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Making sterling washers

i’m making sterling washers and find the process tedious and
inconsistent. wonder if some of you have any brilliant ideas for
simplifying this process. clearly cutting the outside circle with a
disc cutter is no problem, however i’m having trouble centering the
disc cutter for the inner cut with any degree of regularity. i
suspect there is a simple solution i’m unaware of. hopefully one of
you tool experts can come to my rescue. thanks!.. jane

mj bennett

Hi Jane, Try cutting the inner hole first. Marta

Hoover and Strong will stamp out washers for a small extra charge.

Rick Hamilton

If you prefer to buy sterling washers instead of making them, they are
in the new metals catalog from Metaliferous (NY)

I have no connection with this company.

I know this is gooing to soudn crazy but how about cutting the center
hole first and the washer second. Just a thought

Lone Star technical Service
What do ultrasonic guys know about washers?

Why not cut the inner circle first then you can see it when placing
it in the disc cutter to cut the outer circle. You can make either
draw the outer circle with a sharpie marker and place it in the cutter
or make some sort of measuring device to insure that the area around
the center hole is uniform all the way around. --Vicki Embrey

Punch the small hole first. Then get a dowel that fits snugly into
the cavity of the larger punch. Sharpen the dowel in a pencil
sharpener. Approximately center the small hole in the larger cavity by
eye. Insert the dowel and give it a few easy turns. This will exactly
center the small hole in the larger cavity. Remove dowel…Insert
punch…WHAM…Perfect washer…Bob Williams

Hi Jane,

 clearly cutting the outside circle with a disc cutter is no
problem, however i'm having trouble centering the disc cutter for
the inner cut with any degree of regularity. 

Here’s one way you might try.

  1. Get a rod the size of the outside diameter (OD) of the washer.

  2. Taper one end simlar to the point on a pencil. Depending on the
    size, you may be able to taper it by cutting it about 1-2" longer
    than the length of the OD punch length. Clamp it in the chuck of a
    drill press. While the drill press is running, file the rod to a
    point. The point only needs to be a little smaller than the hole in
    the washer. The taper should be gradual.

  3. Punch the small hole (inside diameter (ID) of the washer 1st.

  4. Position the washer blank under the OD hole in the punch block.

  5. Insert the pointed end of the locator rod in the ID of the washer
    blank. This will center the blank relative to the OD hole in the
    punch block.

  6. Remove the locator rod, being careful not to move the washer

  7. Insert the punch for the OD & punch the washer.


Jane, I had a similar problem. I needed to make washers that had a
whole that was slightly off-center and had to make many of them that
had the exact same off-center alignment. So, here is what I did, and
by the way it works for centered holes as well.

Take a sheet of metal, doesn’t have to be precious and cut a disc out
with the cutter that you will be using. Enlarge the hole enough that
a disc will easily slip in and out without binding or excess
movement. This will be your jig. Next, make a washer that has the
hole in the exact position you need. Put the washer in the jig and
put the jig in the disc cutter. Slide the cutter for the inside hole
into the washer to properly align the jig. Now, all you have to do
is secure the jig so that it is as secure as you want it. If I am
doing a lot of washers, I will use a tiny amount of super glue at the
edge of the jig and when I am done all I have to do is heat the jig
up until the glue weakens. I have also secured the jig with sticky
wax for smaller runs. There are all sorts of ways that you can make
the jig and secure it. The secret is to have a washer that has the
exact hole position that you need on hand. I have made several over
the years, both centered and off-centered. I keep them handy for the
next time I need to make a washer.

I hope this is clear, contact me if you have any questions.

