Struggling to get clean, straight ends, for your N, OO, and HO track when cutting it? Here’s how I use the Xuron cutters to get the perfect track every time.
I’m a model railway addict. My railways are my sanctuary. The thing I turn to when I need to relax. I can disappear into my loft, shed, or den, depending on which railway I’m working on, and spend hours in my own little world.
But it’s not running trains that give me enjoyment. Instead, it’s creating and building layouts. The community for this website isn’t named ModelRailwayBuilders by chance. Researching and drawing up landscape and track plans, building scenery, and laying track is what gives me the most enjoyment.
And as a result, I’m continually cutting, laying, and fixing track.
For much of this track work, my Dremel is the go-to tool but when I want precise, perfect cuts, Xuron track cutters are always within grasping distance.
When I got my first pair of Xuron cutters, I just attacked my rails, cutting them with abandon. It was only when I came to slide the rail joiners over the newly cut ends I realised the error of my
As good as the cutters are they’re only as good as the person using them and being an idiot, well the results spoke for themselves. I’d used them wrongly and the rail ends were rough and misshaped and I couldn’t get rail joiners to slide over them.
So how do you use them?
Two types of Xuron track cutters
Well first things first, there are actually two types of Xuron track cutters.
The Xuron 2175B and the 2175M and each is designed to be used in different ways for different applications.
The following explains when to use each – make sure to get the right one.
When to use the Xuron 2175B track cutter
The Xuron 2175B model is what I use most often, being used for track that has not yet been laid or where you can easily hold it clear of any base material. It works for Z, N, TT, and OO gauges and when used correctly, unlikely how I used them, has a shear-cutting action to give square ends to the rails.
These cutters work for Hornby and Peco fixed or flexi-track, Brass or Silver/Nickel rails up to code 100. For tracks with plastic bases, such as a Kato, I’d recommend using Dremel or razor saw.
To cut the rails, hold them flat and steady and present the cutters to the rail so the cut is from top to bottom, as seen in the photo below, not side to side as I’d done and in so doing damaging the rail profile.
You’ll also see the cutters have a flat face on one side, the rails end facing this surface will be square. The other rail will be rough.
Make sure the flat side is facing the section of track that you want to retain.
Using this technique will give two flat, square ends. Doing so allows clean cuts with no rough ends or burs.
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When to use the Xuron 2175M track cutter
This takes me nicely to the other version, the Xuron 2175M track cutter.
These are designed for cutting rails that have been laid, where it’s not possible to get under the rails, using a side-to-side rather than top-to-bottom action as is the case with the 2715B.
They also have shorter handles for working in confined spaces, with a total length of 15cm versus 20cm of the 2175B, as will often be the case when working with rails that are fixed in place on a layout.
Having the right Xuron cutters and using them correctly has helped me considerably. And once I started using them correctly my track cutting got a lot better with rail ends that now slide into the joiners the first time, every time, helping feed my addiction 🙂
Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.