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Tubing dies. (El Cheepo corner)

G’day; When I wanted to make tube and ‘organ’ settings, I had
to make my own dies. (wot, no money? No, not then!)

Got a 6"x1"x 1/4" steel bar (from the local garage) I wanted
1/4" tube, so drilled a hole in the bar 5/16; another at 19/64,
at 11/32, and so on down to 1/4". I used a countersink drill to
open out one side of the holes to around halfway through the bar.
A small tapered reamer helped with smoothing the entrance of the
holes. Using bits of wooden dowel in a power drill (got that for
my birthday!) and coarse and then fine grit carborundum (valve
paste - (garage gave me a bit!) I used the dowel back and forth
as well as round and round, angling the dowel(s) as I worked. I
finished up with tin oxide and water to provide polished holes
of varying sizes. Not first class dies, you understand, but they
did their job well.

I used a small block of hardwood in which to carve swage-block
type grooves, hammered the piece of thin annealed silver sheet
with perfectly clean and parallel edges into the grooves using
odd large nails, bolts, etc. to force the sheet into a U. The
silver I pre-polished on the side that was to become the inside.
One end of the U shaped metal was cut to a long taper, then
inserted into the biggest die-hole - and then I pulled like
hell! (one foot on the bench edge!) Until the ‘tube’ edges met
perfectly with a bit of ‘spring’ to hold them in place. I used
the hardest solder to fasten the edges, cleaned up the tube, and
pulled it through the final hole - Voila!! I should mention that
I did case-harden the draw-plate, and still use it on occasion.
That exercise prompted me to make a drawbench (from junk of
course) but that’s another story. I still use that too - it’s at
least 15 years old now!

But, please, what is corolan? Never heard of it in NZ. Cheers,

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/ /| \ @John_Burgess2
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John, Wonderful resourcefulness. Corian, is a brand name for a
material used on counter tops in kitchens, etc., in lieu of tile
or marble. It is supposed to be resistant to marring and
scorching, and can be fine sanded to restore areas as needed. It
is also rather costly.

I am sure it is on your side of the Pacific, under a different
trade name. Teresa

Hi John,

Enjoyed your description of making a draw plate. It’s amazing
what one can do with a little ingenuity, a few commonly available
items (provided you know where to get them) & a little time. I’ve
made made many of my own tools also & hardly a week goes by
without making a new tool for some special job. Don’t know what’s
more fun, jewelry or tool making (bg).

Now to your question, ‘What’s corian?’

Corian is a plastic mfgd by DuPont that’s widely used in the US
for kitchen & bath counter tops. It’s usually available in 5/16
to 3/4 in thickness & is sold in sheets 2 + ft wide and 8 - 10 ft
long. It’s available in colors, the most common being white or
some shade of tan. It can be fabricated with wood working tools.
Adhesives are available for making invisible butt joints if a
really large or long piece is required. It’s dimensionally
stable & relatively hard & non porous. HTH


I’m new -can I please find out how to make my own draw plate?

Corian is a plastic mfgd by DuPont that's widely used in the US
for kitchen & bath counter tops..  It's dimensionally
stable & relatively hard & non porous. 

Thanks Dave. Sounds to me as though it could be a melamine
resin. We do have that and for the same sort of purpose you
described. Don’t think I will be buying many sheets, however
(Even bigger grin!! B-)

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 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2
(______ )
 I'm new -can  I please find out how to make my own draw

Sure thing.

The 1st thing to consider is what you plan to draw with your
home brew draw plate.

If you’re planning to draw wire, your probably better of buy a
commercially made plate. Some of the import plates for round wire
are available for about $20.00.

The basic premise in considering what material to make the plate
from is; ‘How hard is the material to be drawn?’. Obviously, the
material the plate is made from must be harder than the material
to be drawn. Even though chain & tubing are made from relatively
hard material, their shapes make it possible to change the size
or shape with relative ease.

