How Ironwood makes his Clips

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Ironwood

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Due to receiving a number of requests for further information on my clips after posting my other thread yesterday, https://www.penturners.org/threads/my-clip-evolution.164496/
I have decided to do this info thread, rather than have to explain it many times.

I was reluctant to put it out there for safety reasons, as the tools and equipment used, can potentially cause serious injury if precautions are not taken. I have been working with metal for over 40 years, so I am very confident that I can perform this task safely myself, but I know there will be readers with varying levels of experience, some may have little or no experience doing this type of thing.
If you don't feel totally 100% confident that you can do it safely yourself, don't do it, or seek help from someone local who is suited to doing it.

To perform this work in a safe manner, please do not take alcohol or drugs before commencing.
You will need at a minimum, clear safety glasses. An impact resistant face shield. Appropriate protective gloves. Hearing protection. Long sleeves to protect from sparks. Work boots.

You will need to have a strong grip in your hands to hold the grinder in a safe and controlled manner.
The thin disc used will explode if it gets jammed, or there is side loading put on it, treat it with great respect.
The metal gets very hot when cutting it, hence the need for gloves, you may need to cool it in a bucket of water at times. The cutting disc will leave a razor sharp edge on the metal, which will cut you if care is not taken.

DISCLAIMER- If you decide to have a go at doing this yourself, you do so at your own risk. The author and the IAP will take no responsibility for any injury or damage caused to any person or equipment.
 
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Ironwood

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OK, I use stainless steel to make my clips, I salvage it from old hose clamps that have been discarded. I don't know what grade of stainless it is. But it is hard and has a good spring to it.
If you can't source the same stuff I use , you may have to buy stainless in sheet form. Do some research on what would be a suitable grade to use before paying out money.
The material I use ranges from 0.7mm to 1.2mm thick ( 0.028" to 0.048" ) different thicknesses have different amounts of spring and stiffness.
You can adjust for this, make wider clips out of the thinner stuff, and more narrow clips as the thickness increases.
If I was buying a sheet of material for this purpose, I would probably go for 1mm ( 0.040" )
 

Ironwood

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This is the grinder that I use , they can be dangerous machines, a lot of people have been injured by them in the past, please don't let yourself be the next one to be injured by one.
DSC_1318.jpg


I cover the end of the strip with ink from a permanent marker, and scratch the outline of the clip, using an awl or a nail sharpened to a point.
Use a centerpunch to mark the spot for the drill bit to engage. I drill the hole with my drill press, stainless is hard and will blunten drill bits quickly if you are not careful . I use a good quality HSS, sharp bit, the drill needs to be spinning at a suitable RPM and the feed rate needs to be right, too quick and the drill bit will jam causing it to chip, too slow and it will overheat and cause the stainless to work harden and the drill bit to soften. A cutting compound/ lubricant may help, but I don't use any.
I start with a 9mm drill bit for my clips, I don't find the need for a smaller pilot hole first, but your mileage may vary.

Here I am using the end of the strip with a natural curve in it, like I used for the clip in pic #1 of my other thread.
DSC_1319.jpg
 
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Ironwood

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I use this section of tree trunk for a work surface, it doesn't matter if its damaged by the grinder.
A safer option may be to drill a couple of holes above the section you have marked out, and screw the material to a lump of timber that can be held in a vice, or clamped to a bench.
DSC_1320.jpg


Now I carefully cut in to remove some of the waste. Much care needs to be taken to cut as neatly to the outside of marked lines, sloppy work will result in more cleanup work later, and/or grinding marks that you can't remove. Think more as cuts from a surgeon rather than from a butcher.
DSC_1321.jpg


Continue cutting around the ring. Cut resistant Gloves are needed to protect your hands when handling the clip, it will be hot, and have razor sharp edges.
DSC_1322.jpg


Be very careful to cut as close to the outside of the line as possible, it makes less work with the file and sandpaper later.
DSC_1323.jpg


Once I get it to this stage I put it in a vice to refine the edges with a file, then use 80 grit and up to 400 grit W&D sandpaper, then use a buffing wheel to shine it up. But sometimes I will just leave it with a 400 grit finish, to have a brushed stainless look.
I have made some soft jaws for my vice out of some aluminium angle, to prevent the vice jaws marking the clip, any marks and scratches you put on the metal surface, are very hard to get out.
DSC_1324.jpg


I will leave it up to your imagination how to bend the clip to its final shape.
To bend mine, I just use a pair of pliers to hold the clip, and bend it against a piece of timber.
 
