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jdrichard

Best Stock for Making Balance Staff

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If You can find some old road-racer spokes. They are super strong after treated like praezis said. Or there are some steel nails (they are blue or black compared to the regular nails), but they have low carbon, hence not that hard after tempering. 

There are also some writings on the net making the staff from softened steel and harden it after turning. No tempering here so it will become hard but not so strong.

But a guy at Tag Heuer said he is making staffs from wheelman's nails :D But i found that it is way to soft. No carbon content at all. It is breaking and bending in the lathe. 

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The site old hippy linked to mentions its silver steel.  JD, silver steel or drill rod in NA is usually (often) O1, but it can also be W1 (you need to know the difference else you don't know how to heat treat it), that has been hardened them tempered to blue.   Its bought annealed.  Hardening is via quench and, well,  hardens it,  tempering lets it down by heat so its not so brittle (and a little less hard).   When making tools its nice to work with it annealed (as you buy it) then harden and temper so that would be where I'm most comfortable.  It carries the added work of heat treating and tempering but is easier to machine.  Just my view, I can see how others would prefer to skip that step but then there's the added complexity of sharpen carbide gravers (something I find a bit of a pita)

Quote

There are also some writings on the net making the staff from softened steel and harden it after turning.

You can only heat treat and make hard a piece of steel if it has the right chemistry which usually means > .5 % carbon, for example carbon tool steel (O1, W1, A2 etc).  mild steel doesn't have enough carbon to heat treat (for the sticklers you can get some increase in hardness from a cold brine quench, but it is almost negligible) except by case hardening which is a bit different process, carbon is infused in the outer layer via a soak at heat.  Not applicable (imo) to a part like this

Edited by measuretwice

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37 minutes ago, measuretwice said:

The site old hippy linked to mentions its silver steel.  JD, silver steel or drill rod in NA is usually (often) O1, but it can also be W1 (you need to know the difference else you don't know how to heat treat it), that has been hardened them tempered to blue.   Its bought annealed.  Hardening is via quench and, well,  hardens it,  tempering lets it down by heat so its not so brittle (and a little less hard).   When making tools its nice to work with it annealed (as you buy it) then harden and temper so that would be where I'm most comfortable.  It carries the added work of heat treating and tempering but is easier to machine.  Just my view, I can see how others would prefer to skip that step but then there's the added complexity of sharpen carbide gravers (something I find a bit of a pita)

You can only heat treat and make hard a piece of steel if it has the right chemistry which usually means > .5 % carbon, for example carbon tool steel (O1, W1, A2 etc).  mild steel doesn't have enough carbon to heat treat (for the sticklers you can get some increase in hardness from a cold brine quench, but it is almost negligible) except by case hardening which is a bit different process, carbon is infused in the outer layer via a soak at heat.  Not applicable (imo) to a part like this

The stock I had when I took over the workshop was blue steel and I never needed to soften it. I learned from my master how to make balance staffs from the stock we had. He didn’t teach me about what you have mentioned because I suppose there was no need, there was loads of the stuff.  I do remember him saying about what type of graver to use and how you go about sharpening such a tool.

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I also had a box of unfinished partly turned staffs, which was also very handy. They ranged from watch size to pocket watch. Never needed to treat them in any way.

That ol blue steel stock I had it must have been made back in 1900 or around that time as it came from my masters father who also was a watchmaker. I'm wondering if back then steel was made and treated different from modern day.

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I think this explains what I had to use. Because all that I needed to do was remove the blue. Thats way I said blue steel.  I'm sorry if I confused people.

http://elgintime.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/making-balance-staff.html

Edited by oldhippy

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17 hours ago, oldhippy said:

The stock I had when I took over the workshop was blue steel and I never needed to soften it. I learned from my master how to make balance staffs from the stock we had. He didn’t teach me about what you have mentioned because I suppose there was no need, there was loads of the stuff.  I do remember him saying about what type of graver to use and how you go about sharpening such a tool.

 

I have no way of knowing for sure, but would think it a probability its carbon tool steel that's been heat treated and tempered, O1 ,W1 or A2 (almost not material like difference between, except cost and how they are quenched).   Personal preference is to work with it in the annealed state - I didn't mean to suggest anyone would or should anneal the blue steel, but when you buy say O1 it comes annealed.  

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4 hours ago, szbalogh said:

To increase confusion, this guy made it from HSS drill bit :) 

http://joyofprecision.com/post/11958667783/turning-a-balance-staff-part-1

This is a rational choice because hss tend to have the best balance of hardness and toughness. 

