How to Cut Steel Corset Boning for a Corset
How to cut corset boning may seem daunting at first.
It is an important stage of your corset construction and many beginner corset makers struggle with the task.
Use these tried and tested tricks and you will quickly become an expert.
There are two main types of boning for corsets, flat sprung steel and spiral boning.
Once the bone lengths are cut the ends need protecting to prevent sharp metal poking and tearing the corset, and more importantly your body.
Follow this guide to find out the best way to cut both flat steel boning and spiral boning for stress-free Corset making.
How to cut simple corset boning.
Buy a decent pair of aviation snips to cut metal corset boning.
As I will advise with most tools. Buy the best one you can afford.
There are a lot of very similar-looking snips out there. Often the metal quality varies. If they say “German-style”, usually they are cheap imitations and are not value for money even if they are a tenth the price. Always buy REAL German ones!
They must have serrated blades, not smooth.
Mine are German steel straight cut (you can get left and right-angled positions too). Costing $45 in 1998; I have used them for 19 years. They are still good and make clean cuts.
As an experiment, I also bought a pair for $10. They lasted about 4 months. Plus even though they were new they were tough on my wrists and the bone would often bend in the blades.
If you are planning to make several corsets and costumes that will require boning.
Good quality Aviation snips are an essential tool and a clean cut is vitally important. Every other step for corset boning is built from a clean cut.
To cut flat bones, snip straight across and then snip the corners. Note only snip corners if you are using good quality snips, cheap ones will bend it and burr the steel.
If you already own a cheap pair and struggle with bent and bad cuts. Then I suggest taking your boning material to a tool shop/ builders merchants/ local hardware shop that sell decent quality tools and try a test cut.
The feeling of OMG why did I not know this job could be a joy and not a nightmare will be so strong. You will want to buy a decent pair as soon as you can afford to.
Don’t be fooled by a cheap pair cutting ok the first time, they will not last and will cause you grief in the not too distant future.
Check the end of each piece of boning after cutting. If there are any burrs grip it in your pliers to flatten it as much as possible and /or then rub it on a metal file or emery paper.
The better the Aviation Snips are to start with the better the cut will be overall.
The ends can be capped, dipped or taped. Over the last 20 years, I have used all three methods.
The best by far, and I have had zero failures out of thousands of corsets I have made, is to wrap the ends in a short length of duct tape.
Again don’t use the cheap stuff from the dollar store, buy a decent brand or go to builders merchants.
Once again this method works if you have a good clean cut.
Simply wrap the end in a length of tape, press ends together and cut a curve.
Spiral boning can be trickier to cut. I have seen people do all kinds of things to it. Often leaving poking and bent sprained bones and a lot of stress along the way. If you own a quality pair of aviation snips this will not happen!
You cut each wire one side at a time. Don’t try to cut the entire width in one go.
There is No need for some of the crazy pliers bending vice holding crazy stuff that I have seen on YouTube.
The ends of spiral boning need caps. If you own or plan to buy the simple eyelet machine you can get special die fittings to press the ends flat, but the job can be done with two sets of cheap pliers.
Position the end cap onto your neatly cut bone, squeeze the sides of the cap gently, then flatten caps slightly, changing the positions of pliers to help with each action. It’s best to do this slowly until you have your own rhythm.
Take a thin strip of flat steel boning or anything solid that is narrower than the end cap. This is so you can crimp the centre of the cap edges, but not the outer edge.
Place the thin strip of bone in the centre of the cap and squeeze with your pliers so you press the centre of the cap down. This will crimp the cap so it won’t fall off.
Remember flat bones for the centre front and back of your corsets, spirals for the sides and curved seams.
If you want extra support on the centre front or behind a rather flexible busk (as some of the cheaper corset busks can be). Then just double up the bone, one behind the other and tape together with a bit of duct tape, it’s a simple trick but can make a big difference.