Buttons, Badges & Pins - People Power Blog

I've had some sort of malfunction with the button press, where the entire apparatus seems to have lifted off its base. November 15 2012

Syndicated Button Guy Blog Syndicated blog from TheButtonGuy.net
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Button Maker Problemo

Hi Button Guy  I came and scooped up one of two 2 1/4” button makers with my mom as you may remember.  I’ve had some sort of malfunction with the button press, where the entire apparatus seems to have lifted off its base.  I’m trying to make buttons with a heavier photo paper and it worked fine once, but this second time, it seems to have jammed the damn thing.  Unless you have a secret tip to help dislodge the thing, perhaps I could bring the thing in and have it diagnosed.  I’ve attached a picture of the press to show you what I mean.  The press part won’t become disengaged from the dome side of the swivel.         Thanks,   John

Jammed Button Maker

Hi John    This is a straightforward jam by the look of it.  But you never know.  It could mean you have more than one shell or mylar stuck inside or it could be your photo paper was too thick.  I’m inclined to think it’s just the parts got doubled up inside.

 You are welcome to swing by with your button maker and I will unjam your button machine.  You could also checkout this video.

 http://thebuttonguy.net/videos.html     At the bottom is unjam your button maker - How to fix a button maker jam.     Let me know if it helps.   The Button Guy

Button Guy, you’re a genius!  I should have consulted the videos straight away.  Problem fixed.  I just didn’t want to take a big hard tool to my wonderful button maker.  But I suppose they’re designed for some hard goings-over! Thanks,   John

Do go steady with your dies John. The inside of the dies are sensitive and yes they are solid metal button makers but you have to be sensible when using a tool to unjam the machine. You do not want to void the warranty or damage the die. Glad it got fixed quickly.  Cheers  The Button Guy

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How to unjam your button maker - button making machine repair. November 18 2011

 I get lots of people in the store with a jammed button maker.  Andrew sent me some good pictures of his button maker.  He thought his button maker was broken and needed repair.  But it was only jammed.

Andrews jammed button machine

jammed button maker

This is Andrew's button maker.  It is a side to side action button maker, made in Wisconsin, USA.  These are good heavy duty button machines that you can add air power and go industrial if you need it.

This is the view from below up into the upper die of the jammed button maker.  It is smooth, no screw hole so there is a shell stuck up in there or maybe two.

Upper Die on a Tecre Button Maker

This is the view up inside an upper die of a Tecre Button Maker that does not have a shell stuck inside.  This is how it should look.  You don't have to turn it upside down to look.  Just get in the habit of putting your finger up inside to see if you can feel that screw hole.  If it's smooth (see top right) it's jammed.

This is what Andrew's button maker will look like  looking up inside the upper die once the shell has been removed. There can be even 4 or 5 jammed up there.


Hi there, I have a 3" button maker that needs a part. I can send pictures of the part needed. It basically does not wrap the paper around the backing...as a student pushed down so hard, he flattened the plate that has a ridge.  Sort of hard to explain. Hope you can help. 

Pictures sent are top left and right.


Hi Andrew

 Looking at the photo it looks like you do not need a part or have a serious problem.  There is merely a shell stuck in the upper die.  Maybe 2 shells or even 3.

 This happens when you do the first press and then maybe get distracted.  The first shell is up inside the upper die and instead of then loading the pin-back you go back and load another shell and press the first press AGAIN.  Now you've got 2 shells pressed up inside your upper die and the button maker is jammed.

 If you walk away from the button maker or get the button maker out of the cupboard the first thing to do is put your finger up inside the UPPER DIE.  You should be able to feel a screw hole.  If it is smooth AS PER YOUR PICTURE then you've got a shell stuck up inside.

 TO REMOVE A SHELL (Or as is often the case multiple shells).  You need an awl or a bradawl.

 An awl is a long pointed spike. It may be a:
* Bradawl, a tool for making holes in wood    * Scratch awl, a tool used for marking wood.  * Stitching awl, a tool for piercing holes in leather

 Turn the button machine upside down and move the die mechanism in such a way to gain access to the upper die.  Using the awl pick at the edge of the shell that is stuck inside the upper die and try to pick up an edge WITHOUT DAMAGING THE DIE.  Once you have picked up an edge you can often pierce the tin with the awl and pull it out.

Now put your finger up inside again.  Can you feel the screw hole or is it smooth.   If it's smooth ... repeat.  I have pulled 5 shells out of an abused button maker.  Repeat until you can feel or see that screw hole.

