Cork roadbed - shaping shoulders question

Question x posted to uk.models.rail and rec.models.railroad
I am making an HO American outline model. Having read up on various ways
of making roadbed I am now experimenting with cork.
I have purchased some cork tiles from B&Q (Home Depot on the US) I have managed to get a semi 'production line', using a paper trimmer, to make strips 20mm (just over 3/8") wide. This approx. half the width required for a single road and is what I've seen suggested [1]
The problem I now have is how to make some sort of 'production line' to make the shoulders (1 side of each strip) to roughly 45 degrees so that I do not use too much ballast.
I have considered trying to lay the cork first them shape it, but I know from previous experience it will always be in most difficult places to reach and so would like to do as much 'on the bench' as possible beforehand.
I have considered (but not yet tried) using my bench grinder and running each strip *lightly* down the smoothest side but don't know whether this would clog up the grinder too much or would cause the cork to burn too easily (I did say lightly!!)
Does anyone else have any suggestions?
[1] 2 x 20 mm strip have the advantage that you can just draw a centre line, lay one alongside it, then lay the second to that. It is also easier to bend than anything thicker would be.
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Mike Hughes
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On Mon, 1 May 2006 21:48:09 +0100, Mike Hughes

You should be able to make alternate cuts with your knife held at 45 degrees when cutting the strips. Then turn half the strips over. For strips already made you can cut the 45 degree bevel in one edge with a sharp knife. Its not difficult to do this against a steel rule. Keith
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If you cut the strips at a 45 degree angle like the ones that Atlas and others sell, you'll have the desired slopes when you pull the two pieces apart and lay them with the vertical sides against each other. The nice thing about this method is that you don't waste any of the cork either!
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On Mon, 1 May 2006 21:48:09 +0100, Mike Hughes

Have you investigated using a "mat cutter"? This is a handy little tool that picture framers use to cut the 45 degree bevel on picture mats.
YMMV, fl@liner
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One suggestion I remember seeing from an article in MR (I think) many years ago, was to first cut the cork into 50mm strips. Then there was a design for a little gizmo that held a razor blade at 45 deg and cut it in half lengthways when the 50 mm cork strips were pushed through. The two halves were then laid down the centre linne of your track drawing, with each side having its own 45 deg slope thanks to Mr Razorblade.
I dont have the article, maybe someone can help, but IIRC it was quite simple and thinking about it, there is no reason why it shouldnt be esy to make.
Steve Magee Newcastle NSW Aust
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Mike Hughes wrote:

Try a cutter designed for making mounts in picture framing. These cut fairly thick card at 45 degrees so may work with cork.
MBQ
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Could you use a pizza cutter on a suitable 45 deg frame?????

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I asked myself this series of questions also. Came down to 'do I really need a 45 degree slope?" So I gave it a test try with 90 degree vs 45 degree slopes and put some ballast down. When I was done, you couldn't tell the difference. Well, ok if you looked REAL CLOSE you could see that the stone ballast had 'depth' on the 90 degree cuts, whilst you could see 'cork' on the 45 degree cuts. Do I think that it would make the slightest difference from 2 feet away -> NOT.
I suspect that if you wanted to hide the cork as above, you probably would put down more ballast and it could be that I didn't put done enough in the first place. Your mileage may vary.
Try both and see what you like and which would be easier for your style of modeling!
later
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ctclibby spake thus:

Alternatively, you could just cut the edges square, then run a bead of caulk or something in the corner to create a 45 "fillet".
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in article 4457e73f$0$3699$ snipped-for-privacy@news.adtechcomputers.com, David Nebenzahl at snipped-for-privacy@but.us.chickens wrote on 5/2/06 4:14 PM:

I guess it may save some money, but all these suggestions seem to be a lot of work instead of just buying cork roadbed all beveled and the right size from Midwest products or foam roadbed from Woodland Scenics. Maybe I'm missing something but given the cost of a single good locomotive, the cost of prefabricated roadbed is small.
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I'm based in the UK and it's not easy to get over here or I would have considered it :-))
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Mike Hughes
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in article CBO$jOB+ snipped-for-privacy@mikehughes.demon.co.uk, Mike Hughes at snipped-for-privacy@mikehughes.demon.co.uk wrote on 5/2/06 9:01 PM:

See I was missing something: your location. Places like Walther's charge $5 + 15 to 20% of the item cost to ship internationally. There must be some UK or EU based internet store from which you can purchase items and have it shipped more reasonably.
Have fun beveling!
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Ed Oates
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Edward A. Oates wrote:

Carrs do sliced cork (2 strips per track) with the angle already done for you.
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Hmmmm, haven't put down any cork lately have ya? I am looking at 300 to 400 feet and 25.00 for 10 3 foot sections from Midwest I could buy a few of good loco's. Cork in sheets seems to be the cheapest and easiest to get. Sheet cork is easy to setup a jig for cutting. I have looked into 'close cell foam' and it seems cheaper than cork but I haven't gone down that road yet. Note that NONE of the above includes shipping or driving.
todh
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Great idea. Hadn't thought of that one!
Will also experiment with 90 degree and add extra ballast. As I'm using cork tiles it should give a lot more depth than 'model' cork thickness.
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Thanks for your feedback here's the results of experiments so far.
I've tried the bench grinder using some of my first (less successful) 'production line' strips of cork
Tried 'fine' end first: did not seem to make much impression with light pressure, pushed harder then it dug into the cork. After a few more passes worked out the pressure required and how fast to move along the edge.
Tried 'coarse' grinding wheel: Better and more easily controlled results with this, again once correct pressure has been established (by feel)
Both wheels give quite a lot of dust so I'll probably have to fit an extraction device of some sort (vacuum cleaner taped to bottom of grinding wheel table) and wear a mask. The other problem is that the lead in and exit from the strips of cork is not as even as the rest of the length, possibly due to position of hands holding cork. Maybe I can rig up some sort of jig to overcome this (and give correct angle).
Overall thoughts are that this could become a method of producing the strips at home as it gives me time with the 'domestic authority' when I'm cutting the cork into 20 mm strips (we both watch TV at the same time!) and it does give a smooth finish to the cork. Downside is that there is some time to be taken in learning the skills to get right pressure. Also there is a time/mess side to getting the bevel right.
In the meantime I'm considering trying some other methods so if anyone has any further suggestions feel free to tell me.
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Mike Hughes
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On Wed, 3 May 2006 20:51:37 +0100, Mike Hughes

Since you're experimenting with a bench grinder, have you thought about trying a wire wheel? If you use a fence or backstop to hold the cork in position, you should be able to get consistent results. Downside is probably even more dust generated...
fl@liner
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wrote:

You could do this on a bandsaw easily. And a million other things. It's an invaluable tool. A three-wheel one would do fine, and they aren't very expensive.
Dale
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Hi Mike,
I'm coming in very late on this, but my suggestion would be to cut a 45 deg groove in a piece of MDF board and hot-glue a knife blade into it, and glue a strip of timber the width of your required trackbed away from it, and then push the cork across this - provided the cork is rigid enough of course?
This would (in two passes) cut to width and profile in one go.
Just a thought!
Ian.
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snipped-for-privacy@uknn.com says...

Good idea, but the trick is to measure a vertical the thickness of the cork to the blade. Then measure half the width of the cork stock and put a guide either side of the blade. Then with one cut you have the two halves necessary to lay the roadbed with no waste. It also lays, glues and bends better since the vertical sides can be precisely placed along a drawn center line on the subroadbed.
Bob
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