The next consideration is what is the shape of the finished
product to be (round, square, triangular, etc.). If it’s other
than round it’ll probably be less expensive to buy a commercial

Along with shape, an important question is; ‘What’s the maximum
& minimum size that will be drawn?’. The larger the size range,
the stronger the draw plate material needs to be.

Another consideration is; ‘How accurate does the finished size
need to be?’. If it’s got to be very accurate (+/- .010 in)
commercial is probably more economical.

Now, with those thoughts in mind lets look at some material to
use for draw plates

Most commercially made draw plates for drawing wire are made
from steel. The better ones are made from tool steel & are
hardened. Some draw plates have carbide or diamond inserts the
wire is drawn through.

For drawing chain & tubing (thin walled) draw plates can be made
from steel, hardwood or the harder plastics that have an high
melting point. If made from wood, the wood used should be a
dense, fine grain wood, e.g. maple. If plastic is used, use one
that has a high melting point. The friction & compression that
occurs during drawing causes heat & we don’t want the draw plate
melt or the holes to change size. Corian is one plastic that
fills these requirements. Corian is available from home centers
& shops that make kitchen & bath counter tops. Ask for the
cutouts from sinks, They may be available at low cost or free.

Now let’s consider the design of the draw platre. How many holes
is it to have? What’s the largest size hole? The size of the
holes should not change too much from larger to smaller. If the
hole size changes to much, it will be difficult to pull the item
being drawn through the plate. At the larger sizes the size
reduction can be greater than at the smaller sizes. The entry to
each hole should taper slightly to facilitate the size
reduction. There should be sufficient space between the holes so
the draw plate is strong enough not to break (pull apart or snap)
when it’s being used. A rule of thumb is to leave a space equal
to the hole diameter around the hole, e.g. for a 1/2 hole, there
should be no hole closer than 1/2 in to its edge. The next
problem to consider in making a draw plate is the tools used to
make it. Most plastics & all woods can be machined with wood
workers (sharp) tools. A hand or table saw can be used to cut
the blank that will be used to make the draw plate.

For a round hole draw plate, a good size reduction can be made
using the drills in a standard 29 bit fractional drill set, 1/16
-1/2" in 1/64 " steps. If larger holes are required, larger bits
are available. If smaller holes are required, a numbered drill
set (#1 - #80) will provide the required sizes.

Draw a design of the draw plate before starting. Lay out 3 or 4
lines across the long dimension. The should be separated from the
edge of the droplet & the next line by a distance equal 1.5 times
the diameter of the largest hole. (Ex. largest hole 1/2 in., top
line should be 3/4 in. from the edge of the droplet & the 2nd
line should be 3/4 in. below the 1st line.) The remaining lines
should be spaced based on the largest hole that will be in that
line. For convenience in holding the draw plate while drawing,
leave a 1/2 in border around the entire field of holes.

  1. When the design is finished, lay out the design on the
    material to be used.

  2. Cut the blank to size.

  3. Use a drill press to drill each hole, changing bits after
    each hole. All the holes should be drilled perpendicular to the
    draw plate. If the holes aren’t perpendicular the item will want
    to curve when it’s drawn. It’s best to start drilling with the
    smallest hole. That way if you forget & drill 2 holes instead of
    1, you haven’t created a problem that’s un-correctable.

  4. After all the holes are drilled, use a countersink to taper
    each hole slightly. Counter sink each hole to approximately the
    same depth.

  5. Remove any rough edges. The holes should be relatively
    smooth, i.e. no burrs etc. in the holes or on the edges. Any
    burrs etc. will leave a scratch the length of the item being

When drawing anything, clamping a piece of cloth soaked with a
lubricant, (oil of wintergreen, dishwashing detergent, etc.) so
it contacts the item on the input side of the droplet will make
the draw a little easier.

If you want to make other than a round hole draw plate, You can
start with round holes & then do a lot of filing with needle