Introduction: Cutting Wine Bottle Corks
This is a tutorial on making a simple jig for cutting wine corks in half, along their length.
The jig requires only simple scraps to build and is for use with a band saw, but could also be used to hold corks when using a hand, or even a knife, depending on the size of the kerf.
Using this jig on a band saw, it's easy to, safely, produce a few hundred corks halves in an hour.
Step 1: Cork Cutting Jig for the Band Saw
To make this jig, you need a piece of wood no less than 1-1/4" square on the sides and about 5" long, which happen to be the measurements of my jig.
The measurements of the jig can be varied. As long as you have enough room to drill the hole, and the jig isn’t too cumbersome to use, it could be most any measurement. For example: Your jig could be 1-3/8" square by 5-1/2". In other words, you can make it larger or smaller, as long as it allows you to remain safe. If you do make it larger, you can always shave more off the sides or length later.
Once you have your piece cut, you need to drill a hole to hold corks.
To drill the hole, first find center on one end. If your piece is square on the sides, you need only make an X by drawing straight lines from corner to corner.
If your piece is not square, measure the short side and then mark that measurement on the long sides, then draw your X using this points.
To insure the drilled hole runs true, 90 degrees from the table, you can use a couple pieces of scrap to support the piece on a side and end.
Using a 1" spade, spur or Forstner bit, drill down into the end about 1-1/2", using the center of the X you just marked as your starting point.
I used a Forstner bit because they cut smoother than spade bits, but a spur bit would cut about as smooth as a Forstner.
Whether using a hand drill or a drill press, clamp the jig to your support scraps. This will keep it from spinning and, possibly injuring you. Too, if the bit blows out the side because your drill did not stay 90 degrees to the wood, it won’t hit your hand.
When cutting deep holes, back the bit out often, to clear the debris from the hole, so the bit can work less hard and run cooler.
This jig has already been used, so you can see the kerf, which cuts into the hole each time a cork is cut.
To help pull the jig back, after each cut, make an indentation on the opposite end from which you just drilled your hole. It only needs to go in about 1/8", but can go deeper, because it’s not a critical.
To make your first cut, mark center and the end of the jig, over the hole you just drilled (e.g., if your jig is 1-1/2" wide, the mark will 3/4" from each edge).
Install your band saw fence and set the blade guides so they just clear the jig.
Touch the center-mark you made to the blade, then move the fence against the jig and lock it in place. Now, each time the jig pushes into the blade, it will run down the center of the jig.
Insert a cork in the hole, push the jig against the fence, with the indentation facing up, and run the jig into the blade, making a kerf about 1-5/8" long, or just a little past the bottom of the hole (you only need to go deep enough to cut the cork in half).
Use the indentation o to pull the jig back, then shake the cork out and load another.
(1) Sometimes the corks will pull out of the jig as you draw it back to you. I just keep going until several accumulate, but not so many they start dropping off the back of the table. Then I leave the jig in the blade so I can reach around behind the somewhat shielded blade. Of course, use appropriate caution.
(2) If your corks have names you want to display, pay attention to how you load the corks.
As usual, use caution.