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last time I tested elkmaster tips
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last time I tested elkmaster tips - 09-15-2019, 04:57 PM

Wrote a book as I often do. Some might find the information interesting and find that it adds to their knowledge of leather and tips. Some might want to stop right here! Like much of my information, this might be dated.



We used to just throw single layer tips in a cup of water. Tossed them if they floated, used them if they sunk. Here is how my last box of Elkmaster's tested.

I dont mind a quick wetting before cutting but I don't like soaking tips. With the low price of digital scales now I used a digital caliper locked in place to quickly confirm outside dimensions on the tips, then I weigh them. A few less than ten were very light, I tossed them. Less than fifty cents a tip, no big deal. Roughly thirty-seven of the tips fell into one of two very consistent lots of the same weight. Three or four fell in another grouping, very heavy. I used the tips out of the two medium lots to make milkduds or install on my own shafts just as they were. All of these worked fine. I wanted to test the very heavy tips but they were lost in a flood.

Elkmasters use some kind of a chromium treatment to tan their leather.(zinc chromate?) It gives the tips a blueish color. They seem to enhance that color a little with blue chalk dust these days. I don't remember this with the Elkmasters from earlier times, much earlier.

An issue with all leather, the quality of the hide. Most comes from slaughter houses and at least here in the US most are well taken care of that come from these controlled conditions. The care for hides can be far worse in some places. Also, some hides come from cows that die on the range, particularly winter killed cows. The condition of these hides is often open to question and the position of the cow on the ground may mean that part of the hide is salvageable, part shouldn't be salvaged. This may be the only thing salvaged from dead cattle so the judgment is tainted by trying to salvage something from the loss of an animal. Hides are questionable from many countries. Not as bad here in the US but it can happen, especially since the hide may be of varying quality in different places on the animal.

The tanning process is another issue. There isn't one simple tanning process, there are seemingly countless ways to tan a hide. "Tanning" comes from using the tannic acid primarily from oak trees. Brains can be used for tanning also, many different things including harsh chemicals. The tanning process can be very time sensitive and if the tanning process isn't controlled properly or the acids or other chemicals used aren't completely cleaned from the hide or "killed" the process can continue severely weakening the finished product. The cheapest tanning process is seldom the best.

While I am talking specifically about cow hides here, the same things apply to all hides that are tanned. The best leather comes from hides carefully cared for and carefully tanned. Many many things can affect the quality of the final product.

A side note: I would have thought an artificial tip would have replaced leather long ago. I do know that synthetic tips are out there but they don't seem to gain public approval. Some rules specify leather also.

I wrote a book here, hopefully to aid people in understanding why their buddies all bought Acme tips and they were great, you bought one and it was crapola! Unless somebody has quality hide or leather suppliers or keeps a careful eye on the quality of the leather they receive to make tips from, it is very easy to get a bad hide or piece of leather sometimes. Major manufacturers may not have quality controls in place to keep up with the volume of tips they make. This is one reason I don't use layered tips. If one layer is bad the tip may come apart either in the installation or normal use through no fault of the cuesmith or player.

A final note, If you know the area a tannery is in within a half mile or so you can find it by following your nose. They are infamous for the foul smell that makes paper mills and turkey farms smell like flower gardens in comparison!

Hu
  
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09-15-2019, 06:52 PM

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Originally Posted by Tom1234 View Post
From my experience, you should press an Elkmaster tip first. I usually press for a couple of days. I have also found that moistening the tip before trimming to size also helps. Best of luck. I just use a Triangle tip and still get the feel and sound of a soft tip.
Yes, for many years I have "pre-conditioned" LePro tips: Place on a firm surface and tap lightly, two or three times, with a hammer. Then mount and trim once.
  
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09-18-2019, 06:27 PM

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Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
Wrote a book as I often do. Some might find the information interesting and find that it adds to their knowledge of leather and tips. Some might want to stop right here! Like much of my information, this might be dated.



We used to just throw single layer tips in a cup of water. Tossed them if they floated, used them if they sunk. Here is how my last box of Elkmaster's tested.

