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'Track Cutters vs Dremmel Tool"

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  • Member since
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'Track Cutters vs Dremmel Tool"
Posted by TrainsRMe1 on Thursday, February 22, 2024 2:56 PM

Hey everyone,                                                                                                        I would like an opinion on this subject, would it be advisable to use good track cutters to make a good cut on your liftout bridge approach or is it best to just use a dremmel tool,?Confused                                                                                                       Thanks N' Take CareCool                                                                                          Trainsrme1   

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Posted by snjroy on Thursday, February 22, 2024 3:01 PM

I prefer to use a Xuron track cutter, and finish the job with a file. I will use a dremel to cut and remove a piece of track already installed on the layout, with safety glasses of course Cool.

Simon

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Posted by kasskaboose on Thursday, February 22, 2024 3:14 PM

Always used a track cutter until my mentor got me a dremmel.  The former is what I'm used to but the dremmel has more versatility.  If you got the cutter, use it.

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Posted by TrainsRMe1 on Thursday, February 22, 2024 3:37 PM

Hi Kasskaboose,                                                                                                        I have two of them, thanks for the info, I feel now, I'm ahead of the game, tell me one of my pairs has a jagged blade is there a way to sharpen it? 

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Posted by PC101 on Thursday, February 22, 2024 8:01 PM

TrainsRMe1

Hi Kasskaboose,                                                                                                        I have two of them, thanks for the info, I feel now, I'm ahead of the game, tell me one of my pairs has a jagged blade is there a way to sharpen it? 

I tried to dress and true up the cutting blades one time, but now I just use them for stripping insulation from fine wire.

I can add that I too use a Xuron rail cutter or an xacto saw with a track cutting jig. I have never used a cutoff wheel to cut rail while laying it.

Never use rail/track cutters on HARDEN WIRE/MUSIC WIRE. Use only cutters made for HARDEN/MUSIC WIRE.

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, February 22, 2024 8:10 PM

I use the Xuron track cutter.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by wrench567 on Thursday, February 22, 2024 9:13 PM

 I'm with Rich. Clean cut every time. If you ever grenaded a cut off wheel, then you'll know. During my working years, I used cutoff wheels all the time. Broke many of them and safety glasses would be very minimal protection. Our welder had a helmet that took a disc through it and gave him 70 stitches in his cheek to his ear. Just don't take them lightly. Treat them with utmost respect.

    Pete.

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Posted by dbduck on Friday, February 23, 2024 1:06 AM

I too use a dremel With the right angle attachment so that I can get the cutting disc perpendicular to the rail

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Posted by FRRYKid on Friday, February 23, 2024 2:53 AM

I am on the Dremel tool side. (Actually have two - one corded one cordless) Making cutting track a lot easier.

"The only stupid question is the unasked question."
Brain waves can power an electric train. RealFact #832 from Snapple.
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Posted by rrebell on Friday, February 23, 2024 6:46 AM

Only time I use a Dremel is if the track is already laid which is what you might want to do on a lift out bridge.

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Posted by AEP528 on Friday, February 23, 2024 7:20 AM

rrebell

Only time I use a Dremel is if the track is already laid which is what you might want to do on a lift out bridge.

 

Exactly. Use the Xuron track cutter unless gaps need to be cut in already laid tracks.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, February 23, 2024 10:22 AM

In my opinion, you use a Xuron tool to crop rail ends to length, ideally before the track is laid in place so you're sure the cut is square both horizontally and vertically.

Only one side of a Xuron cut is clean and parallel.  The other is wretchedly squashed, and would have to be filed smooth; the resulting equivalent of a 'kerf' would be indeterminately wide (and probably requiring a piece with proper ends to be spliced in somewhere).  This is true of any similar design of end- or side-cutting plier or cutter; it is possible to design for minimum distortion, but the edges of the tool then become very thin and, at the required hardness, easily damaged.

