I’ve been trying to get the Retropod store up by Memorial Day weekend, so that I’ll at least have finished one recent project. I wanted to make a nice gasket to hold an iPod in half-inch neoprene. Measuring and cutting with an Xacto knife leaves a wandering, haggled cut. After Googling on “neoprene gaskets” for a while I discovered that what I probably wanted was a “steel rule die”, which is basically a knife edge mounted on a piece of plywood.
I found a place in West Chester that makes dies, so I sent them an Adobe Illustrator file of the shape I wanted and, a couple of days later, picked up the die. Man, that was fun — like printing out a thing.
The next challenge was to get the neoprene to actually cut. It’s very squishy, and it takes a LOT of force to get the knife blade to pierce the neoprene all the way around. I tried jacking the car up onto a plywood, die, and neoprene sandwich, but that worked only intermittently — one corner would cut, the pressure would be relieved, and the rest would only be lightly scored.
After futzing around for a while, I discovered that all I had to do was kind of push the top plywood-and-neoprene layer down with my thumbs, working around the die in a circle. So, less industrial, but better results. Now I’m working on putting up the store page!