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Old 08-17-08, 11:45 PM   #1
Tacfarinas
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how to cut cable housings clean

Sorry if this is basic. But I've been having trouble cutting brake cable housings cleanly; at least half the time the housing is sort of mashed at the end where I've made the cut, and I have to either push hard on the cable to make it go through, or (sometimes) I stick a nail in to open things up.

I'm using a brand new Park Tools cable / cable housing cutter. I've tried doing it fast, and I've tried it slow, and it doesn't seem to make any difference. Any suggestions?

Thanks...
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Old 08-18-08, 12:39 AM   #2
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On brake housing I use the park cutter then follow that with some cleanup with a flat file and then a nail to make sure the inner lining is opened up. Some people use with a rotary tool (dremel) with a cutoff wheel. I try to cut at 90 deg but this never seems to happen cleanly with the spiral steel housing so the file is nice to clean up with.
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Old 08-18-08, 12:40 AM   #3
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Sorry if this is basic. But I've been having trouble cutting brake cable housings cleanly; at least half the time the housing is sort of mashed at the end where I've made the cut, and I have to either push hard on the cable to make it go through, or (sometimes) I stick a nail in to open things up.

I'm using a brand new Park Tools cable / cable housing cutter. I've tried doing it fast, and I've tried it slow, and it doesn't seem to make any difference. Any suggestions?

Thanks...
I haven't tried it but I recently read that a Dremel tool does a good job.
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Old 08-18-08, 06:01 AM   #4
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I haven't tried it but I recently read that a Dremel tool does a good job.
Dremel is the ONLY way to go. Plus, if you don't already have one, it's a great opportunity to buy a new tool!
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Old 08-18-08, 06:12 AM   #5
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Dremel does a fantastic job at cutting cables. On my first try, it wasn't perfect. So, thereafter, I just put a small piece of black tape around the cable to be cut and I got excellent cuts from the Dremel.
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Old 08-18-08, 06:17 AM   #6
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One trick to using a cable cutter for brake housing is to be sure the upper jaw is positioned to slip between the coils of the reinforcing wire. That way you avoid crushing it as you cut. Then use a flat file to smooth up any small burrs and a big needle or small nail to round out the liner.

Actually, I find a pair of quality side-cutter pliers works better than specific cable cutters for brake housing. The purpose-built cable cutters are far better for shift housing and all inner wires.

I've tried a Dremel too and find the cutting heat tends to melt the outer cover so you have to work slowly.

Last edited by HillRider; 08-18-08 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 08-18-08, 06:35 AM   #7
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I put a piece of old, discarded cable inside the housing, then cut through both the housing and cable. The cable prevents crushing well enough.

--J
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Old 08-18-08, 06:40 AM   #8
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Brake housing, side cutters then look at the end to make sure you didn't bend the wire over so it interferes with the hole. If you did, just nip off a piece till it is clean.

Der cable housing, dremel.
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Old 08-18-08, 04:25 PM   #9
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I had the same trouble with the Park Tool. No matter how you position it you often get a partially deformed housing that has to be re-formed - and you almost always have file work to do. The Dremel with cut-off wheel works very well, the high rpm cutter buzzes through the housing more cleanly, without deformation. I cut cable housing by resting it on a block of wood.

If you still have trouble, try using a soft copper or aluminum rod or wire as an inner mandrel like our friend in Helsinki, then bring the Dremel down straight through the whole enchilada.

Last edited by Deserted; 08-18-08 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 08-18-08, 04:38 PM   #10
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Any sharp cutter followed by a touch to the old grinder.
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Old 08-18-08, 05:04 PM   #11
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I've tried a Dremel too and find the cutting heat tends to melt the outer cover so you have to work slowly.
Sounds like your running the tool too slow. The longer it takes; the more it allows heat to build up. Run your tool as fast as you can safely use it and cut it quickly. Be sure you're using a cutting disk too, and not a grinding stone.
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Old 08-18-08, 05:13 PM   #12
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Sounds like your running the tool too slow. The longer it takes; the more it allows heat to build up. Run your tool as fast as you can safely use it and cut it quickly. Be sure you're using a cutting disk too, and not a grinding stone.
My Dremel is a single speed so I have no choice. I did use a cut-off wheel, both the brittle very thin type and the thicker, more durable fiber reinforced ones. Both wanted to melt the housing cover unless I fed it really slowly.
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Old 08-18-08, 06:51 PM   #13
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I just use a pair of side-cut pliers and to smooth it down, use a grinder, electric sander or tape a piece of sandpaper to your bench and rub the cable across until flat. As previous posters mentioned, Dremels or any rotor-like device with sanding capabilities works great.
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Old 08-18-08, 07:13 PM   #14
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My advice is pretty basic ... I get clean cuts reliably by just making sure I do a strong and fast cut. Don't be afraid to use two hands. Squeeze those cutters fast and as strong as you can. If you dillydally about the cut, you are almost guaranteed a lousy cut. Think ninja/samurai ;-)))) Clean up brake housing with a grinder. If you need to clean up shift housing, you are doing something really wrong.
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Old 08-18-08, 09:36 PM   #15
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anything wrong with a good, stout pair of general cable cutters used briskly as described above. I've got a huge (like, 24") set for car repair, though I've been meaning to pick up a smaller set for bike work anyway.
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Old 08-18-08, 10:00 PM   #16
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I put a piece of old, discarded cable inside the housing, then cut through both the housing and cable. The cable prevents crushing well enough.