Max's site.  He goes by the name mars-red and is quite competent, I know him from machining sites.  I don't think he says a hss drill so perhaps it was carbon - again likely O1 or W1.  imo its an strange choice, a drill, but it might have been just what he had and it worked.  If it was HSS, he could have gone through the steps, but I'll push back that he hardened it.   HSS is extremely tricky to heat treat, can't be done without a controlled oven. 

The reason is the temperature control has to be very precise - it has a small sweet spot.  Its generally not considered possible without specialized equipment.   Just for interest, carbon steel is as hard and tough as hss, but where hss shines is it holds its hardness at higher temps.  This is why you can make all manner of cutting tools from tool steel and they work and last just fine so long as you run them slowly.  HSS has obvious advantages for machine cutting tools as things can be run faster, but its also advantages in that the grinding won't affect the temper.  i.e. your plane blade won't ever be used fast enough to get any benefit from HSS, but you can grind (where the point of contact temps are high) the bevel on the HSS without affecting the temper.

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What I need in the source (provided as a web link) for the steel i should purchase to cut a balance staff. O1, W1: dont care, just want material that i can cut without any preparation. If i need to temper it after, I'll have to figure that out. Please help a Friendly Canadian :)


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Max's site.  He goes by the name mars-red and is quite competent, I know him from machining sites.  I don't think he says a hss drill so perhaps it was carbon - again likely O1 or W1.  imo its an strange choice, a drill, but it might have been just what he had and it worked.  If it was HSS, he could have gone through the steps, but I'll push back that he hardened it.   HSS is extremely tricky to heat treat, can't be done without a controlled oven. 
The reason is the temperature control has to be very precise - it has a small sweet spot.  Its generally not considered possible without specialized equipment.   Just for interest, carbon steel is as hard and tough as hss, but where hss shines is it holds its hardness at higher temps.  This is why you can make all manner of cutting tools from tool steel and they work and last just fine so long as you run them slowly.  HSS has obvious advantages for machine cutting tools as things can be run faster, but its also advantages in that the grinding won't affect the temper.  i.e. your plane blade won't ever be used fast enough to get any benefit from HSS, but you can grind (where the point of contact temps are high) the bevel on the HSS without affecting the temper.

Interesting


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11 minutes ago, jdrichard said:

What I need in the source (provided as a web link) for the steel i should purchase to cut a balance staff. O1, W1: dont care, just want material that i can cut without any preparation. If i need to temper it after, I'll have to figure that out. Please help a Friendly Canadian :)

You can start with a simple nail, to practice. Moreover, the finished part can be hardened if heated in carbon powder. This will add carbon to the outer layer. The longer you treat it the thicker the high-carbon layer will be. And polish thereafter. 

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30 minutes ago, measuretwice said:

Max's site.  He goes by the name mars-red and is quite competent, I know him from machining sites.  I don't think he says a hss drill so perhaps it was carbon - again likely O1 or W1.  imo its an strange choice, a drill, but it might have been just what he had and it worked.  If it was HSS, he could have gone through the steps, but I'll push back that he hardened it.   HSS is extremely tricky to heat treat, can't be done without a controlled oven. 

The reason is the temperature control has to be very precise - it has a small sweet spot.  Its generally not considered possible without specialized equipment.   Just for interest, carbon steel is as hard and tough as hss, but where hss shines is it holds its hardness at higher temps.  This is why you can make all manner of cutting tools from tool steel and they work and last just fine so long as you run them slowly.  HSS has obvious advantages for machine cutting tools as things can be run faster, but its also advantages in that the grinding won't affect the temper.  i.e. your plane blade won't ever be used fast enough to get any benefit from HSS, but you can grind (where the point of contact temps are high) the bevel on the HSS without affecting the temper.

I think you have cleared up my misleading remarks at the beginning. Thanks.

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You can start with a simple nail, to practice. Moreover, the finished part can be hardened if heated in carbon powder. This will add carbon to the outer layer. The longer you treat it the thicker the high-carbon layer will be. And polish thereafter. 

No nails that dont have a swirl. So where can i buy the specific stock?


