So you want to fix a clock – a beginner’s toolkit.

First a disclaimer. As a beginner in clock repair I have some advanced skills-sets but as mentioned in previous posts I am not a trained horologist

Based on 4 1/2 years of amateur clock repair the following are a selection of tools I believe every beginner should have in their toolkit. Some of these items can be found at your local hardware store but specialty items can be ordered from clock suppliers such as Timesavers in the USA, Perrin for Canadian customers, or Meadows and Passmore for those in the UK. Avoid craft shops when you are on the hunt for tools. Craft shops are a great place for things like paintbrushes but they tend to charge higher prices for tools. For example, a ball peen hammer bought at a hardware store last year cost twice as much in a craft shop.

As far as some specialized tools, it pays to spend a little more for better quality

The lead photo shows an assortment of clock keys that would fit just about any winding arbour.

Let’s begin.

Here is what you should have with a short descriptor for each item along with a photo.

Magnifier: They are available in various strengths and allow a much closer view of your work.

Magnifier
Magnifier

Work light: Illuminates your work, articulates and also has a magnifier.

Worklight
Work-light

Pliers: A variety of pliers to hold on to your work, release taper pins, tighten nuts, cut wires. The green handle pliers are non-serrated (flat-nose).

Assorted pliers
Assorted pliers

Hammers: A ball peen hammer is very useful (not pictured). The craft clip holder is useful for steadying items that are to be soldered.

Hammers and craft clip
Hammers and craft clip

Files: Variety of sizes to help shape or file down anything on a movement.

Files
Files

Tweezers: Getting into tight situations, grabbing small parts, positioning parts into place are typical uses for tweezers

Tweezers
Tweezers

Level: To find the correct beat the movement (clock) must be level.

Level
Level

Spring clamps: To restrain the power of the mainspring. The flat clamp (upper right) is for those mainsprings which do not leave a lot of working room. Otherwise, the other round clamps are good for most applications.

Assorted clamps
Assorted clamps

Screw drivers: Always handy to remove movements from cases, loosen bolts, pry parts.

Screwdrivers and box wrench
Screwdrivers and box wrench

Letdown set: Before working on a movement the mainsprings must be letdown or restrained in their clamps. The letdown key is the safest method of letting down the mainsprings. Inserts cover most arbour sizes.

Letdown set
4-piece letdown set, #5-6, #7-8, #10, #12

Hand reamers and broaches (cutting and smoothing): For bushing clocks when you cannot afford the luxury of a bushing machine. Cutting and smoothing broaches are useful for enlarging a new bushing when tight tolerances are required. They come in assorted sizes.

cutting and smoothing broaches
cutting and smoothing broaches

Cotton swabs: A variety of cleaning uses.

Cotton swabs
Cotton swabs

Clock oil: Once the movement is apart and cleaned it must be re-assembled then oiled prior to use. The oil, whether it is conventional or synthetic, must be specifically designed for a clock movement.

Clock pivot oil
Clock pivot oil

Toothpicks: For cleaning and “pegging out” bushings on a movement

Toothpicks
Toothpicks

Clock stand: Once the movement has been re-assembled it is tested outside the case for a short period. Gene’s movement stand is a fully adjustable test stand.

Clock movement stand
Clock movement stand

Camera: At every part of the process a digital camera can record critical stages in assembling and dis-assembling a movement. I use a 50mm macro lens for close work.

Digital Camera
Digital Camera

Electronic Caliper: Indispensable for measuring the thickness of anything, springs, pivots, plates and so on. Available at a clock supply house or save a little money and buy the same tool from a retail outlet such as  Canadian Tire in Canada.

Using a micrometer to check pivot
Using a micrometer to check pivot diameter

One might also add a pivot locator, an excellent tool for aligning pivots with their holes during assembly.

You do not need to purchase everything at once to begin your new adventure into clock repair. You may already have some of the items I’ve mentioned but buy what you need when you need it. As for those specialized tools, broaches for example, it pays to spend a little extra for better quality.

These are the tools you require to start your journey into clock repair. If you have a tool (or tools) you feel is indispensable for the beginning clock-maker please let me know.

In Part II (November 14th) I will describe tools for those who would wish to advance their skills in clock repair.