The use of a Dremel (as opposed to something of smaller diameter like a Foredom or dental handpiece) is restricted by the diameter of the cutter -- it must be of the same or greater diameter as the body of the tool if the cut in the rail is to be vertically parallel.  I have seen people 'cheat' for cutouts by angling the tool as they make the cuts, so there are bevels at both ends of the takeout and the railhead is longer than the foot.  If you're using the usual Dremel cutoff-style wheel for thinnest possible kerf, the wheels are thin and extremely brittle and even the slightest twist or cock while the wheel is in the kerf will break or disintegrate it, so USE EYE AND HAND PROTECTION at least as religiously as you would with a Xuron -- I use a face shield whenever I have to use one of those things.  You can also now find larger-diameter diamond-loaded wheels cheap; the only issue is that these often have diamonds on their sides as well as edges so the kerf is wider and a bit more ragged than a fine-grit cemented disk.

The thing I used when lateral space permitted was a razor saw with very fine hardened teeth with zero 'set'.  You can make a guide that holds the blade upright and square or at a fixed angle, like a bottomless miter box, if your hand shakes.  Very little dressing of the joint edges will likely be needed with that method.

 

Incidentally, there is no real way to 'sharpen' a Xuron-style tool that has been used to attempt to cut too-hard material.  Once that edge is deformed or has divots, you can polish the 'straight' face, but you won't be cutting where the damage is.  You do NOT sharpen the beveled faces, ever, as that opens the gap between the jaws -- you'd have to take the pliers apart and remachine the joint to get the new edges to register again.  In theory, you could braze new hard faces or even carbide after grinding down the jaws... but even if you have the necessary level of skill, the cost would be many times 'replacement value'...

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, February 23, 2024 12:50 PM

I use the Xuron to cut the track but to get the rail the precise length I need to splice in, I mark it with a hobby knife and cut it with a Dremel cut-off disc.  The cut is a lot cleaner and needs very little dressing with a file.  I've been doing this for nearly 30 years and still prefer this method after laying track on 3 layouts and have had to cut a lot of track.

I do all my Dremel cuts before the track goes down.  There is an elbow attachment you can get for Dremels to get much closer if you need to cut already laid track.  But so far, I haven't needed to do that.

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, February 23, 2024 12:52 PM

It's a Xuron cutter for me.  I only have a single Dremel, and that won't give me a square cut on already laid track.

The Xuron is restricted to track.  It doesn’t get used to cut wire or nails.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Friday, February 23, 2024 5:32 PM

I use a Dremel with a flexible shaft attachment.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by maxman on Friday, February 23, 2024 6:37 PM

IRONROOSTER

I use a Dremel with a flexible shaft attachment.

Paul

 

Yes, that's what I do.  I also use the thicker cutoff wheels.  Makes the cutting process much more forgiving. 

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Posted by Bigjim7 on Sunday, February 25, 2024 7:46 AM

I use the Dremel diamond wheel' one wheel will last years. Don't use those cheap cutoff wheels that expload. I get perfect cut's with the Dremel. So easy.

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Posted by BATMAN on Sunday, February 25, 2024 2:01 PM

I use the Xuron unless the track is down and I need a gap, then I use the Dremal with or without the flex shaft.

One trick I was shown is if a Dremal cut gap is going to stand out in a photo, use hot glue (glue gun) in the gap and file to contour and then paint to match. It works great and makes it invisible.

Brent

"All of the world's problems are the result of the difference between how we think and how the world works."

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, February 25, 2024 4:26 PM

BATMAN
One trick I was shown is if a Dremal cut gap is going to stand out in a photo, use hot glue (glue gun) in the gap and file to contour and then paint to match. It works great and makes it invisible.

'Other' methods are to file a section of sheet styrene to go in the gap or make old-school 'body putty' out of styrene sprues softened with solvent.  (Likewise scraped and filed to shape and then painted to match the web.) 

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, February 26, 2024 11:19 AM

I have used Xuron rail cutters and they worked okay, but I have found that using a coping saw with a fine metal blade leaves the cuts very clean to the point where almost no dressing is required, and it doesn't take very long.

Here is an example of rail gaps being cut with a coping saw before being dressed:

Obviously the coping saw can't be used when the track is already installed. For that, I will use a diamond metal cutoff disc large enough to allow the Dremel to be held parallel to the rails.

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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