I dont mind a quick wetting before cutting but I don't like soaking tips. With the low price of digital scales now I used a digital caliper locked in place to quickly confirm outside dimensions on the tips, then I weigh them. A few less than ten were very light, I tossed them. Less than fifty cents a tip, no big deal. Roughly thirty-seven of the tips fell into one of two very consistent lots of the same weight. Three or four fell in another grouping, very heavy. I used the tips out of the two medium lots to make milkduds or install on my own shafts just as they were. All of these worked fine. I wanted to test the very heavy tips but they were lost in a flood.

Elkmasters use some kind of a chromium treatment to tan their leather.(zinc chromate?) It gives the tips a blueish color. They seem to enhance that color a little with blue chalk dust these days. I don't remember this with the Elkmasters from earlier times, much earlier.

An issue with all leather, the quality of the hide. Most comes from slaughter houses and at least here in the US most are well taken care of that come from these controlled conditions. The care for hides can be far worse in some places. Also, some hides come from cows that die on the range, particularly winter killed cows. The condition of these hides is often open to question and the position of the cow on the ground may mean that part of the hide is salvageable, part shouldn't be salvaged. This may be the only thing salvaged from dead cattle so the judgment is tainted by trying to salvage something from the loss of an animal. Hides are questionable from many countries. Not as bad here in the US but it can happen, especially since the hide may be of varying quality in different places on the animal.

The tanning process is another issue. There isn't one simple tanning process, there are seemingly countless ways to tan a hide. "Tanning" comes from using the tannic acid primarily from oak trees. Brains can be used for tanning also, many different things including harsh chemicals. The tanning process can be very time sensitive and if the tanning process isn't controlled properly or the acids or other chemicals used aren't completely cleaned from the hide or "killed" the process can continue severely weakening the finished product. The cheapest tanning process is seldom the best.

While I am talking specifically about cow hides here, the same things apply to all hides that are tanned. The best leather comes from hides carefully cared for and carefully tanned. Many many things can affect the quality of the final product.

A side note: I would have thought an artificial tip would have replaced leather long ago. I do know that synthetic tips are out there but they don't seem to gain public approval. Some rules specify leather also.

I wrote a book here, hopefully to aid people in understanding why their buddies all bought Acme tips and they were great, you bought one and it was crapola! Unless somebody has quality hide or leather suppliers or keeps a careful eye on the quality of the leather they receive to make tips from, it is very easy to get a bad hide or piece of leather sometimes. Major manufacturers may not have quality controls in place to keep up with the volume of tips they make. This is one reason I don't use layered tips. If one layer is bad the tip may come apart either in the installation or normal use through no fault of the cuesmith or player.

A final note, If you know the area a tannery is in within a half mile or so you can find it by following your nose. They are infamous for the foul smell that makes paper mills and turkey farms smell like flower gardens in comparison!

Hu
thanks hu for the book
I like your idea of separating the wheat from the chaff
one thing, I thought elk masters were made from water buffalo?
I've seen the big chunks of hide that tweeten and them use
of course that could be for different tips they make, not sure

so today I had a proper elk master put on, and it blew out again
not as much as the other one, but still hard to get it flush with the shaft
gonna try sand it down some and rock with it
strange stuff, those tips


peace & love
  
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09-18-2019, 06:38 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by evergruven View Post
thanks hu for the book
I like your idea of separating the wheat from the chaff
one thing, I thought elk masters were made from water buffalo?
I've seen the big chunks of hide that tweeten and them use
of course that could be for different tips they make, not sure

so today I had a proper elk master put on, and it blew out again
not as much as the other one, but still hard to get it flush with the shaft
gonna try sand it down some and rock with it
strange stuff, those tips
Get one of the really soft Ultraskins. A buddy uses them and loves them. Both the Pro and Super soft are similar to an Elk. The Ivory soft is really good too. Either one's a better tip than an Elk. Can't beat the price, 2.70/ea(10 for $27) if you're an AZ member.

Last edited by garczar; 09-18-2019 at 06:41 PM.
  
