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Old 09-15-10, 11:44 AM   #1
ClarkinHawaii 
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Finishing brake cable housing ends?

OK, I cut a section of brake cable housing with my Park cable cutter and don't you know there's always that sharp little tab--the cut end of the internal steel spiral.

It seems like I have two choices--

#1 just crimp that little tab out of the way the best I can which is never very good and always leaves a protrusion for the inner cable to rub against. A regular file is a joke. When you get down to it, I don't think this imperfection is going to really effect anything. But I'm a perfectionist.

#2 purchase some kind of rotary grinder that I can use on that sharp little tab. Either an attachment for my big and powerful Makita handheld drill, or something special like a Dremel.

I have wracked my brain trying to think of some other use for such an item; and I come up dry. Which means that I'm not interested in spending much for something that's going to sit in a drawer. Although if i had the tool in hand, perhaps other uses will materialize.

What do you think?
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Old 09-15-10, 11:46 AM   #2
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A dremel tool does wonders on cleaning up cable ends.
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Old 09-15-10, 11:46 AM   #3
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File it flat.

Or use a grinder of one kind or another.

For next time, get a dremel cut-off wheel...
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Old 09-15-10, 12:16 PM   #4
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I've found I can usually trim it off using a pair of electrical side cutters or "diagonals" as they are sometimes called called They are usually for cutting wire and a good heavy duty pair will work pretty well. I've used a bench grinder before but over done it causing the steel to turn blue. Considering the time it takes the grinder set up and ready, the side cutters are easier.
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Old 09-15-10, 12:18 PM   #5
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I use my dremel for all sorts of things. Cut off wheel, small buffing wheels, different sorts of grinding attachements, detail sanding with sanding drums, I have rotary bits for it and have used it to make various freeform cuts in wood. It is indeed excellent for cutting cable housing with a cut off wheel. I have fabricated parts out of plastic with it, one such thing was taking on old clamp on bar mount and modifying it to hold my P7 flashlight. Once you have the dremel, you will find uses for it galore. I even have engraving tips for it that I can use to etch my name or my kids names into metal and plastic toys, etc., like flashlights for example when the boys go to camp. Name cannot get washed off.

Also recently used the dremel and a cut off wheel to modify the silverware holder for my wife to make it better fit the drawer she wanted it in.
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Old 09-15-10, 12:21 PM   #6
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A regular file is a joke.
Why? I've never had trouble and it never takes any time at all to get a flat square face on the housing. If the cut on the file is too rough it won't work. If you let your files clank around in a toolbox and on concrete or whatever they'll dull quickly and it won't work.
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Old 09-15-10, 01:05 PM   #7
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In the shop the bench grinder flattens the spiral end of housing in a second or 2.

A sharp file takes a minute or so .. push a file don't pull it back and forth ,
it's not sandpaper

As far as the cable .. Solder the end before cutting...
a welding equipment shop has a low temperature[400F] Silver solder kit
(with liquid flux)
to solder clean stainless cables, then you can file the end of them,
and remove them, easily after that .

other than that, crimp the cap over the end, as usual, to prevent fraying in use..

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-15-10 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 09-15-10, 01:05 PM   #8
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Why? I've never had trouble and it never takes any time at all to get a flat square face on the housing. If the cut on the file is too rough it won't work. If you let your files clank around in a toolbox and on concrete or whatever they'll dull quickly and it won't work.
OK, you've got me here--the only files I've tried have been coarse cut (for sharpening garden tools)--so it's too rough and it won't work . . .

Dremel sounds like fun, perhaps it would be worthwhile . . .
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Old 09-15-10, 01:19 PM   #9
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File's teeth are made in a variety of cuts, the teeth of a foot+ long one are wider apart, than one that's 6" long..
single cut 'mill bastard' file can make a nice smooth surface, ..
file with the coil of the Housing , not against it , and it will go better.
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Old 09-15-10, 01:33 PM   #10
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you really solder all your ends? even if you crimp them?
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Old 09-15-10, 01:34 PM   #11
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Instead of
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Old 09-15-10, 01:45 PM   #12
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ah, I see. I'm an idjit.
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Old 09-15-10, 04:37 PM   #13
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If you get a single cut "mill smooth" file it'll do a nice job on the housing ends. Supporting the housing so it doesn't flex is also a big part of making the file work for this job. A little notch cut into the end of the bench so you can hold the housing in the notch with the cut end sticking just a milimeter or two above the surface will greatly aid in supporting the housing while you push the file over the end to dress it down so it's nice and flat.

Although if you do much bolt trimming and tool sharpening and have the room for it a cheap bench grinder with 5 or 6 inch wheels is an extremely useful tool to have.
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Old 09-15-10, 05:51 PM   #14
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One of the happiest days of my life was when I got my first bench grinder.
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Old 09-15-10, 06:07 PM   #15
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One of the happiest days of my life was when I got my first bench grinder.
I think that it's safe to say that any of us that enjoy tinkering in the shop would never regret buying any number of the more basic big ticket items once you've had them for a while and come to think of them as a lifetime investment towards quality tinkering. And frankly as RG suggests a bench grinder is likely second in usefulness for our sort of tinkering ONLY to a really good quality and solid bench vise.
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Old 09-15-10, 08:39 PM   #16
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I have had good luck with just the Park cable cutter. After I cut the housing to length, I 'nip' off the sharp end, and ALWAYS use ferules on my housings. A little pointed tool to clear the lining, and it's ready to go (before puting on the ferule).
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Old 09-15-10, 10:06 PM   #17
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Thanks for all the good views, Guys--

Since the Dremel sounds interesting, I went looking on Amazon; and I am thoroughly intimidated by all the different models and attachments. Would anybody care to make a recommendation? It will be used (of course) for the cable housings, and then anything else that comes along (probably not much).

