How to cut up inner tubes

Inner tube craft tutorials | Bicitoro

This post is the third in a series on crafting with inner tubes. You can find the introduction and learn about choosing and cleaning inner tubes by following the links.

So you’ve cleaned and sorted a big pile of inner tubes. Now what?

In this post I’m going to cover the various methods of turning whole inner tubes into small inner tube parts for your craft projects—using everything from scissors and rotary cutters to tools co-opted from the papercrafting aisle.

Scissors

Good quality, sharp paper scissors are crucial when cutting inner tube rubber. Trying to mangle through with dull scissors will just cause you heartbreak.

It’s nice to have a pair with sharp tips for snipping into corners, but in a pinch I’ve used my little sewing snips or appliqué scissors to cut out small designs.

Note: Don’t follow my example and use your regular sewing scissors to cut rubber, obviously. If you plan to cut out small designs regularly, you should invest in a pair of snips or appliqué scissors to dedicate for inner tube use.

I’ve experimented a bit with using craft scissors from the papercraft section, but I’ve had no luck at all. Too bad–that could be cool!

X-Acto

A sharp X-Acto knife can be very helpful for cutting out designs, as well. Use a new blade—a dull one can drag on the rubber and can a) be hard to control or b) you might be pulling too hard on it and it will come loose suddenly and stab you. A thin layer of oil can help decrease drag from the blade, as well.

I like to use a Sharpie to draw the design on the inside of the inner tube.

Rotary cutter

A rotary cutter can be great if you want even strips, perfect angles, squared-off ends, etc. Again, use a new blade.

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Craft punches

I did a post a while back on using craft punches to cut designs in inner tubes. It’s still one of my favorite crafty things—probably because I get enjoyment out of repurposing papercrafting tools.

It can be tricky to extract the rubber from the punch once the design’s cut, especially if the design is more intricate. Just be patient, shimmy it back and forth a couple times, and feel free to curse at it a bit if you think it’ll help.

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Steer clear of the little punches—they won’t cut rubber nearly as well as the more industrial-looking ones.

If your craft punch starts to get dull (and it will, you’re cutting inner tubes with it), just cut through several layers of aluminum foil a few times, then cut through several layers of waxed paper. That’ll do the trick.

Leather punches

I have an inexpensive set of leather tap punches that I use to make various-sized holes for the earrings and belts that I sell on Etsy. The taps are really easy to use—just put it in place and thwack it hard with a hammer.

You can also use a rotary-style punch to achieve the same effect. The downside of the rotary punch is that you’re limited by the depth of the throat. On the other hand, you won’t have to worry about your downstairs neighbors complaining about your incessant pounding (sorry guys!).

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Am I missing anything? What other tips and tricks do you have on cutting inner tubes?

Next week I’m going to cover various methods of adhering the inner tubes without sewing (that’ll be the week after). And don’t forget to check back tomorrow for a craft tutorial that uses some of the techniques I’ve covered.


Want more inner tube crafts? Check out my ebook Crafting with Inner Tubes.

Crafting with Inner tubes | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

7 thoughts on “How to cut up inner tubes

  1. Pingback: Tutorial: recycled inner tube bracelet | Bicitoro: bikes and crafts

  2. hello,i resently bought a toy flapper duck to make some for my craft shows they sell like hot cakes.has anyone ever used the inner tubes from car tires to make the flaps on the flapper ducks.i would like your comments.

    • Hi Patty,

      That’s fun! I’ve seen those around, and they always look so adorable. I would imagine that car inner tubes would work great for something like that–the techniques I talk about in the Crafting with Inner Tubes series (of which this post is a part) should be applicable, as well.

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  5. Does anyone evr see any red inner tubes? I am looking for a couple to use in the pool for aquatic therapy. They are the only ones that they allow in the pool where I go.Iam facing a major surgery on my left shoulder and my orthopedic surgeon said that I should strengthen it with aquatic therapy.
    If you could please help me out, I’de really appreciate it!
    Thanks so much,
    Earl Godleske

    • HI, I am sorry, I forgot to leave my email address:midnight2263@gmail.com If anyone has any swim caps or bathing caps like the older ones with straps, please keep me in mind,I am happy to use older caps for aquatic therapy and give them a second chance, help keep them out of the landfill too!
      Thanks so much for your kind help!!
      Earl Godleske
      midnight2263@gmail.com

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