Introduction: How to Make a Tailor's Clapper
A tailor's clapper is a tool that helps you get amazingly crisp, flat pressed seams and creases. To use it, you first press your seam with a hot iron and lots of steam. Immediately after lifting the iron, you place the clapper over the seam and hold it down until the fabric cools. This traps the heat and steam in the fabric, making the seam as flat as possible. Tailor's clappers are made out of hardwood. I had a piece of maple hanging around, so I made a clapper at TechShop Menlo Park . It's a very simple thing to make, so here's what I did.
My piece of maple was about 1 1/4" by 1 1/4" by 12". Clappers are generally about 2" to 3" wide, but I decided to use my skinny piece for now and make a larger one later. I drew a half circle at both ends to mark where I was going to round it off.
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Step 1: Cut Rounded Edge With Band Saw
I used a band saw to cut the rounded edge. First I cut a series of relief cuts down to the curved line (see photo). The relief cuts make it much easier to cut a curved shape in the wood. I then cut off the excess, leaving me with a nice curve on either end. It's still pretty rough though, so on to the next step!
Step 2: Sanding and Finishing
The surfaces of this particular piece of wood were a bit rough to start with, and I need a smooth piece that will not snag or mar my fabric. My rounded cuts were pretty rough too, so it was off to the belt sander to even it out. I sanded all the surfaces of the wood until they were very even and smooth. The belt sander also helped me smooth the rough cut rounded ends so that they were evenly curved.
After the belt sander I used sand paper to further smooth the surfaces, progressively working down to finer grits. The last paper I used was 400 grit and gave the clapper a wonderfully glassy smooth finish. I also turned the clapper on edge 45 degrees and sanded down the sharp edges just a touch. This ensures that the edge of the clapper won't press an unwanted line in my fabric.
That's it! You don't need to seal, stain or varnish the clapper, as those things could potentially transfer to your fabric. Just shape it, then sand it till it's mirror smooth!