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Cutting out card 'bits'

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Nestalawe
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Hey all,

Tried to do some searching here, but couldn't find any info/advice re:cutting out cardboard markers/counters/map bits effectively.

I have prototyped a few games cheaply to test out, but have just been using a stanley-knife (blade exacto knife whatteva you call it...) and a ruler, knowing I should really get a metal one...

One of the big costs, or 'tricky' things in producing a game seems to be being able to 'cut out' cardboard markers. Most of us at home wouldn't have access to machines that can 'punch out' markers as in bought games which give that nice strong curved edge to markers.

When using a knife to cut with, edges don't seem to be as clean, so are there any ways people use to soften the edges a bit, or spray them with anything etc?

Also, what is a good way to cut out hexes!?! I am looking to prototype a game that has a map made from hex tiles, which are tricky to cut out if all printed edge-to-edge on a sheet.

Generally, any advice on cutting card and making it look and feel nice?

Also, I would like to be able to use fairly thick card, as found in most german-style games...

Cheers!

Nestalawe'

VeritasGames
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Cutting out card 'bits'

You might use a square craft punch or, if you are gonna do this a lot, you could buy a custom die for a personal die press. This latter solution may run you $500-$700.

seo
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Cutting out card 'bits'

A heavy duty paper puch like this one might work. You can buy a 3/8" punch head (see here), which will give you a nice sized hole. Actually, if you don't want to spend too much, you might try with the head alone, and a (preferably rubber) hammer. That might do it.

While this machines are usually intneded to puch several (some models can deal with 160 sheets at once) 16-20lb sheets of paper at once, they should work just fine with a piece of cardboard.

Just an idea, I haven't tried it. You might want to check if it works before you buy anything. You might want to go to a Kinko's or some similar place who have this sort of equipment for binding photocopies, and ask them to try with a piece of the cardboard you want to use. They will probably have a much smaller puch diameter, though.

And they will probably think you're weird for being interested in the round punched piece instead of the punched sheet, but who cares?

BTW, the links I included are just for illustration purposes, I have no clue whether that particular brand/model is any good.

If it works and you decide to buy the thing, I think you rather look for it at some office supplies store near your location, to avoid the high shipping costs.

HTH,

Seo

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Cutting out card 'bits'

You can get extremely clean edges. When using a knife and straight-edge, the sharpness and width of the blade is extremely important. Here in the US, anyway, Stanley makes more box-cutter type of knives that use an old-fashioned razor blade or similar cutters. A craft X-acto knife is both thinner and sharper.

Because cardboard is really just mashed-up wood, it really wears on the blade, so you must replace it often. I buy X-acto blades in 25- and 100-packs for that very reason -- as soon as the cut stops being super-clean, or more commonly, as soon as I beging to feel more resistance than if I was cutting through a single sheet of paper, it's time to replace the blade. A hassle, sure, but that's how you get clean results.

And as you noted, a metal ruler/straight-edge with a nice rubber or cork backing is ideal. It allows you to press very hard against the straight edge as you press down, making a big difference in the "clean-ness" of the cut.

As far as cutting out hexes is concerned, it's a hassle. Eventually I learned that I simply had to space them on the page so that they don't abutt. That means I end up cutting six times for every hex, but the result is clean, perfect hexes. I could save one cut per two hexes by abutting two together, and might start doing that, but another key to clean cuts is being able to cut prior-to and after the primary cutting area, at least 1/4" on both sides.

When cutting thick cardboard, with a reasonably fresh blade, a nice straight-edge, a cutting mat, and space before and after the cut, I can cut a perfectly clean machine-quality cut with one stroke. With very thick cardboard, it takes two.

Now cutting curves... even with a very sharp knife, they're only so clean. :)

-- Matthew

FastLearner
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Cutting out card 'bits'

Hmm, missed that you're talking about curves.

Two hints: again with the really sharp blade. I have one game where every tile is curved in a way that I'd never find and off-the-shelf punch or die, I'm using extremely thick cardboard, and they're just a hassle: about two pieces per blade. Still, it works. With a good cutting mat and a lot of patience.

For circles, I uses a personal die cutter called a Sizzix. They have a circle die (it's actually 4 differently-sized circles, but I only use one corner of it). It cuts perfectly through my two layers of cardstock plus two layers of chipboard, sandwiched together, and the circles are not only perfect, they have that die-cut effect where the edges are more tightly compressed than the center, with a nice smooth rounding effect in profile.

However, that's the only die of theirs that I've ever found to be useful.

-- Matthew

seo
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Cutting out card 'bits'

That Sizzix die cutter sure looks good.

Are there any circle die below 1"? The ones I saw at their site are all from 1 1/8" and up.

Seo

Nestalawe
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Cutting out card 'bits'

Good stuff here. Useful to find out about die's, if I get serious I will definately invest.

