RT/Pancake Dies, Minus the Tab!

Anyone interested in the continuing evolution of the pancake (RT Die)
die cutting process might want to mosey on over to the Bonny Doon
forum for a look. I’ve posted a number of pix of recent/past projects
as well at

scroll down a bit to find the most recent pic of mine from July 9.

Though fairly simple in concept, a tabless RT die presents several
major challenges, and these 2 star dies even more so because they
are cutting 3 and 4 parts at a time, respectively. They also had to
be very symmetrical and precise so that any tip of any star would fit
into the nifty hole punch I made for my manual Diacro press. It may
be useful to remember that I am not a machinist and don’t have
anything resembling a modern tool& die making shop. These tools are
mostly handmade, with just the basic drillpress, bandsaw, no lathe
or mill or cnc. So if I can do it… well, no, actually I don’t
suggest trying this at home. The unpleasant aspect of any tabless or
"donut-hole "

die using the RT concept is that the stock or part you’re cutting a
hole into the middle of gets trapped inbetween the 2 main plates of
the die. With a donut die the hinge (secondary) plate must be left
intact, and this makes part extraction a slow and awkward affaier.But
with a tabless die (as seen on these 2 star dies )that secondary
plate can be cut away all except the minimum needed to attach the
cutter to it and for it to continue on down and function as a hinge .
This makes it quite a bit easier to cut the scrap/stock and pull it
back over the cutter instead of… what you have to do with the donut

A little video clip would do wonders here, but lacking that, you’ll
have to use the photos and your imagination. In the end, I was able
to do a few thousand perfect little stars -with no nasty tabs to trim
and sand off, and punch a clean hole in each one with no
centerpunching, drilling, or cleanup - in a boatload less time than
previously possible.

So welcome a little further into my world, somewhere inbetween
low-tech and high-tech, between jewelry making and machine shop, and
as always, here to serve.

Dar Shelton, (“The Sheltech Guy”)

Dar -

Just catching up on reading Orchid - that star die is cool! Can you
do other shapes as cleanly as that?

Ivy S. Fasko
Contemporary Handcrafted Jewelry

Dar -

When I need to, yes, I can be very accurate sawing dies. The star
was a challenge because all the tips on all 7 stars (2 dies for 2
sizes of star) had to be very consistent so that they'd fit into
the hole-punch jig exactly, leaving the holes located properly in
the stars' tips. You can also see other examples at

That’s assuming you meant accurate when you asked “cleanly?”. If you
were meaning the neatness of the cut as opposed to a ragged/burred
edge, then also yes, I do that well too. That has to do with having a
tight tolerance in the die. Loose dies leave

burrs or bent edges, and worst-case, the metal sticks/jams in the
die. Dies need to be extremely tight for very-thin metals like 28, 30
ga. and even thinner.

Dar Shelton