Making Small Paper Washers

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by Gil, Nov 25, 2005.

  1. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    Hello All,

    I've developed a technique for making small, concentrically aligned paper washers using hole punches.

    The first photo shows a piece of scrap cardboard thats been punched with 3/16" and 1/4" holes and is used an alignment tool for punching out concentric washers from cardstock. The cardstock behind it has been punched with 1/8" holes.

    To use, the tool is positioned over the cardstock hole and carefully centered on it. The two pieces are then held in position on the puching surface and the appropriate punch is inserted into the alignment jig.


    The punch is then hammered though the cardstock.


    The punch is removed with the cardstock washer held inside. Carefully remove it with a pair of tweezers.


    The picture below shows alternating 3/16" and 1/4" washers on a quickly rolled piece of cardstock.


    It becomes very easy with a little practice. Make sure your punches are sharp and to use a suitable punching surface to insure clean and accurate work.




    Do NOT use you self-healing pad with a hole punch, it will tear it up.
  3. Kaz

    Kaz Member

    punch holes

    nor use a glass cutting base
  4. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    Punch backing should always be an expendable material. I like to use acrylic plexiglass scraps obtained from the local plastics dealer. Scraps of MDF and polyethylene sheet plastic also work well.

  5. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    Cylinder Head Test

    As many of you might have guessed the concentrically aligned washer was only a lead in to making realistic looking, air-cooled cylinder heads.

    The image below is an upainted result of this experiment. It was constructed of alternationg discs of 1 mm and 0.66 mm cardboard. The "fins" were punched out of the 0.66 mm thick stock followed by sanding to approximate shape in a Dremel tool mandrel. The 1 mm thick segments were then alternated with the cooling fin discs to form the head. All discs were begun by punching a 1/16" center hole. The entire assembly was then painted with slightly thinned nitrate dope. It was then coated with PVA to bond it together. The bottom barrel consists of two 1 mm thick discs and a strip of paper. The drill is 1/16" in diameter and is included for size comparison.


    The image below is the painted result.


    A reduction in spacer and fin thickness should produce a very realistic result. I'll post the results when it happens...,

  6. SCEtoAux

    SCEtoAux Member

    Try to find a lead sheet to use as a backing when using the punches. You can usually find some lead sheets at home improvement stores. It is used as flashing.

    I have used lead sheets in the past when punching out bolt holes when making gaskets for pipe flanges and pump casings. The lead is soft and won't hurt the cutting edge of the punch as much as a hard backing will.
    If you are worried about absorbing the lead through your skin you can wear latex gloves like health workers use or those clear plastic glove that food servers use.
  7. Gil, we've been through this before but I still like the idea of a hole punch set that has piloted punches. Granted something like this is a little pricey for occasional hobby work but the general idea could be accomplished in soft materials if all you are doing is punching card stock

    The top and bottom plates could be of a Lexan type arcryllic with the punches made from soft steel.
  8. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    SCEtoAux, lead works well but is almost impossible to find in some places of the World (California for one). Polyethylene sheet is a near identical replacement as regards protecting the cutting edge but remains firm enough to maintain a clean cutting edge.

    Mark, those are beautiful punch sets. I didn't chase down a price but have a feeling they're out of range for most of us. The cardboard "aiming" jig is admitedly "low tech" but it works better than you might think with a little practice. What's cool is it uses really low cost punches and available scrap to do nearly the same job with accuracy dependent on the eyeball and physical coordination of the user.

    What I haven't shown is all the really neat failures that I've gone through to reach this point. Making paper look like machined metal is, to say the least, not the easiest of things to accomplish.

    One thing that does stand out is that the punches have to be as sharp as possible in order to get a "crisp" looking die cut. The easiest way for the cardmodeler to do this is to use a Dremel tool with a firm felt buffing wheel loaded with emery polishing compound. "Buffing" the punch edge a couple of turns followed by the removal of the internal curled edge from buffing with a piece of rolled 400-1200 grit wet or dry sandpaper does a good job.

    Another area that I haven't seen discussed is the need to stabilize and strengthen the paper for improved machinability and strength. I've found this to be an important addition when "stacking" many layers. Note that PVA glue is not applied between each layer but is applied to the outside instead. The softening effect of PVA on paper can have negative consequences on keeping crisp edges on the subject. I like using thinned nitrate dope to seal the surface. Thinned lacquer also works well.

    As usual nothing is easy until you understand what you're doing.


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