Here's a photo for people with a Tecre Button Maker.

Image showing upper die in Tecre Button Maker 

 If you have the classic red n' black Tecre Button Machine the same thing applies if you need to fix a jam in your button maker.

The offending shell (or probably shells) will be up inside the upper die.  Turn upside down. Swivel pickup die out of the way and try to catch the edge of the shell thats stuck using an awl.  BE CAREFUL NOT TO DAMAGE YOUR DIES.  Feel free to send your machine in to the Button Guy to fix.  If you're a customer he may just fix it for free!

Ask the Button Guy.  He's the Button Making expert! 



 Got questions?  Ask the Button Guy!

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Maintenance on a button maker September 20 2011

 Maintaining your button machine.

Button makers, or at least the good ones require very little maintenance.  Remember a good button maker is all metal, NO PLASTIC PARTS!!   I have a number of the Tecre style button makers that are 10 years old, they have made trillions of buttons and work with very little maintenance.  But these are smaller button sizes, 1" or 1-1/2" round.  I also have larger button makers that need more attention and certainly need silicon lube.  This is just a smear of lubrication every 500 buttons or so.  It's cheap, quick and just becomes a habit.  If you have a button maker you definitely need to get some silicon lube.  This can also help and certainly does not hurt a smaller button maker.

Relevant question from a customer:

"I've used my button maker to make buttons since purchasing it from you, and I noticed upon pressing my latest set that the machine isn't wrapping the mylar tightly around the edges of the button at the very top of every couple of buttons I make. There is a little bubble of empty space between the edge of my button and the mylar itself. I've double checked that I'm not putting in double sheets of mylar or anything, and I'm using fairly thin paper (28lb) for the designs... What could be causing this? Thanks for your help!  

Stick lubricant for maintaining a button maker.

The question above is certainly a likely candidate for silicon lube.  Mylar problems are often caused by need for a little lubrication I would recommend visiting your local hardware store or buy a stick of lube online.     the button guy

How to maintain a button maker by the Button Guy
  To buy silicon lube online


1.  Do not use oil, WD40 or anything but a clean silicon lubricant.  Some people use silicon in an aerosol but for the button makers I find stick lubricant works better.   This is to protect your images and your buttons.  Grease or oil stained buttons will not do well!! Keep your button maker clean!

2. Identify the crimp die in your button maker.  (See image below)  Regardless of style or make of your machine you will have a crimp die where you put the pin-back in.  (The pickup die is where you put the shell, image and then mylar)   Most crimp dies have a 45 degree surface just visible above where the pin-back goes in. This is the spot!  Just put a bit of the stick lube on your finger and rub it around the crimp die.  Think of it more as massaging it in as to just smearing it across the surface.  The purpose is to fill microscopic damage to the die making it smooth to allow the mylar to pass easily across the surface on the second press.

That usually does the trick and in normal circumstances will be enough.  If you have very serious problems or you picked up a used button maker that's been in an attic for 25 years you could:

3.  Slide or rotate the lower dies to allow easy access to the upper die.  Using a silicon lubricant stick just put a little on your finger as if you were using lip balm, chapstick or lip gloss.  Apply a modest smear to the perpendicular walls of the upper die.  Massage the lubricant all the way around that upright wall of your upper die.   Just enough to leave a thin film of silicon. No need to use much.

4.  Go through the button making motion a couple of times to get the lube where you need it.  Then make a button as normal.  The first button or maybe two will need wiping with a clean cloth.  After that your back in business.

5.  Repeat every 500 buttons or as necessary. This maintenance requires very little lube.  1 lube stick will last a lifetime.

6.  Another problem solver option for older or damaged button makers is to make sure the dies are clean, free from rust or paper, metal or plastic debris.  You can use a cloth or if you've got it: compressed air to clear away the grunge.  Then soak the dies with the more liquid style aerosol can silicon lubricant and then wipe clean with a clean dry cloth. Search the die for metal burrs and damage.  Clean up any damage with very fine emery paper and then clean the die again with liquid silicon to remove any metal dust.

7.  Sometimes an older red and black Tecre button maker grinds a bit when it swivels. DO NOT USE WD-40.  Using lithium grease, available from any hardware store you can grease the base plate with a smear of silicon grease between the die carrier plate and the base plate. Just smear the base and swivel getting the grease between the two plates.


Lube sticks are available at dollar stores and are inexpensive.

 To buy silicon lube online

How to repair & maintain a button maker

Maintaining a button machine

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