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Screwdrivers Choices


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This has been discussed already recently, so it's always good to do a little searching.

Affordable unbranded A*F (France) drivers
Individual: https://www.cousinsuk.com/product/cousins-swiss-style-stainless-steel
Set: https://www.cousinsuk.com/product/cousins-swiss-style-stainless-steel-9-pieces-rs

Answer from Sam Cousins when asked about:
they are replaced by the Cousins Swiss style equivalents, which are the exact same screwdrivers

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You need to dress your driver of proper width, to the proper thickness.    They all tend to get thicker as they get wider, to handle the torque. 

Hi ro63rto,   If the blades are straight, aligned and firm and remain that way when you fit Bergeon blades to them (better quality steel, not what they usually have which can scratch and damage the

This may sound like a silly question, but have you tried sharpening the existing ones?    

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30 minutes ago, watchweasol said:

Years ago when I started in the watch repair hobby Dumont tweezers and Bergeon tools were the norm and the prices were not that bad but as the market has opened up the prices rose  and to day they are the most expensive, Others copied them but never beat them but the copies are now very good. Just like fake watches, years ago you could tell a fake from 10 yards now you have to examine them closely. But I think the tools are way better now.

I think I paid about £15 for a full set of Bergeon screwdrivers in a wooden box in the 70's. I expect a single screwdriver cost more then that now. :D

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I did some more research on this particular set. Euro tools is the manufacturer and this is their top graded set.

I also spoke to a rep at Jules Borel and he said they are good quality for what you pay.

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I recently went through the same exercise. I haven't received the drivers yet, but I opted to pass on the generic French drivers. I read variously that they're made BY A&F, and that they just look like A&F and are made nearby (I believe the latter). Everywhere I looked, I saw "good for what you pay", "good for the price", and other variations on the theme. Given drivers are your most used tool, it's one where cheaping out can be a curse that visits you constantly. I opted to pass in favor of the Bergeon standard set. I see them all the time (and almost exclusively) in photos of watchmaking schools. Since students tend to be less than flush with cash, and the schools want to be teaching how to work with movements and not around the shortcomings of tools, I figure that's a good starting point for a value conscious yet thoroughly effective option. 

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16 hours ago, spectre6000 said:

I recently went through the same exercise. I haven't received the drivers yet, but I opted to pass on the generic French drivers.
...

I think are hugely exaggerating the matter, and paying undue money and respect to Bergeon. It's the person that does the job, not the tool, I have started with cheap Indian drivers that worked just good, any mistake or slip it was my fault not their. Beside, with A*F we're talking about absolute top quality, with their ball bearing top and excellent blade quality. We should be glad that someone finally smelled the coffe and started offering to a realistic price. Maybe one day you will handle one and understand what I'm talking about.

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It's not Bergeon I'm buying, it's the strategies employed by the schools. The base model Bergeon driver set is so ubiquitous in the schools that I honestly can't think of a photo I've seen of an academic setting that didn't have the Bergeon drivers on all the benches. Combine that with the fact that students are necessarily needing to be as cost effective as possible, and the schools not wanting the tools to be part of the lesson beyond a supply, and it's a solid recommendation. The generic French set is probably great in experienced hands, but starting out, hands lack experience, and there's no need to add additional impediment, however slight.

Looking around here and on other watchmaking oriented sites, the reviews on the generic French drivers sets are thoroughly mixed, with the vast majority saying something to the effect of "good for the money" meaning better can be easily had for more money. So if $50 is your budget, it's a good option. I have no doubt there are plenty of driver sets that are better quality, and even better value than the basic Bergeon model, but personally I'm willing to throw money at it to not worry about it. I buy Snap-On ratchets, Lie-Nielsen planes, and Fluke multimeters. I'm no brand **BLEEP**, but I'll throw money at quality all day, and when the brand and the quality are in alignment, it's a no brainer. I think the schools recognize this, and that was a key part of my decision process.

There's a guy on WUS pushing a Horia set hard. He has experience with them and their use, and in that vacuum, the Horia set is truly the only option for any sane person... but I swear he's the only person on the planet who seems to even know they exist, and all other google indexed mentions (save one, which very well may be influenced by him in the internet echo chamber) are him in various different settings.

My response is valid here because I'm in the same position and just went through the same exercise. Yours is at least as valid, if not more, because you have the set in question and have practical experience using them. Your opinion in this vacuum carries far more weight. I respect your opinion just as I hope you respect that I might come to an alternate conclusion. If I'm wrong, I'm unnecessarily out some subset of $100 in the best case, and at worst have a reasonable backup set of drivers and get to go through the whole exercise a second time (possibly with that Horia set). The OP will have to weigh these and what he finds elsewhere against his own judgement.

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I've seen but have never actually owned any of the Bergeon screwdrivers.. back when I started the choices weren't much different but the regular really cheap all metal screwdrivers were seen as somewhat more acceptable (back in the days before everyone had the internet).. in some ways they still have some uses around the house. 6 months in I upgraded to some non-magnetic ball bearing screwdrivers, and later added a steel tipped set which I've often used since.

Bergeon is an industry standard with which people can expect a certain level of quality. That being said, I've yet to see a sufficiently compelling reason to actually purchase their screwdrivers. The Horia set sounds interesting but at the cheap end of the price spectrum it's not like the cheap ball bearing screwdrivers are nasty, and retouching or replacing tips is still necessary with any.. I'd say there's a bigger difference among "HSS" gravers or 1/2" wrenches.

For context, I'm sometimes really tight and sometimes the opposite - my non-watchmaking lathes are mostly vintage Hardinge with 1 Chinese mini-lathe mixed in.. I don't care much for flash brands but do like quality in some things.