Larry Seiger
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler

To do what you require will require would require a different type of
disc cutter, one that had the profile of the disc milled out of one
side so that it would hold the disc in place so that the hole through
the center could be cut accurately while keeping the disc flat. A way
that you can do this with what you have I think is to cut the inside
hole out of your sheet first. Then make a jig to line up this piece in
the cutter for the outside edge by taking something round like a
dowell the size of the outside diameter and on center of the end,
drill out and insert another dowell the size of the inside hole so
that you have a short dowell that has both sizes, like a step mandrel
with only the two sizes. If you put the dowell through the smaller
hole in the sheet you already cut, you can then use it to precisely
align the piece in the larger cutter to where it will cut the hole
dead center every time. After you clamp the sheet in place to cut it
you can remove the step-dowell so that it doesn’t interfere with the
cutting, but then I don’t know what type of disc cutter you have so it
might not work for you. If you are using a three piece cutter die
where the metal is clamped between two blocks, you can have the
profile of the disc milled out of one piece to hold the disc in place
and flat while cutting the center hole and still use the other side of
the block to cut disc as you normally would by flipping it over to the
side without the profile. I think there would be several ways to make
a die cut these pieces but I think a jig of this nature described is
the easiest and least costly. I learned to engrave while working for a
company that made trophy rodeo buckles, etc. and all of the parts were
cut out with dies. When we were caught up with engraving, my job was
striking dies or assembly. Would it be easier to cast them? HTH


Jane… I’ve got your answer. David (“Dar”) Sheltech,
505-256-7073, Albuq., NM ,, e-mail:

He’s the best tool and die man I’ve ever found. He can do the die
you need. They are well worth the price! He’s made dozens of dies
for me and they are wonderful! He’ll even punch them out for you.
No… I’m not on his payroll!!! Just a very satisfied

Happy hunting, “Red” in New Mexico

Swest is also stamp out circles for you . call them at 800-527-5027
ask for James…

Use a pair of Dividers…Susan Chastain

If you prefer to buy sterling washers instead of making them, they
are in the new metals catalog from Metaliferous (NY)

Hi Jane I draw out the circles or washers I wish to punch out first on
a sheet of silver using a circle template. Then, I punch out the small
inner circles first - then have a sheet of metal with little holes -
and then the outer discs. It usually works as long as you take care to
align the circles carefully. Hope this helps


What sizes are you cutting? I have dies for cutting 20 to 18 gauge
sterling washers in the half inch to one and a half inch sizes. These
dies were made to be used with a hydraulic press. Let me know.
Sam Patania

I can offer some of my experience about this subject via the
pancake/RT blanking die route.

("Red " has kindly but misleadingly overstated my abilities in the
diemaking area. I appreciate this being posted so that this community
can be more precisely informed about it’s resources. )

I am NOT a tool & die maker in the traditional machine shop sense.
There are a million things these people can do that I don’t go near.
That being said, I can do a quite lot in the low to medium-tech area
of cutting and forming with pancake dies and hydraulic presses.

Regarding washers…this problem is documented at Lee Marhall’s
site with that I formulated and he edited and presented .
The ‘donut hole die’ (using RT/ pancake technique) as I call it is a
world of trouble unto itself .Though it can be made to work
serviceably, it’s debatable whether it’s worth the trouble , and just
isn’t in some cases. Centering the hole is very awkward and next to
impossible for any but the simplest designs. The real drawback with
this approach is of course that the part becomes trapped between the 2
dieplates that comprise the die , and so must be extracted with a
specially made stripper plate. The method can be viable and
economical if a lot of parts are needed, but certainly there are less
expensive ways to go, as these are way more costly than plain pancake

I don’t have many fond memories of the kind of hole punches that
several people here describe, but apparently they can be tamed . I
probably just had a lower quality one . I often refer people to Roper
Whitney Co. and their line of hand held and benchtop presses ,
stock and custom made punch & die sets. Oh, and listening to folks


To make washers with a centered hole: First, make a jig:

Using a drill press, clamp a piece of wood to the base plate and
drill a hole in a piece of wood using a drill bit the exact diameter
of the washer. Do not move the drilled piece of wood. Insert a dowel
into the drilled hole. The dowel should be the exact diameter of the
hole and the washer. Now drill a hole in the dowel the exact diameter
of the hole in the center of the washer. This hole should be
perfectly centered in the dowel.

To use the jig:

Insert the silver sheet in the punch. Insert the dowel in the hole
matching the diameter of the washer. Insert the punch for the center
hole of the washer in the dowel and punch the center hole. Remove the
dowel and insert the punch matching the diameter of the washer. Punch
the washer.

The result should be a washer with a perfectly centered hole.

Is there a trick to keeping the silver sheet from moving around in
the disc cutter while you punch the two holes?


Punch the inside hole first. This will give you the i.d. to which you
can then center and punch the o.d.