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dpn last won the day on September 17

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About dpn

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    WRT Addict
  • Birthday February 4

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    Sacramento, California, USA
  • Interests
    Watch repair, watch modifications, custom watch dials, bats, wildflowers, and photography (19th century techniques like cyanotype and gum dichromate, combined with 21st century experimental techniqes like digital inkjet negatives and cameraless photography). See my photography portfolio at https://www.iggybug.com/

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  1. Ahh, interesting. Quickly googling this shows that shim stock is can be grade 1008, 1009, or 1010 carbon steel. I'll be researching this further to see if it's a good alternative, based on two factors: 1) does it have enough carbon to blue easily; and 2) is it available affordably in thin sheets? One of the reasons I went with grade 1095 spring steel was that it was cheaply and readily available in very flat, very thin (0.01") sheets of a reasonable size (12-3/8" by 24").
  2. Awesome advice @Tudor. I picked up on the cross-contamination issue quickly and intuitively (there's hope for me yet). Luckily, I purchased some more buffing wheels (sisal, muslin, stitched cotton & fluffy loose cotton) and some different polishing compounds (including rogue for the final finish on the fluffy cotton). I'll have another go shortly, and will keep cleanliness and cross-contamination in mind as I'm doing so. I love the idea of an acetone rinse of the chapter rings between steps to make sure I'm getting all of the previous step's grit/polishing compound away. Cou
  3. @TudorThanks for the advice on how to get a better polish on my chapter rings. I bought a 6" bench grinder and put a couple of 6" buffing wheels on them. I'm still figuring out how to get the best possible result using the machine, but my immediate results are significantly better than the hand process I had been using. I've been using a progression of black polishing compound on the stitched buffing wheel ("Polishing compound for hard metals, used for almost any steel–from steel plates to alloyed steel"), to blue polishing compound ("Multi-shine polishing compound for high-gloss shine on plas
  4. A quick picture of some of my polishing/bluing efforts. I’ve decided that the “satin” finish works better than a high gloss finish on the Fordite.
  5. Thanks for the questions! @KlassikerThis project would not have been at all possible without the advice and good ideas from folks who were willing to share hard-won information with me. It would be disingenuous, to say the least, if I treated this information as proprietary. I've also been open with everyone who has shared information with me that it has always been my intent to document and share my process. @Nucejoe100%, the final dials have feet. I use half-height brass dial blanks (with feet) as the base for my dials, to which I attach a *very* thin veneer or fordite. I forgot on
  6. Couple of brief updates: 1. I have a "for parts and repair" Buehler IsoMet 1000 on the way. The new tool sells for $8,900. Even if repairs are pretty expensive, I'll likely be saving a ton of money. I hope. 2. My chapter rings came back from the laser cutter. I had them cut a little die for holding the rings during polishing, and it works quite well. I'm waiting on some jewelry-polishing dremel attachments to arrive, so that I can give these a great polish. I'm also waiting on the precision hot plate I ordered to arrive, so that I can blue these. Here's the die I had cut to faci
  7. So, I've debated sharing the proof of concept picture below, as it's with an imperfect fordite dial slice and the fordite itself hadn't been polished. It's not even a particularly compelling cut of fordite; I'm going to be selecting the most visually appealing dial veneers I can. The failure rate of the section cuts is quite low (the material is really easy to work with, and stronger than it looks), so I can afford to be selective in my dials. This was one of my first attempts at a complete dial. The problem here is that I didn't start with a perfectly flat and even piece of fordite -- af
  8. I'm getting close enough to feel it. I did a bunch of cutting today, and have come to the conclusion that I need to replace the 4" blade on the Buehler with a 5" blade. This will allow me to make my cuts thinner and flatter. It really is a cool machine though -- I was able to get three really good cuts that I've been grinding down by hand to make my first dials. Right now, the fordite veneers are coming out of the Buehler at 0.6mm thick, which I then hand-grind to the correct thickness. Because I'm having some flatness issues, I need to get the larger blade before continuing. (It's complicated
  9. Update: I couldn't get access to the Buehler IsoMet 1000 over the weekend, but will be working with it tonight. If all goes well, I'll have my first two watches with fordite dials complete to share this week.
  10. My mom handed me this Gubelin “Ball of Light” from the ‘20s and asked if I could do anything with it. It’s a manual wind 17-jewel movement that started up immediately when I wound it, so I’m not inclined to do anything with it other than find a necklace or charm bracelet to pair with it for my wife. Kind of cool looking, though.
  11. I was drinking a can of sparkling water when I read this sentence. I snorted so hard that I got water up my nose. Well written! ... I love this story. It's full of great detail and good writing, and is the exact sort of thing that triggers a buying spree on my part. Really great read!
  12. So, here's where I am to date on this project. I've scheduled as much time over the weekend with the Buehler precision cutter as I can get, so hopefully I'll have some additional progress photos and maybe a completed dial ready to show in the next few days! Again, I'm more than happy to answer any questions or talk about any part of this project/process. I'm committed to seeing it through -- maybe I won't be able to ramp up to a large production run, but I'm confident that, at a minimum, I'll be able to build a small number of fordite-dialed Seiko watches. [Update: I see that this th
  13. Chapter Rings, Half-Height Dials & Next Steps Right now, I’m assembling my first 10 Seiko dials, setting up my web store, getting my required business and sale licenses, etc. I'm still slicing the dial sections out of the fordite cores I've cut with the hole saw, and I'll post the first finished dials here when I can. The first two example Seiko watches I'm building will have "plain" fordite dials. I'm using an SRPE69K1 and an SRPE51K1 for my first two model watches, since they have nice chapter rings but don't have distracting diving bezels. I will be constructing at least
  14. Initial Approaches Fundamentally, I had to figure out a way of cutting fordite into very thin discs that could be mounted onto brass dial blanks. I did quite a lot of research into how stone-dialed watches are manufactured, and spent a lot of time browsing the stone watch dials that are available from Chinese manufacturers on Alibaba]. I believe that the most common way that stone dialed watches are manufactured sidesteps the problem as much as possible; they don’t aim for a total dial height of 0.4mm, the normal Seiko and ETA 6498 standard, but instead cut thicker (but still quite thin)
  15. For the past few months, I’ve been working on a custom dial project. I’m still not ready to show my first production examples, but the project has gotten to the point where I’m comfortable sharing my progress. I’ve been documenting this process, and am committed to sharing my process notes. I believe in open source information, and I’ve benefited immensely in watches (and in life generally) from the wisdom and experience of other people who have been willing to share what they know with me. My hope is that by sharing my process notes, I might be able to encourage other folks to take a risk and
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