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Cutting brass with saw questions

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Chris TickTock02/07/2020 15:59:05
605 forum posts
43 photos

Hi,

A lot of folk would like to use a scroll saw to cut clock wheels with (spokes). The issue apparently is the blade and the speed. I was very tempted to buy an old treadle scroll saw but thought better of it. If I were to go the scroll saw route I will adapt an existing one to go much slower than what is the norm.

So for now i am falling back on both the mill and jewelers saw.

Questions;

1; If using the jewelers saw what should I use for lubrication when cutting brass. There is proprietary lubricant and candle wax / beeswax...what do you guys recommend?

2: I am minded to glue the brass to a thin piece of wood such as hardboard or plywood to facilitate handling during cutting and avoid damage to the teeth. what do you recommend for sticking the brass to the wood/ will just a contact adhesive do, double sided tape or some other adhesive?

Chris

roy entwistle02/07/2020 16:06:10
1269 forum posts

Use saw dry and you don't need to stick wheel blank to anything. Let the saw do the work. I often cut towards me so that I can see the cut.

Bob Stevenson02/07/2020 16:26:09
440 forum posts
7 photos

The most important factors when cutting out wheels from brass using a piercing saw are;

 

1) choose a blade that is not coarse and which can put about three teeth in the metal at any one time....on the thin sheet this means that the teeth are more or less invisible.....you don't need any backing to the piece just keep the saw verticle on the peg (wood block with 'V' cut-out clamped to bench edge) and buiild up a gentle rythym ...only move your complete forarm from the elbow.

 

There is a very interesting video on the South London BHI site of Ron Rose using and adapted coping saw to cut thin brass....well worth a look to se his smooth rythym.

 

2) Choose blades of the highest quality that you can obtain...Vallorbe is a good make and there are others...look in a good clock sundries catalogue such Meadows & Passmore, Walsh,Cousins,...then compare prices for same makes on ebay where good blades are the same price as poor ones

 

Chris, it's not for me to make comments about your approach to clock making but I will make the following observations....clock making comes with greatest pleasure and facility when you simplify it down to the basic processes of hand craftsmanship....when people new to making clocks from scratch try to speed up their approach or actively avoid the best hand methods they almost always fail...either the work looks like what it is or they become disenchanted and give uop to pursue something else. Having been a 'clockie' for ten years and a member of EFHC I have only seen one person (a skilled lifelong engineer) successfully use CNC, and I personally know of at least 6 persons who have reverted to the 'time honoured' methods. clock building is a delicate blend of needs and tests that is at the difficut frontier between technology and engineering on the one hand and art and sculpture on the other.....New clockies can do no better than to look at lots of clocks and always ponder on this dichotamy.....all the best methods of clock making, if not actually traditional, are the products of mind and eye.........I really do hope this helps!

EDIT Ron's Videos

Edited By JasonB on 02/07/2020 19:39:21

Edited By JasonB on 02/07/2020 19:40:08

Bo'sun02/07/2020 16:26:51
234 forum posts

Hi Chris,

I certainly wouldn't use a contact adhesive or double sided tape, or anything of that nature. It will clog your blade, pick up the swarf, and you'll be cursing you ever considered the idea. If you do go this route, I'd be inclined to experiment with CA glue, or something that doesn't remain tenacious.

roy entwistle02/07/2020 16:36:55
1269 forum posts

Chris You are using CZ120 engraving brass I hope

Martin Kyte02/07/2020 17:20:57
avatar
2125 forum posts
37 photos

A few suggestions.

Saw standing up.

If you have a pillar drill with an adjustable table set the table at chest hight. Create a cutting board from flat, reasonably thick oblong of ply with a narrow V cut in it. Clamp or bolt the cutting board to the drilling table.

The wheel can be held on the board with the fingers and sawn on the downstroke.

This arrangement puts the work quite close to the eye so giving good vision of the cut whilst an upright standing stance is very comfortable.

Good lighting can be arranged with a suitable angle poise lamp or LED on a stalk.

As the work eye distance is around 10 to 12 inches headband magnifiers or orther optical aid may be used to advantage.

With a little practice you will find you can saw very close to the line to leave very little filing to do.

Saw into corners and back out. Come back into corners from a different direction to create sharp corners.

Make sure you have a good range of needle files and crossing files of good quality and do not shy away from grinding safe edges to create the right shape file for you particular wheel.

Finish of with burnishers.

Hope that helps.

regards Martin

Bob Stevenson02/07/2020 17:41:28
440 forum posts
7 photos

......Martin....excellent post!

