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Getting the hands on correctly


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I'm new at this, and it seems that, more often than not, when I put the hands back on one of the pocket watches I'm working on, the hour hand ends up down against the dial putting drag on the train.  What methods do you all use for putting the hands back on a watch?  How do I space the hour hand appropriately slightly off the dial?

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It's normally done carefully by feel and visually checking as you go.  

If you are having difficulty doing it this way, you could cut a thin piece of cardboard or shims of paper with a vee in them and place under the hand to prevent it being pressed on too far.  This is not something I have done myself, it is only a suggestion.

With practice you will eventually get the feel and touch required to press them on without any aids.

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The direct answer to your question, is practice.

A more immediately useful answer is this, you can always raise the height of hands you've pressed on by using hand levers/lifts and stopping short of enough force to remove the hand from the canon. 

Edited by Ishima
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This may not work for everyone but it's how I do it and it hasn't failed me yet.

I use my staking set to push each hand onto its pinion using a hollow flat punch with a bore that is slightly smaller than the pinion of the hand that I am fitting. That way the punch clears all of the other pinions but stops at the top of relevant pinion and cannot go any further.Hand Fitting.jpg I find that the hands install at the correct height to clear each other and the dial, and parallel to the dial.

So long as the faces of the punches are kept clean and polished they don't mark the hands, and for the last hand to be installed I have a punch with a blank brass tip which also helps to avoid any damage.

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Great suggestions!  Wow, there's a lot of knowledge and talent on this site. I feel better knowing that it's a comes-with-practice thing and not just me being a dufus.  I'll try these suggestions and find something that works.  Thanks all.

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