I want to hand carve a watch movement

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Forum topic by blakebcg posted 01-28-2012 01:37 AM 1095 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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01-28-2012 01:37 AM

How difficult would this be? I’ve never carved anything in my entire life. I dont even know where to start. Any advice for persuing this little goal of mine? I want to be able to hand-carve all the pieces to create a working watch movements (of course springs and such would be metal)

5 replies so far

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986 posts in 3554 days

#1 posted 01-28-2012 06:20 AM

I can’t imagian the work that would go into something like that. It might be able to be done, but you would have to practice first.
I have my eye on making a clock with wooden gears. The accuracy needed in cutting the gears is really tight, so i makes me nervous.

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1802 posts in 2345 days

#2 posted 01-28-2012 07:59 AM

Finding some gear patterns would be a good start. There’s more to making a good gear than simply cutting some interlocking teeth on two discs.

Here’s a link I was able to locate. I haven’t tested the patterns so I don’t know if they work or not.

gear patterns

It looks like that whole website is devoted towards mechanical clocks.

-- See my work at and

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148 posts in 2614 days

#3 posted 01-28-2012 10:30 PM

In a word “hard” :D I’ve done a (very) little carving and I can’t even imagine the frustration of trying to hit the precision required for something like that on your first project. Not to be discouraging because its an incredibly cool project.. but I would recommend doing a couple of simpler things first before jumping all the way into the deep end of the pool.

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#4 posted 01-29-2012 05:29 AM

Difficult, but not impossible.

There was a family of Russian watchmakers that made pocket watches from wood or bone in the mid 19th century. I had a friend who owned one of these watches and believe there is an excellent article in an old NAWCC Bulletin. If you have an interest in watch or clock making then I would strongly encourage you to join the NAWCC, they have all the Bulletins available online for members and there are chapters scattered worldwide.

For the most part watches are simple mechanisms but the escapement design is going to be a challenge. I think the Russian watches actually used a wood or bone escape wheel and perhaps a modified cylinder escapement. They were not reliable or good timekeepers, really more of a novelty item.
You will need to make cutters and have some sort of indexing system to cut teeth and pinion leaves, no carving involved. Without knowing what sort of tools or skills you have it is difficult to offer sensible advice.

-- Troy in Melrose, Florida

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11 posts in 3190 days

#5 posted 01-29-2012 05:51 AM

You’ve effectively just said.

I’ve never raced a car before but I’d like to qualify and enter the Indy 500 can anyone point me to the sign up sheet and recommend where to buy an Indy car.

If you’ve no experience carving, set your sights lower….way lower. Start with a few simple projects just to understand the size of the challenge you’ve set yourself. I agree with also building a wooden clock (a woodworking project more than a carving project) as a stepping stone.

Good luck

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