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Cutting Gaskets

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Cutting Gaskets

Post by nutgone on Sat Sep 22 2012, 12:55

Firstly I must say:
I am by no means a specialist in this field, all I've done is use what common sense I have, coupled with any engineering knowledge rattling around up there with the loose screws & marbles, & just "had a go", basically a bit of trial & error.

What I'm about to discuss is entirely what I've managed to pick up & teach myself. I am completely self taught when it comes to this & I would very much like others to add what they know.

I haven't by any means made a comprehensive list of how to cut all gaskets in all different types of gasket medium, so I would love others to add what they can do & perhaps pass on some more knowledge. Maybe we could even make this a sticky topic in the future, a place for people to come when they need to cut a gasket?

I'll begin with what I've done today in the next post. I look forward to any feedback, & if anyone can tell me how to make this easier then by all means speak up. cheers

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Thin paper gasket

Post by nutgone on Sat Sep 22 2012, 13:57

Whilst doing this I thought I would take some pics. I actually ended up taking 39 pics! I won't bore you with them all here, there's an album for anyone who wants to be truly bored right here....

http://photobucket.com/nutgonesgaskets

OK, so here's the task, it's a bit of a complicated one, I need a gasket for the timing case on my little JAP Model 3. Here's the extent of the problem....



As you can see there is a dirty great cam shaft sticking out of the flat side of the joint, I can't use the engine side for marking as it's got all the studs & dowels sticking out of it. I do have a spare timing case though, but it's covered in dirt & the dreaded red stuff, which shall remain nameless, that people used to use instead of gaskets! After a quick scrape off & clean up with some fine wet & dry paper I've got myself a pattern....



Now I need some gasket material. As the title of this particular post suggests I want a thin paper gasket here. A few days ago I ordered some gasket paper from a company on eBay called TYM Seals, based in Devizes. They offered an assortment pack of different thicknesses of paper-type gasket material in A4 sheets. You get 5 sheets, one of each thickness, plus a couple of "free samples" of some other gasket materials. What I'm using here is quite similar to brown paper used for parcels, but I was feeling frivolous & decided to spend out on the proper stuff.....



I'm going with the thinnest one of the lot, literally paper thin. I've never cut gaskets from it before, so there could be some mistakes.

So, I've got my paper, & I've got my pattern, now I need some tools; Firstly I will need a sharp knife. I really wanted a scalpel, I went all over the place looking for them but failed to find any, so I've gone with the craft knifes instead. These ones have the blades you can snap off, so after each gasket I snap the blade off, ready for the next one. These knives aren't expensive either & are quite plentiful (your average pound shop should sell them, or something similar). I can't state it enough though, whatever you use needs to be super-sharp!....



Next I want some scissors. I just used one of a set of 3 I got from Ikea for a pound. They're actually pretty good scissors, doubt they'll last a lifetime, but they'll do for now. I also wanted something reasonably flat to work on, which could get scratched & cut & wouldn't matter, so I've used an old cereal box, opened out, on the workbench.

I also want something to make the holes for the studs & dowels to poke through. Now anything bigger than about 8 or 10mm I can cut by hand with the knife, but for smaller holes I really wanted some hollow punches. I scanned eBay for some & eventually settled on a set of 5 metric ones & a set of 6 imperial ones, these have left me with a hollow punch for just about any size hole from 8mm down (& they're not expensive. Try looking in "leather craft" sections)....



Now I've got my tools & paper I want something to make an impression of the pattern/template onto the gasket paper for me to cut round. I think it was Stu who suggested "Engineers Blue", which would easily be the best stuff to use, but I don't have any engineers blue, I do have a tin of black grease though, I tend to use it for everything, I got it for £2 from an army surplus stall at a rally, it should work well....



Now we need to coat the face of the joint well, but not too well. We want to make an accurate impression after all. Engineers blue is great stuff, a little goes a VERY long way, this black grease can be treated almost the same. We want to coat the face & then remove any excess which has gone over the sides, like this....



& into the holes, like this....



These extra bits would impair the accuracy we need for a good gasket. I just run my finger around the very edge, trying not to take the grease off the face, & I run a small piece of rag or kitchen roll, rolled into a point between your fingers, into each bolt hole. I can't emphasise enough though, we really only want a very thin layer on the face. If you don't have black grease or engineers blue then any oil based stuff will do, even just some oil from a squirt can should make an impression you can see to cut round. You may have to use your imagination, that's how I thought of the grease.

Then I carefully place the piece onto the gasket paper (which should be on it's smooth, flat, clean surface) & apply some good pressure, hopefully without smudging it....



Then carefully peel it off the paper, or peel the paper off of it, without smudging, & it should look something like this....



This one's good, but by no means perfect, there's some bits missing here....



But there should be enough to go on I reckon.

Now, here's what I've found by trial & error, with a little common sense. I always cut out the middle of a gasket first, as you have the outside of the gasket paper to hold things steady for you, you can then use the scissors or the knife to cut round the outside. But I also think it's best to punch the holes BEFORE you do any of this.

