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From: "Ed Huntress" <mike234@bellatlantic.net>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: Metal Cookie Cutters
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2001 03:51:10 GMT

>>I want to make cookie cutters from tin or copper...<<

It happens that my wife is a fanatic cookie baker, and she's always bugging
me for custom cookie cutters for the various kids' events she bakes for.
Pumpkins and hearts are easy. Witches on brooms are hard.

I don't know how many you're going to make or who is going to use them, but
I can tell you what I've done over the years. I started with coffee cans,
using the soldered and rolled edge for stiffness. Bad idea. They're very
hard to shape because of the edge. Then I used the slightly thicker metal
from paint cans, without the edge. Easy to shape but hard to support.

Next I went to steel package strapping. It's very good but it's a little
narrow, at around 1/2". I finally had to cut sheet plastic slightly oversize
and glue the steel shapes to the plastic, and put a handle on the plastic so
you could hold on to them. Too much work.

Eventually I wound up using strips of aluminum, steel and brass, which came
from various sources. Assuming you're not equipped with a lot of
metalworking tools, here's the easiest, the best...and the most expensive.
However, it's such a time saver that you may prefer it, if you don't have to
make a lot of them.

I use brass strips made for model-airplane hobbyists. You'll find them in a
good model shop, one that caters to the radio-control crowd. Various
thickness are available. I like the ones around 0.040" thick, but use what
works for you.

To form curves, I clamp a wooden dowel in my vice and bend the strip gently
around that, moving it after every small amount of bend. You'll get the hang
of it. For sharp bends I use a pair of needle-nose pliers or electrician's
pliers. Just make sure the pliers' edge is perpendicular to the strip's edge
before you make a bend. I periodically lay the strip against a sketch I've
drawn on paper to see how it's coming along, and to check for flatness.

You can solder the ends of brass easily. I overlap the ends about 1/8" and
then file a "scarf" in the ends before soldering. That is, I bevel each of
the adjoining ends over a length of 1/8" so they fit together without a
bump. Then I use a big soldering iron to solder them. You can use a torch.
Don't worry about the lead in the solder unless you make your cookies out of
acid and leave the cutter in the cookie for a half-hour or so. <g> Be aware
that soldering will make the brass soft near the joint. It won't matter.

Commercial ones usually are spot-welded with tiny spots, but they can be
riveted. I wouldn't bother with that even though I have a lot of riveting
tools and a lot of experience at it. If you don't want to solder, you can
use two-part epoxy (Elmer's is fine). After scarfing the joint ends, mix
some epoxy and spread a small glob on some sandpaper. Scratch the epoxy into
the metal with the sandpaper. Don't let the metal become exposed without
epoxy on it (this is important). Spread some fresh-mixed epoxy on if you
don't like the mess the sandpaper leaves, but it's not important. Clamp the
two ends together for 24 hours. This will also work on aluminum or steel,
and remember that the strength of the joint in brass or aluminum is
dependent upon scratching the epoxy in. It only takes a moment. You just
have to scratch the surface and then make sure it stays covered with epoxy.

If the cutter is really big, you'll need a brace/handle for it. You can just
solder another piece of the brass strip across the back of the cutter to
accomplish that.

Happy cookie-making.

Ed Huntress






From: "Ed Huntress" <mike234@bellatlantic.net>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: Metal Cookie Cutters
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2001 05:23:23 GMT

>>Neat tip Ed! I gotta remember that sandpaper thing. I usually rough up
metal surfaces with a wire wheel before epoxying them, but it sounds like
you're saying you gotta keep oxides from forming, sort of like soldering to
aluminum by scratching under the molten solder.<<

Yes, a trick I learned from the Gougeon Brothers, of racing-sailboat fame.
They came up with it as a way to epoxy stainless boat fittings to a wooden
hull.

I've since read that some people use Scotchbrite pads for the same purpose.
I haven't tried that yet. The trick is to scratch through the oxide and then
keep the surface wet with epoxy. It works well with most of the troublesome
alloys, although I've had some failures with copper. I don't know why.

And don't worry about leaving a little grit in there. High-strength epoxy
gets its strongest bond with a joint gap of approximately 0.005". The worst
thing you can do with epoxy is starve the joint, and the grit will help you
keep a little gap.

Happy bonding...er, glueing.

Ed Huntress




 
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