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seikoskx

Opinions on tools

Question

So I recently just tore down a Chinese standard movement(2650s) and it's essentially destroyed now lol. I used the cheapest tools I could find on cousins uk which include a movement holder, screwdrivers, tweezers and a loupe. Do you think I should upgrade my tools to higher quality or use the same tools and try to perfect my technique? I don't want to spend too much on tools, so bergeon is out of the question, so I'm looking at alternatives like AF Switzerland for screwdrivers. I think I might upgrade my movement holder since the indian one is a POS and wobbles on the table. 

 

 

 

 

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Screwdrivers, tweezers, movement holders, and loupes. That is the core of your toolset.

Contrary to popular opinion you don't need to spend much on screwdrivers and tweezers. They can be brought up to scratch with a decent set of stones/diamond laps, and a bit of practice. In fact bringing them up to scratch is a core skill for watchmakers/repairers. The sooner you learn how to do that, the better. So spend some money on decent stones/laps.

Optical magnification and movement holders, however, need to be good from the start. You can't fix substandard versions. Spend the money on some decent stuff up front. Though that doesn't need to be a lot.

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I agree with @Pango and so, yes, frankly you probably need to practice your technique as much as anything. Getting expensive versions of tools will not prevent you wrecking a movement. 

Cheap screwdriver blades will deteriorate quickly so that purchase on screws is compromised leading to slippage and damage. There's no reason you can't keep your existing handles and just upgrade the blades though. I've always got on well with the A*F Swiss ones. 

My bet is you've got one of the "9mm to 65mm" versions of https://www.cousinsuk.com/product/adjustable# in which case, yes, if you've got, say, a 11.5 ligne movement you're working on then you've got around 60% of the holder not being supported leading to an unbalanced situation. Assuming you'll stick to movements more around the 11.5 ligne range then you could chop off the excess guide and screw rails and also put Rodico (or even BlueTac) on all four feet of the holder; you should find this makes things far more stable.

I have a good movement holder but I often find myself working with one of the rings from the set  https://www.cousinsuk.com/product/07mm-to-50mm-plastic-rings  for some projects; useful doesn't have to be expensive.

And one final comment on magnification. One of my mistakes when I set out was using a loupe with too high a magnification meaning leaning in very close to the movement to work on it. Due to helpful advice on this forum I moved to a headband magnifier to carry out most work. There are professional 'OptiVisor' versions but there are cheaper versions, still using optical glass, which are very good too (look for instance at ebay item 132780644579).

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If you're just starting out I wouldn't worry too much about the screwdriver sharpening aspect; decent blades 'out of the box' will be fine. If as you progress you want to start thinking about this then read other forum topics like https://www.watchrepairtalk.com/topic/5292-screwdriver-sharpening/. For the moment I think your time would be better spent learning how to disassemble and reassemble a basic movement.

Tweezers come in an array of sizes and you'll notice numbers (and letters on them) to indicate their style. The suggested purchase you've picked out has a 3 and 3C but these are much the same i.e. thin tipped tweezers. The only real difference is that the 3C has a shorter shank.

As with any engineering skill  people will have personal preferences for tools but for a lot of work on 'normal size' movements (lets take circa 11.5 ligne) I find I use an SS style the most i.e. tweezers with a longer shank and fine tips. As you're starting out my advice therefore would be to get a set of decent tweezers in a variety of styles/sizes and find out which ones you get on better with. I note your link referenced ebay.ca so I'd be suggesting you'd be better off with something like https://www.ebay.ca/itm/6-piece-Epoxy-coated-tweezers-set-st36/262728142056. This gives you a wider range of nice new antimagnetic stainless steel tweezers to start out with.

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Also, with regards to cleaning. I had read that I could use lighter fluid and a bit of pegwood to clean the movement since I will probably not have the space to have an ultrasonic cleaner or afford the cleaning chemicals that go along with it. 

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I started off buying all the cheap tools, and have gradually replaced most with better quality.

To save you buying things twice: I would recommend some decent quality screwdrivers. As @WatchMaker suggests, A*F are good qulaity at a reasonable price. I'm very happy with them.

I think it's worth spending on some quality tweezers. I haven't found any cheap ones which have the right tension - critical when handling very small items. I use Dumont #2 stainless steel - about £25 from Cousins. They are about the only pair I use.
But £25 seems crazy for tweezers when others are £2.  Can anyone suggest a 'reasonable quality' cheaper alternative ?

For cleaning, Lighter Fluid, a brush and pegwood work fine. 

 I use a cheap 600 ml Ultrasonic jewelry cleaner (takes very little space - about as big as a brick). I put the parts in small plastic pots, just covered in lighter fluid, then float them in warm water in the cleaner. I then rinse them in Isopropanol (lighter fluid leaves an oily residue).

 

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On 10/9/2018 at 3:45 PM, seikoskx said:

upgrade my tools to higher quality or use the same tools and try to perfect my technique

It looks like you might be new to watch repair? Are you blaming the quality the tools or the lack of your knowledge for the lack of your success?

The BHI in their horological journal September 2008 has a really nice review on screwdrivers. I'm only going to extract out the final outcome of the review which is really quite amusing. It becomes amusing because they're rating a whole bunch of things not just the screwdrivers themselves. Then if you look carefully there really isn't much difference between all of them. Really what is important is the quality of the screwdriver blades themselves.

So when you're starting you don't have to have the most expensive tools. It's amazing what people can do with lesser grade tools providing they have the skill to use the tools. Obviously if the tools are total crap it doesn't matter how much skill you have. Perhaps a photograph of what you have so we can see what they look like.

Then you started this discussion with one topic you've added in several other topics and if you're hoping for answers to any of those other questions you really should start a new discussion. Then before starting a new discussion it's always helpful to do a search because more than likely we might've already covered some of these things.

 

screwdriver review.JPG

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Someone once said "your tweezers become your hands" since we don't tend to handle parts directly. I own some cheap tweezers and can't imagine having to use them regularly for handling movement parts (or balance cocks!). You need good tweezers in my opinion, preferably something like Dumont. I do dress all of my tweezers, but with the cheaper ones it is a false economy for me.

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