Monday, 13 December 2010

Cutting PCB

For my next project I intend to make the track using copper-clad sleepers. Since the sleepers will be hidden I don't really care what they look like or what size they are. However my stocks of copper-clad strip have depleted, and it is not the sort of thing you can pick up in a local model shop! It can be bought by mail order but generally comes in packs of 20' (not as one length of course!), which works out quite expensive when you consider I probably need about a quarter of that.

I managed a trip to Squires last month (the wife needed something from Bognor so I took the opportunity!) and amongst a pile of bits and bobs I got a sheet of copper-clad board for about £1.50, thinking I could cut it into strips. However it proved resistant to all known knife blades - this is tough stuff! Then it struck me - rather overkill but perhaps the power jigsaw could be used? But how to cut a small, brittle board with something as large and crude as a jigsaw?

The photo shows how. The copper-clad was screwed face-down to a piece of board (more of that PVC plastic I got for free in this case), which could be held on the bench, and support the board during cutting. In the end I put the screws into the bench too! I managed to cut a dozen strips - not very straight or even, and a bit rough, but fine for my needs - plus the last bit can be cut into larger slabs for board and cassette ends. Sledgehammer and nut? Probably! But it worked.

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Anonymous said...

Remind me not to give you any monkey nuts for Christmas then!

Yeah - it's amazing what we can end up doing - but, as you say, since you'll not see them, what does it matter?

A very great deal of what we create is to do with the 'eye of the beholder' - it's rather like creating an illusion with scenery on a stage in a theatre sometimes.

Where's the bluetac?

Anonymous said...

Can't you just buy it cut up by someone else.
We used to cut PCB on old press break machine - I suppose there's no engineering companies left in the UK which might have such a thing.
Still, I can't help thinking that's not the way to do it. A small table saw is what's needed - like this one

Michael Campbell said...

Yes you can buy it ready cut but as I said only in quantities far more than I need, and by mail order which adds cost! I certainly didn't need enough to warrant buying a table saw even if it was ideal.

This is definitely a crude method but given I don't care what the result looked like, it has worked for me.

Chris Ford said...

Can you not still get pre-cut EM sleepers by the 1000 in a bag from SMP or Marcway? For 009 I just cut in half as per the prototype.

Michael Campbell said...

Chris, you can but I thought you'd have got it by now - they cost money! I don't need 1000, I don't even need 100 ... and it's not 009! So they would be very poor value.