Trying to Make Custom Pocket Clips - Without CNC access

20 posts / 0 new
Last post
ArtieT59
ArtieT59's picture
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 6 min ago
Joined: 02/25/2020 - 17:55
Posts: 3521
Location: CT, USA
Trying to Make Custom Pocket Clips - Without CNC access

First all, thanks for stopping by this thread! i am imagining people here on blf who have machining or home shop fabricating experience may find this mildly interesting or be able to lend some help. to anyone else, this thread may be boring and pointless. sorry in advance. Im just at a loss and aggravated.

—————————-

Im trying to start making/fabricating my own “ring style” pocket clips for some of my 26650 lights, 21700 lights, etc (think fw3a deep carry clip, kr4 deep carry clip). The type of clip that attaches by removing the tailcap, placing the ring of the clip over the tail threads, and installing the tailcap to secure the clip.

I am using somewhat basic power tools (band saw, drill press, power disc/belt sander) as i don’t have a lathe, milling machine, plasma cutter, or any access to cnc enabled machines or cutters (unfortunately).

I started by drawing out the measurements onto 18 gauge plate steel from the box store (18”×24” piece of mild steel, i believe). I used a compass and drew the inner and out rings, measured the length i would need the clip to be including all of the bends for deep carry but no return (i am not looking for the clip to return like what is needed for baseball cap attachment).

Everything was going great until i started cutting the 18 gauge steel. First off removing the material for the inner diameter of the “ring”, the part of the clip that will go around the tail threads, was almost impossible. Basically i need to take out a 31 mm diameter section of 18 gauge steel with a small drill press and my largest bit is a 1/2” drill bit.. i just got no where. I have more bandsaw blades on order (3/8” 18 tpi, 1/4” 15tpi) on order as my bandsaw is new and i have never used one before and i have a 8 tpi wood cutting blade. it didnt work! Facepalm i’m pretty new to this stuff.

———————————

Does anyone have any suggestions? Is it easier to try and reach out to a machine shop? (i doubt they would help with such a small order, i will only need a few of each and all sizes will be slightly different for each light). is there some inexpensive plasma cutter i can buy or try ( i know there probably is not a cheap one!). I imagine a plasma cutter or something like that would be much more feasible for cutting the steel. I DO have a welder, a cheap harbor freight MIG Style(i think MIG? Its not TIG i know that). I want to learnt to weld so i bought one, i’ve watched a ton of videos, just havent had the time to tear into learning how to use the welder yet. Can this be used in any way? sorry if this is a stupid question.

I really want to fabricate these clips if i can myself with the tools i have.

Also, i am pretty sure i have the bending of the clip down (once i can get it efficiently cut!), because i have bent steel before with a hammer and my 6” vice. I also may buy a small steel Brake for bending them too.

I desperately need some suggestions or help, and i know there are members on here who are geniuses in their own right!

i don’t know where else to ask these basic questions, so here i am.

Thanks again.

[FLF] Five Light Friday https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78749

Check out some of my new lights (picture heavy) and quick first impressions of them here: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/77180

My Sft40 beamshots / comparison thread: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78100

The BLF GT with SFT40 (2300lm, 2700m+ @ 30 seconds!)
https://budgetlightforum.com/node/79561

Edited by: ArtieT59 on 02/01/2021 - 14:52
G0OSE
G0OSE's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Joined: 09/03/2014 - 12:34
Posts: 2362

Any machine shop will help – expect to pay about £100 per hour plus materials, would drop if ordering hundreds. I guess they are slightly hardened (which you could do yourself with a flame torch and a gallon of quenching oil) to to retain the ‘clippiness’ lol I’m not sure bends alone would suffice, at least on thinner metal.
My tip would be NEVER go in the front door of a machine shop (full price that way), always wait until you see an employee having a cigarette at breaktime and approach them Wink In our machine shop when I was young, most stuff was made for a big tin of coffee and a supply of good biscuits Silly
You would probably be better contacting a flashlight specific machine shop, but it would still be expensive.
Good luck with your search / project Thumbs Up Smile

Ozythemandias
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 5 days ago
Joined: 09/21/2016 - 08:33
Posts: 361

You want someplace with a waterjet.