Chris TickTock02/07/2020 17:42:10
605 forum posts
43 photos
Posted by Bob Stevenson on 02/07/2020 16:26:09:

The most important factors when cutting out wheels from brass using a piercing saw are;

 

1) choose a blade that is not coarse and which can put about three teeth in the metal at any one time....on the thin sheet this means that the teeth are more or less invisible.....you don't need any backing to the piece just keep the saw verticle on the peg (wood block with 'V' cut-out clamped to bench edge) and buiild up a gentle rythym ...only move your complete forarm from the elbow.

 

There is a very interesting video on the South London BHI site of Ron Rose using and adapted coping saw to cut thin brass....well worth a look to se his smooth rythym.

 

2) Choose blades of the highest quality that you can obtain...Vallorbe is a good make and there are others...look in a good clock sundries catalogue such Meadows & Passmore, Walsh,Cousins,...then compare prices for same makes on ebay where good blades are the same price as poor ones

 

Chris, it's not for me to make comments about your approach to clock making but I will make the following observations....clock making comes with greatest pleasure and facility when you simplify it down to the basic processes of hand craftsmanship....when people new to making clocks from scratch try to speed up their approach or actively avoid the best hand methods they almost always fail...either the work looks like what it is or they become disenchanted and give uop to pursue something else. Having been a 'clockie' for ten years and a member of EFHC I have only seen one person (a skilled lifelong engineer) successfully use CNC, and I personally know of at least 6 persons who have reverted to the 'time honoured' methods. clock building is a delicate blend of needs and tests that is at the difficut frontier between technology and engineering on the one hand and art and sculpture on the other.....New clockies can do no better than to look at lots of clocks and always ponder on this dichotamy.....all the best methods of clock making, if not actually traditional, are the products of mind and eye.........I really do hope this helps!

Bob, if its not for you to express such comments then why continue and do it...it's pointless and plainly wrong. There are always alternative methods to do stuff and if for example a replacement clock part was made from a Sherline lathe instead of a jewelers lathe and the part is made well to my mind it matters little. It is just your opinion, some would agree with you, others not.

So we will have to differ on this point. I like to inquire as to different methods, its my hobby, my money and my prerogative.

Chris

Edited By Chris TickTock on 02/07/2020 17:43:11

Bob Stevenson02/07/2020 18:03:43
440 forum posts
7 photos

Well I "continue to do it" because I was hoping to be politely helpful, but clearly, I don't need to waste my time.

Chris TickTock02/07/2020 18:07:47
605 forum posts
43 photos
Posted by Martin Kyte on 02/07/2020 17:20:57:

A few suggestions.

Saw standing up.

If you have a pillar drill with an adjustable table set the table at chest hight. Create a cutting board from flat, reasonably thick oblong of ply with a narrow V cut in it. Clamp or bolt the cutting board to the drilling table.

The wheel can be held on the board with the fingers and sawn on the downstroke.

This arrangement puts the work quite close to the eye so giving good vision of the cut whilst an upright standing stance is very comfortable.

Good lighting can be arranged with a suitable angle poise lamp or LED on a stalk.

As the work eye distance is around 10 to 12 inches headband magnifiers or orther optical aid may be used to advantage.

With a little practice you will find you can saw very close to the line to leave very little filing to do.

Saw into corners and back out. Come back into corners from a different direction to create sharp corners.

Make sure you have a good range of needle files and crossing files of good quality and do not shy away from grinding safe edges to create the right shape file for you particular wheel.

Finish of with burnishers.

Hope that helps.

regards Martin

Thanks Martin,

Some good points here especially the head magnifiers. To get a focal length of 10 inches you would need a lower magnification I guess 1.5ish. What I don't get is doing it standing up, surely sitting down is more relaxing and as long as the work is at the right height and lit well all should be well. I would be interested if others sit or stand. J. wild stated it takes ages to cut out the spokes by hand and did not dismiss the idea of a scroll but as we know there are issues to overcome.

Chris

Martin Kyte02/07/2020 18:44:28
avatar
2125 forum posts
37 photos

Hi Chris

I personally find hand sawing faster than the scroll saw, certainly less broken blades. I think that's what John Wilding found too. Most of my suggestions were from him and his books, confirmed by my own practice.

Regarding standing it's easier to change position slightly when you need toand cutting curves you need to. Your back stays straight too which saves the enevitable ache. All you have to do is get the hight of the cutting block right and you can put yourself in exactly the right position just by moving your feet. You cannot do that on a chair.

The other advantage is you use the whole length of the piercing saw blades and you have paid for ALL the teeth.

regards Martin

Chris TickTock02/07/2020 18:47:39
605 forum posts
43 photos
Posted by Bob Stevenson on 02/07/2020 18:03:43:

Well I "continue to do it" because I was hoping to be politely helpful, but clearly, I don't need to waste my time.

