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