It looks like the kind of deal where you could take a semester-long course, just learning enough about the Dremels to make an intelligent choice . . .
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Old 09-16-10, 08:45 AM   #18
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My Dremel finally wore out last year. I replaced it with an inexpensive ROTARY TOOL from Harbor Freight. So far I have been satisfied. Whatever way you go, I would recommend a tool with variable speeds.

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Old 09-16-10, 10:20 AM   #19
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I've found I can get ends pretty flat without grinding with this method: Barely pinch the plastic casing of the housing with the cutter, then rotate the cutter around a few times while applying slight pressure until the cutter slices through the casing, then snip. This produces a cleaner cut than just cutting through in one motion, for me.
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Old 09-16-10, 10:58 AM   #20
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I have had good luck with just the Park cable cutter. After I cut the housing to length, I 'nip' off the sharp end, and ALWAYS use ferules on my housings. A little pointed tool to clear the lining, and it's ready to go (before puting on the ferule).
+1.......... (just nip it)
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Old 09-16-10, 11:25 AM   #21
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On using a Dremel or any other rotory grinding tool;
  • Many or most of them have variable speed on the tool. But when was the last time you saw a dentist or oral hygeinist operate a speed control on the handpiece? Do yourself a favour that is just as important as buying the rotory grinder in the first place and get a foot operated speed control. Dremel makes a couple of these.
  • I've got a genuine Dremel and I've got a cheapie clone from offshore. The Dremel I've got is well over 25 years old and other than having to add a single small drop of oil onto the bearing shields to allow it to wick down into the bearings once ever decade it has ran like a swiss watch. In that same more than 25 years of use I have not even had to change the brushes. And this is depite the tool being used a LOT for a home tool since I've got other hobbies that make a lot more use of it than bicycles. I've used Dremels at work that were more than 40 years old and they were still going strong as well.
  • The offshore made clone was 1/2 the price and came with 300 bits and pieces. It doesn't run as smoothly but it's OK for my secondary shop area for when I need something and saves me running back and forth. If you go for the offshore clone and treat it well and don't jam it into things which loads it down and makes then run hot and burn out then likely they'll last for a long time. Long as the Dremel? I guess that depends on you.
  • Go with the AC cord version whatever brand you buy. They are more powerful than the battery ones, lighter and will be ready to go when you need them. The corded versions wil also plug into the foot control. Did I mention how important the foot control is to Dremel'ing happiness? I did? Good, pay attention to that part and you'll get more out of any hand rotory tool. Meanwhile on a tool that is only used seldom the batteries will run down from disuse and so they'll often need to be charged before you can even use the tool for your job. But a corded version is ready to go as soon as it's plugged in. If you MUST buy a battery hand tool despite all this then buy Dremel, Ryobi or one of the other bigger names that will be around for a few years to come. Unless you buy a big name there's a very likely chance that replacement packs won't be available any longer when you need them. And ANY of the battery tools will only get about 3 to 4 years out of a pack before it won't hold a charge properly. So be it Dremel or offshore for long term life long happiness go with the cord.
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Old 09-16-10, 11:45 AM   #22
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I use a variable speed dremel and I have a bench top mount that will hold it stationary and a flexible handpiece attachment. I just hang the tool up by the built in hanger on the end when using the handpiece and do not find it hard to reach up and turn it to a speed I need.

I have slowly built up my attachments to a point that is almost silly, but in my defense, I inherited a LOT of Dremel stuff from my father in law.

Having used a variable speed versus a dremel with fixed speeds, definitely go variable. Maybe start with a kit that has the tool, some attachments and a case and go from there. The 300 Series is closest to what I have.
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 09-16-10, 01:57 PM   #23
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Wow--lots of good info!

Immediate solution:
I am amazed to report that if I cut the cable housing with ordinary wire cutters, instead of the Park cable cutters, I get a nice clean usable end with no further work required. Tried to post image, but site is F'd up and won't allow (tried different images multiple times). I'm talking about the wire cutters that are shaped like pliers but have opposing nippers instead of clenchers.
Of course the Park cable cutters are needed for the interior cable.

Meanwhile, I can learn more about Dremels at my leisure, maybe buy in future. But not rush in half-baked just to get these half-assembled bikes out of my kitchen!

Many thanks to all!!
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Old 09-16-10, 02:18 PM   #24
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A Dremel is an extremely useful tool but a relatively smooth cut flat file does the same job and is a lot cheaper, even a good file. For the number of time you will do this job in a year, a file isn't that time consuming.
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Old 09-16-10, 02:46 PM   #25
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A Dremel is an extremely useful tool but a relatively smooth cut flat file does the same job and is a lot cheaper, even a good file. For the number of time you will do this job in a year, a file isn't that time consuming.
I'm going to pick one up and try it if, after I cogitate awhile, I decide a dremel is not justified. Of course I just happen to have a dremel-shaped empty space in my "almost never used" drawer next to my spoke tension gauge, dishing gauge, truing stand, crown race setting tool and star nut setting tool.
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