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Punch perfect plastic washers

To keep toy wheels spinning smoothly, I like to insert plastic washers between them and the toy’s body. But making the washers can be tricky, particularly centering the washers’ inside holes. Here’s an inexpensive and simple jig for punching out perfect plastic washers. You’ll need two hollow punches (like those used in leatherworking): one that matches the outside diameter of the washer and another to match the diameter of the center hole. Ideally, these also will match (or be slightly smaller than) commonly available dowel diameters.

To make the punch guide shown at left, sand one end of the larger-diameter dowel as necessary until an inch of the dowel slides easily in and out of the large punch without being sloppy. Then, center in the end of the guide a 1⁄4"-deep hole the same size as the smaller dowel using a dowel drilling jig (#40935, 800-279-4441, rockler.com). Cut a 12 " length of the small dowel and glue it into the hole. Then cut the large dowel to about 34 " long and set it aside. Now, fashion an “anvil” from a scrap of hardwood. Drill a hole in the scrapwood anvil that fits the small dowel.

To make washers, use the smaller punch and a mallet to poke a hole in the washer blank. (I like to use lids from butter or cottage-cheese tubs.) Insert the smaller end of the punch guide through the hole you just made and into the recess in the anvil. Finally, slip the large hollow punch over the large end of the punch guide and give it a tap with a mallet to cut the outside diameter of the washer.
—Melvin Rhodes, Jackson, Mo.

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