Mold cutting sounds simple enough: Using a sharp knife and a simple tool, such as a can opener or a pair of vise grips, the mold maker separates a rubber mold into two halves, allowing the model and subsequent waxes to be removed.

But like so many seemingly simple tasks, there are intricacies to cutting a successful mold that go well beyond cutting the block of rubber into two parts. In addition to ensuring that delicate waxes can be removed without distortion, the mold cutter must cut the mold in such a way that the two halves will match up perfectly time after time, and the injected wax will fill well and require minimal cleanup.

In addition, there is no one right way to cut a mold. The only true measure of success is whether the mold produces consistent waxes that can be removed without distortion, and with any given mold there are multiple ways of achieving that goal. A technique that works for one mold cutter may be awkward or difficult for another, and an approach that works for one design may produce less desirable results on another.

“I read the basics when I first started on how to make a mold, and it was basically put in the model, cook the rubber, take a blade and cut down the side, and take the model out,” says Stuart Adelman of Artelle Designs in Plymouth, Minnesota, who has been cutting molds for nearly 35 years. “But there are lots of nuances that make it an art, and most of them are learned through trial and error.”

If it sounds like a tall order, it is, and even veteran mold cutters may have to cut several molds for a difficult design before finding one that works perfectly. Knowing the tools and tricks used by experienced mold makers can reduce the number of failed attempts, however, and make it more likely the mold will give up the wax without a struggle.

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