So it's holes first (then I had a little try to see if it fits the studs)....



Not perfect, but it's pretty good for my first attempt at this one. Then I start with the smaller inside bits....



Then carry on with the inside bits....



Then I turn to the scissors for the outer line. I've found sometimes you're better off using the knife for this part, but if you're using old cornflake packets, or some other kind of disposable media, you can use the scissors to cut a rough outline, then pick it up & continue to use the scissors, or knife, or a combination of both, to complete the gasket. Sadly I'm not prepared to be so wasteful with my gasket paper, so I wanted to do the whole thing in one continuous cut. I used scissors for everything but the last two internal corners, where I went back to the knife....



& I ended up with a reasonable gasket. It's a bit thin in places & a bit thick in others, but it's not bad. I seem to be getting better the more I do with this....



I put it on & trimmed around the few places where it was poking out. You need to be careful with this though, if you're not a perfectionist then just leave it alone, but whatever you do try to resist the urge to tear or rip at it, as you could easily end up tearing the whole gasket!....



To sum up I would like to add; if in doubt- Go wide! You can always trim a little off, but you can't put it back.

I actually prefer this paper to the more fibrous materials available. But I did also cut a gasket from the more fibrous stuff. I'll say a bit about that in my next post.

Anyone got anything to add or can tell me any little tricks to make this a little easier???

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by stationary stu on Sat Sep 22 2012, 13:59

Basically all you need is a small ball pein hammer and some gasket paper. There is tools to cut holes out but a small pair of scissors can do the job. Or another way is get some engineers blue put a very thin smear on the face, press down the gasket paper and it makes an impression on the paper then cut it out.
I don't know of any other methods so looking forward to seeing if anyone makes them different.

Here's your shopping list!!!

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/GASKET-PAPER-SHEET-0-8MMTHK-A4-size-genuine-flexoid-2-sheets-per-set-/330790873066?pt=UK_CarsParts_Vehicles_BoatEquipment_Accessories_SM&hash=item4d04ac27ea

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BALL-PEIN-HAMMER-HARDWOOD-8oz-/320775445517?pt=UK_Hand_Tools_Equipment&hash=item4aafb4dc0d

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/38G-TIN-STUARTS-MICROMETER-ENGINEERS-MARKING-BLUE-/350492469965?pt=UK_BOI_Metalworking_Milling_Welding_Metalworking_Supplies_ET&hash=item519afaaacd

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/9pc-HOLLOW-PUNCH-SET-LEATHER-PUNCH-SET-CARD-PAPER-PLASTIC-GASKET-2-5-10mm-punch-/270875320830?pt=UK_Crafts_Leathercraft_LE&hash=item3f116d61fe

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SET-OF-3-STAINLESS-STEEL-QUALITY-SCISSORS-CRAFT-KITCHEN-SEWING-SCISSOR-SCISSORS-/190585578733?pt=UK_Kitchen_Accessories&hash=item2c5fc924ed

Just for Nuts Laughing Laughing Laughing
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VHT-COPPER-CORK-PAPER-METAL-WATER-PUMP-SUMP-HEAD-GASKET-SEALER-CEMENT-SP21-/350572555642?pt=UK_CarsParts_Vehicles_CarParts_SM&hash=item519fc0ad7a

Stu.

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by stationary stu on Sat Sep 22 2012, 14:10

Just to add a bit make sure you cut out ALL holes as some may not be for studs or bolts they could be an oil way.

You've done a cracking job Nuts, don't think there's anything more that would improve it. Just take your time and it's worth keeping all the biggish off cuts as they could be used on small projects.

Stu.

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Fibre based gasket material

Post by nutgone on Sat Sep 22 2012, 14:11

Next I wanted to cut one from some different material, I wanted to use this grey coloured stuff, on top of the pile here....



& here's the part I want to cut the gasket for....





It may look easy enough, but it's got a tricky little lip on it, take a closer look....



So it's that lip I shall start with. Using the grease, as before, I make an outline....



After cutting round it I need to make an impression of the rest of the joint face. So I decided to hold the bulbous part in the vice, smear it with grease & carefully place the gasket, with the hole cut in it, around it & apply pressure around the face.

This all went well until the part slipped out of the vice Mad (hope the neighbours weren't listening Embarassed ). But I was almost done, i managed to carefully place the paper back on & finish off my impression. I immediately stamped out the holes....



It was then just a case of cutting it out & checking it fits. Quite simple really.

I just wanted to add a little about the differences between this stuff & the paper based gasket materials.

This stuff doesn't cut as well. After cutting out my circle on this gasket I went to remove the inner piece, but despite my best efforts the knife hadn't cut completely through all the way around. The natural thing you want to do here is just give it a little pull, it's been scored, why shouldn't it just come off???

Trouble is it tends to tear unevenly, leaving an edge like this....



Not so bad here, but on a smaller, more fiddly gasket you could end up ruining the whole thing. So it'a always best to avoid that temptation to pull, rip or tear at these gasket materials. That's what I've found at least.

