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Thread: How to Make Blade Spacers

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    Senior Member ignatz's Avatar
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    Default How to Make Blade Spacers

    How to Make Blade Spacers

    If there is one subject that has received too much attention, it is the question of just where to go to find those flimsy little washers to serve as spacers between the inside of the scales and the blade. Finally, it was my turn to wrestle with that same problem and I decided to try to solve it not only for myself, but for the straight razor community as well.

    The following represents my first attempt at a solution and as such had to meet the following criteria. First, it had to be cheap. Secondly, it had to be easily done by most of the people out there, using commonly available tools.

    Those little spacers are usually made of brass or bronze and are very, very thin. So I thought, “Thin metal… got to be a way to punch through the stuff.” And, suddenly, there was my answer, hanging in the flashing light bulb over my head.

    First we need a punch. If you go to a jewelers supply house you can buy some really fine little block and punch sets which are expressly designed for cutting out disks of metal. An economy disk cutter set starts at around $50, but since I wanted this to be something inexpensive and easy for everyone, I hit on the el-cheapo answer for the masses: a paper punch!! Yep, just your run-of-the-mill school paper punch. It won’t handle thick metal and the results are a little wonky, but it is cheap and I’ll bet most everyone either has one lying around the house or can find one at a garage sale for a buck or two.

    Next, I had to go and get the material. Off I went to the art supply store and purchased a sheet of shim brass. This stuff is meant for model builders and is available in various thicknesses. I chose a piece which is 0.3 mm thick having the dimensions 200mm x 400mm (approximately 7.75” x 15.5”). The cost was something like 8 Euro (approx. $11.50) and I probably have enough material to make more little spacers than I can ever use.

    Then came the moment of truth. I just slid the sheet of shim brass into the paper punch, pressed down and - violà! – I ended up with little disks of shim brass. Well, almost little disks. Due to the twin-lipped shape of the cutting punch for paper, the brass got a little folded on the way through and out the bottom of the punch. But, no problem. I just put them on the anvil and tapped them down flat with my ball peen hammer. I also used a tiny hand file to clean up the disk edges a bit.

    And now to drill the center holes.

    If you are approaching this on the cheap, then simply grab a pair of needle nose pliers, hold one side of the brass disk on a bit of wood and (using your favorite drill press or hand rotary tool), bore out the center hole.

    I tried out an idea I had to make a sort of clamp which would not only hold the disk for drilling, but also serve as a jig at the same time. What I did was take a length of threaded rod which was larger in diameter than my finished disks. I chucked it in my tiny metal lathe and faced off both ends. On one end I turned a little depression just large enough to hold and center the disk. On the other end the metal was cut back to leave a rod stub. Then I drilled all the way through the rod (from both ends) with a 1.5mm drill. The rod was then sawn into two pieces and suitably finished. To use this little jig, first screw one end (the one with the little turned depression) into a matching bolt. Place one of the brass disks into the depression and then screw in the other bit of threaded rod with the little protruding end until it clamps the brass disk against the threaded rod from the other end. Now just take the assembly to your drill press and send that same 1.5mm drill down the hole so that it makes a hole in the brass disk. And there you have it – spacers!!

    Now, let’s be honest. These spacers are not dimensionally perfect. Nevertheless, they will serve for the intended purpose. And if there is any place on a straight razor that is not really out in the open for every finicky eyeball to get all judgemental about, it is down there between scale and blade tang. So rest easy, our secret it safe.

    To sum up: there is no magic involved in my solution and although I have not yet achieved perfection, I think I have pretty much accomplished what I set out to do in an inexpensive manner that most anyone can duplicate. Enjoy!!

    - Ignatz
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    Last edited by ignatz; 07-23-2009 at 05:58 PM.

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    Beaker bevansmw's Avatar
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    I think I read on here before someone else using the regular brass washers and a big hammer to smash them so they were thinner
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    Cream Huffer
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    This looks pretty cool, but I may have something easier.

    I tried using slightly larger (I think they are 2-56 size (2 sizes bigger than the normal washers)) brass washers. I just whack them with my ball peen hammer a couple of times to take the extra thickness out of them. They have a little bit bigger hole than a normal 0-80 washer, so beating them a little doesn't close that up enough that the pinning rod will no longer slide through.
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    The Razor Whisperer Philadelph's Avatar
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    great idea ignatz- personally I'd want a little thinner, like .2mm, but that's me. I'm gonna have to check out some disk cutters!

