lather as well as a mill as much if the machining is best done that way.

For work holding and tool holding, consider ER collets. ER11 or ER16 collets can hold pieces as small as .020" in diameter and have good concentricity. Collet chucks are available in a variety of shank sizes or custom adapters can be made to suit your particular needs. They work well with the rotary table and lathe for work holding and and with the mill for holding all those tiny tools.

Making parts for watches is definitely a challenge for any machinist. That said, there were some exquisite watch movements made as early as the 16th century without the benefit of modern precision machines. We will be looking forward to seeing your work.
 

Desolus

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#10
Well after seeing a replacement escape wheel made on a sherline lathe I have to say that I'm impressed. The few other machines that I've priced out capable of that are far more expensive. Although those machines are really commercial in nature.
 

mikey

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#11
The other thing to keep in mind is that Sherline machines are rebuildable. Every part of the machine is available. Heck, you can change the ways on a Sherline lathe for about a hundred bucks if it is ever needed. The late Joe Martin, original owner of the the company, had the philosophy that every part would be backwards compatible so any Sherline machine can be upgraded as newer innovations arise. Buying their machines is an investment but a comparatively small one. It is good to know that should the need arise, it can be brought back to specs for a reasonable cost.

Before you decide, I would highly recommend you buy the book Tabletop Machining by Joe Martin. It is a showcase for Sherline machines and will give you an idea of what the machines and accessories do, on top of teaching you how to machine stuff.
 

chips&more

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#13
Desolus welcome! I do a lot of micro machining. Would I do it on a Sherline? a Unimat? or the like. Guys and gals don’t get me wrong on this, but no, I would rather mirco machine on something a little more refined. I did not say it could not be done on said machines. It’s just that once you have tried a Lamborghini, it’s hard to try and enjoy the drive of a Pinto, kinda scenario. If you have knowledge as a machinist, that’s good. But, micro machining is not the same world. Finesse, patience, steady hands are just a few needed traits. Our ancestors made timepieces that are works of art with basically a stone axe (being funny). The “works of art” part came more from the individual and less from his tools. Would our ancestors have been thrilled to death to have had a Sherline back then, you bet! Levin and Derbyshire are still in business today, if you have the wallet for it!
 

David S

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#14
Chips, just for my clarification and perhaps Desolus' as well. Can you kindly let us know what equipment you recommend or have experience with.

When you mention Sherline and Unimat in the same..almost sentence I am confused. I have the Unimat DB200 and it is definitely not anywhere in the same upper league as the Sherline.

There are plenty of examples on line of micro machining using Sherliine equipment so I think more information would be helpful.

David
 

Desolus

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#15
It is also far easier to obtain information on sherline equipment as well as source it.
Unfortunately Levin and Derbyshire do not make milling machines as best I can tell and I have yet to locate a retail outlet for derbyshire equipment...
The specs on the Levin lathe (as well as the derbyshire) is far greater than I anticipate requiring, everything that I have drawn so far is much, much larger than the 0.0004 hole diameter they boast about. And the specs listed on the sherline lathes are simply not that far behind it with 0.0002 OD turning accuracy listed.
I was also confused with the comparison of the Unimat and sherline lathes after doing a little research on the unimats.
 

Desolus

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#16
What kind of material removal can I expect to get with the sherline mill working on 316L stainless. ie. How fast of a feed with 0.1 inch depth of cut, cutting out a channel with a 1/4 inch cutter can the mill handle? I'm planning on having most of the material removed on a water jet cutter first.(there are 7 fab shops with water cutters close by and they have reasonable prices) So the milling is to bring to final tolerance and chamfer some radius edges. I'm just wondering how much material removal in cubic milimeters/minute the machine can handle without too much deflection. That will roughly tell me what I can expect to set my speeds and feeds to for each operation and thus how long it will take to make the everage watch case.

Looking at the sherline lathe vs the mill, the lathe seems to be able to handle way more material removal, which has dictated alot of how I'm planning my setup.

Granted the only parts I'm concerned about speed on are the case parts, the watch guts take forever always.
 

DaveInMi

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#17
Often times when people discuss Sherline lathes Taig is mentioned as a competitor. I have a Taig lathe and Taig mill. I believe Taigs are a little less expensive. I'm bias but I wonder what I could do on a Sherline that I can't do on a Taig.
 

mikey

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#18
I'm just wondering how much material removal in cubic milimeters/minute the machine can handle without too much deflection.
I honestly don't know the answer to this, mainly because I don't work in terms of metal removal rates at so many mm/min. Maybe one of the CNC guys can give you a better answer. Just keep in mind that the deflection will come largely from the end mill, not the milling machine, so you might be better off using carbide end mills.

What I can tell you is that a Sherline mill can drive a 3/8" HSS end mill through a 3/16" slotting cut in 303 stainless without breathing hard.
 

brino

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#19
Welcome to the group!

The written word isn't my strongest suit
Personally I don't see that at all!

I have no experience with horology or the tools used, but I have been amazed my several projects and posted here.
Check these out:
http://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/my-watch-workshop.31420/
http://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/clock.40182/
http://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/a-beginners-clock.9737/
http://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/synchronome-clock-build.19586/

Some threads do discuss the tools used.

-brino
 

mikey

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#20
Often times when people discuss Sherline lathes Taig is mentioned as a competitor. I have a Taig lathe and Taig mill. I believe Taigs are a little less expensive. I'm bias but I wonder what I could do on a Sherline that I can't do on a Taig.
I've often wondered the same thing. I have over 20 years on a Sherline mill and lathe so I know very well what they can do but I never ran Taig equipment. From what I have heard, Taig machines are very good and with a good machinist, they should be capable of most anything the user would need (within the envelope of the machine). I suppose I would have to buy some Taig machines to find out but that isn't likely to happen.
 

