Die cut plates - how to make

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Hi guys. I found lots of info on creating printing plates, including some experimental / home brew twists, etc, but not much re: making your own die cutting plates (is that the term?). What I mean is if I wanted to die cut something fairly simple and random (an apple, state outline, banana), is there a home brew / hobby way, technique, to make die cutting plates on demand in house to use on a regular letterpress (not a cylinder press). Thanks !!

Keep this thread going so

Keep this thread going so more people can make their own simple dies. I have been able to make a few dies for some of the folks on this site but it is becoming more difficult to find the time. MY shop’s main focus is presswork. Most hobby printers don’t need trade standard dies.
I will still make dies but only by appointment.

Making your own dies from

Making your own dies from cutting rule is a straightforward task. If, that is, you have access to scroll saw, sturdy wood base, firm sponge rubber, pliers, hammer, vise and, most importantly, patience.
In the days ‘before the before’, die-stock rule for in-house use was readily available. It was a rule of softer steel thus allowed a somewhat easier manipulation. However, with perseverance even the standard rule yields satisfactory result. Still, there are limits to what can be achieved using hand-forming. But unless you are making a die to produce the outline of a four-masted full-rigged ship, making your own die is well worth the challenge. Too, there are Hemold machines out there waiting to be discovered. :o)

In answer to the original

In answer to the original question, YES! . . D.I.Y. Die making for tiny home use/construction.
50 years ago or more it was not rocket science, even easier now???
We studied professional “Die,s” for about 5 mins, and then made our own, i.e. perfectly square edge, boxes, rectangles etc. absolute childs play, cut the rule to length on the back step of a good quality lead & rule cutter or ground them to length with a simple jig against an ordinary bench grinder, and used a normal setting stick to check for accuracy & length.
Locked it (the cutting form) up as normal, with standard furniture.
As this was generally before all the fancy Rubber, throw of strip we just “borrowed” one of the Kids Soft Sorbo, (indoor use) play balls, and just cut, to waste, tiny blocks to act as throw offs.
O.K. up to a point we could not construct complex shapes, >probably upwards of $8,000 or more NOW, for the professional equipment<
Again and probably for an undercover!! job, know what we mean,? before such items were available off the shelf, we wanted to die cut out a Heart shaped card, for Feb.14th!

We just cut 2 identical lengths of cutting rule and just bent free-hand left and right mirror image “ventricales”
Made up the smallest box to contain the 2 parts, smear of oil on a steel galley, and on the inner surfaces of the rules and just poured molten lead, from the Monotype of course, into the cavities, up to the height of the Cornerstone furniture, and then throw off pads as above.

In this Day & Age it would be even easier, and fun, to replicate, just substitute the Lead, for 2 pack epoxy resin, “transpalite” or similar, the stuff the Kids encapsulate Dead insects or Watch parts in.

The BIG Kids bend the Rules, with safety, the Young Ones Cast the base, with OF COURSE the obligatory Name Initials, D. O. B, etc, on a tiny slip of paper, entombed in the clear base.
Do we still share with the Kids, or are they all with the Virtual world, 108 Ems in front of their eyes.
30 years ago, with My Daughter We cast/constructed one off each, Heart, Spade, Club & Diamond, cutting Die,s the Spade did not stand close scrutiny! but the set worked well Die Cutting on the Thompson, about 50 of each, but we crucified the cutting rule, being clever, or otherwise, die cutting coloured acrylic sheet,

The above was just for fun, but helped the learning curve, but it was pointed out that for serious heavy duty Die Cutting the traditional method was substituted for All Steel solid die-cutting formes probably Spark Eroded or Ground but at What Cost.?

Just checked it out on

Just checked it out on YouTube. The edge is burnt (black) right?

That’s unexpected and…

That’s unexpected and… Astonishing! Will it cut heavy weight card stock paper?

If you are really talking

If you are really talking about runs less than 50, you might consider a laser-cutter, which can cut, perf, score and engrave on a multitude of materials.

The combination of letterpress and laser can be much more versatile than diecutting, but not so good for big runs, as it can be very slow.