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how to cut small pieces

2625 Views 38 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  DonnaMenke
I just wanted to see if anyone has any advice for me. I need to cut repeated pieces (consistent shape) about the size of a quarter in material that is only 1/16th to 1/8th inches thick. Does anyone have any advice for repeatability, or am I going to be stuck doing each piece on the bandsaw and then sanding it to final dimensions?
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Square pieces the size of a quarter or round ones? Square I think would be possible with a jig, round I'm not so sure.
they would be roundish. I'm trying to do some guitar picks. I made a few quick ones out of walnut and cherry to see if they'd break or not. they seem to be holding up so-so. The problem is I'd rough a few out on the bandsaw and then try to sand them into shape with a belt sander clamped upside down. they came out ok, but they don't look very consistent from piece to piece. I'd like them all to be the same size and shape.
Thanks. I've thought of that too. There is only one problem. the material I've got is already pretty thin sheets (about what I need them to be when done. Also, most blanks that are sold in the approximate size I'd need would end up as endgrain. There may not be an answer to this one. I may just need to make them one by one and practice.
Being that thin 1/16th to 1/8th…...I would make a jig for the bandsaw….Maybe a "V" groove holding jig with a stop at 1/8th past the blade…just slide your stock into the groove and feed it over to the stop, push it through, remove cut off and repeat….this way every piece will be the same thickness every time. Since your picks are so thin to begin with, your saw blade on you table saw or miter saw is going to eat up allot of wood.

You could make a small tabletop sled with the same principle…small "V" jig to slide back and forth across the saw with a stop a 1/8th past the blade for consistency…make a small "Catch top" to be over the cut off to avoid the 1/8th" cut off from flying off into space.
Never mind…just saw your last post…your working with sheet goods…I thought you were working with hard wood round stock…sorry.
How about a router jig/template sort of like what you would use to cut an inlay?
How about a punch? Something similar to this:

You could make one out of a piece of pipe, sharpen it,hit it like it stole something from you with a real hammer. It could work. I have a set of these by Mac Tools, it's actually for making gaskets, but I've cut some stout leather and sheet goods. I have never tried it on wood, so I'm not 100% certain.
i have to admit, I'm intrigued by the punch idea. I actually went to Michael's Crafts today to look at their scissor punches. Apparently they are used by people that do scrap booking. I was hoping to find a large raindrop shape. no luck though. I'm still investigating.
Router and template.
A simple way is to make strips that are a hair over the final length of the pick, have a strip that would do 20 or so pics, alternating them in the triangle shape. Trace (or you can have a real nice stencil made by a craft store that would have 50 or more tracing openings on it to do a large sheet…maybe you could spray something on to mark them to save time.) your picks on, then cut one side off then cut out a pick, trim the next side, cut out a pick…
You should be able to file out your own punch and base out of steel. Indexing them to hit straight might be a little tricky, but a V groove on a different plane than the punch should do it.
I think the punch Idea is good. I think one could be made that would fit a drill press or mortiser(not running) just for the downward pressure. I think a welding shop or school could make one for a reasonable amount.
This might be an idea. Dremel sells a router table that uses a dremel rotary tool. I bought one for a job where I needed an 1/8" roundover on the edges of smaller parts. It didn't work too badly, but the limiting factor is the quality of the bits available and the lack of a bearing. While the bits are cheap at under $7, they aren't that sharp and dull (burn). My use was hard maple which may have been part of the problem.

Some of the router bits have a round protruding end to follow the edge or possibly a pattern.

You could make a pattern from 1/4" and double stick tape to the piece you wanted to cut. The problem is the better stick from the tape is the most repeatable parts and the harder to remove from the finished part.

Biggest value to this approach is that I have been able to work very small parts and not knick my fingers. That is not a small accomplishment for me.
Or something like this:

A carving gouge. You might get 1 at a yard sale or flea market for $1 or $2. It would take at least 2 hits to do it, but you could cut any shape you want.
I think a punch is going to crush the fibers of your material. I would suggest cutting a bunch of squares, stack them all together with either tape or some kind of temporary adhesive as bentlyj suggested, and then cut them out on the scroll saw or band saw. Then sand them on the oscillating sander while still together. I've used a small dab of CA glue to hold pieces together for shaping with great success. The glue is brittle enough that it simply chips apart without damage to the other half. Then you can scrape the glue off. Good luck
I would make a router jig similar to a dovetail jig. Then I would put in long strips of the sheets good and cut several picks out in one pass. There would be a small tab at the back that connected each pick to a long strip where they do not get completely cut out on the router. Then you would have a bunch of picks on a stick sort of. Like when you have to break plastic pieces apart when you build a model car or something. Then I would use the band saw to cut the tabs and release them from the little waste stick that they were stuck to.
oh or even better. Make a jig similar to this. style of jig. Then cut out a bunch of picks and make one final pass on the band saw cutting of the tabs.
ok, these last 4-5 suggestions are really good.

Just to keep you up to date, I made a few invdividually this weekend. I think it took me about an 1.5 hrs to make 3 of them so I definitiely would like to be able to produce these a bit quicker. My goal is to make 3 sets of 12 (each one a different wood) as christmas gifts for my family. doing them one by one just sounds like way more time than should be required.

I think I'm going to try to start with bently's idea because it should require the smallest capital investment and after I make these, there will probably not be a lot of demand for additional ones. Thanks everyone. I'll be blogging my progress on these and will keep you posted on how the ideas work.
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