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How to cut flat brass for chassis


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#1 Ross Fox

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 09:46 AM

I am fairly new to slot car racing (racing for 2 years now), and I have built 4 brass chassis - Can Am, Coupe, Nascar, and an F1. All of them were manufactured kits. I have really enjoyed doing this, and I have made many, many mistakes in my soldering methods, and everything else - but I feel I now have this pretty much going well. I am wanting to design and build my own designs. So, looking at various pictures I see many front sections that have various designs - not just a flat square piece or flat rectangular piece. Front sections that have curving edges, diagonal lines, etc. So what is the best tool to use to cut these neat shapes for the front piece, and also have seen some pieces lke this behind the motor box. I have also seen some pictures of where the tongue area looks like it was pressed in with a machine. Just wondering!

 






#2 Martin

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 11:43 AM

This is probably not the answer you are looking for. But I tell you this tool, once you are comfortable with, will cut any shape fast. Its a jewelers saw.

Its just one of the ways to cut shapes from sheet metal.

A electric jig saw also works or a band saw also. A nibbler comes to mind also. It kind of depends on the shape you are cutting and how much you want spend?

 

The jewelers saw is always close at hand for me. Low tech, versatile and so cheap.

 

https://www.amazon.c...s/dp/B008CO8JZE

 

In the example here I used the jewelers saw to cut the windows and a band saw to cut the outside shape. Like any tool set, it helps to have options.

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#3 Martin

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 12:10 PM

Now maybe its time to add to my tool box too.


Martin Windmill

#4 MSwiss

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 12:16 PM

Very cool.

How much?

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#5 Martin

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 12:37 PM

I see a bunch of them, I do not have one to recommend but I am interested.

 


Martin Windmill

#6 Martin

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 12:47 PM

What I do have, and can highly recommend is this tool. https://www.amazon.c.../?tag=hyprod-20

 

 I paid $150 for the stand from SWAG and $150 for the saw from HF. It goes to the job site with me and I have cut hundreds of items.

Best money I have ever spent on a cutting tool.


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#7 mreibman

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 12:48 PM

Amazon's choice for a nibbler:

https://www.amazon.c... ,aps,60&sr=8-6

 

$38


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#8 old & gray

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 12:51 PM

Tools I've used:

Drills (Electric and pin vice)

Cut off discs and a dremel (not the battery powered one)

Files (Round, flat, multiple shapes)

Nibbler (Manual, not the powered one) it works slow but doesn't bend the metal like a pair of shear does

 

Lately a belt sander with an inch wide belt. Bought at harbor freight and I'm finding all kinds of tasks for it where sand paper would work IF I just had more time.


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#9 Martin

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 01:04 PM

This is my favorite tool.  https://www.swagoffr...ories_c_35.html

 

Please note you are only buying the table from SWAG, saw not included. I went for the Habour Freight saw for $150 and it has worked for years with no problems.


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#10 MattD

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 01:33 PM

For the crude stuff I do, I use an air powered cut off tool.  This is standard 3 inch disc.   That gets you close, but I use a grinder to smooth out  anything needed and the belt sander to finish.    I will file if needed, but don't usually get that detailed about it.     When done I will use the wire wheel on the grinder and then use  Brasso to polish it, if I am that particular.     I have half ownership in a tumbler and should probably bring it home so I could finish brass as it should be.

 

For small trimming, I also have a manual nibbler that  my father in law bought back in the early 60's.   I use it a lot for small trimming.


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#11 A. J. Hoyt

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 07:18 PM

For those who want to cut with a Dremel "on the cheap" (that's me!), one could try using a piece of very flat hardwood, like maple or oak, precision plane it on both sides, clamp it to a table, put the brass on top with the Dremel in your right hand well braced, then, push or pull the brass into the "fixed" 409 Dremel disk along the path you want to cut (like an inverted table saw). This helps to prevent the "kicking" while cutting the "gummy" K&S brass sheet. This also works for steel and aluminum (Al is always WAY more "gummy").

 

At one time, I was able to get .031 thick brass from McMaster-Carr (12" x 12") that was 2/3 hard and had a mirror finish on one side (electro-polished, sealed and had a sheet of one-side sticky thin clear plastic to protect the mirror finish). Harder brass changes the game as the brass is not "gummy" at all - very rarely "grabs" using the above technique - just makes a lot of "powder" shrapnel. I once cut out three chassis (front pan, mirrored angled bat pans and motor bracket underside support) from ONE 409 Dremel disk! No brag, just fact! I have posted a picture of the third one in the scratch-building thread, the other two got built - Nelson Swanberg has one of the completed chassis. You could count your nose hairs in the mirror finish reflection (after peeling the plastic off),of course, located on the bottom side of the chassis.

 

I have not been able to find that brass at McM-Carr for over 5 years now but, fortunately, still have some left. I hope to find more some day!


Sorry about the nerf. "Sorry? Sorry? There's no apologizing in slot car racing!" 

Besides, where would I even begin?   I should probably start with my wife ...

 

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#12 Phil Hackett

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 08:12 PM

For those who want to cut with a Dremel "on the cheap" (that's me!), one could try using a piece of very flat hardwood, like maple or oak, precision plane it on both sides, clamp it to a table, put the brass on top with the Dremel in your right hand well braced, then, push or pull the brass into the "fixed" 409 Dremel disk along the path you want to cut (like an inverted table saw). This helps to prevent the "kicking" while cutting the "gummy" K&S brass sheet. This also works for steel and aluminum (Al is always WAY more "gummy").

