Friday, October 7, 2011

For the Metalheads--3 Steps to Cutting Tube Settings

Tube settings are really nice for setting stones, but if you're making your own from tubing, it can be frustrating. You carefully mark it, cut it, and you think you have it level...And darnit, it's not level and it's canting to the side. So you carefully sand it, taking down the high side, and it looks level until you set it on your bench block to check it, and darnit, it's still not level! You seriously contemplate buying one of those expensive jigs so you won't have to keep going through this frustration.

No frustration method

Well, this is the cheap and fabulously easy way to do it. First you need to get a mini tubing cutter from a hardware store. It's used for cutting small copper pipe for gas or waterline piping. They cost less than getting the #1 meal from McDonald's and you'll still have change left over.

Mark it

Next mark how high your setting needs to be with a pair of calipers. You only need to mark the tube just enough so you can line up the mark to the roller wheels in the tubing cutter.

Cut it

Align the mark you made on the tubing to the sharp roller. Adjust the knob (black knurled knob in this photo) so that it snugs the tubing up between the sharp roller and the two roller guides. Make sure the tubing is straight and snug.

Grab the other end of the tubing with something to keep it from rotating while you're cutting. I usually use my round nose pliers. Put a little lube on the cutting wheel of the tube cutter. Rotate the cutter around the tube. As it cuts, it gets a little loose. You have to tighten the wheel by using the knurled knob every few turns to snug it up to your tubing. Keep rotating until you're all the way through.

Finish it!

Ream the bur from the inside. I use my round pliers for this or I stick my tweezers in the end to ream out the bur.

Finish by sanding the cut edge to smooth it.

Your result is perfectly perpendicular cuts and you can repeat it exactly for however many settings you need.

This also works for heavy wire. Although the cutter won't go all the way through the wire, it will leave you a very nice slot so you can saw it evenly. The caveat is that it won't do very short lengths for tube settings, and there is a limit on how small or large the diameter of the tubing you can use in the gadget. When your tubing gets too short to use the tube cutter, use the left over piece of tubing for a bail.

Look for other postings like this in "For the Metalheads" sections.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

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