Disc Cutter - love at first hit!
One of my favorite tools in my studio is a disc cutter. I was first introduced to this tool in a metals class. I was feeling very uncreative so I thought I would explore the different tools in the studio. Who knew it would be a defining moment! It truly was love at first site. I was instantly inspired by the perfect little circles that immerged from this tiny tool. The possibilities, the options...I could hardly wait to create something from these tiny metal wonders!
So you ask..."what exactly is a disc cutter?" Well a disc cutter is just that...a simple tool that cuts discs. Duh! But there is oh, so much more to it than that.The tool itself comes in many different shapes and sizes. The model that sits on my bench is a small block of high carbon steel with 10 different cut out circle shapes. The block is actually two blocks that fit securely together on two pins. This keeps it perfectly aligned, but allows it to slide up and down on the pins for ease of movement of your metal sheet. For each cut out circle shape in the block there is a corresponding steel punch beginning at 1/8" diameter and increasing in increments of 1/16" up to 1" in diameter.
The use of this amazing little workhorse is simple! Lift the top block slightly, so it's raised but not lifted completely off the pins. Slide your metal sheet (maximum thickness 18 gauge) in between the blocks. Line it up with the hole you would like to punch, find your matching punch and slip it in the hole.Now comes the fun part! Take your hammer and pound, pound, pound until you feel the punch go through the metal. Oh, it is a glorious moment! Lift the block and viola'! You have a perfectly cut disc! Such a beautiful thing.
You may say, "big deal...so you have a circle!" But a circle really is an amazing shape, and the possibilities are only limited by your own imagination. I have used this workhorse to create some of the most popular pieces in my line. In fact, there barely is a day that goes by when you cannot hear the tap, tap, tap of hammer pounding out these little babies!
A disc cutter can be found in almost all the major jewelry supply catalogs. Contenti has an economy model - since this post was written my model is obsolete! But she still works for me! RioGrande has many options in size and price, but you do have to sign up at the website to view their virtual catalog. As you set up your bench for the first time, or are adding tools little by little...I highly recommend adding a disc cutter to your list of tools. At the very least you will be satisfied by the freedom of hammering away and getting out all your frustrations!So go on metal artists! Make some circles!!
| Posted on March 26 2008