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by nutgone on Sat Sep 22 2012, 14:14

stationary stu wrote:Just to add a bit make sure you cut out ALL holes as some may not be for studs or bolts they could be an oil way.

You've done a cracking job Nuts, don't think there's anything more that would improve it. Just take your time and it's worth keeping all the biggish off cuts as they could be used on small projects.

Stu.

Quite right on all counts Stu. Take your time is an important one, make sure you're comfortable with the direction you're cutting in (I call it the "Gasket Cutters Dance" around the workbench as you change your position around the knife Laughing )

& I completely forgot about saving the off-cuts, you'd be surprised how useful the smallest bits can be....



Cheers Stu cheers

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by nutgone on Sun Sep 23 2012, 10:09

I would like to know a little more about cutting gaskets in these composite materials with metal inside them???

I have tried using a drill to cut holes in gasket paper before but it always rips the paper. I would guess it needs to be clamped between 2 pieces of wood or something, but if you do that how do you know exactly where to drill??? scratch

My guess is you need to mark out your template on a piece of wood, clamp the gasket material between that & another piece of wood, then drill the holes in it, then remove it & finish cutting the gasket.

I know some of these modern "non-asbestos" gasket materials actually cut very easily, but they don't contain any metal either. I have some in the shed (well, Ianhw77k has some in the shed), next time we use it for anything I'll take some pics & do a little write-up.

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by stationary stu on Mon Sep 24 2012, 10:05

I've never had anything to do with the gasket paper with metal in them, can you not just use your hole punch to make the holes?

Stu.

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by nutgone on Mon Sep 24 2012, 11:24

stationary stu wrote:I've never had anything to do with the gasket paper with metal in them, can you not just use your hole punch to make the holes?

Stu.

I suppose you could do, it's only very thin metal after all.

Mind you, the non-asbestos type materials, like Tesnit, are pretty tough (tough enough for use as head gaskets for open crank engines & Stuart Turners) & they don't contain any metal at all.

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by Ianhw77k on Mon Sep 24 2012, 14:14

What I'd like to know is any tricks to cutting a gasket from a sheet of copper as I'd like to do this myself soon.

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by DanBoy on Fri Nov 16 2012, 08:21

Ianhw77k wrote:What I'd like to know is any tricks to cutting a gasket from a sheet of copper as I'd like to do this myself soon.

When I were a lad (tee-hee) I worked for a local newspaper in the photo department. The old method of making plates was to use copper sheet and a light sensitive dye. To cut things short, basically the negative would be laid over the sheet and light applied which would "set" the dye. The whole plate was then acid etched. I suppose a similar process could be adapted for making copper gaskets, although I suspect it would be easier to to use Computer Aided Design tools nowadays. Ask at your local engineering firm. They may be able to help, or at least, they may have a catalogue of ready made gaskets/shims which could be adapted. (Usually round ones only).
If you really want give it a go yourself then Nutgone's piece still stands as long as you are using thin copper. The hole punches should work but you might need a roller blade (glass cutting tool) to cut the copper. All edges would need dressing as well.

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by Ianhw77k on Fri Nov 16 2012, 23:01

Thanks for that Dan, sounds like too much trouble for me though Embarassed

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by matt86 on Fri Nov 16 2012, 23:14

the type of gasket you mention with steel in the middle are a real paint to get tin snips just fold them in half .... so i resorted to a angle grinder and hole punches ..... bearing in mind my hole punches are now blunt Laughing Laughing Laughing

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by tony RA on Tue Nov 17 2015, 23:05

Hi Matt in you/r 1s/t &2n/d pics I would roughly cut out inside of the gasket first wipe the gasket surface with bit of super glue on you/r finger pop the gasket paper on give a bit of a rub or press and cutting the holes (with no threads )I use a ball bearing a tad bigger than hole you/r working on placed over the hole you/l feel this under light pressure and sharp tap with a small hammer and all holes in the right places sometimes you can use a mole grips instead of a hammer if/s a thin casing then trim inner & outer with you/r craft knife
Hope this helps

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by Steve H on Wed Nov 18 2015, 09:26

Instead of using the grease/engineers blue marking method,I stick the item on the photo copy at work,and then use the print as a template.
I always keep a copy of the print in a folder,ready for the next time.
Steve Very Happy

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by Woodsman on Wed Nov 18 2015, 12:50

Hi Matt,
I got my scalpel and blades from ebay - just search for Swann Morton.

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Re: Cutting Gaskets

Post by chiefy on Thu Apr 14 2016, 13:09

I remember as a lad my dad making gaskets from brown paper i think it may have been Kraft paper but not sure as stuff like that was hard to come by inthe late 1940s,i recall him coating the area that needed a gasket witha marking medium it could have been engineers blue as that was his proffession,he would lightly tap round the outside with a light ball pein hammer,this then shows the outline to be cut out and also the various holes,he made his own punches out of rod this on a Drummond flatbed lathe of 1905 vintage this was foot treadled that was sometimes my job,I still have the lathe although it is now powered by electric motor,any copper gaskets were always annealed he would heat these to a dull red and dunk them in a tub of water they were then nice and soft just like new. Keith.

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