Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cutting Felt Strips

My first bright idea was to make a guide to hold the felt straight while I cut off a 7/16" wide strip with a razor blade in a block to hold it square.  Felt this thick is just too hard to cut with a razor blade.  I managed to cut off some strips but then cutting the 1/2" x 7/16" strip to 7/16" sq. just did not work at all.
OK dump that idea.
My next idea was to use the band saw to cut off strips.  I had once heard of cutting foam rubber with a blade turned upside down so the teeth don't tear the foam, or in this case shred the felt.  When cutting vinyl house siding with a circular saw you put the blade in backward.

I decided to do more than that.  I wanted to put a pointed edge on the blade more like a serrated knife.  To do it I tipped up the table on the belt sander and used it to guide the blade along the belt to sharpen each side of the blade.  I used a worn out metal cutting blade for this.

To install the blade upside down you just turn it inside out.  I used some 1/2" aluminum angle to make a guide to hold the felt while sawing it.  I thought it would be easier to cut a straight line if the felt was held down snug as well as along a fence.  The angle is used to hold the felt down.

Because I want strips 7/16" wide the angle also made convenient guide for the width of the cut.  The angle is 1/16" thick so having the blade just touch the edge of the angle gets a 7/16" wide strip.

I had to hold the felt snugly in the guide but it worked as expected.  You mostly hold it in the guide and pull it through from behind the blade.  The curved ends at the front of the guide are to prevent the felt from snagging, it worked.

To control the thickness of the felt during the cut I positioned the angle differently for the first and second cut.  For the first cut the sheet of felt is 1/2" thick so the angle was positioned with the bottom of the flange 1/2" above the bottom of the wood.

For the second cut the strip is now 1/2" wide but only 7/16" high so the angle for this cut is positioned 7/16" form the bottom of the wood.

For the second cut I needed a guide on the free side of the strip to hold the felt compressed in both directions.  A full fence would have gotten in the way of pulling the strip through the blade.  Instead I used piece of 1x4 in the area of the blade.

It worked great.  The cut is still slightly fuzzy.  I need a sharper blade.

The strip on the right is the first cut and the one on the left is the finished strip.

Now I need to sew up the fabric piece which hold the strip in place.

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