 

CNCman
CNCman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 months 5 days ago
Joined: 04/07/2018 - 10:10
Posts: 1234
Location: Mississippi Gulf Coast

Now that can be quite a challenge. Wink
Some research will be necessary and experimentation likely.
I would try 20 to 22 gauge SAE 5160 in a flat sheet form.
The best way to get blanks cut out to finish in a pre-bent flat form is on a Laser cutting CNC machine. However it is not practical or cheap.
Doing it by hand with a dremel is the only cheap way I can think of, sorry for bad news. Sad
Just lay it out and cut to your lines, careful not to overheat it and soften it, then carefully bend it to shape.
.
Spring steel wire is another option and the one I would try first !! .040 to .050 diameter. Wink
.
Just trying to give you a starting point. Wink
.
https://continentalsteel.com/carbon-steel/grades/alloy-5160/
.
https://www.custompartnet.com/sheet-metal-gauge
.
https://www.thespringstore.com/standard-spring-wire-diameter-sizes.html
.
.

Chicken Drumstick
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 3 months ago
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 05:00
Posts: 2762
Location: UK

I have no idea how clips are made. Are they stamped out and then pressed to shape on a jig?

I’d also think the type of steel would be in question too. You need something that will hold its shape and spring back, rather than bend out of shape. Are they heat treated or something?

I know I have some of the screw on clips from Convoy and others (years back) and they are comparatively rubbish and bend and distort. While the clip on clips or ones like the op is describing are all very robust, hugely difficult to bend and usually snap tightly against the body of the torch.

The ‘spring wire’ sounds like a more promising home solution.

ArtieT59
ArtieT59's picture
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 6 min ago
Joined: 02/25/2020 - 17:55
Posts: 3521
Location: CT, USA

Wow, thank you all for the information and tips, great help.

G0ose – i have experimented with quenching steel for hardening, i tried my hand at making fixed blade knife blades out of some old scrap stuff 0leave springs) a year or two ago before i was into flashlights i was more into pocket knives. so i will definitely be hardening what i make, thank you for the very good tip about trying to snag an employee on break! wouldn’t of tried that.

Ozythemandius – thank you, ive heard of waterjets but did not know they were the best route. good to know in my quest for a shop.

Chicken Drumstick – i agree, it sounds like it may be the best option to start with. bend, and quench harden.

CNCman – i was hoping you would see this post and respond Thumbs Up i followed your OL build and other stuff on here, and i almsost PM’ed you about this dilemma. Thanks for the info on the spring steel wire! i just may try that, bending would be easier than cutting and bending id imagine. And, i didn’t even think about a dremel, would be tedious but would also be easier so i’m down for trying that. Also thanks for the info on the steel gauge, i also bought 20 gauge, but can get 22 gauge too. Im going to check out those links now.

CNCman – would suggest water or oil quench hardening with the steels you suggested?

I will be back as i make more attempts, just in case maybe it helps another member or probably for more advice. Thanks!

[FLF] Five Light Friday https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78749

Check out some of my new lights (picture heavy) and quick first impressions of them here: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/77180

My Sft40 beamshots / comparison thread: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78100

The BLF GT with SFT40 (2300lm, 2700m+ @ 30 seconds!)
https://budgetlightforum.com/node/79561

forsh
forsh's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 5 days ago
Joined: 01/15/2020 - 05:31
Posts: 613
Location: finland

at work we get a lot of packages for machine products ,that come on pallets

the metal straps they use to fix the box of goodies to the pallet is quite springy

given me an idea to make something clippy with these

ill give it a go and see how it works

https://www.facebook.com/groups/163189738353433/?ref=share
Join my Facebook FW3/4/1 selling and buying group guys

Lightbringer
Lightbringer's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 hours 47 min ago
Joined: 08/30/2016 - 14:12
Posts: 17125
Location: nyc

Make sure it’s a light where you can use such a clip.

If you can’t close the tailcap all the way, it may not make electrical contact, and will be “locked out” ‘til the clip is removed.

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

kiriba-ru
kiriba-ru's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 days 6 min ago
Joined: 01/17/2016 - 02:34
Posts: 2140
Location: Russia

The only thing I can suggest – get material after heat treatment (with properties you need). Spring steel is the best option.
If you will see some reasonable demand – you will have to outsource some things (at least laser cutting services). Other things you can make without any special equipment (round edges with sander or grinder, bend shapes with vices and custom dies).

kiriba-ru
kiriba-ru's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 days 6 min ago
Joined: 01/17/2016 - 02:34
Posts: 2140
Location: Russia
Robin Dobbie wrote:
Quote:
I am using somewhat basic power tools (band saw,
Quote:
my bandsaw is new and i have never used one before and i have a 8 tpi wood cutting blade.

