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Tool Review: Round Disc Cutter
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I am a demanding user who values quality and well-made items that are backed with good customer service. I make my own tools so I have a different perspective than the typical consumer. Designs are called out for what they are whether good, bad, or indifferent. Trademarks and copyrights are the intellectual property of their respective owners and used for reference and/or informational purposes.

Hobbyist disc cutters come in many shapes and sizes and are primarily for the softer metals. They function by shearing the metal. The punch closely fits the inner diameter or profile of the die. When a piece of metal is placed between the two, the punch will cleanly excise said shape after being pressed or hammered through the die. Larger and/or thicker pieces are best made with a press.

FINAL RATINGS (0=bad to 10=good, YES/NO, N/A, or text; hover over topic for specific information)

  • Item being reviewed: Round disc cutter What's this all about anyway? This has 14 holes from 1/8" to 1", punches to fit each hole, and an equal number of metal centering guides. A tube of hard wax lubricant, small rubber base pad, and a storage tray were included
  • Manufacturer: Generic/unknown This is the same model offered by every manufacturer who has a similar product. Some may be better than others since they need lots of finish work to perform well.
  • Retail price: $130 and up This is the least expensive price I could find.
  • Appearance: 7 Simply, how does it look. It is somewhat subjective but clean lines, professional appearance, etc.
  • Packaging: 6 Is it thrown into a box or packed like a new smartphone.
  • Initial set-up time: Minutes After removing contents from box, how long before the first use. Theoretically, it could be as simple as removing the packaging. It nearly is. You have to go through the same procedure to use it however you can cover it when not in use for quick access so it's always ready.
  • "Plug and play": Hammer or press required Is everything included or do you need to purchase additional equipment, supplies, or parts.
  • Additional costs or equipment: Minimal Not included with the purchase, what else will lighten your wallet This requires a hammer but if you're looking for one of these, you'll likely have several hammers.
  • Set-up time for each use: Minutes From being stored properly and completely, is it grab-and-go or much more involved. This takes no time except removing the packaging and wiping it down.
  • Storage provisions: 7 Factory provisions to store equipment when not in use. This is better than average but there is no place for the centering guides.
  • Storage time: Minutes Time it takes to store it safely and completely, cleaned and lubed, liquids drained, and ready to go. It's best to wipe clean and apply oil to prevent rusting Whatever comes into contact with the oils and waxes (jewelry parts) would have to be cleaned anyway so keep the tool safe.
  • Ongoing costs: Minimal Replacement parts from wear-and-tear, expendables, supplies, etc. This item will need, or should need, very little. The wax seems very robust and shows few battle marks after several hunded applications.
  • Maintenance: Low What is expected to keep the tool working properly: periodic maintenance, lubing, etc.
  • Usability: Easy Is it a pain in the ass or complicated to use.
  • Functionality: Up to excellent How well does it do its job. Some of these failed the first cut. And second, third, etc. I spent many hours filing and polishing the punches. They are doing much better.
  • Robustness: 8 Durability, how well-constructed or flimsy it is
  • Value: up to 9 Based on the price-vs-performance-vs-function, is it worth it. What a time-saver, never mind how consistent it is once dialed in.
  • Adjustability: Yes Can it be easily modified to accommodate different situations. These have a set screw to adjust the distance between the plates. This is critical to achieving the best possible cut.
  • Meeting expectations: Yes, after fixing Does it work as well as others say or the manufacturer claims. The first unit was defective so they sent a second, which was good enough to work with. It took considerable sanding and filing to machine the punches.
  • Innovation: None The ingenuity of the design or concept. There is nothing special about disc cutters.
  • Results: 8 This may or may not replace a manual method or previous way of doing something. In any case, what is the quality of the finished product or process. Anything below 6 - realistically, an 8 - is not jewelry quality.
  • Timeliness: Quick How do the results compare to the amount of time it took. If it replaces a manual method, what are the differences. It's sooo much faster than cutting with shears!
  • Skill level: Minimal What mechanical aptitude or skills does one need to set it up and use it. This item is a basic version of put the peg through the hole and smash it with a hammer. While not as dangerous as running with scissors, tools can strike back when you least expect it.
  • Documentation: None Does it have detailed instructions, whether written (which it should no matter what) or on-line. This had nothing but there are countless videos online.
  • Customer service: Very good How quickly they respond, can you speak with someone on the phone, are their answers satisfactory. The first unit was defective so they sent a second and said to keep the first! Quick, no hassles, this seller was great.
  • Comparative: Yes If other machines or tools are available within the general price range that do the same thing, how does this compare. This is the same wherever you buy it.
  • Recommendation: 8 My personal assessment of the device - basically, would I buy it again knowing what I learned about it? Yes, but it may need tidying up with files and sandpaper for best performance. Basically, one company makes them and everyone else resells or rebrands them.

Final thoughts: Some cutters wouldn't punch cleanly through 5mil copper sheet. Yes, it's entirely unfair using such thin material but if it could do this, bingo. They would have worked better on normal thicknesses but they have to work under all conditions.

CNC machinery would trim the ends perfectly. Lacking one at the moment, I filed and sanded them instead. A few hours on all 14. Either that or add extra time to dress and correct each individual disc but that gets old fast.

The press is better. First, it is much easier on the equipment. Second, it applies a perpendicular, consistent force whereas a hammer may strike off-center or at an angle. Third, the punch may smash the blank against the rubber pad or whatever the cutter is resting on. The blank will be tweaked from the shearing process so additional damage could be a death blow.

Posted by M: April 29, 2021

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