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Cheap and easy way to hold and work small pieces

I had a commission that required many small pieces, sterling disks
about the size of a US penny, be held nice and securely while I
"chased" a pattern into them with my rotary hammer. One might have
turned to pitch or maybe Jetset (or whatever that white stuff is
called) but I didn’t want to mess with the former and had none of the
latter so …

Out comes the hot glue gun. I have a spare (cheapo) bench block that
I cleaned with alcohol and then hot glued a disk to each corner of
it. The patterns were finished in a few minutes: the block provides a
nice solid, movable backing and the glue behind the disks served very
well as a little shock absorbing cushion for the “chasing” but …
what now?

How to get the disks off the block? They resist any force
sufficiently that I risked damaging the disks while trying to pry
them off. I used a semi-trashed dental tool that I’ve flattened the
tip of (very handy tool that). Slide it gently under the disk, deeply
piercing the hot glue pad underneath and with a bit of a wiggle the
disks popped off (be careful not to skewer yourself).

Ok so now there’s hot glue stuck to the disk and it ain’t coming off
too easy. I discovered that acetone is the cat’s PJ’s for this. Drop
the glued object into acetone for about 15 minutes. By the time the
hot glue has turned a milky looking colour it has lost it’s grab and
it just peels off effortlessly.

With this process I managed to run about a dozen disks through the
"production line" in less than 90 minutes, leaving me time to type
this up and share it with y’all. Hope it works for you too.

Trevor F.

Continue from:

Hi, Trevor-- I enjoyed your tip about hot glue, but-- why didn’t you
just re-warm the glue with a hair dryer or a light bulb or even a
toaster oven?


... why didn't you just re-warm the glue with a hair dryer or a
light bulb or even a toaster oven? 

Hello Noel,

Good question, two different answers:

  1. For getting the pieces off the bench block I didn’t do the above
    because I wanted fast turn-around time. If you heat the block you
    have a gooey time getting the old glue off the block because it’s
    sticky again. There’s also a few problems with a warmed block in that
    (a) it doesn’t hold the pieces as firmly when you put new ones on and
    (b) if it get’s too warm it’s not particularly comfortable to work
    with (I’d learned this earlier). Part of this is “one batch out, new
    batch in” so the block needs to be ready to go ASAP.

  2. In terms of getting the glue off the disks I suppose that heating
    them wouldn’t be a bad idea but I wanted to minimize my effort there
    too. Since I can just fish them out of the acetone and peel off the
    glue I found that to be the most convenient for me.

Trevor F.

Also, a hot air gun will help loosen it up. Great trick I learned
from Brian Marshall, thanks!