Cutting Flex Track question

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by foulrift, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. foulrift

    foulrift Bob

    I am going to be using flex track on my layout and would like to know if there is a right/wrong way to cut it.I have a pair of Xuron rail nippers.Does it matter if the rail cut from the top or the side?Correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember reading that it should be cut from the side but I'm not sure.Thanks in advance for any insight you can offer. Bob:thumb:
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I don't think it really matters. THe pliers are always shown cutting top to bottom, but I've used them on installed track where the only option is side to side, and it seems to still make a flush cut. Dressing the edge with a file is always a good idea anyway. And remember to put the flat side towards the piece you want to keep.

    But most of all - WEAR EYE PROTECTION! Especially when cutting small pieces off - the little bits can easily approach Mach 1 as they zoom towards your eyeball!

  3. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Out of habit I cut mine from top to bottom with my Dremel..I suspect its because I was taught that way by my Dad.
  4. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Might just be me but sometimes when I cut it from the side I accidentally pull the track out of some of the ties. Top to bottom works just fine when I do that.

  5. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    I wouldn't know, I always use my Dremel tool to cut track. It seems to be a safer method. One of my friends almost lost an eye when a piece of rail popped out of a rail-nipper.
  6. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    also watch out for those dremel cut-off wheels can self destruct and cause some serious yet again-eye protection.--josh
  7. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    eye-protection is a good idea, no matter how you cut track. Dremels especially.

    I used to use a hand-razor saw like the atlas track saw. I bought some flush rail cutters a few months back, and now would never use any other way. I usually cut top to bottom, because my mark is usually on the top of the rail, and I can line the jaws of the cutter up with the mark easier.

  8. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Dremel here. From the top.
    Wearing a pair of saftey glasses.......Always.
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah


    Copy of instructions that came with the cutter.
    For HO and S, blades above and below the rail. For N and Z, blades at the sides.

    For my HO (code 100 and 75), I still tend to hold it upright and cut through the sides.

    Attached Files:

  10. foulrift

    foulrift Bob

    Thanks for the replies everyone.I appreciate the info. Bob
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    One safety tip that I use when cutting joiner tracks for our modular club setups. I put the cutters where I want to make the cut and then before actually cutting, I hold the track piece with my other hand and put my thumb over the end of the rail to be cut to keep it from going anywhere when I cut the rail. I may be wearing safety glasses, but someone else passing by may not be wearing eye protection. Controlling where the ends of the rail go when you cut them just makes good sense to me.
  12. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I use an Atlas multi-purpose saw that you can buy from LHS's for a few dollars. These seem to work well, although I'm sure there are better methods. I find flex-track to be a bit of a pain to cut and work with, but once it's down it's worth it. Rob
  13. foulrift

    foulrift Bob

    Thanks for the additional information everyone.I also noticed that on both the flex track and Peco turnouts it looks like I have to remove the last tie one each to make room for rail joiner. Bob
  14. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    You should have to remove the last tie on the flextrack but not on the turnouts. I've never had to remove any ties on Peco turnouts but usually have to cut out the last tie on the flextrack. HTH, Rob
  15. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    On Peco flextrack I carve a notch under the rail on the last tie, the whole tieplate and enough under to clear the rail joiner. I use the long pointed X-acto blade and it's best to do this at the edge of the table.
  16. MidnightRR

    MidnightRR Member

    Considering how often Dremel cut-off wheels disintergrate at high speed, I can't imagine how you thin they'e safer than rail nippers. BOTH require safety glasses.
  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    He is probably using a Dremel steel saw blade rather than one of the ceramic cut off wheels. Still safety glasses or a shield are a good idea.
  18. foulrift

    foulrift Bob

    Thanks again for the replies.I'm either going to use rail nippers.Given the fact that I already have a pair it seems like the logical choice.Bob
  19. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I like the cut-off disks for cutting rail, and just about any other metal material, too. I use only the small ones in my Dremel, and most wear out before they shatter. In fact, as they get smaller, I find them useful for working in confined areas, such as the interior of loco boilers.
    If your disks are shattering regularly, you're using them improperly - only light pressure is required when cutting, especially with hard materials like steel. For shaping or finishing, where the side of the disk is used, the pressure against the work should be extremely light. If you're in a rush, you're in the wrong hobby. :p ;):-D Always use the disks at high speed, and let the disk reach speed before attempting to use it. If a disk has a nick in the edge, it is possible to use it on wide, flat surfaces, especially steel, where there is nothing for it to catch on - a small nick can be "worn" away in this manner. On smaller material, such as rail or music wire, the nick will catch, shattering the disk.
    The admonition to wear safety glasses is an important one, although often ignored. Many of the tasks model railroaders perform can be surprisingly hazardous, and we often fall short in our precautions. In the steel mill where I worked, you could be sent home for failure to wear safety equipment. We need to be just as strict with ourselves in this respect: the threat of loss of vision should be incentive enough. I can't imagine getting any enjoyment from my trains if I couldn't see them.

  20. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    For more on eye protection, I highly recommend

    They are a very reputable mail-order company based here in Ottawa. They will ship world-wide, and they carry high quality products. Here's a link to their Safety Equipment including safety glasses (standard, bifocal, tinted), face shields, hearing protection, and puncture resistant gloves (watch out for that #11 blade!).

    I do not work for Lee Valley, but I am a happy customer.


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