    As for flattening regular washers with a hammer- yes it works, BUT it is hard to get the washer evenly flat all around. When the washer isn't consistently flat, it can do more harm than good in terms of the scales closing off center. That's what my experimenting has come to show me.

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    Senior Member ignatz's Avatar
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    Yes, the thickness of the spacers is definitely a personal decision and I, personally, would probably choose to use thinner washers for the small razors and move to a thicker material for the larger, beefier blades.

    And for those who want to look at some slightly more expensive solutions to the same problem I post the following links. [Note: These are meant to illustrate some possible equipment choices for the restorer and are not in any way meant to advocate one web business in favor of another.]

    Cutting Punches

    Cutting Punches

    Disk Cutter Set of 14-From 3mm to 14mm-In Wood Box : Red Hot Specials! : Tools & Metals : Otto Frei Red Hot Specials! - Jewelry Tools, Jewelry Supplies, and Findings

    Disk Cutter Sets & Washer Cutter Sets : Tools & Metals : Otto Frei Disk Cutter Sets & Washer Cutter Sets - Jewelry Tools, Jewelry Supplies, and Findings

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    WORKSHOP:SOTD:CUSTOMS Maximilian's Avatar
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    Ignatz,

    thanks a lot for all the effort of putting this together.

    Lots of good info which I'm sure many will look into.

    Max Sprecher
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    I just want one of each. keenedge's Avatar
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    From what I gather from both searching online and this thread that very tiny, thin washers are hard to purchase. Does anyone have a source for them?
    Thanks,
    Kent

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    WORKSHOP:SOTD:CUSTOMS Maximilian's Avatar
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    Actually I found a source for extremely thin shim washers ranging from 0.001 tot 0.016 thickness. As a comparison the washers from microfasteners are 0.017 thick. Most vintage washers I recover, measure between 0.005 and 0.010.
    Unfortunately there's an $80.00 min purchase needed and/or 250 washers min. I got quoted 500 pcs at $0.294 each ($147) or 250 pcs at $0.472 each ($118).
    Size is 0.79 ID 0.164 OD Thickness 0.001 tot 0.016. Of course the higher the quantity the lower the piece price. There is not a minimum per size, just an overall minimum
    Maybe a workshop group buy?


    ps: these are type 300 stainless steel and burr free off course.
    Last edited by Maximilian; 07-23-2009 at 09:07 PM.
    Max Sprecher
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    I shave with a spoon on a stick. Slartibartfast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maximilian View Post
    Actually I found a source for extremely thin shim washers ranging from 0.001 tot 0.016 thickness. As a comparison the washers from microfasteners are 0.017 thick. Most vintage washers I recover, measure between 0.005 and 0.010.
    Unfortunately there's an $80.00 min purchase needed and/or 250 washers min. I got quoted 500 pcs at $0.294 each ($147) or 250 pcs at $0.472 each ($118).
    Size is 0.79 ID 0.164 OD Thickness 0.001 tot 0.016. Of course the higher the quantity the lower the piece price. There is not a minimum per size, just an overall minimum
    Maybe a workshop group buy?
    i might be interested in this if a group buy was arranged......
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    I just want one of each. keenedge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maximilian View Post
    Actually I found a source for extremely thin shim washers ranging from 0.001 tot 0.016 thickness. As a comparison the washers from microfasteners are 0.017 thick. Most vintage washers I recover, measure between 0.005 and 0.010.
    Unfortunately there's an $80.00 min purchase needed and/or 250 washers min. I got quoted 500 pcs at $0.294 each ($147) or 250 pcs at $0.472 each ($118).
    Size is 0.79 ID 0.164 OD Thickness 0.001 tot 0.016. Of course the higher the quantity the lower the piece price. There is not a minimum per size, just an overall minimum
    Maybe a workshop group buy?
    A group buy sounds like a great idea, if we could get enough people.

    This was the closest I found but it looks like the ID and OD are too large. Plus I'm not entirely sure what a curved ring washer looks like, but I suppose they could be annealed and flattened easily enough, if need be.

    Amazon.com: Stainless Steel Type 301 Curved Spring Washer .148" ID x .270" OD x .007" Thick (Pack of 10): Industrial & Scientific

    Kent

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