How to Cut Consistent Custom Thickness Rubber Washers/Spacers

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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.

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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 Discussions

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    Metal_maestro

    3 years ago

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

    None
    Metal_maestro

    3 years ago

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

    None
    studleylee

    3 years ago

    Nice! I will do this!!!!

    None
    bebohec

    3 years ago

    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!

    None
    ventifact

    3 years ago

    Water is good for cutting rubber.

    None
    acheide

    3 years ago

    Good idea. Thanks.