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Tuesday Tools – Pin Vises

by Jordan Ficklin

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Pin ViseOne of the things about watches is they are tiny. When you need to hold a component firmly (more firmly than you can with tweezers) you often use a pin vise. The most common thing I use pin vises for is to hold a stem when I remove or install a crown, or for shortening the stem to the proper length. When holding a stem it is important to choose the right pin vise. Some people clamp on the square portion of the stem. This can be risky because it exposes a weak spot at the slot on the stem. I clamp on the hub with a round pin vise – if you use a square vise this will damage the hub leaving raised up pieces of metal called burrs which will act as a saw and destroy the mainplate.

square head pin viseI have several different sets of pin vises. The top set shown are Bergeon pin vises. The collets have a round internal shape and a round external shape. I really like the way they feel in the hand so they are my first choice for many jobs. Each vise has two sizes of collets – giving a wider range of sizes than my other sets. The set on the right has both round collets and sharp collets. The sharp collet gives better gripping power but can easily damage the work piece. The outside of the head is also square so this pin vise can be clamped in a regular vise or in a screw head polisher. This is great for cutting a slot in a screw of for filing flat the top of some round stock.

Slick Arbor HoldersThe vises at the left are Slick arbor holders. They have a round shape and are specifically designed for gripping barrel arbors. The important thing with the slicks is to use an arbor holder that is the right size, a holder too small will allow the corners to dig into the arbor and leave marks.Rolex Barrel Arbor HoldersOn the right are Rolex arbor holders. They have a square opening which matches exactly with the square portion of the barrel arbors. They also can be useful for gripping stems on the square (if you like to do that sort of thing.)

pin vises

The picture above shows the different shapes of the pin vises. From left to right they are Bergeon Sharp, Bergeon Round, Bergeon Round, Rolex Arbor Holder, Slick Arbor Holder

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