I am on my 3rd year of learning clock repair on my spare time and know without doubt I will never be as good as I would like due to not living long enough. if my objective was to be a traditionalist then you would have a point but if my aim is to repair old clocks then I fear you do not.

Further to the point time does not stand still and new production methods and machines come along. Look at the machinery in Wild's book Wheel and Pinion cutting in Horology. The early clock makers may have said the same looking at his book as you and they in my opinion would have been equally wrong.

There are many great clock makers that combine the old with the new and the next time you get in your car instead of mounting a horse I suggest you reflect upon this.

Hope this was helpful

Chris

gary02/07/2020 19:20:32
105 forum posts
31 photos

ticktock, bob was only trying to give advice, your reply was very rude and might put people off helping you.

Jeff Dayman02/07/2020 19:39:21
1915 forum posts
45 photos

This is the third or fourth time the OP asks for advice then gets rude and shirty with polite long time contributors to the forum. Moderators, zap this joker, please.

Bob, sorry you experienced the rudeness, recommend the "ignore member" button. I did, some time ago. I only saw this exchange today as I checked a few threads without logging in. After I logged in, the OP was no longer a burr in my saddle blanket.

Chris TickTock02/07/2020 20:54:39
605 forum posts
43 photos
Posted by Jeff Dayman on 02/07/2020 19:39:21:

This is the third or fourth time the OP asks for advice then gets rude and shirty with polite long time contributors to the forum. Moderators, zap this joker, please.

Bob, sorry you experienced the rudeness, recommend the "ignore member" button. I did, some time ago. I only saw this exchange today as I checked a few threads without logging in. After I logged in, the OP was no longer a burr in my saddle blanket.

Thanks Jeff, nothing rude in my response to an opinion Bob stated himself he should not of made. Unless posters take on board that members do not need to take such rudeness this forum will decline as for a lot of people it simply is not worth posting on here. I have advocated before and do again members should be charged to join and then Administration could better 'police' the posts.

Chris

Old School02/07/2020 20:59:00
360 forum posts
30 photos

I spent most of my early life around clocks my father made his living making clocks, he was FBHI. The lathe was a Myford super7 wheel crossing out and plates for skeleton clocks were done on a big pantograph engraving machine. Because of the reduction on the engraver patterns could be cut out on a bandsaw from 1/16” ply. Wheels cut on a modified horizontal mill the fly cutters made by hand and hardened and tempered.

Dials engraved using ply patterns on a rotary table with a face plate on it.

Clocks were usually made in batches of 5 nearly all skeleton clocks from the very basic to orrery clocks.

The saw in video looks very much like a fretsaw and not a piercing saw. I inherited all his hand tools all the machinery was sold. All the ply wood patterns were dumped.

Edited By Old School on 02/07/2020 20:59:29

Chris TickTock02/07/2020 21:07:22
605 forum posts
43 photos
Posted by Old School on 02/07/2020 20:59:00:

I spent most of my early life around clocks my father made his living making clocks, he was FBHI. The lathe was a Myford super7 wheel crossing out and plates for skeleton clocks were done on a big pantograph engraving machine. Because of the reduction on the engraver patterns could be cut out on a bandsaw from 1/16” ply. Wheels cut on a modified horizontal mill the fly cutters made by hand and hardened and tempered.

Dials engraved using ply patterns on a rotary table with a face plate on it.

Clocks were usually made in batches of 5 nearly all skeleton clocks from the very basic to orrery clocks.

The saw in video looks very much like a fretsaw and not a piercing saw. I inherited all his hand tools all the machinery was sold. All the ply wood patterns were dumped.

Edited By Old School on 02/07/2020 20:59:29

Appreciate the post, very interesting. I am intending investigating the pantograph as I believe john Wild has reference to such.

Chris

Martin Kyte02/07/2020 22:29:07
avatar
2125 forum posts
37 photos

My post were in answer to the original question asking for tips on hand sawing.

However as there has been some comments regarding more modern methodologies I make the following comments.

Hand fretting is quick to get going. All you need is the frame some blades and a sawing board plus a little practice and a good eye.

Full blown CNC involves a lot of development in terms of acquiring appropriate workshop machines and set up's and is certainly worth while if you wish to make clocks in batches and in reasonable numbers. One offs and ocasional clocks you may question the outlay in cash and time.

My late freind Chris Sangster spent some years developing his approach to clockmaking. I guess it really sprang from a combination of disliking the process of crossing out, a desire to produce small runs of 3 or 4 clocks at a time, and an interest in the then 'new' approach of CNC in the home workshop.

