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Shear Genius

The typical table shear used in the engraving industry is a 12-in. guillotine configured as either a plastic or metal shear. The plastic cutting shear has a knife upper blade and is used on flexible plastics up to 3/32-in. thick. The metal cutting shear has a squared-off upper blade and is used on brass (maximum .030 in. thickness) or aluminum (maximum .040 in. thickness). Both have the same bottom blade. If you do both plastic and metal work you must have both types of shears. Changing blades is dangerous and time consuming. I do not recommend the combination blades.

Shear Genius

Six things You Need to Know About Table Shears—With the Best Saved for Last

BY FRED SCHWARTZ, QUALITY ONE ENGRAVERS

(Originally published in the January 2015 issue of Recognition Review.)

  1. The typical table shear used in the engraving industry is a 12-in. guillotine configured as either a plastic or metal shear. The plastic cutting shear has a knife upper blade and is used on flexible plastics up to 3/32-in. thick. The metal cutting shear has a squared-off upper blade and is used on brass (maximum .030 in. thickness) or aluminum (maximum .040 in. thickness). Both have the same bottom blade. If you do both plastic and metal work you must have both types of shears. Changing blades is dangerous and time consuming. I do not recommend the combination blades.
  2. When cutting long pieces of material, support the material on the right side of the shear either with a board or with the help of a second person. Leaving it to droop will cause the piece to have concave cut.
  3. There are several cutting techniques associated with the shear. Pick the one that best suits your applications. These include the use of a 30-60-90 triangle, perfect square arm, adjustable back stop, and several rule variations.
  4. One of the problems with many of the shears available to the engraving industry is the scale. Most are 1/8-in. thick with an overlay legend for the scale markings. The problem is most thicknesses usually cut are 1/16 in. or thinner, not 1/8 in. This varying elevation produces parallax error. Also, the scale markings for finer measurements are inaccurate or missing.
  5. Maintain your shears with a very light oiling and blade cleaning. Always keep your blades free of gum deposits. Gum deposits results from cutting through double-back tape and protective masking on materials. Use a single edge razor to remove big deposits, and a rag with solvents to finish the job. Cut with the sticky side up whenever possible.
  6. To square your table shear, you can use a method I call the “3-Cut Result Method” shown in FIGURE 1. It’s difficult to determine if your shear is cutting at slightly more or less than 90 degrees because the error is nearly imperceptible. The 3-Cut Result Method multiplies this error by three to create an easily measurable gap. The sum of all four internal angles of a four-sided figure will equal 360°. You will take a spare sheet and cut three sides, turning the sheet from the blade cut to the shear scale as you make the cuts. (On standard engraving shears, this will be a counterclockwise turn.) This will yield three actual cut angles (which may or may not be 90 degrees) and one resulting angle that is three times the amount your shear is off from 90 degrees. Rotate the scale until the gap is eliminated.
  7. FIGURE 1: Fred Schwartz’ ‘3-Cut Result Method’ helps you square your table shear quickly and easily. Image courtesy of Quality One Engravers.


    Fred Schwartz of Quality One Engravers in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from California State University in Los Angeles. Many of his more than 50 years of engineering have been dedicated to the engraving industry, jet engine testing, and automotive engine analysis equipment. Schwartz started an engraving company in 1983 and transitioned it into Quality One Engravers in 1990. Plagued by the costs of warranties and repairs, Schwartz put his engineer’s mind to work on industry equipment. Over the past 30 years, Schwartz has rebuilt more than a thousand engraving machines and visited hundreds of engraving shops to collect best practices. He has created and improved upon many pieces of equipment, including tooling components, a motional controller, the Trophy Nutter, and engraving and router tables. Call 909.989.3898 or visit www.q1engravers.com for more information.

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