From what I understand it’s a bad idea to use a wood bandsaw to cut metal.


I can add – using small metal handsaw to cut hardened SS, titanium or spring steel is also a bad idea.
I don’t know why anyone would should handsaw for small, hard thin strip. For 1-2 samples, use dremel or any other small die grinder.
Rusty Joe
Rusty Joe's picture
Offline
Last seen: 15 min 41 sec ago
Joined: 07/24/2011 - 00:22
Posts: 3788
Location: Houston, TX

I’d like one made for my M2X please.

ArtieT59
ArtieT59's picture
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 6 min ago
Joined: 02/25/2020 - 17:55
Posts: 3521
Location: CT, USA

forsh wrote:
at work we get a lot of packages for machine products ,that come on pallets

the metal straps they use to fix the box of goodies to the pallet is quite springy

given me an idea to make something clippy with these

ill give it a go and see how it works


Let me know how it works!

[FLF] Five Light Friday https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78749

Check out some of my new lights (picture heavy) and quick first impressions of them here: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/77180

My Sft40 beamshots / comparison thread: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78100

The BLF GT with SFT40 (2300lm, 2700m+ @ 30 seconds!)
https://budgetlightforum.com/node/79561

ArtieT59
ArtieT59's picture
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 6 min ago
Joined: 02/25/2020 - 17:55
Posts: 3521
Location: CT, USA

Lightbringer wrote:
Make sure it’s a light where you can use such a clip.

If you can’t close the tailcap all the way, it may not make electrical contact, and will be “locked out” ‘til the clip is removed.


Yessah , and I have a solution for that Thumbs Up

[FLF] Five Light Friday https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78749

Check out some of my new lights (picture heavy) and quick first impressions of them here: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/77180

My Sft40 beamshots / comparison thread: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78100

The BLF GT with SFT40 (2300lm, 2700m+ @ 30 seconds!)
https://budgetlightforum.com/node/79561

ArtieT59
ArtieT59's picture
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 6 min ago
Joined: 02/25/2020 - 17:55
Posts: 3521
Location: CT, USA
Robin Dobbie wrote:
Quote:
I am using somewhat basic power tools (band saw,
Quote:
my bandsaw is new and i have never used one before and i have a 8 tpi wood cutting blade.

From what I understand it’s a bad idea to use a wood bandsaw to cut metal. Because of all the reasons. Inability to slow the blade down from 3200FPM to between 50-250FPM, inability to set correct blade tension without ruining wheel bearings(and possible structural issues with the frame as well), trunnion weakness, the list goes on. Not to say that you can’t do it, there’s just a lot of good reasons why it’s a bad idea. I’ve already had to fabricate some doodads on my wood bandsaw that were bent from just trying to get the proper tension. After looking at the parts diagram, the two pieces that bent were supposed to be four pieces, so there was an error at the factory or something. I can only assume what might bend if I tried to go for more tension.

I think about the following video sometimes because my experiences with cutting metal by hand, even with a dremel and angle grinder are not fun. So maybe I’ll do this at some point.


Thank you for this info, and I had concerns about using it even with a high tpi count blade. Looks like aluminum is ok, but steel isn’t. Only thing I knew about is the blade speed being too great, the other issues I appreciate you mentioning because i had no idea and don’t want to ruin the saw. That savage video you uploaded, I watched the first 20 seconds, those desalt saws are pricey! I mean they’re cheaper then buying a metal cutting bandsaw for sure though. Something to consider. Thanks!

[FLF] Five Light Friday https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78749

Check out some of my new lights (picture heavy) and quick first impressions of them here: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/77180

My Sft40 beamshots / comparison thread: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78100

The BLF GT with SFT40 (2300lm, 2700m+ @ 30 seconds!)
https://budgetlightforum.com/node/79561

ArtieT59
ArtieT59's picture
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 6 min ago
Joined: 02/25/2020 - 17:55
Posts: 3521
Location: CT, USA

Rusty Joe wrote:
I’d like one made for my M2X please.
Thumbs Up
This is what I’m talking about, there is obviously a need. Albeit maybe nit a HUGE need (why I haven’t reached out to any manufacturers yet), but a need definitely.

