View Full Version : Felt cutting question

06-22-2005, 04:04 PM
I needed some felt to make way wipers for my mill and to replace the ones on my lathe. One of my wife's suppliers (machine tool maker) was kind enough to send her some pieces for free. This is high density wiper felt intended for use as machine way wipers. The only problem is that the stuff is much thicker than what I want. I've been trying to think of a way to split it down to thinner pieces. Currently it is about 1/2" thick. 1/8 or 3/16" would be ideal. It won't split by tearing, this stuff is tough. If anyone can come up with a workable idea I'll send you some. I have much more than I can use.


J Tiers
06-22-2005, 04:14 PM
I have cut quite a bit of felt for wipers etc.

I cut it with a razor blade, not pulling/moving along the cut, but by pushing straight down. With care, the same technique can be used to split it down thinner. If it buckles, hold it between two stiff pieces of plastic etc.

You may need about a 0.187 thickness or so for wipers. of course, if you have existing holders, fit to them.

06-22-2005, 04:24 PM
I had thought of that but it seems that it will be difficult at best to maintain an even thickness. I would like if possible to split the entire sheet in one go. I was thinking of trying an electric carving knife if I can think of a jig of some sort to hold the spacing. I'm going to try the carving knife tonight to see how it cuts.

Norman Atkinson
06-22-2005, 04:28 PM

Felt is what Welsh hats are made of!
Couldn't resist it; sorry.

So it isn't woven, it is felted.
In other words, wool is pressed and
the fibres shrunk
together like sweaty socks- under
steam heat- and moulded- as in Welsh

So, you can gently peel it.
Ring a bell?


Lynn Standish
06-22-2005, 04:29 PM

Do you have a local saddle maker or someone who does leather work? They will often use "skiving" knives or tools to thin leather, and will also have "splitters" to "split" hides to a uniform thickness. These could probably be used for what you need. A shoe repair shop might also have something. I also think that Tandy leather Co. sells tools like this, or you could try a google for this type of thing.

Cecil Walker
06-22-2005, 04:36 PM
Evan: i have plenty if 1/8' felt in stock at my shop. Let me know how much you need and i will send no charge. cecil

06-22-2005, 05:07 PM

What a good idea. I would have never thought of it. I would have sliced off piece the correct thickness from the ends. Then i would have glued them together used them just that way.

Even let us know what you finally do

Rob http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

06-22-2005, 05:24 PM

Excellent idea. This being home of the second largest rodeo in North America there just happens to be a tack and saddle shop a couple of hundred feet from my shop. I'll have to go see him.


I just talked to him. He is positive it won't work. Oh well, nice idea while it lasted.

Cecil, thanks for the offer. We'll see.

06-22-2005, 05:45 PM
I've reduced the thickness of felt by wetting it and squeezing it between two blocks of wood in a drill press vise until dry. You could wet it with way or other oil. Also makes it denser. Den

06-22-2005, 05:47 PM
This stuff is really dense already. I don't think it can be made much denser.

06-22-2005, 06:05 PM
Having recently cut some felt for my loco oilers,i'm with JT.I used a razor blade,the felt clamped between two pieces of sheet alum.
once i made one cut across,unclamped ,and slid the felt up a bit,cut again,etc.Btw,the felt i used was actually out of an old printer,washed out,good as new!I don't think you'll get a "smooth"cut,whatever you use.Just the nature of the material.good luck.


Mike Burdick
06-22-2005, 06:49 PM

I know your question concerned cutting the felt to 1/8” for use as wipers. Since you know the particulars that need to be met, what I have to say is probably moot. As for me, I cut my wipers from ¼” material so I can tighten the screw on the wiper’s “back plate” a bit to spread them as they wear. I know it seem that it can’t be compressed but it does (at least the material I have). This way I can keep the felt with just the right contact for about a year before it needs to be replaced.

Your Old Dog
06-22-2005, 08:59 PM
sandwhich it between to thick boards and c-clamp it. Then cut it on a good table saw. A nice steady easy feed will cut it very nicely. Don't suggest you cut it clear thru as you want some of it left on to control the the waste. If it gets away from you it will mess things up. Once you have it to desired thickness sharp wood chisels will give you a nice finish if done on hardwood table. Brownells sells felt in 3 or 4 grades of hardness. I used those felt pads glued to wooden sticks as polishing buffs using Happich SemiChrome Polish. Makes an awesum finish in no time. It works great over a 400 finish too.

06-22-2005, 09:39 PM
I have a felt pad at work that's 2" thick that I have been whittling on for years.

The way I deal with it is I have an old dull bandsaw blade that I ground all the teeth off of,mounted on the saw and used a grinder with a sanding disc to grind a knife edge on the blade.It cuts slicker than snot and no tears or fuzz.I just wack off a chunk big enough for the parts I need and then pass it through the knife band with the fence set to the thickness I want.