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Take your pick.....

https://www.cousinsuk.com/category/pivot-steel

https://www.hswalsh.com/product/blue-pivot-steel-wire

http://www.m-p.co.uk/muk/parts/chap10/pivot-steel-0.61mm.-10pcs-no.72-0618007215.htm

https://www.esslinger.com/staff-and-pivot-watch-and-clock-wire-rod-assortment-blue-steel-55-1-93mm-12-pieces/

http://timesavers.com/i-24049935-30-pack-3-00mm-3-95mm-blue-wire-assortment.html

https://www.amazon.com/Assorted-Tempered-Pivots-repair-pinions/dp/B01N1SOLDF

http://redroosteruk.com/11-assorted-tempered-blue-steel-wire-pivots-clock-repair-pivot-pinions-staffs/

https://perrinwatchparts.com/collections/metals/products/pivot_wire_43_2115?variant=37875445135

Google "blue pivot steel" and you will find more.

This has been the basic stock for watch and clock pivots and staffs forever. It is a carbon steel that has been hardened and then tempered back to a dark blue so that it can be cut on a lathe. It is still quite hard, try and cut it with snips and it will resist, eventually giving suddenly and breaking rather than cutting. In the lathe though it cuts easily with either a tungsten carbide or HSS graver, although a HSS graver will need frequent touching up to keep it cutting with a good clean finish. Keep a hard Arkansas slip by the lathe for this. Let it get too dull and it will chatter, resulting in a poorer finish, and it will also cause you to apply more pressure to get it to cut. If you're not careful you will break off the work piece by pushing too hard. Don't try to cut it too quickly either, and don't expect long curls of swarf. Take your time and make dust. You will get a better finish and the HSS graver will keep its edge longer, whilst the tungsten carbide will be less likely to chip.It also burnishes well so don't try to cut the pivots to size in the lathe, leave them over size and finish in the Jacot tool.

This doesn't need any further heat treating when you're done, it already has the right balance of hardness and strength for pivots and staffs, especially if you burnish the pivots in the Jacot as this locally work hardens the surface giving the correct hardness to resist wear whilst the rest of the staff retains enough strength to cope with a degree of mechanical shock without shattering.

Practise and enjoy.

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Take your pick.....
https://www.cousinsuk.com/category/pivot-steel
https://www.hswalsh.com/product/blue-pivot-steel-wire
http://www.m-p.co.uk/muk/parts/chap10/pivot-steel-0.61mm.-10pcs-no.72-0618007215.htm
https://www.esslinger.com/staff-and-pivot-watch-and-clock-wire-rod-assortment-blue-steel-55-1-93mm-12-pieces/
http://timesavers.com/i-24049935-30-pack-3-00mm-3-95mm-blue-wire-assortment.html
https://www.amazon.com/Assorted-Tempered-Pivots-repair-pinions/dp/B01N1SOLDF
http://redroosteruk.com/11-assorted-tempered-blue-steel-wire-pivots-clock-repair-pivot-pinions-staffs/
https://perrinwatchparts.com/collections/metals/products/pivot_wire_43_2115?variant=37875445135
Google "blue pivot steel" and you will find more.
This has been the basic stock for watch and clock pivots and staffs forever. It is a carbon steel that has been hardened and then tempered back to a dark blue so that it can be cut on a lathe. It is still quite hard, try and cut it with snips and it will resist, eventually giving suddenly and breaking rather than cutting. In the lathe though it cuts easily with either a tungsten carbide or HSS graver, although a HSS graver will need frequent touching up to keep it cutting with a good clean finish. Keep a hard Arkansas slip by the lathe for this. Let it get too dull and it will chatter, resulting in a poorer finish, and it will also cause you to apply more pressure to get it to cut. If you're not careful you will break off the work piece by pushing too hard. Don't try to cut it too quickly either, and don't expect long curls of swarf. Take your time and make dust. You will get a better finish and the HSS graver will keep its edge longer, whilst the tungsten carbide will be less likely to chip.It also burnishes well so don't try to cut the pivots to size in the lathe, leave them over size and finish in the Jacot tool.
This doesn't need any further heat treating when you're done, it already has the right balance of hardness and strength for pivots and staffs, especially if you burnish the pivots in the Jacot as this locally work hardens the surface giving the correct hardness to resist wear whilst the rest of the staff retains enough strength to cope with a degree of mechanical shock without shattering.
Practise and enjoy.

Mark, you and OH have been great help all along. I will move forward and get the material. Below is a practice cut. I know i have years before i can cut a good balance staff7fb73f8eaa0ac516deb4eda1295ef9a1.jpg and my setupcc6c4e947712fada6d86d69fa736611d.jpg


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