Creating a spacing punch for Gothic edgework

A big part of making gothic edge decoration, which are typically repeating fleur-de-lis or heart motifs (or both) is punching the holes in exactly the right spot. It’s fairly easy to get the distance from the edge consistent (by using a set of dividers) but getting the parallel spacing can be much more of a challenge. Since I was spending a lot of time doing this (I’ve been working on a number of gothic gauntlets trying to prove out a pattern and a build methodology) I thought that it was time to make this easier on myself. This is a pretty simple project, and presents 2 ways of making spacing punches from drill bits. One set of punches gives me the appropriate spacing for 3/32″ holes, the second gives appropriate spacing for 1/8″ holes.

The easy way to make a spacing punch

The “easy” way is to simply cut down 2 drill bits that are a hair smaller than the diameter that you want to make parallel punch markings for, and stick them together. I did this with a pair of 5/64″ drill bits, since this will overlap my 3/32″ holes by 1/64″, just enough to make a nice “goggle” pattern which is easy to turn into a heart. I started by grinding the twist parts of the drill bits off. Below you can see this has been completed for the 5/64″ drill bits (which I use for 3/32″ punches) and 1/8″ drill bits which I needed to file down to get the right spacing for 1/8″ inch punches.

Grinding drill bits into punches

I then cleaned the tips up using a 320 grit sanding disk, since the coarse grit did not make clean punching points. When I was done, the two lengths were a tiny bit off, so I ground the excess off so they were the same length. For the 5/64″ punches I could just tape these together (once grinding to length) but the 1/8″ punches would be too far apart, so I filed them in a vice so that they would fit snugly.

Different length punches Punches ground to length

As you can see from my test piece, I overfiled, so I taped them together with one of the flat sides “out” and this gave me the right spacing. Since the shafts were so short, I needed to trim the width of the electrical tape so that it didn’t interfere when I was punching.

Filing Drill bits to close spacing Spacing Test

The “X” was the punches with the flat edges together (which was too tight) while the checkmark is with only one punch. the spacing punches shown above are in their “final” form, and I wanted to test to make sure that these made a nice heart shape (these are oversimplified, but demonstrated that the aspect was correct).

this fraction of an inch overlap is just enough to make pleasant heart shapes. I’ll have a separate article on how to do the edge treatment since this is just about how to make the punch.

I do seem to have a lot of specialized tools jus to make gauntlets – I think that it is probably time to revisit Maximilian’s “armourer’s workshop” woodblock and see if I can identify any of the previously unidentified tools (or close cousins) for making gauntlets.

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