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Cutting and finishing boning

In this tutorial we’ll take a look at cutting and finishing flat steel and spiral steel boning. This is hands down the area that I get asked the most questions about, so hopefully this will help to pre-emptively answer some queries!

First up, tools! To cut and finish your boning ends, you will need:

  • Aviation snips

  • Side cutters

  • A file

  • Dremel/bench grinder

  • Two pairs of pliers

  • PTFE tape or enamel paint

  • End caps

Flat steel boning

Measure and mark the length of your boning and cut using aviation snips. It’s easiest to cut the flat steel straight across and it helps to push it right up in to the aviation snips to get as much leverage as possible, cutting with the tip of the snips will be much more difficult. If you’re struggling with hand strength, you can try bracing the bottom handle of the snips against your hip so you can push down harder on the top.

Prepare the first end of your flat steel boning by rounding off the corners. The quickest and easiest way of doing this is to use a Dremel or a bench grinder. You can do it with a file too, but it will take a long time and a lot of effort! After rounding the corners off, use a file to remove any sharp bits of metal or coating.

To protect the exposed metal ends, you can either wrap the end of the bone in plumbers tape (PTFE tape) or dip the end in an enamel paint and leave it to dry. I’ve used the plumbers tape for the example in the photos. Alternatively, you can just pop an end cap on, although this is probably the least ideal of the three options.

Spiral steel boning

Prepare the first end of the spiral steel by cutting off any protruding ends of wire using side cutters/diagonal cut pliers.

Finish the end with an end cap. Use one pair of pliers to hold the end cap tight on the sides and use a second pair of pliers to crimp the end cap to the flat sides of the bone. Make sure you get all sides of the end cap tight up to the bone, any uncrimped bits can catch on the inside of your boning channel and get stuck or pull the end cap off entirely.

Lay the bone on the boning channel and locate a centre loop that finishes a millimetre or two shorter than the desired length. Make a mark on the wire either side of that loop. Use the very end of your side cutters/diagonal cut pliers to snip through the two edge wires. DO NOT try to cut straight through the whole bone, you will just hurt your hands. Finish the bottom of your bone by applying an end cap in the same way as the top.

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