Making saddle washers - aluminium milling and holding advice

Due to the crazy cost to buying saddle washers, I’m considering making a few for a handlebar project.

I knocked up a design and am comfortable with the milling of material etc, however I’m not sure on the best way to hold the work piece.

I want to mill lets say 10 at a time, and I wanted to stick 3mm aluminium sheet down. I wasn’t looking to use tabs due to the nature and finishing of the item.

Any ideas? Ive heard of using super glue to sacrificial aluminium sheet but open to ideas. I haven’t milled anything this small before.

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Is there a hole in the center? If so, my inclination would be to make a fixture plate w/ matching holes, machine them as pockets, secure the part w/ sacrificial nylon or aluminum screws/bolts.

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Yep, there is, but the sides are curved so it might not work - right now I can’t even find a way of running a clearing path on 10 without it taking an hour…

You want to do 10 at a time, correct? You don’t want to mount one, mill it and then go onto the next one, correct? I suppose you could always mount the stock to a waste plate with a couple of short set screws from the backside into the stock, not deep enough to interfere with cutting the concavity. It actually probably doesn’t matter if the holding bolts intersected with the concave part because that will be concealed by the handlebars and once the handlebars are at a fixed height, they won’t be moving around. I guess another option would be to get round bar that’s the correct outside diameter, mill into the end to cut the concavity and the hole and then cut off each piece to length. That could be held in a vice.

correct, I feel 10 at a time is a good amount…

I was thinking I could mount the stock, surface it, run a cleaning path, mill the holes, run a 3d path, then mill the outside, but they surface area remaining would be very small…

I can confirm carpet tape doesn’t work…

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Now that I know what a Saddle Washer is…

Well, here is what I would use; either my Hot Glue method (see my YouTube video) OR I would make sure my bed is flat and parallel and just leave a 0.005 thick onion skin at the bottom.

12 AM



I’m a big fan of a hot glue gun. I’ve not seen it used like you show, but you certainly have a good approach here… I might give it a go this evening but mix it up with a heat gun. Over here irons cost more then $5.

for anyone reading…

By the ray @RichCournoyer - you have a bang tidy voice.


I’m with Richard- I’d use hot glue or super glue to hold that down for machining.

Right I had more of a play with this and did have better success with hot glue. 50/50.

I started by chopping up a glue stick like Rich says, using a heat gun melting to melt it, then jammed on some aluminium.

Onwards the milling went and it seemed ok. and 10 washers appeared, but not all survived. The last washer moved too much and got wrecked. 5 came out close to perfect and 4 had minor imperfections.

I guess the thing with this is the washers are 12mm wide, a lathe might be easier to mill them on…

Here’s a couple of pics. The last one shows the 5 good ones against the bad ones, they haven’t been fully cleaned up.


I’d give super glue a try on a sacrificial aluminum bed. Clickspring uses a super glue arbor on his lathe all the time to great effect, and it’s guaranteed to be thinner and more level than hot glue.


These are a lot smaller than I originally anticipated from the original post. I was thinking of saddles for traditional 1 inch and larger handlebars. I still think that if you don’t have a lathe available that the best approach would be to get some solid aluminum round bar of the proper outside diameter, mount a chunk of it vertically on the wasteboard (or use a fixture) and cut the saddle and drill the hole. Remove the chunk from the fixture and cut the milled piece off to the proper thickness.


Why not buy some tubular stock, cut slices the thickness desired, glue the toroids to and then just mill the top surface to produce the saddle?

I am guessing that these are single-saddle-surface washers that you want, unlike the ones on my airplane that are just ‘bent washers’ and too inexpensive to mill.

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I was considering that, but finding the datum on a bunch of 12mm washers sounds pretty boring…

I went in a different direction. this is my first prototype of the button gear I’m looking to use. I’ve already got a 2nd design in the works which I hope will be slightly smaller and more refind, and I’ve moved away from tabs in hope it removes a bunch of chatter.


That looks good Luke! I agree that using an onion skin or hot glue or super glue will provide a stiffer hold down than the tabs. Unless you use them in conjunction with one of the other methods. Also, using a finish pass or two can really work wonders for a better finish.

For something like your part , a small tumbler would go a long way to giving it a great finish too!


Looking good, is that for the M-Unit? I need to make something like that too. I drilled the handlebars and just threaded the buttons there. It looked really clean, but this time I am looking to make housing. Don’t wanna drill the bar.

Good job

Cheers, sort of. I’ve done a complete re-wire but have made my own circuit rather than buying a m unit.

Very nice, I am curious what that circuit looks like. Any pictures of it?

I have all the diagrams, but pictures are not overly interesting :smiley:

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OK, I give up, wtf is an “M unit”?