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Finer than water buffalo
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Finer than water buffalo - 09-18-2019, 08:12 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by evergruven View Post
thanks hu for the book
I like your idea of separating the wheat from the chaff
one thing, I thought elk masters were made from water buffalo?
I've seen the big chunks of hide that tweeten and them use
of course that could be for different tips they make, not sure

so today I had a proper elk master put on, and it blew out again
not as much as the other one, but still hard to get it flush with the shaft
gonna try sand it down some and rock with it
strange stuff, those tips


A little homework, a dealer says the Elkmaster tips are made from elk. The dealer is highly respected in the snooker world I believe so perhaps it is true. Tweeten makes the tips here in the USA and seems a bit coy about where the leather comes from.

A nice fine grain quality leather whatever it is. They do also produce water buffalo tips I believe so those big hides could indeed be for other tips. The hide on an animal varies a great deal in different places and it is at least possible that the Elkmaster tips are made from the finer thin areas of the water buffalo, under the belly and inside the legs are some areas that are generally finer grained and thinner than the hide on the top of the back for example. The hides could come from elk, sheep, goat, hogs, the list is almost endless. They could be using horse hide too and be a bit coy fearing backlash from horse lovers. I found horse hide to vary greatly in the same places depending on the breeding of the individual animal.

Years ago I tipped a lot of house cues for pool halls using water buffalo tips, I think Triangles. Buffalo was a very tough durable hide, very coarse grained fiber. However, I can't say that they didn't play well and hold up under abuse well. That coarse grain may help them hold chalk. I suspect in blind testing people today would be quite pleased with them until they found out the price. You can buy boxes of Triangles for the cost of some of these new tips last I knew.

Selected Elkmaster tips work well for my personal cues dudded or not. If I am breaking hard I usually grab a break cue off the wall and my normal playing style doesn't require much power. Some people completely destroy the integrity of the leather crushing Elkmaster tips as much as they can. These I would be leery of. If you want a hard tip, best and easiest to start with a hard tip.

Leather is a very complex subject. What I know isn't even the tip of the iceberg. I used to hang out in a saddle shop a little bit. Just admiring the craftsmanship of the leather worker. Skill and art, and it starts with selecting the right leather for the job.


Edit: Are you or the installer burnishing the sides of the tip? Different ways of doing it as it seems with everything. A drop of water and a dollar works fine. I try to use the newer money the better and I am a traditionalist about burnishing. A little spit, and then I burnish with a stiff hundred dollar bill. Kinda like sticking something with scent on it to a hound's nose, I want the tip to know what things are all about!

Hu

Last edited by ShootingArts; 09-18-2019 at 08:18 PM. Reason: more info
  
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09-19-2019, 06:21 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
A little homework, a dealer says the Elkmaster tips are made from elk. The dealer is highly respected in the snooker world I believe so perhaps it is true. Tweeten makes the tips here in the USA and seems a bit coy about where the leather comes from.

A nice fine grain quality leather whatever it is. They do also produce water buffalo tips I believe so those big hides could indeed be for other tips. The hide on an animal varies a great deal in different places and it is at least possible that the Elkmaster tips are made from the finer thin areas of the water buffalo, under the belly and inside the legs are some areas that are generally finer grained and thinner than the hide on the top of the back for example. The hides could come from elk, sheep, goat, hogs, the list is almost endless. They could be using horse hide too and be a bit coy fearing backlash from horse lovers. I found horse hide to vary greatly in the same places depending on the breeding of the individual animal.

Years ago I tipped a lot of house cues for pool halls using water buffalo tips, I think Triangles. Buffalo was a very tough durable hide, very coarse grained fiber. However, I can't say that they didn't play well and hold up under abuse well. That coarse grain may help them hold chalk. I suspect in blind testing people today would be quite pleased with them until they found out the price. You can buy boxes of Triangles for the cost of some of these new tips last I knew.

Selected Elkmaster tips work well for my personal cues dudded or not. If I am breaking hard I usually grab a break cue off the wall and my normal playing style doesn't require much power. Some people completely destroy the integrity of the leather crushing Elkmaster tips as much as they can. These I would be leery of. If you want a hard tip, best and easiest to start with a hard tip.

Leather is a very complex subject. What I know isn't even the tip of the iceberg. I used to hang out in a saddle shop a little bit. Just admiring the craftsmanship of the leather worker. Skill and art, and it starts with selecting the right leather for the job.