Initially Chris, who was a draughsman by profession, started to use a rotary table on his Myford VME mill to mechanise the process of crossing wheels. With the wheel drawn out and co-ordinates established this worked reasonably well. At least sufficiently well for him to feel it was preferable to hand sawing. The filing and finishing still had to be done though.

The next move was to 'CNC' a Seig SX1 with the addition of steppers and replacing the head with an engraving spindle fast enough to drive 1mm router cutters. Software was from a free download developed by another clock maker who's name is now lost (at least to me) Blanks were held with double sided tape and the setup produced wheels with very little filing required except nicking out the corners.

Eventually the Myford headstock dividing head was motorised along with the leadscrew of the lathe and with the overhead drive automatic tooth cutting was achieved. The final move was planned to be a flatbed router capable of engraving faces and chapter rings which was sadly uncompleted at the point of his untimely death.

All in all I would say this was at least a 15 year process in development. Now I'm sure things could be done far quicker than that but realistically 18 months is not unreasonable and you are going to require at least 2 or three grand starting from scratch.

So to finish, you can do anything from Hand cut to CNC and all ports between but the more complex you go the more you have to invest in your workshop kit, and your time and money. Think about what suits you.

regards Martin

Old School03/07/2020 06:49:07
360 forum posts
30 photos

These were the clocks my father made towards the end of his working life.

3bd397a7-368e-4a93-954e-41a4e08b9115.jpeg

These were made in batches of five each batch was different..

 

dd33034f-5337-4c45-b258-0ebf853462af.jpeg

This was the last orrery he made. After that he made a few clocks for pleasure.

His workshop was half a double garage only room for one person everything for the clocks was produced in the workshop. My mother made him keep four clocks one for each of their children mine is a long case clock.

Will someone please turn the picture the right way round please.

Edited By JasonB on 03/07/2020 07:52:55

Chris TickTock03/07/2020 08:30:00
605 forum posts
43 photos
Posted by Martin Kyte on 02/07/2020 22:29:07:

My post were in answer to the original question asking for tips on hand sawing.

However as there has been some comments regarding more modern methodologies I make the following comments.

Hand fretting is quick to get going. All you need is the frame some blades and a sawing board plus a little practice and a good eye.

Full blown CNC involves a lot of development in terms of acquiring appropriate workshop machines and set up's and is certainly worth while if you wish to make clocks in batches and in reasonable numbers. One offs and ocasional clocks you may question the outlay in cash and time.

My late freind Chris Sangster spent some years developing his approach to clockmaking. I guess it really sprang from a combination of disliking the process of crossing out, a desire to produce small runs of 3 or 4 clocks at a time, and an interest in the then 'new' approach of CNC in the home workshop.

Initially Chris, who was a draughsman by profession, started to use a rotary table on his Myford VME mill to mechanise the process of crossing wheels. With the wheel drawn out and co-ordinates established this worked reasonably well. At least sufficiently well for him to feel it was preferable to hand sawing. The filing and finishing still had to be done though.

The next move was to 'CNC' a Seig SX1 with the addition of steppers and replacing the head with an engraving spindle fast enough to drive 1mm router cutters. Software was from a free download developed by another clock maker who's name is now lost (at least to me) Blanks were held with double sided tape and the setup produced wheels with very little filing required except nicking out the corners.

Eventually the Myford headstock dividing head was motorised along with the leadscrew of the lathe and with the overhead drive automatic tooth cutting was achieved. The final move was planned to be a flatbed router capable of engraving faces and chapter rings which was sadly uncompleted at the point of his untimely death.

All in all I would say this was at least a 15 year process in development. Now I'm sure things could be done far quicker than that but realistically 18 months is not unreasonable and you are going to require at least 2 or three grand starting from scratch.

So to finish, you can do anything from Hand cut to CNC and all ports between but the more complex you go the more you have to invest in your workshop kit, and your time and money. Think about what suits you.

regards Martin

Truly interesting post Martin.

When I first took an interest in old clocks and went on a forum there was conflicting advice. Some said you only need a few hand tools other said you need a lathe and mill and others still stated only a jewelers lathe if you did. Like everything in this world you take a view according to the parameters that you think matter to you. If this is right then you can see the frustration one man arguing with another over the difference. as your post implies it is an individual choice.

Having said that would I go full CNC no as personally it would detract from some of the man in the shed hobby feel from my hobby which I love. It can though be easily argued that learning how to run a full CNC is a skill in itself so again if a man wishes to go that far it's up to him. How long it takes to program a CNC for a run of 1 or 2 is also a factor...don't know but guess it will be.

martin what i did get from your post was the 1mm cut out for the crossing out removal. I have been wondering what is the optimal diameter for this and in theory a smaller end mill will cut quicker. At 1mm there may well be break risks but I certainly intend to use a range to get the best results.

Chris

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