Wednesday, June 15, 2016

DIY clay cutter tutorial-REVAMPED

Carol Dekle-Foss
Last year I did a tutorial on how to make your own clay cutters here. After working with them for awhile, I realized I needed to make a few changes. I thought I would share how I made a better clay cutter that will not come unglued, doesn't lose its shape and has a cool handle!
(greenware porcelain pendants)
What you will need:

24 gauge sheet metal (Stronger than 28 gauge. Also, I used brass instead of copper)
Metal scoring tool (I used a divider)
Metal shears
Cratex knife edge wheel
400 grit sandpaper
Split mandrel
Shape pattern
Handy flux
soldering pick

The first few steps are the same as the original tutorial, but with a few updates.

Measure the length of your stamp with a string. Cut the string about 1/4" to 1/2" longer to allow overlap of the metal.

Mark the length with a sharpie. I made my cutter deeper this time, about 3/8".
If you have a straight edge on your metal, you can use a divider to run along the edge to score your metal. 

If not, you will have to measure and mark the depth and use a ruler as a guide for scoring your metal.

Cut your metal with metal shears, or a throatless sheer, and then hammer to flatten. I would anneal your metal after hammering if you have an intricate cutter design.

                                                                                                                                      STEP FOUR
This step requires a bit of finesse to get the shape just right. 

Using different mandrels and pliers, shape your design.

I used flat-round nose pliers. My new favorite tool!
Keep forming until you have the right shape.

Flat nose pliers work great for sharp corners.

 The previous cutters came undone a few times, and I had to reglue. Forget that, let's solder this one instead! I used my go to medium solder, but you can use easy or hard if you like.

Oops, fail. Don't be like me and cut your metal shorter so there is not much to solder, about 1/4". I just resoldered and closed the gap. 

I then formed a piece of metal and soldered on a little handle! This will make it soo much easier to lift after stamping.
Perfect! Now time to clean up all sharp edges.

The next step is important. File the inside edge where the metal comes together so there is no line when stamping the clay.

 If you like, you can use an abrasive wheel to remove firescale and soften the edges of the handle. I used a knife edge cratex wheel. Also, if your clay cutter doesn't sit flush, run it in a figure eight motion over sandpaper, turning every once in awhile so it sands evenly.
With a split mandrel and 400 grit sandpaper, I cleaned up file marks and created a satin finish over the whole cutter.
 This cutter is much more sturdy and can withstand my abuse! Most importantly, every piece I stamp will have a uniform shape.

I use olive oil as a release agent. It works okay, but if you use something better and would like to share, please let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading,
Carol Dekle-Foss
Terra Rustica Design


Barbara said...

Hi, Carol,

Only recently found and started to follow your site. Good info and your work is beautiful!

Re using olive oil as a releasing agent, I used to work with PMC silver and we used Badger Balm to coat moulds, hands and tools. It's neutral and isn't messy at all. It's inexpensive and lasts a long time.


Carol Dekle said...

Thank you Barbara! We are glad you have started following our blog!

Thanks for the tip on Badger Balm. I have heard of it but haven't tried it yet. I will get some right away!

Carol Dekle-Foss

Patti Vanderbloemen said...

Awesome post, Carol! I keep on saying "now is the time to get into PMC" as my kiln just sits and stares at me...weeping I am sure! :)

Carol Dekle said...

Thank you Patti! We haven't fired up our poor kiln in months. It sits by the laundry area and is used as a table. Lot's to consider when starting with PMC, you can do this!

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...

This is an excellent post for making cutters Carol! I love the way you take your jewelry making skills and put them into tool making! I need to get onto trying this as my flimsy taped together aluminum ones are complete crap :)

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