Edit: Are you or the installer burnishing the sides of the tip? Different ways of doing it as it seems with everything. A drop of water and a dollar works fine. I try to use the newer money the better and I am a traditionalist about burnishing. A little spit, and then I burnish with a stiff hundred dollar bill. Kinda like sticking something with scent on it to a hound's nose, I want the tip to know what things are all about!

Hu
I doubt they're made from elk. Elk are a controlled animal as far as harvesting goes. I wouldn't think there would be enough hides available to make very many tips.

Last edited by garczar; 09-19-2019 at 06:33 AM.
  
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my thoughts too
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my thoughts too - 09-19-2019, 08:13 AM

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Originally Posted by garczar View Post
I doubt they're made from elk. Elk are a controlled animal as far as harvesting goes. I wouldn't think there would be enough hides available to make very many tips.

That was my first thoughts too, about a shortage of hides. However elk are in large areas of europe also, I don't know where all. There are also licensed elk farms here in the US and you can buy elk meat on the Net here in the US last I knew. I would think the same places selling meat can sell hides. I don't know what areas of the hide are suitable for Elkmaster tips but I would think one hide would produce hundreds of tips. Also there is some naming confusion. Aren't what we call moose here called elk in europe? A much bigger animal but I have no idea of the qualities of the hide.

My guess is that Tweeten can get enough hides through legitimate channels, even if the hides are elk or moose. Admittedly though, I am just guessing. If most of the hide can be used one hide could make thousands of tips. If only small areas can be used as few as low hundreds may come from each hide.

Hu
  
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09-19-2019, 12:20 PM

Maybe yours was still alive
  
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09-20-2019, 04:09 AM

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Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
That was my first thoughts too, about a shortage of hides. However elk are in large areas of europe also, I don't know where all. There are also licensed elk farms here in the US and you can buy elk meat on the Net here in the US last I knew. I would think the same places selling meat can sell hides. I don't know what areas of the hide are suitable for Elkmaster tips but I would think one hide would produce hundreds of tips. Also there is some naming confusion. Aren't what we call moose here called elk in europe? A much bigger animal but I have no idea of the qualities of the hide.

My guess is that Tweeten can get enough hides through legitimate channels, even if the hides are elk or moose. Admittedly though, I am just guessing. If most of the hide can be used one hide could make thousands of tips. If only small areas can be used as few as low hundreds may come from each hide.

Hu
LePro's and Triangles are oak-tanned. Oak tanning yields a harder,tougher leather. EM's are chrome-tanned. Chrome tanning gives a much softer, more pliable product. Chrome tanning also leaves leather a blue color, that's why EM's are blue not because of chalk in them. IIRC all the Tweeten tips use water buffalo hides. UD: i talked to Skip at Tweeten and he affirmed that they use WB hides.

Last edited by garczar; 09-20-2019 at 10:03 AM.
  
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10-01-2019, 11:17 PM

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Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
Never seen this happen hand shaping with a sharp tool. lathe shaping with a dull tool or the wrong tool angle, yes it is common.

I did an entire article on exacto knife blades about the time a magazine folded. Some blades start out a lot sharper than others, stay sharp longer too. Premium blades are worth the price. The other thing, if the blade is just laid on a flat surface as is common, the bevel of the blade creates a negative rake. Can't get a clean scraping cut like that and it dulls the blade rapidly.

Hu
Hi Hu. What brand, or which type of the exacto knife blades, (or any other tools) do you recommend specifically for changing and shaping tips?

Eddie
  
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utility knife premium blades
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utility knife premium blades - 10-02-2019, 12:43 AM

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Originally Posted by EddieBme View Post
Hi Hu. What brand, or which type of the exacto knife blades, (or any other tools) do you recommend specifically for changing and shaping tips?

Eddie

Eddie, I use utility knife blades. First thing, I want a quality handle that just holds the blade, it doesn't retract. The quality handles like this are usually six or eight dollars. There may still be slight play when you put a thin blade in it. If there is I snap a blade off flush with the handle to use as a shim. Safety glasses or goggles a must for this, wouldn't want a sliver of metal in an eye. Now on to answering your question, holding the blade is important though. I favor the handle I am talking about here, I will use just a blade before a retractable handle, hate those things!

