Watchmaking: how to make a balance staff

Craft & Design
Watchmaking: how to make a balance staff


In my fantasies I’d like to be a watchmaker or clockwork toy builder. In reality, I don’t have the patience, skills, or precision. Jordan Peter does.

On his watchmaking blog Jordan discusses the minutia of watch repair and watch making. This entry is about making a balance staff from scratch:

The watch is a Paul Breton. It’s a Swiss Bar movement from around the turn of the century. As it happens I can’t just call up Paul and get a new staff to replace this one with a bent pivot so I made one. The steel is placed among the brass shavings and slowly heated with the alcohol lamp until the blue color comes on the outside. From the blued steel we cut the staff. It is important that the staff be perfectly concentric so we try and cut the entire staff without removing the steel stock from the lathe. I also shape the pivot and take it down to about .02 or .03 mm larger than the final dimension. Using the Jacot Tool (pivot lathe) the pivots are burnished down to their final diameter.




You’ll be able to read more about Jacob and the Lititz Watch Technicum he attended in MAKE Volume 17, which hits newsstands on March 10th. There will also be an accompanying online sideshow of Jordan’s studio, tools, and techniques.

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John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He builds project for Adafruit Industries. You can find him at and twitter/IG @johnedgarpark

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