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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Disc Cutter Simply Useful Maybe Essential Tool

 The simple disc cutter is a handy tool for making a variety of shapes in sheet metal. It consists of a block with holes through and a set of punches. The punches have a flat end that cuts the metal. And they have a beveled end to strike with a hammer.  This should be used on top of a bench block, sturdy bench or my preference on the anvil.
This one has 5 different sizes from 3/8 to one inch. To use you place the metal sheet into the block through a slot on the side.
Place the desired size punch into the correct hole.
And apply your hammer with a mighty stroke. Smack that sucker hard and maybe two or three hits. No place for delicate hammers, use the biggest one you have. This will cut through most metals in the non ferrous category, bronze, brass, copper, aluminum, silver and gold. When you purchase the tool it will specify the range of thicknesses that will work. Annealing the metal first is always recommended.
The result is a crisply cut disc.
Partial cuts are possible as well. I chose to make a set of crescents by offsetting the same size punch.
I cut out copper discs for the backing and bronze for the crescent. These were sanded around the edges and filed to smooth the sides. Then they were sweat soldered together on a solder block. After that they were pickled, textured with a rotary diamond tool and hand finished to a worn look.
Further smoothing in the tumbler and finally hand sanding on the bronze and rubbing with a Sunshine Cloth gave a smooth side to contrast with the copper texture.
Holes were punched and ear wires in bronze were added. This is just one of thousands of ways to use the discs you can make with this tool.
Here is a link to one such tool http://www.jewelrytools.com/eurotool/dapping-tools/Small-Disc-Cutter-7-Pieces.html

here is a link to a fabulous one http://www.riogrande.com/Product/Swanstrom-Round-Disc-Cutter-Set/112509?Pos=1

Mine cost about $35 from Ebay
Get one it will make cutting circles easy and quick.