Get the counters out of the sheet

Zugführer

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I do this for 30 years, but I'm not sure that the way I get the counters out of the counter sheets is the best way to do it. So, I thought I will ask You, how You get the counters out of the sheets.

I use a cutter and a cutting board. But this method is stressful (need of high expenditure of energy) and inadequate (danger to slide off and damaging the counters).

In the internet I saw a method with a sharp knife and a sledge.

So, is there a better way?
 

Philippe D.

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The older counters (from the Avalon Hill days, I believe) really required some care when taking them out. Now countersheets tend to come in much better pre-cut condition, and a gentle tug is often enough to separate the counters. When this doesn't work, I use a cutter (but then I also clip the corners, so if the corner is not perfectly neat it's not a problem).
 

Robin Reeve

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I punch them out by hand.
As they are atrached by the corners, I use my Oregon deluxe counter clipper to clean them off.
 

Honza

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Use a blade and a board. Yes it is time consuming but you get a clean cut.
 

Paul M. Weir

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I use a scalpel (#3) and a fresh sharp blade (#11), both Swann-Morton numbers. I run the blade in lightish strokes in the two long "furrows" then the short furrows at each end. The long strip of counters should be almost detached by now. The only place where you might need moderate force is at the very corners when finalising the ends of your cuts where they join. You will now have a strip of 10 or 2 x 10 1/2" or 8 or 2 x 8 5/8" counters. If a 2 x 10/8 strip, then again a light run or two with scalpel along their long joining furrow will give you 2 strips of 10/8. For each strip I then detach each counter by gently positioning the blade into the gap so that the blade edge is horizontal and when happy with my placement do a single chop.

Providing you keep the blade vertical or fractionally canted towards surround (aka the tree) there should be no risk of shaving off a strip of the printed part of a counter, only the surround.

The most important bit is having a very sharp blade. This means that you can cut well with much less pressure. While you might need 2 or 3 strokes, light pressure means greater control over the scalpel+blade and less likelihood of going astray or even snapping the blade, impaling your fingers and getting blood on your counters. Using light strokes delays fatigue and hand shake.

While I use a modeller's cutting mat, any piece of wood that has a flat surface will do. Cutting directly on the kitchen table may ensure domestic combat, so use something like a cutting mat or disposable piece of wood or plastic (never metal, that will blunt your blade in no time).

One additional suggestion is have enough of a gap between your surface and your head and shoulders so you can look vertically down at what you are doing. That has two advantages in that little is masked by scalpel and blade and you have your weight to assist. Even though you will be using light pressure, the less your muscles have to do the longer your hands stay steady. So maybe put a cushion on your chair or put your cutting mat on a low table like a coffee table. Once you go beyond a couple of counter sheets, muscle fatigue is the enemy of accuracy.

So in summary, very sharp blade, (multiple) low pressure passes, appropriate cutting surface and a comfortable stance/posture.
 

Michael Dorosh

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I didn't realize this was brain surgery. My time honoured method - grab first counter on sheet between thumb and forefinger. Apply pressure. Push away from the sprue. Pull the rest of the row away from the sprue. Snap individual counters apart. Total elapsed time for an entire countersheet, about two minutes.
 

Paul M. Weir

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I'm an ex-programmer and plastic modeller. I like clean and elegant work and my counters with nice sharp 90° corners. I don't want anybody to think I borrowed the neighbour's dog to extract my them. My home is a bit of a mess, but I take some pride in my hobby.
 

kcole4001

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Always an Xacto knife with sharp #11 blade on a scrap piece of wood I keep for this purpose, until it gets gouged too much, then get a new piece of wood. If it gets too rough, it does affect the quality of the cut.

Then I use the C4 counter cutter to trim the corners using a single edge razor blade. I usually go through between 3-5 blades per module. Cardboard is surprisingly tough on razor blades, though I suspect that's more a condemnation of the cheaply made blades than the toughness of the paper product.
They are cheap, a few dollars for a box of 100.

