Clay, Application to Refinement

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Clay Mouse

The clay mouse is the perfect tool for trimming in the off-set of a glass plane. With the combination of a vertical cutting face and the horizontal cutting face it makes quick work for those hard to get to places.


The scribing edge of the clay mouse can also be used in conjunction with an angle bracket for scribing on lines. This is particularly useful on scale models, when transferring form by way of points or profile gauges.



As you can see from the photograph, the clay mouse typically comes in two sizes. This makes provision for cutting shallow or deep recesses.


With this in mind, the illustration below gives all the information for making the clay mouse.


Clay mouse (build)



Using the illustration on the left, we can cut blanks to the shapes shown. The two columns show the necessary dimensions for making both the small and the large clay mouse.


With 1/16" steel plate for the small clay mouse and 1/8" steel plate for the large.

Scribe out the base plate first and cut out on a metal bandsaw or alternatively use a hacksaw.

Once the shape is cut out, file smooth to the scribe lines.


On the V-end of the base plate, scribe lines 1/8" parallel to the edge for the small mouse and 1/4" for the large mouse. From this line, file an angle to create the chisel edge of the cutting face.


With the base plate complete we can now mark-out the spine of the clay mouse. We should pay particular attention to ensure that the notch is marked out correctly. This needs to be a snug fit for when we silver solder.


Next mark-out the D, allowing 1/16" thickness for the cutting edge of the small clay mouse and 3/32" for the large clay mouse. With the spine marked out, clamp the material down and drill out the inside of the D first. Once drilled, file smooth to the shape. We will sharpen the cutting edge once the base and spine are silver soldered together.


Cut the shapes out on a metal bandsaw or with a hacksaw and file to the scribe lines. As I said previously, the fit between the base plate and the spine should be a snug fit. Check frequently to make sure. Once the fit is good we are ready to silver solder the two parts together.

Prepare the parts for silver soldering and provide some method of support for the spine. This can be in the form of metal blocks either side of the D cutting edge.

Once the base plate and the spine are silver soldered together, we can proceed to sharpen the vertical cutting face (D). This should be done by filing with a Swiss file to the center of the material from both sides, this will give you a triangular section. 

The same method should be used on the upper and lower portion of the "D". This will provide all-round cutting ability, ensuring clean lines at the bottom of any recess.



The last thing to do is check the base for flatness. This can be done by rubbing the sole of the plane on wet and dry paper on a flat table. You can also use an oil stone or a diamond stone to achieve the same results.


De-burr all edges and the clay mouse is good to go.



Copyright © 2003 - 20 Steven Austin