Desolus

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#21
What I can tell you is that a Sherline mill can drive a 3/8" HSS end mill through a 3/16" slotting cut in 303 stainless without breathing hard.
That is encouraging, and yes I had thought about solid carbide end mills, more likely I'm going to invest in some slightly larger diameter end mills that take inserts. I can do almost all of the milling work with just one diameter tool. the only other ops is hole drilling and countersinking. I wasn't aware just how small they made end mills that take inserts. Looking at some fancy composite body, 3 cutter holders right now, 16mm cutting diameter with a 10mm diameter threaded shaft. there's a far greater variety of this kind of stuff than I had imagined...

Personally I don't see that at all!
Spell check has been used heavily, I assure you. It has always been very difficult (read I'm impatient and get frustrated easily when trying to figure out how to spell a word) for me to get my thoughts onto the page, often requiring many backtracks and rewrites to get to what I feel is an acceptable representation of the chaos inside my head...
 
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brino

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#22
Spell check has been used heavily, I assure you. It has always been very difficult (read I'm impatient and get frustrated easily when trying to figure out how to spell a word) for me to get my thoughts onto the page, often requiring many backtracks and rewrites to get to what I feel is an acceptable representation of the chaos inside my head...
well then, you should fit right in here!
-brino
 

mikey

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#23
That is encouraging, and yes I had thought about solid carbide end mills, more likely I'm going to invest in some slightly larger diameter end mills that take inserts. I can do almost all of the milling work with just one diameter tool. the only other ops is hole drilling and countersinking. I wasn't aware just how small they made end mills that take inserts. Looking at some fancy composite body, 3 cutter holders right now, 16mm cutting diameter with a 10mm diameter threaded shaft. there's a far greater variety of this kind of stuff than I had imagined...
I use solid carbide end mills all the time on my Sherline mill so they should work fine. I do not use inserted carbide end mills, mainly because I cannot get enough speed to use them properly and because the cutting loads are too high for the mill, in my opinion. On the other hand, I haven't considered the small cutters you're talking about so maybe it might be okay. I would see what kind of speeds they have to run at; the Sherline can get up to about 2800 real world rpms.

Maybe a Tormach PCNC 440 might be more suitable?
 

Desolus

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#24
From what I have seen, the lathe and mill can come with a 10,000 rpm spindle from sherline, and if that isn't enough there are aftermarket spindles that push 30,000 rpm @ almost 2HP... that seems like you're going to twist the lathe bed in half when your tool gets stuck... but you can do it <.< >.>
 

mikey

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#25
From what I have seen, the lathe and mill can come with a 10,000 rpm spindle from sherline, and if that isn't enough there are aftermarket spindles that push 30,000 rpm @ almost 2HP... that seems like you're going to twist the lathe bed in half when your tool gets stuck... but you can do it <.< >.>
True. However, you will find that most cutters require lower speeds. Most of the time, you will be using HSS, cobalt or solid carbide end mills so a normal machine will be more useful. You may not only use the machine to make watch cases, but its your call.
 

Desolus

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#26
well that's a bit to consider, obviously the only solution is to just get a half dozen machines! :big grin: I just learned most of this stuff about how tools move into work and it's taking a few weeks to wrap my head all the way around it. there will likly be moe questions to come. and thank you for your help so far.
 

rock_breaker

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#27
Welcome to the site, you will find watchmakers here that I believe will share their skills and abilities with you.
Having no experience in watch making and definitely a novice machinist I have found the Workshop Practice Series book Gears and Gear Cutting a must read (several times for me) for gear making. My involvement here is making an indexer utilizing a 40:1 worm gear. You speak of making the interior parts of a watch so I am guessing you will cut the gears as part of the project. The precision and finesse in watch and clock making blow my mind, anything smaller than a 1/4" bolt in my shop is precision work.
Have a good day
Ray
 

terrywerm

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#28
What kind of material removal can I expect to get with the sherline mill working on 316L stainless. ie. How fast of a feed with 0.1 inch depth of cut, cutting out a channel with a 1/4 inch cutter can the mill handle?
I see that you are planning to machine 316 stainless. I do not wish to deter you, but I do feel the need to point out that 316 can be rather challenging to machine. It work hardens very easily, especially when taking very thin cuts, so you will want to play with some of it and experiment some before you start in on your actual parts. You may wish to instead consider using 303 in its place. Much easier to machine but with most of the same qualities as 316.
 

Metal

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#29
as for the "dont wanna reclamp" issue

I'd make some sort of modular soft jaws specifically for the job that you can pop out and in on indicator pins, you should be able to get at least 4 out of 5 sides done on a 3 axis without screwing around with reclamping.

Once those ops are done taking it out and putting it into another fixture that again indicates onto the same pins (or its own) is pretty easy
 

Desolus

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#30
To me 303 is corrosion resistant, I have abused the stuf enough to make it corrode. 316 is corrosion proof, I have not abused it enough to make it corrode.

303 is still responsive to magnetic feilds.
316 is not.

I designed the seals in this watch case to handle 50 atm, it is deffinately going to be used in salt water. I also want the magnetic resistance because my hair spring is ferric, and I do not want it to become magnetized too easily.

This is also not my first rodeo with 316, or making a watch case with it. This will be my first time working with it in a small machine and working it without aid however.