--J
+1. Very easy procedure, works every time.
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Old 08-18-08, 10:12 PM   #17
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Just make the cut quick, and then trim off any misshapen metal by angling the cutters to just cut off the part thats deformed... so:

1) Cut to length

2) Use the same cutters to do some detailed clean up to make sure theres no bent coil protruding.

If you have a bench grinder, thats a plus. You can put the housing to the grinder and get a perfect, 90 degree, perfectly filed end. If you don't have a grinder, don't waste your time with dremels and files. The snip and cleanup method works just fine. In this department, perfectionism probably won't pay off with improved function.
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Old 08-18-08, 10:33 PM   #18
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Sorry if this is basic. But I've been having trouble cutting brake cable housings cleanly; at least half the time the housing is sort of mashed at the end where I've made the cut, and I have to either push hard on the cable to make it go through, or (sometimes) I stick a nail in to open things up.

I'm using a brand new Park Tools cable / cable housing cutter. I've tried doing it fast, and I've tried it slow, and it doesn't seem to make any difference. Any suggestions?

Thanks...
I used a dremel tool to cut the cable housing (Black and Decker Wizard) using a cutting disc. Then I used the disc to smooth out and level the end. Finally, I used a seal pick to open up the plastic inner housing.

- djmod
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Old 08-18-08, 10:42 PM   #19
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If I'm making alot of cuts, I'll put an abrasive blade on my mitre saw. Ice pick to clean up end.
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Old 08-18-08, 10:47 PM   #20
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I used a dremel tool to cut the cable housing (Black and Decker Wizard) using a cutting disc. Then I used the disc to smooth out and level the end. Finally, I used a seal pick to open up the plastic inner housing.
Holly crap. I dunn think the OP is looking to do THIS MUCH work. He's got what is, a specialty tool for the job, so he was expecting one-tool, one cut (yeah right).
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Old 08-18-08, 10:51 PM   #21
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Wow, ya'll are really making me want to get myself a Dremel...I had one as a kid, but my older sister eventually ran off with it to college, and I never saw it again.

For me, diagonal pliers and a file do the job, albeit slowly. I'd agree that one only gets a good housing cut about half the time with pliers; when the housing gets messed up, move inward 1/8" and try again. I almost always get a good cut in 2-3 tries. When the housing has a reasonably good cut, I use a file and mill the face of the housing down until it's really flat and round and perpendicular to the cable axis.

Regardless of the method, my experience is that it pays to be psycho about getting the housings just right. An extra 10 minutes here gives your brakes an action as precise and solid as a bank vault.
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Old 08-18-08, 11:35 PM   #22
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I've found that a waterjet gives the cleanest and most consistent cuts. A jig at work really helps with setting the length.
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Old 08-19-08, 12:21 AM   #23
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I've found that a waterjet gives the cleanest and most consistent cuts. A jig at work really helps with setting the length.
Yeah-yeah, but my argon laser cuts faster then your water jet.
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Old 08-19-08, 01:13 AM   #24
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I use the Park cable cutter as well. I use a small screw driver to open it back up and widen the opening, use the cutter again to trim the edges so it's flat, then file it a little. To me, the trimming part is important for the brake cables to get the surface smooth. As for the derailleur cable, I use the crimping part of the cutter gently to make the cable circular again.
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Old 08-19-08, 11:29 AM   #25
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Does the park tool have a little gizmo on the side with a pin.....just for opening up the mashed housing? My cable cutter does....forget the brand...got it at Performance.
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