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  • 4 months later...

I have a set of Horotec screwdrivers which serve me well but recently while working on more vintage movements i have struggled with some of the smaller screws which seem to have narrower slits than my screwdrivers.  I know i can file my existing screwdrivers to suit but am considering purchasing an additional set in order to keep them both perfectly setup for all types of screws.  So was wondering if anyone could recommend a set of screwdrivers that comes with narrow tips to begin with.  

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This is specially problematic when you come across a real small and somewhat rusted screw with worn slit, usually screw head pops off or one side of the slit breaks. 

I got a cheap set with replacable flat blade driver, and collect broken sewing machine needles( real strong) dress a bunch of needles to different sizes. 

I also soak old pieces in coca-cola for 48 hrs, which eliminate the chance of breaking screws. 

Safe removal of old screws is rewarding and worth all the work, certainly beats having to extract broken screws.

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2 hours ago, Mazboy said:

So was wondering if anyone could recommend a set of screwdrivers that comes with narrow tips to begin with.  

All the quality Swiss made have narrow blades. At this time Cousins is selling unbranded AF  very cheaply.

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There is a sticky thread at the beginning of this section, Screwdriver Sharpening.  It will guide you.

I mostly work on Seiko.  The screw slots are often wider than the blades of my screwdrivers, as recieved new.  Using the above sticky and a few other resources, I tuned my driver blades to match the screws I usually encounter.  Slips and scratches have been reduced greatly. 

It is possible to tune your screwdriver to fit the slot you need it to fit.  All you need is another tool and you will be set for life.

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7 hours ago, bklake said:

I mostly work on Seiko.  The screw slots are often wider than the blades of my screwdrivers, as recieved new.

For Seiko with a ready tool I recommend Anchor drivers, cheap as chips, good blades with spares, they served me well for years. The "upgraded" to some Chinese with a thinner body, which one may like or not.

In fact one needs a minimum  of two sets anway.

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On 10/4/2020 at 9:43 AM, jdm said:

For Seiko with a ready tool I recommend Anchor drivers, cheap as chips, good blades with spares, they served me well for years. The "upgraded" to some Chinese with a thinner body, which one may like or not.

In fact one needs a minimum  of two sets anway.

Thanks @jdm will check them out.

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Here is a link to get you started. https://www.cousinsuk.com/product/screwdriver-sharpeners. 

With this tool and any sharpening stone, you can make a screwdriver using any stock that resembles a screwdriver bit.  Sewing needle, coat hanger, brass rod, plastic rod, square stock.  My favorite is music wire/piano wire.  And, it will fit precisely.  One tip.  After you hone the blade to fit the slot, very slightly round the blade edges and corners.  As honed, the edges are very sharp and will act as a graver should it slip.  

It is a skill you should develop to be a better watchmaker.  Everybody wants to dive in and service a movement right out of the gate.  On my journey to learning this craft, I've found that many skills and processes completely unrelated to movement work, have greatly improved my work on movements. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi,

 

I've started the Level 2 course, and on inspecting my screwdrivers have realised they are poor quality and damaged.

The sets online seem expensive.

I am working on the CHI3620M Seagull TY3620 movement.

How do I figure out what sizes of screwdrivers will be needed to work on this movement, so that I can buy good quality screwdrivers individually?

If the answer is to just buy the Cousins 9 piece set and it will be fine then let me know! I don't really need a stand if there are cheaper options.

Thanks.

 

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After a while one will make use of most if not all sizes. The unbranded A*F at GBP 2.50 a piece from cousins is the best deal. There is a nice unexpensive fixed stand on Ebay, has a with an al. oxides strip for dressing. The latter is what really matters on a driver, not the brand or price.

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I think the only time I've ever seen a service manual recommends screwdriver tip sizes was in one of the newer color Rolex service manuals. Otherwise it's the watchmaker's choice.

to give you an idea about personal choice several years ago in one of the BHI journals they reviewed screwdrivers. The particular bergeon screwdriver set I have they really didn't give it a stellar review. They actually liked the A*F set better other than the base which they didn't like at all. then their overall favorite was Horotec.

 

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Interesting.

But would you think I should just aim for a stainless steel set and then just pick a brand at the right price?

I suppose I'm aiming at mid range... which is why I was thinking of buying individually.

I have just placed the Bergeon 5 piece stainless steel in plastic wallet, plus a pair of spares for each in my Cousins basket. Hoping the spread of sizes will suffice initially.

I have a circular non rotating stand from the cheap set that might be reusable. But I'm not overly pushed for now if it's not.

 

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This is a good set that covers most of want you will need. It gives you the size of the blades. Get a good set it makes it easier to work with and a good set will last you a life time. You can always add to your set by buying individual sizes. You can buy replacement blades.

 https://www.ebay.co.uk/i/263546041715?chn=ps&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=710-134428-41853-0&mkcid=2&itemid=263546041715&targetid=938697917686&device=c&mktype=pla&googleloc=9045349&poi=&campaignid=10204071033&mkgroupid=100040608497&rlsatarget=pla-938697917686&abcId=1145987&merchantid=110769374&gclid=Cj0KCQjwufn8BRCwARIsAKzP697RLa9t_tDcxU8s3q9oLCHy-wwVE1DAhfki-oFAoE-OTgKKzR_VEo4aAt8uEALw_wcB

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There has been much debate on this site regarding screwdrivers and the difference between parallel and standard.  Might be useful for you to have a look via the search function on the top right of the home page. I am sure you will find some useful data.         cheers

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