And it sounds like I should really get a stauncher blade - I know the razor ones you mean, and yep, they are definately the way to go. Just may not be allowed out of the country with it :wink:

I hadn't mentioned circles, but yes, it would be useful to be able to have the option, and looking back on my design thoughts, circles are definately a good thing... Sounds like the Sizzix needs some investigation...

Another question then, is after cutting the card, is there any spray that is useful for coating the edges, or even the whole token? To make them stronger, a bit plasticcy without fear of too much wear? I will most likely get a printer to print straight to thick card if I can, eventually, but to begin with I will most likely print to thin card, then paste to thicker card before cutting out. But I don't want any edges to seperate...

FastLearner
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Cutting out card 'bits'

The best defense for edges separating is really good glue. I prefer 3M Super 77 for a serious, heavy-duty long-term bond. It's a spray adhesive, so you just coat the whole back of one of the pieces of paper and adhere it to your chipboard or illustration board or what have you. Seriously permanent hold.

There is a good spray, though, to both protect your artwork (the ink or toner) and the edges, too, if desired. It's called either (depends on what "batch" you buy) Krylon Clear Acrylic or Krylon Crystal Clear. It's a spray acrylic, really just like spray paint without any colorant or opacity. It's good for protecting everything from all kinds of things, including gamer hand sweat, spills, you name it. It alse will help seal the layers together some.

Be careful, though: if you're spraying it on the edges, it's just like spray paint: if some seeps underneath it can adhere to whatever your spraying it on. As such you'd want to spray the pieces and then pick them up and set them someplace drier, even a couple of times if you sprayed way too much.

-- Matthew

FastLearner
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Cutting out card 'bits'

On the Sizzix dies, no there are not. The smallest circle is 1-1/16", which is usable. The next size up is Probably Too Big But Sometimes Usable. The next size up is Clearly Too Big, and the last size is Far Too Big, There'S No Way You're Going To Need This.

It's sad. When I bought the base machine thing, I was quite excited. Now I just punch circles. I've sent emails to the company many times asking for hexes and other shapes, but so far, no luck.

-- Matthew

sedjtroll
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Cutting out card 'bits'

FastLearner wrote:
For circles, I uses a personal die cutter called a Sizzix. They have a circle die (it's actually 4 differently-sized circles, but I only use one corner of it). It cuts perfectly through my two layers of cardstock plus two layers of chipboard, sandwiched together, and the circles are not only perfect, they have that die-cut effect where the edges are more tightly compressed than the center, with a nice smooth rounding effect in profile.

I also got a Sizzix for this reason, and my biggest problem with it is this: there's no good way to 'aim' the cut. Matthew actually mentioned once that he'd made a template... I tried to do something similar but with no luck. So cutting circles of solid color is fine, but trying to center the sizzix circle around a bit of artwork is extremely difficult (for me) and my Sizzix has been sitting in a drawer since I bought it.

If someone has a good way to line up the Sizzix dies, please let me know! What I've been doing recently is I got a circle punch (I think it's 3/4", I wanted smaller but they were out of stock) and if I turn it upside down I can actually see what'll get punched so I can line it up. It's something of a pain, but at least I can cut out what I want...

- Seth

FastLearner
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Cutting out card 'bits'

I can punch withing about 1/16" to 1/32", in that range. Maybe I can show you how tomorrow. And take some pix to post.

-- Matthew

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Cutting out card 'bits'

I don't try to cut out cardboard hexes; I purchase them online. I print artwork for them and cut that out, turn the artwork hexes into stickers by using a Xyron machine, and affix the artwork to the hexes. The result isn't professional quality, but I am only building prototypes and for prototyping, it's great.

Here's where to buy good-quality blank cardboard hexes:
http://www.muecke-hotelberatung.de/shop/

This is kind of pricey, so I recommend doing this only when you're pretty sure you're finished making changes to the hex parts of your game. I bought a few more hexes than I needed, so I'd have a little elbow room for mistakes and minor tweaks.

jkopena
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Adhesive

The 3m stuff that Fast mentioned rocks, that's a solid permanent bond. A can's not too pricey and seems to have a lot in it. Just be sure to do it somewhere ventilated. I find it to be worse than spray paint in terms of noxiousness & longevity in the air, though not as bad as clear coat sprays or something like that. Also, you'll need scrap paper down underneath (big sheets of it, like newspaper), so you can spray evenly across the surface (which basically necessitates spraying before/past the surface). Don't spray too much either, it doesn't need to be wet.

I think the directions say (as usual) that the best bond is to put on both surfaes and attach, but I haven't found that to be necessary. Rather, I spray the board and then put the paper on, because the paper's easy to manuever. The stuff's very tacky and not pliable like rubber cement (so much more even & long-lasting though), so you have to get the lineup correct on the first approach.

Anonymous
Cutting out card 'bits'

With regards to knifes: all home improvement stores sell carpet knifes (and carpet razor blades) which are much sharper than your regular boxcutter or crafts knife. Might be a good choice for 2-ply board.

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