They also make knife edged blades for doing just that,but I was too cheap to spend $20.00 on a blade.You might try a butcher for an old blade,they used scalloped edge ones that should do just as good a job.

06-22-2005, 09:59 PM
Ok, I have an industrial meat slicer that has a blade as sharp as a razor. It will slice off as thin or thick of pieces you need. I also need some felt wipers for my southbend lathe and vert mill. Lemme know. JRouche

Oh yeah, the slicer is spotless and practically brand new. One of those stages in life that I was into beef jerky, but that lasted a minute http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//tongue.gif

[This message has been edited by JRouche (edited 06-22-2005).]

J Tiers
06-22-2005, 11:31 PM
Go ahead and cut the shape first.

THEN split it.

Much simpler. Splitting the whole sheet is not worth the effort.

Not only that, but 1 week after you do, you'll get into something for which you WANT a piece of 1/2" felt.

BTW, if you cut then split, you get two pieces the right shape.........

[This message has been edited by J Tiers (edited 06-22-2005).]

J. Randall
06-22-2005, 11:35 PM
Evan, never tried it, but you might wet it and freeze it flat, then grab it and run it through the bandsaw before it thaws. James

06-23-2005, 12:59 AM
Go to the local Deli and use their meat slicer.

06-23-2005, 02:18 AM
Heh, lots of good ideas. I'm going to try the meat slicer, I have an 8" one. I would have tried it tonight but while watching Daily Planet I got distracted checking my eyelids for light leaks. The bandsaw knife is actually something that I had thought of and might try but sounds like too much work. If I have to I will. I don't have a table saw, only a 10" radial arm saw.

Norman Atkinson
06-23-2005, 04:10 AM
You're all mad! mad, Mad, MAD, I tell you.
Said he, escaping from the Mental Institution.

Seriously, we used to shrink our RAF berets- make by the Kangol company by putting a plate inside and soaking and steaming them by a coke stove in our billets.

Right, Matron- I'll go quietly!
Big woman, that Matron! big, Big, BIG!


06-23-2005, 08:16 AM
Those little HF bandsaws are a real miracle.

Just tried sawing that very same type of felt. With a regular bandsaw blade. A 12 tpi. It does fuzz up a bit but that cleans up real easy. I didn't try to spit the whole piece. But it seemed to work on one about an inch wide. Wide enough for way wipers.

Thanks weird, as soon as you mentioned bandsaw a bell went off.

That's the same felt I made oilers for my 9C, I used a piece of brass hobby tubing that I sharpened and put in the drill press with a piece of wood under it.


[This message has been edited by topct (edited 06-23-2005).]

Ted Coffey
06-23-2005, 10:07 AM
I have a 10" table saw knife blade that should work. I'll have to try it.

Michael Az
06-23-2005, 07:23 PM
Evan, is this wool felt?

06-23-2005, 07:32 PM
I really don't know but the company that supplied it only uses the best. It is free felt so I'm not complaining.

06-23-2005, 08:23 PM
One thing you could do- take one of those utility knife blades, the break-off kind, and sandwich it between pieces of wood or whatever. The blade should stick out horizontally, and the bottom sandwich piece should be the same thickness as you want the felt to be. You might want to fasten this sandwich together. Then hold the felt down on a flat surface with a piece of flat stuff on top of it, and slide the sandwich/blade assemble alongside of the felt, slicing into it with some angle going on. You should be ok with about an inch or so of blade entering the felt at a time, and each subsequent cut will guide the blade if you want to go deeper. When you cut into the felt, the thickness of it will increase by the thickness of the blade, so apply hand pressure to the felt a little farther out than the blade is going to go. If you use a piece of 1/8 inch board of some kind to hold the felt down, it will hold the felt flat for accurate cutting while flexing a bit to allow for the blade's thickness.

The blade should be a new one, and probably not the really narrow one. Those that are about 3/4 inch wide should do fine.

George Hodge
06-23-2005, 09:03 PM
How about using the back edge of a bandsaw blade,sharpened with a 4-1/2in grinder? Shouldn't take much pressure if it's pushed from behind,toward the teeth. Also,I have 1/4in.diameter felt,6in.long if you need some for the oilers on the apron of a South Bend.

06-24-2005, 01:04 AM
Plain old garden anvil pruners will do the job.

06-24-2005, 01:14 AM
Well, I cut off a piece about 6" x 5". Man is this stuff tough. I tried my electric carving knife. No dice. I sharpened up a regular cleaver and that did an ok job. Now to try splitting it. I set up the meat slicer. The piece I cut was the largest I could reasonably fit in the slicer. It started to slice it but it quickly became apparent I would be there all night. I cut the piece in half so I had a couple of strips 6 x 2.5 x 1/2".

I fed this into the slicer and it zipped through in a few seconds. Not a bad job either. I split the two pieces in half so I have four pieces 1/4" thick by 2.5 x 6".

Next is to try and make some a little thinner. It seems the meat slicer will do the job.

Thanks for the ideas guys.