I tested bi-metal blades and several versions of coated blades, the gold ones. I bought all of the different blades I could find at home depot, lowes, and ace when I researched the article. I found standard duty blades sharper than heavy duty. Premium blades significantly outperformed standard blades, both sharper and staying sharp longer. Bi-metal, gold edged, and solid gold coated blades all seemed equally sharp and fine for installing tips when I just did three tips with each end of the blade.

No doubt if I had tested them until they quit working I would have found a "best" blade but all of the premium blades worked great when I just did six tips with a blade. That was a practice I started with standard blades and still use with premium blades. Blades are too cheap to botch a job with a dull blade. I don't throw these blades away, I have a handful of utility knife handles in the shop. One marked for tips only, the rest scattered where I use them. My shop is in storage mostly in boxes and bins now and by some magic I never find what I am looking for in that storage unit! It is seventy miles away now too, so a bit awkward. The information where to find the blades is working from memory, pretty old memory at that!

I am pretty sure the bi-metal blades came from lowes and were kobalt brand, some of the gold ones came from home depot but they are pretty common everywhere. If you have an ace hardware locally they will order anything in their catalog and get it in less than a week usually. Most people never consider special orders from ace but I get a lot of hard to find stuff that way. It comes on their standard truck so free shipping.

I have never had a problem, never heard of one. However I trust the one piece blades a little more than the bi-metal ones. None of the blades were designed for our use and it would seem the bi-metal blade could delaminate. They are made in three layers, a hard center that will sharpen to a finer edge than two softer outer layers to protect the blade from breaking. As close as I place the support and with the quality of the blades this issue seems to be purely theory.

I use the utility knife blades for their relatively larger size and strength. I find exacto knife blades pricey too, partially because of where I buy specialty blades from. If I remember correctly the cost of utility knife blades was less than a dime a tip even using the premium blades back when I wrote the article. They didn't show any loss of sharpness yet and might last as long as a standard blade after being relegated to rougher work than tips.


To recap:

Heavy duty blades have blunter bevel than standard blades and they are thicker. Noticeably stronger than standard blades. They shine for heavy rough work. The dullest blades when new, and they get even duller fast.

Standard duty blades are sharper than heavy duty blades but can stand much less side force. These blades are OK for tips as long as you use the three tip rule.

Premium blades are noticeably sharper than standard duty blades and they stay sharp longer. When we need clean cuts they are the best choice. Best choice for using as a scraper too which is what we are doing shaping tips. I didn't test strength when a side force was applied to these blades. I would expect the gold blades to be the same toughness as the standard blades as I think they start life the same before extra sharpening and coating. The bi-metal are an unknown to me. The side plates are probably of a softer more flexible metal than the standard blades while the center is definitely more brittle. Net result??

Hu
  
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10-02-2019, 03:01 PM

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Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
Eddie, I use utility knife blades. First thing, I want a quality handle that just holds the blade, it doesn't retract. The quality handles like this are usually six or eight dollars. There may still be slight play when you put a thin blade in it. If there is I snap a blade off flush with the handle to use as a shim. Safety glasses or goggles a must for this, wouldn't want a sliver of metal in an eye. Now on to answering your question, holding the blade is important though. I favor the handle I am talking about here, I will use just a blade before a retractable handle, hate those things!

I tested bi-metal blades and several versions of coated blades, the gold ones. I bought all of the different blades I could find at home depot, lowes, and ace when I researched the article. I found standard duty blades sharper than heavy duty. Premium blades significantly outperformed standard blades, both sharper and staying sharp longer. Bi-metal, gold edged, and solid gold coated blades all seemed equally sharp and fine for installing tips when I just did three tips with each end of the blade.

No doubt if I had tested them until they quit working I would have found a "best" blade but all of the premium blades worked great when I just did six tips with a blade. That was a practice I started with standard blades and still use with premium blades. Blades are too cheap to botch a job with a dull blade. I don't throw these blades away, I have a handful of utility knife handles in the shop. One marked for tips only, the rest scattered where I use them. My shop is in storage mostly in boxes and bins now and by some magic I never find what I am looking for in that storage unit! It is seventy miles away now too, so a bit awkward. The information where to find the blades is working from memory, pretty old memory at that!

