How to Manufacture Wooden Die Cuts for Crafts

Written by ira mency
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Wooden die cuts have been used in crafting and wood projects for years. Craft stores sell die cuts, but you can make your own customised designs. Traditionally, pieces have been hand cut with X-acto knives, one by one, out of a soft wood sheet. The alternative is to cut through stacks of thin sheets of wood, thereby producing several die cuts at a time.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Easy Method:
  • Pencil
  • Printer with paper (or design template)
  • X-acto or razor knife
  • Balsa wood (or other soft wood) sheets
  • Challenging Method:
  • C-clamps (few, medium to large)
  • 100 pieces of 8.5" x 11" wood sheets (1/8" thick) or 200 8.5"x11" (1/16" thick) wood sheets
  • Two pieces of masonite or thin plywood sheets, size 8.5" x 11"
  • Drill
  • Four 2.5-inch to 3-inch bolts with nuts
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Band saw

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Print a template page on a standard sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper. If you so choose, you can use a pencil and draw your template by hand. You now have two options.

    The easiest way to make die cuts is to use your template over top balsa wood with an X-acto knife. This process is time consuming and has the drawback of your only being able to make one die cut at a time. The more challenging option is to make several at a time, which is described in Step 2.

  2. 2

    Place the two pieces of thin plywood or masonite boards on either side of your large stack of thin wooden sheets. What you see will resemble a wooden "sandwich" and be referred to as such. Apply your template sheet on the very top of the sandwich. Drill a hole down in all four corners of this sandwich, attaching bolts from the bottom up, applying nuts on top. Hand tighten.

  3. 3

    Using a band saw, carefully move your sandwich, tracing your top template in a single cutting motion into the band saw. (Once you cut two or more edges off where the bolts were, you may have to readjust the sandwich by adding C-clamps to hold the sandwich taut.) Slowly manoeuvre around the sandwich until your templates are cut out.

  4. 4

    Sand any rough edges gently with fine-grain sandpaper. Your wooden die cuts are now ready for paint, embellishment or découpage designs. Be sure to remove and save the nuts and bolts from the scrap pieces for the next batch.

Tips and warnings

  • When using the bandsaw method, the top piece of plywood or masonite that you cut out will leave you with thick wooden die-cut templates that you can use to trace onto the top of your next sandwich.
  • The bandsaw method should be used only by an experienced woodworker.

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