How to Cut Steel Corset Boning for a Corset
How to cut simple corset boning. There are two main types of corset boning, 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. This is an important stage of your corset construction and many beginner corset makers struggle with the task. Follow this guide for stress free Corset making.
Buy a decent pair of aviation snips to cut metal corset boning. As I will advise with most tools buy the best you can afford.
There are very similar looking snips out there but the metal quality varies. If they say ‘German-style’ you can say they are cheap imitation and are not value for money even if a tenth the price, buy REAL German ones!
Mine are German steel straight cut (you can get left and right-angled positions too as they are for cutting sheet metal) and mine cost $45 in 1998. I have used them for 19 years and still good.
They must have serrated blades, not smooth. As an experiment, I also bought a pair for $10 and they lasted about 4 months and even new were tough on wrists and often the bone would bend in the blades.
If you are planning to make quite a few corsets and costumes that will require boning I would say decent Aviation snips are your top tool.
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 I suggest taking your boning material to a tool shop/ builders merchants/ local hardware shop that sell decent quality tools and 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 first time, they do not last and will cause you grief in the not too distant future.
Check the end of each piece of boning after cutting -if any burrs at all grip it in your pliers and /or then rub on a metal file or emery paper, The better the snips to start with the better the cut and less need to be messing filing.
The ends can be capped, dipped or taped. Over the last 20 years I have done all three, by far the best, and I have had zero failures out of thousands of corsets I have made is to wrap the ends in a short length pf duct tape. Again don’t use the cheap stuff from the dollar store, buy a decent brand or go to builders merchants. This method only works if you have a decent clean cut.
Simply wrap the end in a length of tape, press ends together and cut curve, finished.
Spiral boning can be trickier to cut and I have seen people do all kinds of things to it leaving poking bent sprained bones and alot of stress along the way. Once you own a quality pair of aviation snips this will not happen! Cut each wire one side at a time, don’t try to gut the whole in one go. No need for some of the crazy pliers bending,vice holding crazy stuff that I have seen advised!
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 sides of cap gently, then flatten caps slightly, changing positions of pliers to help with each action, best to do this slowly until you have your own rhythm.
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 centre front or behind a rather flexible busk (as some of the cheaper corset busks can be) just double up the bone, one behind the other and tape together with a bit of duct tape, simple trick but can make a big difference.
Then you need a thin strip of flat steel boning or anything solid that is narrower than the cap, to crimp the centre of the cap, press centre of cap down, but not the ends. The cap needs crimping so it won’t fall off.