I am pretty sure the bi-metal blades came from lowes and were kobalt brand, some of the gold ones came from home depot but they are pretty common everywhere. If you have an ace hardware locally they will order anything in their catalog and get it in less than a week usually. Most people never consider special orders from ace but I get a lot of hard to find stuff that way. It comes on their standard truck so free shipping.

I have never had a problem, never heard of one. However I trust the one piece blades a little more than the bi-metal ones. None of the blades were designed for our use and it would seem the bi-metal blade could delaminate. They are made in three layers, a hard center that will sharpen to a finer edge than two softer outer layers to protect the blade from breaking. As close as I place the support and with the quality of the blades this issue seems to be purely theory.

I use the utility knife blades for their relatively larger size and strength. I find exacto knife blades pricey too, partially because of where I buy specialty blades from. If I remember correctly the cost of utility knife blades was less than a dime a tip even using the premium blades back when I wrote the article. They didn't show any loss of sharpness yet and might last as long as a standard blade after being relegated to rougher work than tips.


To recap:

Heavy duty blades have blunter bevel than standard blades and they are thicker. Noticeably stronger than standard blades. They shine for heavy rough work. The dullest blades when new, and they get even duller fast.

Standard duty blades are sharper than heavy duty blades but can stand much less side force. These blades are OK for tips as long as you use the three tip rule.

Premium blades are noticeably sharper than standard duty blades and they stay sharp longer. When we need clean cuts they are the best choice. Best choice for using as a scraper too which is what we are doing shaping tips. I didn't test strength when a side force was applied to these blades. I would expect the gold blades to be the same toughness as the standard blades as I think they start life the same before extra sharpening and coating. The bi-metal are an unknown to me. The side plates are probably of a softer more flexible metal than the standard blades while the center is definitely more brittle. Net result??

Hu
Thanks Hu. I've tried to find something thin and sharp like a one sided razor, but the ones I've found are for the tip trimming tools, and pretty short? The reason I ask, I've done a quite a few tips, but a couple of times I nicked the ferrule.

Eddie
  
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Why I like the handle on the blade.
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Why I like the handle on the blade. - 10-02-2019, 03:35 PM

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Originally Posted by EddieBme View Post
Thanks Hu. I've tried to find something thin and sharp like a one sided razor, but the ones I've found are for the tip trimming tools, and pretty short? The reason I ask, I've done a quite a few tips, but a couple of times I nicked the ferrule.

Eddie


Eddie,

I doubt there is any honest mechanic that hasn't damaged a ferrule. By putting a cutting tool in your tool holder and running it very close to the tip as a tool rest anything you cut with is a lot easier to tame. Get that tool you are using for a rest within a quarter inch or less of the tip. You can custom make a curved rest to go in your tool holder to really snug up to the tip if you want to. If you don't have a good solid tool rest I would buy or make one.

With the tip close to the steady rest or chuck and the rest you have the blade on very close to the tip it becomes hard to mess up a ferrule. A good handle with zero movement of the cutting tool you are using finishes the package. Like most I have been guilty of just using a utility knife blade too. There isn't much load on it if you have the tool rest close to the tip. Still, good practice to use a handle. Most people using small blades without handles eventually do some fairly nasty damage to their hands.

A good set-up is three-fourths or more of the job. I get all of the flex out of a shaft before I start cutting.

Hu
  
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10-02-2019, 03:47 PM

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Originally Posted by EddieBme View Post
Thanks Hu. I've tried to find something thin and sharp like a one sided razor, but the ones I've found are for the tip trimming tools, and pretty short? The reason I ask, I've done a quite a few tips, but a couple of times I nicked the ferrule.

Eddie
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10-02-2019, 07:13 PM

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Originally Posted by RiverCity View Post
That looks like a great tool for the job, especially the price.

I use an old Phill Hartsfield fixed blade in A2. Very stable and should last several lifetimes.

But for $7.24, might have to pick one of these up.


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