Today I want to talk about an apparently little known but inherently useful tool that should be in every game prototyper’s tool kit – the Wad Punch.
Often utilised in the fine art of gasket making, a wad punch, when struck with a hammer or mallet creates a circular hole of desired size in rubber, cardboard, thin MDF or any other semi soft material one happens to be working with. But whereas
gasket makers are more interested in the hole, us game prototypers are much more interested in the waste material, in this case a perfect circle that comes easing out of the flute of the tool as one punches more and more holes in the chosen material. For the outlay of a few dollars these things make creating discs and chits a breeze and yield really pleasing results in terms of next level prototypes. Anecdotally, it would appear that these tools are not so widely known about so I thought I’d write a little description of how I go about utilising them in my prototyping activities. I will need a wad punch, hammer, endgrain plinth and something to cut holes in.
I needed to manufacture some discs for our Scoffton prototype so I first created a template with 26mm diameter circles in DesignSpark Mechanical and then imported the template into Gimp. This 26mm diameter is just ever so slightly larger than the 1″ diameter of my chosen wad punch so if I’m careful about it I should be able to get really nice discs with a centred image and minimal dotted lines left around the border. The discs are designed to sit on top of the 25mm square food tokens so that ice cream and bread can be added to dishes, ensuring exceptional Value For Money is obtained from the Scoffton buffet experience. The artwork was added and then printouts on 300gsm matt paper were obtained which were then contact bonded to 1.5mm art board, treated with the rolling pin and then left under a couple of heavy books overnight
Firm but yielding material is needed as backing for use with a wad punch, I like to use a piece of end grain as it splits more readily thus maintaining the edge of the tool for a bit longer.
I use a medium weight hammer, it’s perhaps not the ideal situation as I sometimes have to give the punch a few taps before full cutting is achieved, a mash hammer (sometimes called a lump hammer) or mallet is maybe a little more efficient. It’s pretty straight forward – line up the punch where you want it, hold it perpendicular to the material and WHACK!
As you punch each piece the discs will gradually start to work their way up and out of the flute, it’s best to just let them do their thing, attempting to push them out can lead to bent pieces or torn backing material. I should state at this point that since we are discussing use of a striking tool it would be remiss of me not to make mention of eye protection, and perhaps hearing protection if operations are to be sustained.
And here are the results, nice uniform discs that make a prototype really look the business. I’ve flipped them over so you can see the back and general finish.
Although they may only be available online or in slightly more specialist tool stores wad punches are well worth the investment if you need to produce discs regularly. Some of the sets that incorporate various sizes can be pretty cheap and shoddy so I tend to avoid those and focus on purchasing good quality units in the exact sizes I am likely to need. Here in Australia they should range in price from about $9 – $40.
Go forth and get wad punching!