Beginners Guide to Watchmakers Pith Wood

Written by: Maz P
Updated on:
Pith Wood

Watchmakers pith wood, also known as horological pith, is a specialized material used by watchmakers for various purposes. It is derived from the pithy centers of certain types of plants, typically elderberry or sunflower stems. This soft and absorbent material has unique properties that make it ideal for watchmaking applications.

Pith wood serves one main purpose but serves it very well. It’s made from the Elder tree and its high absorption properties make it ideal to clean and dry watchmakers oilers, screwdrivers, tweezers and pivots. All you need to do is dip the tool or pivot in the wood and it can be removed instantly clean and dry.

Pith wood ​​can be a surprising toolkit addition for new watchmakers with many wondering how it works. When it’s dried, the wood acts like a dry sponge which absorbs the oils and grease and leaves the oiler clean. Similar to mechanics using sawdust to clean spilled oil, pith wood has similar properties that make it a great tool for watchmakers.

Watchmakers pith wood is a versatile and essential material in the watchmaking craft. Its gentle yet effective properties make it a valuable tool for cleaning, repairing, and handling intricate watch components with precision and care.

Why do Watchmakers Need Watchmaking Pith Wood?

The primary use of watchmakers pith wood is for cleaning and drying watch movements. Due to its porous nature, pith wood can absorb excess moisture and oils from delicate watch components without leaving behind any residue. Watchmakers often use pith wood sticks or rods to gently clean pivots, gears, and other intricate parts, ensuring their optimal performance.

Another application of pith wood is in the process of removing broken or damaged balance staffs. The soft and pliable nature of pith wood allows watchmakers to support the balance wheel while applying precise pressure to remove the staff without causing further harm to the movement.

Pith wood is also utilized for supporting watch cases during various procedures. It provides a stable surface, preventing scratches or damage to the case while the watchmaker works on it.

Additionally, watchmakers pith wood is an excellent material for securing small parts during assembly or disassembly. Its soft texture allows for a secure grip without risking damage to delicate components. Parts can be easily pushed into the soft pith and remain in a safe place or alternatively cleaned if excess oil or grease is present.

Tips for How to Use Watchmakers PithWood

Pith Wood

Use Pith Wood After Each Oiling

Dip oilers into the pith wood after each use to remove any excess oil from previous oiling and to not cross contaminate when switching between different watchmaking oils.

Cut to Short Lengths

For ease of use, cut short lengths of the pith wood, tie them together in a bundle with some elastic bands, and then pack them into the container. This keeps them sturdy, upright, and ready to use.

Make the Most Out of Your PithWood

Pith wood should last quite a while. Once you’ve used it extensively, you can easily use your pen knife to cut off the top 1-2 cm and then it’s just like new.

General Maintenance

Keep your pith wood clean and free from debris by gently wiping it with a soft cloth after each use. This ensures that dust and debris are not transferred to your oiler ensuring that watch parts are not contaminated.

Storage

Store it in a dry and cool place to maintain its absorbent properties.

How to Choose the Perfect Pith Wood for Your Watchmaking Journey

Pith wood is a relatively simple product that requires little consideration. Whilst Bergeon, Horotec and AF Switzerland are the main suppliers, there are also many budget-friendly alternatives that do the job just as well. Pith wood is a part of your tool kit that you can afford to go cheap on. If you know someone with an Elder tree, you may be at an advantage to get free cuttings, otherwise, whether you get budget or branded pith wood makes little difference.

Watchmakers Pith Wood FAQ

Watchmakers pith wood is a specialized material used by watchmakers for various purposes. It is derived from the pithy centers of certain types of plants, typically elderberry or sunflower stems. This soft and absorbent material has unique properties that make it ideal for watchmaking applications.

It is derived from the pithy centers of certain types of plants, typically elderberry or sunflower stems.

Whilst many big brands produce and sell Pith Wood, there are also many budget-friendly alternatives that do the job just as well. Pith Wood definitely is a part of your tool kit that you can afford to go cheap on. If you know someone with an Elder tree, you may be at an advantage to get free cuttings, otherwise, whether you get budget or branded pith wood makes little difference.

Watchmakers pith wood can be used for cleaning and drying watch movements, removing broken or damaged balance staffs, supporting watch cases, and securing small parts. To use it, you simply dip the tool or part into the pith wood and it will absorb any excess moisture or oil. You can also cut short lengths of the pith wood and tie them together in a bundle for ease of use.

Watchmakers pith wood is a versatile and essential material in the watchmaking craft. Its gentle yet effective properties make it a valuable tool for cleaning, repairing, and handling intricate watch components with precision and care. It also prevents scratches or damage to the case or parts, and ensures optimal performance of the movement.

Watchmakers pith wood is available from many online and offline sources. You can find it from big brands such as Bergeon, Horotec, and AF Switzerland, or from budget-friendly alternatives that do the job just as well. You can also get free cuttings from someone who has an elder tree.

Watchmakers pith wood should be stored in a dry and cool place to maintain its absorbent properties. You should also keep it clean and free from debris by gently wiping it with a soft cloth after each use. If the pith wood becomes too dirty or oily, you can cut off the top layer and use the fresh part underneath.

If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.

AUTHOR

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I started WatchmakingTools to share my passion and knowledge with those already bitten by the watchmaking bug. I’ve often spent hours searching online for answers on a specific issue, and even though there is a wealth of information out there, it hasn’t always been very useful, hence why I wanted to share my own findings.

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