Pith Wood - The Essential Basic Tools of Watchmaking
Pith wood serves one purpose, but serves it very well. It's made from the Elder tree, the inside of Elder wood to be precise, 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. I generally dip my oilers into the pith wood after each use in order to remove any excess oil from my previous oiling and not cross contaminate when switching between different oils.
For ease of use, I cut short lengths of the pith wood, tie them together in a bundle with some elastic bands, and then pack them into the same glass ramekin that the Gu Desserts come in. This keeps them sturdy and upright, ready for us.
I also tend to keep my oilers in the pith wood when not in use, so they are always at hand.
Pith wood should last quite a while. Once you've used extensively, you can easily use your pen knife to cut off the top 1-2cm and then it's just like new.
I've recently discovered that a friend has an Elder Wood tree in his garden so hoping to get some of his future cuttings and save myself having to buy more in the future.
Rodico, which I will cover in a future post, could also be used for the same purpose, but I find it less suitable.
Bergeon, Horotec and AF Switzerland are the main manufacturers.
Budget options tend to come in an assortment of sizes, whereas the branded options are available in 8, 11 and 15mm diameters. All variants generally come in 100mm lengths.
Rough Cost: Basic Variety = from £3 for a pack of 5
Branded Variety = from £17 for a pack of 10
Recommendation: I've only ever used the basic variety and not had any issues but would love to fully understand what difference the branded options provide. If you have access to an Elder tree, then I strongly recommend you source your own and save on the expense.
If you think I've missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.