Monday, 24 July 2017

Plastic washers for free...

Recently I've found myself in need of a load of plastic washers, why? you might ask, well if you read this blog you'll know I built a poly-tunnel for our allotment plot, however due to some storms we've had over the last few months it has suffered (to say the least) in fact the polythene we used to cover it has been shredded, so we've gone for an upgrade, that being corrugated polycarbonte sheets.

Like so (you can see the remnants of the polythene) -

Still some work to do, but you get the idea.

To fix the sheets to the frame work I've used screws, now normally you'd use proper fixings which although not expensive (about £1:50 a pack)  we would have had to spend around £5 on enough to fix everything down, and me being the cheapskate I am I decided I could make my own plastic washers which would do just as well, and I'd be doing a bit of recycling as well.

To make the washers I used some plastic from a milk bottle (the polyethylene ones) and to make the inner hole where the screws will go I used a hole punch.

Hole punch, like you'd use for paper - 

It makes the right sized holes.

Plastic, with some washers already cut out - 

This type of plastic works well.
To make the washers all I've done is punch a hole with the hole punch and then using a tool I made I've cut out the washer.

The tool is just a bit of steel tube that I've sharpened, I also added a roughly turned wooden handle because after a while of using it without the handle it hurt my hands, the handle is a lot easier to grip.

The tool - 

Simple but effective.
To sharpen the tube I used my bench sander, but there are numerous ways you could sharpen the tube, files or a belt sander for example, all you need to do is grind the end of the tube down at an angle, this gives you a cutting edge, you can tidy it up by running a file or a bit of sand paper around the inside of the tube.

Using it is simple, you could use a hammer to punch out whatever you're trying to cut, but I found applying a twisting motion worked really well.

To actually make a washer all I do is punch out a small hole with the hole punch and then line up the homemade cutter over that and give it a could of twists.

Time to make some washers - 

Lets twist again...

et voila a plastic washer - 

Now to make a load more.

Washers, need a few more though - 

use an old bit of wood and not the kitchen table to cut your washers.
And that's it, what could be simpler? I've used this method before to make rubber feet for some trivets I made (trivets / pot stands - opens in new window) 

This cutter works on thin rubber, foam and probably other stuff (like leather maybe) and you can use larger or smaller tubing to make a variety of cutters / punches and if like me you have a workshop full of junk you could probably find the stuff to make a cutter or two without having to buy anything.

It's pretty quick as well, I made about a hundred washers in under ten minutes, so the time it takes for a relaxing cup of tea really.

Washers done - 

Now to sort out the poly-tunnel.

A washer in use, just to prove they work - 

Maybe I'll think of a way to make screw caps.

So there you go, free plastic washers with a home made cutter, cost no money and you'll be doing some recycling as well, can't be bad.

Thanks for reading.