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Thank you Brad, good tutorial. You sure have good metal working skills. My cuts are not as precise, more butcher like and needed a lot of manual cleanup. I also struggled drilling a nice round hole, find drill kept catching in the thin material. Going to try you suggestion of screwing the steel to a piece of wood and then clamping in a vice. What compound do you use when buffing to a shiny finish?
 

dogcatcher

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Thanks for the inspiration!

Have you had any discoloration from the heat pf the cutting process? Is it deep or surface only?

My thoughts are use 304 SS in a gauge from 19 to 26, and definitely start with the 28 gauge, the thinness.
 

Ironwood

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Thank you Brad, good tutorial. You sure have good metal working skills. My cuts are not as precise, more butcher like and needed a lot of manual cleanup. I also struggled drilling a nice round hole, find drill kept catching in the thin material. Going to try you suggestion of screwing the steel to a piece of wood and then clamping in a vice. What compound do you use when buffing to a shiny finish?
I have a bag full of half used blocks of buffing compound leftover from about 25 years ago when I was restoring bikes, the labels are long gone. I have been using the whitish looking one one top of the others, its seems to be working OK.

For the non-round holes, all I can think of is the workpiece must be moving slightly as you are drilling. Try drilling once you have screwed the stainless down to the block of wood, this might solve your problem. Let us know how it goes.
 

Ironwood

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Thanks for the inspiration!

Have you had any discoloration from the heat pf the cutting process? Is it deep or surface only?

My thoughts are use 304 SS in a gauge from 19 to 26, and definitely start with the 28 gauge, the thinness.
I do get some surface discolouration, as you should be able to see in the photos. Its gone by the time I file and sand the clip smooth.
 

Bryguy

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Thanks for this. I'd never have thought of using my angle grinder for such fine work. I've been using a jewelry saw! Different strokes.
 

Ironwood

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Thanks for this. I'd never have thought of using my angle grinder for such fine work. I've been using a jewelry saw! Different strokes.
Jewellery saw would be fine for softer materials such as silver or maybe bronze if you are using those for your clips. Stainless is a different kettle of fish....
 

darrin1200

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I personally, can’t imagine myself using an angle grinder for this. My nerves aren’t good enough.
My tool of choice for this, is the portaband. Mine is a used Milwaukee, but Harbour freight has one that fairly inexpensive. I then added a table inspired by the Swag Off-road table.


1585488647593.jpeg
 

Ironwood

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I personally, can’t imagine myself using an angle grinder for this. My nerves aren’t good enough.
My tool of choice for this, is the portaband. Mine is a used Milwaukee, but Harbour freight has one that fairly inexpensive. I then added a table inspired by the Swag Off-road table.
I would like one of those, sure would come in handy.
Though you still need to be very careful, that could easily take a finger off an unwary hand.
 

duncsuss

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I would like one of those, sure would come in handy.
Though you still need to be very careful, that could easily take a finger off an unwary hand.

You most certainly do have to be careful with any metal cutting weaponry - I have the SWAG Offroad table that Darrin improvised, and I never take my eyes off the moving blade. It has a foot-switch that allows you to kill the motor without taking one hand away from the workpiece, to me that is a great feature.
 

howsitwork

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Just to add to the comments. When drilling thin metal ( and I know this sounds daft but it works honest it does) . firtly use a centre punch to give a dim0le to put the drill in, secondly put a bit of cloth on thentip of the drill, use a slow speed and drill through the cloth and the metal. MAKE sure the metal is well clamped down and you are drilling into something hard , timber or metal it doesn’t matter.
The cloth makes the drill cut a round hole the explanation is too long to go into but try it, it works.
 

pianomanpj

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Just to add to the comments. When drilling thin metal ( and I know this sounds daft but it works honest it does) . firtly use a centre punch to give a dim0le to put the drill in, secondly put a bit of cloth on thentip of the drill, use a slow speed and drill through the cloth and the metal. MAKE sure the metal is well clamped down and you are drilling into something hard , timber or metal it doesn’t matter.
The cloth makes the drill cut a round hole the explanation is too long to go into but try it, it works.
Below is a link that demonstrates this technique with pictures and a video.

 
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