How to Cut Consistent Custom Thickness Rubber Washers/Spacers

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Introduction: How to Cut Consistent Custom Thickness Rubber Washers/Spacers

I needed a small number of custom thickness rubber washers, and I needed them yesterday! I scrounged around for some thick wall rubber tubing that I had used to make custom length spacers. I had cut the spacers by hand with a single-edge razor blade, but I hadn't been able to get a nice, consistent finish. Despite my best efforts, it always looked butchered. With the washers I needed being so thin (about .080"), I knew I wouldn't be able to cut them by hand. The solution turned out to be fast, easy and safe.

Step 1: Tools, Materials and Technique

Tools:

  • Metal Lathe
  • Single-edge razor blade (preferable new), a utility knife blade would be effective as well
  • Locking Pliers (Vice-Grips®), small-type

Materials:

  • Rubber tubing of the size you needed. I bought a 6" length of 1" OD, 1/4" ID from McMaster Carr. It's listed under "Multipurpose Neoprene Rubber Tubes" and they come in a wide variety.

Technique:

  • Simply clamp the knife blade to your parting tool. I used a negative rake so the blade would be pushed away rather than pulled into the material if anything went awry.
  • Ensure your parting tool is square to the axis of rotation.
  • Running at a slower speed (less than 300RPM for a ø1"), gently feed into the material.
  • With this technique, you can easily achieve a tolerance of about ±.005".
  • Though I'm not sure if it's necessary, I found a little cutting oil on the blade to be helpful.

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    6 Comments

    This is pretty clever. I'll keep this in mind in the future.

    This is pretty clever. I'll keep this in mind in the future.

    Nice! I will do this!!!!

    I was trying to do but I could never get an accurate result. my method something similar to yours, but very rudimentary. I'll use your method is much better. thank you!

    Water is good for cutting rubber.

    Good idea. Thanks.