Introduction: Cut Wine Bottle Corks Quickly and Safely

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 handsaw, 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. In fact, I'd not be surprised if you could pump out 300 to 500 in that time.

For this, you'll need:

1) A band saw.

2) A bandsaw fence (factory or cobbled).

3) A piece of wood no less than 1-1/4" square and no shorter than 5" and up to 12" long. The length depends on how close you are comfortable with getting your fingers near the blade.

4) A scrap block of wood to serve as a stop. It will mount on either the fence or the table, so should be sized accordingly. For example, if your fence is 5" tall, it should be "about" 5" x 3" to 6". Alternately, if you are going to clamp the scrap wood to the table, it should reach from where you want the jig to stop (about 1/4" to 1" behind the blade) to a place at the back of the table where a clamp can be used to lock it in place.

5) A clamp (to hold the stop in place).

Step 1: Building the Cutting Jig

1) Cut the square stock.

If using a pieces of scrap 2x, just set the scrap between the blade and the fence of your saw, with the narrow side against the table, and you'll be set to cut the wider side down to the same width as the narrower one.

Be safe - use a push shoe (about a ten inch long board, with a heel, and about ten inches tall).

The long push shoe holds the material down better by covering more of the material you are cutting, including the part near the back of the blade, where kickbacks start. The heel pushes the wood through. Of course, the height of the push shoe keeps fingers away from the blade.

2) 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 fairly 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.

Step 2: Adding a Finger Grip

To help when pulling the jig back after each cut, use the same bit you used to drill the hole to make an indentation on the opposite end from which you just drilled the hole. It only needs to go in about 1/8", but can go deeper, because it’s not a critical.

This will give you a finger or thumb grip on the jig.

Step 3: Making the Kerf

1) To make your first cut, the kerf which will be what you set up ALL your future cuts from, mark half the half way point in the width of the wood. If your wood is 1-1/2"x1-1/2" square, this would be 3/4" in.

2) Set your bandsaw fence so the blade will cut into the wood [and the hole you just drilled] so it splits the hole in half.

3) Set the blade guides so they just clear the jig.

4) Cut into the jig [and the hole you drilled] so the blade goes 1/8" to 1/4" past the bottom of the hole. This creates the kerf for all future set ups and cuts.

Step 4: Using the Jig

1) With the saw off, lay the jig on the table so the kerf touching it and aligns with the blade, so it slips past the blade without enlarging the kerf,

2) Move the fence against the jig.

3) With the jig all the way in so the [still off] blade rests just past the bottom of the hole, place a stop against the jig, so it cannot go any further.

The photo, above, shows a sliding stop I made. It rests in the miter slot and can be moved along the slot and locked in place to perform the same function as a piece of scrap locked to the fence or the table.

4) Now, each time the jig pushes into the blade, it will run down the center of the jig and stop just past any cork inserted in the hole.

5) Turn the saw on, insert a cork in the hole, push the jig along the fence, with the indentation facing up and so the blade moves into the previously cut kerf

6) Use the indentation on the back of the jig to pull it back, then shake the cork out, load another and repeat the process.

Step 5: NOTES

(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.