I once ripped (delaminated, really) some counters when they weren't cleanly die-cut, and have use a knife since.
I don't recall from which module the counters came, probably one of the AH modules back in the day.
 

Yuri0352

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I use a scalpel (#3) and a fresh sharp blade (#11), both Swann-Morton numbers. I run the blade in lightish strokes in the two long "furrows" then the short furrows at each end. The long strip of counters should be almost detached by now. The only place where you might need moderate force is at the very corners when finalising the ends of your cuts where they join. You will now have a strip of 10 or 2 x 10 1/2" or 8 or 2 x 8 5/8" counters. If a 2 x 10/8 strip, then again a light run or two with scalpel along their long joining furrow will give you 2 strips of 10/8. For each strip I then detach each counter by gently positioning the blade into the gap so that the blade edge is horizontal and when happy with my placement do a single chop.

Providing you keep the blade vertical or fractionally canted towards surround (aka the tree) there should be no risk of shaving off a strip of the printed part of a counter, only the surround.

The most important bit is having a very sharp blade. This means that you can cut well with much less pressure. While you might need 2 or 3 strokes, light pressure means greater control over the scalpel+blade and less likelihood of going astray or even snapping the blade, impaling your fingers and getting blood on your counters. Using light strokes delays fatigue and hand shake.

While I use a modeller's cutting mat, any piece of wood that has a flat surface will do. Cutting directly on the kitchen table may ensure domestic combat, so use something like a cutting mat or disposable piece of wood or plastic (never metal, that will blunt your blade in no time).

One additional suggestion is have enough of a gap between your surface and your head and shoulders so you can look vertically down at what you are doing. That has two advantages in that little is masked by scalpel and blade and you have your weight to assist. Even though you will be using light pressure, the less your muscles have to do the longer your hands stay steady. So maybe put a cushion on your chair or put your cutting mat on a low table like a coffee table. Once you go beyond a couple of counter sheets, muscle fatigue is the enemy of accuracy.

So in summary, very sharp blade, (multiple) low pressure passes, appropriate cutting surface and a comfortable stance/posture.
Good advice!
I would recommend using the Micro-Mark modeller's cutting mat (approx. 8" x 12" size) for a cutting surface.
If you have purchased any of CH'S nationality counter sets I recommend using a #2 X-Acto chisel edge blade to cut the very thick corner attachment points.
 

Paul M. Weir

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I would recommend using the Micro-Mark modeller's cutting mat (approx. 8" x 12" size) for a cutting surface.
I have 2 cutting mats. I've had them so long I don't remember the brand, but both are the same and medium-dark green. They have lasted many, many years with no visible deterioration.

The larger, a CM-45 is 450mmx300mm (~18"x12"), I mainly use for counter sheets as it will support a full sheet.
The smaller, a CM-30 is 300mmx220mm (~12"x9"), is mainly used for half counter sheets, overlays, printed CG sheets and my mini-maps. Due to it's greater convenience, it gets the most use.

When releasing a counter from an extracted strip, if there are no counter centre nubs, a slice of the tip of the blade at the corner often removes the need to do a complete slice, providing the original counter die punch went cleanly through the back surface.
 

Ray Woloszyn

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I have a Cutco pizza cutter that is extremely sharp and never seems to dull. I run it along the counter edges while on the cardboard backing to make a clean cut. To prevent the cutter from slipping across the face of the counters I cover the covers with a metal ruler with a cork backing. Trick is not to use the cutter just after cutting the pizza :)
 

goatleaf1

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I use an Xacto knife but with a square ended # 18 blade so I push down vertically on all the stubs. That way no chance of slipping which is a risk when cutting along a length of stubs.
 

xenovin

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I’ve started using the Holst method of cutting apart the sprue followed my the counters using a nice heavy scissor. Works surprisingly well and doesn’t scratch any of the counters like I did with a utility knife.
 

Robin Reeve

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As said, punching the counters with one's fingers is fine, as nowadays counters are attached by the corners.
A counter clipper easily removes the fluff of the corners.
Previously, I used good scissors - I am too clumsy to avoid some "skidding" with a knife.
 
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