On the subject of die saws , Jim B. explains how the precision of a
sawguide and toolsteel isn’t actually necessary for “quckie” dies
for short runs of parts in soft metal.
Quite right Jim, and the Rio RT saw is still next to useless in my
(not very often) humble opnion. The BD unit is way better. I’ve gone
through a couple of homemade ones and now I use two customized BD
units . Never liked scroll saws for this, maybe I didn’t get the
right one, or give it a fair shot. Whatever… I don’t like them
and I’m certain that I get better blade life on my saws.
Using mild steel is a good way to make the job easier, as is using
larger sawblades . I use #1’s most often, and 2’s and sometimes even
4’s on big, thick dies. The 2/0 and smaller I save for detailed
shapes and sharp corners. Since I sell dies to people I always use
the 0-1 tool steel and heat treat it , but certain applications are
very hard on even the toughest ones I can make.
The latest minor miracles I’ve gotten to work are for a customer who
makes copper garden art. One is a pig’s face and the other a dog’s,
each about 6" by 4.5" ,and they both cut the shape and form it
dimensionally in one press operation , to a depth of about 1/2 " .
The dog is actually 8.3 " wide from ear to ear and I had it cut on a
wire edm.Both have a separate base that they sit on that has a mold
area that has a conforming female die cast in plastic steel,
matching the cast aluminum male die that’s attached to the blanking
It’s just really a solid conforming die set integrated with a
pancake die , but the most recent development helps form the metal
with more depth and less wrinkling. It involves placing a thin
urethane pad as a buffer between the die parts, so that the metal
interfaces directly with urethane, but just a thin layer, and is
mostly forced to conform to the solid mold parts. The urethane also
cushions the plastic steel from the direct, and in these
situations very abrasive, contact with the metal.
This has really pushed the limit of what I can do in one step, which
translates to lower cost for parts , which is an essential …
sort of prime directive for this particular customer. They don’t pay
very much per piece but they give me a lot of work, so we’re both
happy. Needless to say, this necessity has been a great stimulus for
innovative production-style solutions using pancake dies and press