Posted on by Robert Smith

Avro Vulcan Bomber

One of the toughest – and I mean that literally, commissions we have undertaken for a wedding, was the cutting down of a Jet engine vane from an Avro Vulcan Bomber to make four sets of cufflinks for the groom and their groomsmen.

The Avro Vulcan was in service in the RAF between 1956 and 1984, it was ahead of its time and one of the most technically advanced planes ever built. Its delta wing span of 30m gives it distinctive shape and as someone who grew up near Biggin Hill airport, seeing it fly was a real sight.

Jet engine blades are normally made of aviation-grade titanium – I have been informed that one of the additions is palladium which makes it extremely tough and able to resist the high temperatures and stresses the blades undergo.

Jet engine vane from a Vulcan Bomber

Pictured here, is the original blade being roughly marked out to where we were going to claim the metal for the cuffs. Now we have worked with Jet engine blades before, both from the Tornado and the Vulcan, this was different in the fact that it was a good 1mm thicker than the blades we have used before. What difference can 1mm of aeronautical grade titanium make ? well quite a lot as it turns out.


We have a variety of cutting tools in the workshop, starting from the humble jewellers saw, going up to angle grinders. We started in the middle with a Dremel tool, we burnt through three blades just to get to this stage.

Cutting aeronautical grade titanium with a dremel


Now we know lots of tricks to working with hard metal, but another challenge the blade threw at us was the fact that there is a slight concave twist going down the middle which made it hard to clamp. This twist is there to make air flow efficiently around the blade – it also has the added effect of any lubricant we applied would roll off.

The answer came from a surprising source. I have an eccentric old aunt (who is not really my aunt) who was a metallurgist who worked at Fort Halstead back in the sixties on some top secret cold war projects. The solution was to use a lubricant that you could make from what you would find in any kitchen.

It was slow going and was done in small chunks, but over a period of two weeks, we got all our pieces cut.

Cutting down vulcan cufflinks


That concave twist had one final challenge to throw at us. When the pieces were ‘free’ the left and right ones of the third pair down were slightly different widths – we had measured and cut correctly. The best way I can describe it, is imagine cutting down straight on an arch. You end up with two exact pieces. If one side of that arch is fatter than the other, you end up with two uneven pieces.

No shortcuts here, it was a case of getting out hand files and greasing up the elbows.

Through cutting the metal we had left quite a few work marks which we needed to remove so we could make them nice and shiny. Normally when working with say silver, this is a case of going through different grades of sandpaper. But with titanium regardless of width that would take an aeon, so we put the pieces into tumblers filled with ceramic media and ran them for a couple of weeks.

removing workmarks from titanium



With the pieces cut, it was time to solder and add the backings – I could write an entire blog post about the joys and challenges of soldering titanium, but we are old hands at it now.

Lastly, they were polished up and sent out the door. It was certainly one of the more challenging projects we have undertaken and one that my hands won't forget for a long time.

Set of Cufflinks made from a Vulcan Bomber

Avro Vulcan Bomber

One of the toughest – and I mean that literally, commissions we have undertaken for a wedding, was the cutting down of a Jet engine vane from an Avro Vulcan Bomber to make four sets of cufflinks for the groom and their groomsmen.

The Avro Vulcan was in service in the RAF between 1956 and 1984, it was ahead of its time and one of the most technically advanced planes ever built. Its delta wing span of 30m gives it distinctive shape and as someone who grew up near Biggin Hill airport, seeing it fly was a real sight.

Jet engine blades are normally made of aviation-grade titanium – I have been informed that one of the additions is palladium which makes it extremely tough and able to resist the high temperatures and stresses the blades undergo.

Jet engine vane from a Vulcan Bomber

Pictured here, is the original blade being roughly marked out to where we were going to claim the metal for the cuffs. Now we have worked with Jet engine blades before, both from the Tornado and the Vulcan, this was different in the fact that it was a good 1mm thicker than the blades we have used before. What difference can 1mm of aeronautical grade titanium make ? well quite a lot as it turns out.


We have a variety of cutting tools in the workshop, starting from the humble jewellers saw, going up to angle grinders. We started in the middle with a Dremel tool, we burnt through three blades just to get to this stage.

Cutting aeronautical grade titanium with a dremel


Now we know lots of tricks to working with hard metal, but another challenge the blade threw at us was the fact that there is a slight concave twist going down the middle which made it hard to clamp. This twist is there to make air flow efficiently around the blade – it also has the added effect of any lubricant we applied would roll off.

The answer came from a surprising source. I have an eccentric old aunt (who is not really my aunt) who was a metallurgist who worked at Fort Halstead back in the sixties on some top secret cold war projects. The solution was to use a lubricant that you could make from what you would find in any kitchen.

It was slow going and was done in small chunks, but over a period of two weeks, we got all our pieces cut.

Cutting down vulcan cufflinks


That concave twist had one final challenge to throw at us. When the pieces were ‘free’ the left and right ones of the third pair down were slightly different widths – we had measured and cut correctly. The best way I can describe it, is imagine cutting down straight on an arch. You end up with two exact pieces. If one side of that arch is fatter than the other, you end up with two uneven pieces.

No shortcuts here, it was a case of getting out hand files and greasing up the elbows.

Through cutting the metal we had left quite a few work marks which we needed to remove so we could make them nice and shiny. Normally when working with say silver, this is a case of going through different grades of sandpaper. But with titanium regardless of width that would take an aeon, so we put the pieces into tumblers filled with ceramic media and ran them for a couple of weeks.

removing workmarks from titanium



With the pieces cut, it was time to solder and add the backings – I could write an entire blog post about the joys and challenges of soldering titanium, but we are old hands at it now.

Lastly, they were polished up and sent out the door. It was certainly one of the more challenging projects we have undertaken and one that my hands won't forget for a long time.

Set of Cufflinks made from a Vulcan Bomber