[FLF] Five Light Friday https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78749

Check out some of my new lights (picture heavy) and quick first impressions of them here: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/77180

My Sft40 beamshots / comparison thread: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78100

The BLF GT with SFT40 (2300lm, 2700m+ @ 30 seconds!)
https://budgetlightforum.com/node/79561

calipsoii
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 1 week ago
Joined: 03/23/2015 - 11:25
Posts: 27

Draw up a dimensioned & toleranced diagram and take it to any metal laser cutter. You’re looking at ~$100USD for materials and another ~$100-200USD for the labor. Should get you 50-100 clips. Compared to trying to produce them yourself, it’ll be the best money you ever spent.

ArtieT59
ArtieT59's picture
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 6 min ago
Joined: 02/25/2020 - 17:55
Posts: 3521
Location: CT, USA

calipsoii wrote:
Draw up a dimensioned & toleranced diagram and take it to any metal laser cutter. You’re looking at ~$100USD for materials and another ~$100-200USD for the labor. Should get you 50-100 clips. Compared to trying to produce them yourself, it’ll be the best money you ever spent.

Wow, thank you. Really, for that price it isn’t that bad. That is cheaper then buying a dewalt jobsite bandsaw lol.

My only concern is multiple sizes? If i draw up say 5 different versions (sizes) i wonder if they would charge substantially more, or if i would need to buy “X” amount (say 50-100) of each size.

This is a great suggestion though, if my attempts to make myself don’t work this may be my go-route.

[FLF] Five Light Friday https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78749

Check out some of my new lights (picture heavy) and quick first impressions of them here: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/77180

My Sft40 beamshots / comparison thread: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78100

The BLF GT with SFT40 (2300lm, 2700m+ @ 30 seconds!)
https://budgetlightforum.com/node/79561

calipsoii
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 1 week ago
Joined: 03/23/2015 - 11:25
Posts: 27

I just went through this exercise for my own clips. I can tell you that 18ga steel is not a task for a jigsaw. It took about 7 hours to produce a single hand-finished prototype clip:



It took a laser-cutter less than 1 hour to make 50 more, perfectly in tolerance and silky smooth on all sides:

Best money I ever spent.

To answer your question, they will cut whatever you ask them to. So just draw up all your designs, tell them you want 10 of each for a total of 100, and ask them to cut it all on one sheet.

CNCman
CNCman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 months 5 days ago
Joined: 04/07/2018 - 10:10
Posts: 1234
Location: Mississippi Gulf Coast

calipsoii wrote:
I just went through this exercise for my own clips. I can tell you that 18ga steel is not a task for a jigsaw. It took about 7 hours to produce a single hand-finished prototype clip:



It took a laser-cutter less than 1 hour to make 50 more, perfectly in tolerance and silky smooth on all sides:

Best money I ever spent.

To answer your question, they will cut whatever you ask them to. So just draw up all your designs, tell them you want 10 of each for a total of 100, and ask them to cut it all on one sheet.


.
I am amazed calipsoii that you also wanted clips and tackled this head on, Great Job !! Thumbs Up
Thank you for posting this for Artiet59 and all us at BLF. Big Smile Thumbs Up
.
ArtieT59
ArtieT59's picture
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 6 min ago
Joined: 02/25/2020 - 17:55
Posts: 3521
Location: CT, USA

calipsoii wrote:
I just went through this exercise for my own clips. I can tell you that 18ga steel is not a task for a jigsaw. It took about 7 hours to produce a single hand-finished prototype clip:



It took a laser-cutter less than 1 hour to make 50 more, perfectly in tolerance and silky smooth on all sides:

Best money I ever spent.

To answer your question, they will cut whatever you ask them to. So just draw up all your designs, tell them you want 10 of each for a total of 100, and ask them to cut it all on one sheet.


This is awesome! Thank
You for this info! My drawing (on metal) looks exactly like yours, circle with the straight line except my circled part was obviously larger. That’s awesome.

I will defitnely do what you’re suggest. And your right the jigsaw does not work! I couldn’t find anyway to properly clamp the material..

Thanks for the suggestion on the amount , etc. great info

[FLF] Five Light Friday https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78749

Check out some of my new lights (picture heavy) and quick first impressions of them here: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/77180

My Sft40 beamshots / comparison thread: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78100

The BLF GT with SFT40 (2300lm, 2700m+ @ 30 seconds!)
https://budgetlightforum.com/node/79561