 

At one time, I was able to get .031 thick brass from McMaster-Carr (12" x 12") that was 2/3 hard and had a mirror finish on one side (electro-polished, sealed and had a sheet of one-side sticky thin clear plastic to protect the mirror finish). Harder brass changes the game as the brass is not "gummy" at all - very rarely "grabs" using the above technique - just makes a lot of "powder" shrapnel. I once cut out three chassis (front pan, mirrored angled bat pans and motor bracket underside support) from ONE 409 Dremel disk! No brag, just fact! I have posted a picture of the third one in the scratch-building thread, the other two got built - Nelson Swanberg has one of the completed chassis. You could count your nose hairs in the mirror finish reflection (after peeling the plastic off),of course, located on the bottom side of the chassis.

 

I have not been able to find that brass at McM-Carr for over 5 years now but, fortunately, still have some left. I hope to find more some day!

 

Still... while not as hard...it looks pretty pricey..... Have you inquired with McMaster? They have been extremely helpful in finding/sourcing things not in the catalog.

 

https://www.mcmaster...4-brass-sheets/

 

https://www.mcmaster...0-brass-sheets/


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#13 Matt Sheldon

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 08:56 PM

My experience is that if the goal is to keep the brass workpiece flat, then the power nibblers are not the answer. The couple I have tried distort and add to the correction process. They do work great for sheet metal, tubing, etc. 

 

Dremel, Jewelers saw, hand nibbler (my old Radio Shack one is still going strong) and various files make quick work with above average accuracy. If you are looking for a straighter line and to lessen the production time, then a band saw and a scroll saw are IMO your best choice. 


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#14 team burrito

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 09:24 PM

a mini cut-off saw works best for me.
https://www.harborfr...-saw-62136.html


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#15 snolde

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Posted 13 January 2022 - 10:20 PM

The Harbor Freight mini cut off saw for tubing.

Adel nibblers to make pans, nose piece https://www.adelnibbler.com/ these will cut .062 brass no problem and they don't bend the work piece.

Scroll saw some times.


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#16 team burrito

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Posted 14 January 2022 - 01:42 AM

The Harbor Freight mini cut off saw for tubing.

it cuts 1/16" brass, no problem. you have to use a little oil & take small cuts. i've built a lot of chassis with my cut-off saw.


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Russ Toy (not Troy)
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#17 Martin

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Posted 14 January 2022 - 12:26 PM

Russ,  are you suggesting cutting  sheet with this tool?

 

I have one, and I only use it for cutting tubing for wheel spacers and similar items. I could not recommend it for cutting sheet.

 

For as much chassis building as you do, you deserve a tool designed to cut sheet. :)

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#18 MattD

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Posted 14 January 2022 - 12:29 PM

I have the same one and it won't cut tubing unless you go slow and easy.   No way it will efficiently cut flat brass stock.


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#19 Bill from NH

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Posted 14 January 2022 - 01:11 PM

What are you guys using for blades? I got a cheap cutoff saw on sale from Micro Mark years ago. It came with a steel blade, that's never been on the saw, & a couple abrasive cutoff discs. The cutoff discs cut piano wire, aluminum, & most brass shapes okay, except 1/16" thick strips. The saw just doesn't have enough power to cut those efficiently. The steel toothed blade is for cutting craft woods.


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#20 Big_John

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Posted 14 January 2022 - 01:15 PM

Russ,  are you suggesting cutting  sheet with this tool?

 

I have one, and I only use it for cutting tubing for wheel spacers and similar items. I could not recommend it for cutting sheet.

 

For as much chassis building as you do, you deserve a tool designed to cut sheet. :)

 

 

I have the same one and it won't cut tubing unless you go slow and easy.   No way it will efficiently cut flat brass stock.

 

I can't help but wonder if the issue with cutting brass tube is the blade. It looks like a course blade in the HF saw and that wouldn't be good for cutting tube. 

 

I started looking and MicroMark has a similar version, most likely built in the same offshore factory. Of course, MicroMark is $10 more, even on sale, but I've never been unhappy with anything I bought from them. They also have an assortment of blades, with abrasive wheels that I think fit this. 

 

https://www.micromar...ter-Cut-Off-Saw

 

One of these 230 tooth blades might be the ticket. 

 

https://www.micromar...chop-saw-blades


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#21 Matt Sheldon

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Posted 14 January 2022 - 01:19 PM

I have posted this before. Those mini Harbor Freight saws not come close to this setup. Grizzly chop saw that uses a 4" angle grinder. I use this with a Harbor Freight $11 angle grinder and it is superior in every way. Initial setup of the chop saw itself takes a little tweaking, but once set, it powers through brass sheet, strip, rod, tube with ease. Additionally you can set up the stop for repeatability. It is a game changer for cutting piano wire.

 

https://www.grizzly....8RoCetIQAvD_BwE

 

61HCAtz1uTL._AC_SX466_.jpg


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#22 Big_John

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Posted 14 January 2022 - 01:29 PM

I have one of these that I've cut brass sheet with. For thin material, the blade has to be sharp, but I don't abuse mine so it's never a problem.

 

It's pretty much straight lines, but it cuts clean with no distortion.  I think you can get one for less than $150.  Google bench shear or throatless bench shear. 

 

bench-shear-for-sheet-metal-industry-500


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#23 MattD

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Posted 14 January 2022 - 04:34 PM

I've changed the blade on my HF cutter, I don't remember what I put on it, if it is a cut off disc or diamond coated.    

 

Matt Sheldon,  that looks like a great cutter.


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#24 Martin

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Posted 14 January 2022 - 05:25 PM

Did we scare Ross away with all our opinions and suggestions. :wacko2: 

I think we can see here there are multiple correct ways to get there. The more tools you have the more choices you will have. :good:


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#25 bbr

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Posted 14 January 2022 - 05:38 PM

Warmack has all the tools, I usually ask him to cut stuff for me...


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