[Fab] HowTo for Separating Tire Material??

Robert Skelton rskelton at purdue.edu
Wed Aug 29 05:16:58 UTC 2012

Hey a, 

The problem you're gonna run into is the fact that tires are made specifically so that tread doesn't want to come off. If you want strips of tread, a sharp knife will be one of your few options. Another possible thing you could try would be mounting one of the steel belts in a vice, and using some vice-grips or locking pliers to pull the other belting strips out from under the tread (pulling along the axis of rotation, i.e. out of the "side" of the tire). That will more than likely just shred the outer surface, if you can even get a grip on those belts. 

Also, keep in mind that those steel belts can be VERY sharp, especially if you've knicked one of them during the cutting and gripping process. On second thought, I would not recommend doing that, but if you are bound and determined to get that tread off, do so at your own risk.

Usually when tires are retreaded, they just buff/sand off the old tread, specifically because it's hard to separate the tread from the belting. See this video for a bit more info on current methods of removing tire tread:


Of course, if you just want some rubber bits/powder, then by all means, go crazy with a wire wheel or an angle grinder. Just don't use the bench grinder.

In short, trying to strip that tread off is an accident waiting to happen (in my opinion), but there are ways to do it. 


Cole Skelton
Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University
rskelton at purdue.edu
rskelton at teslamotors.com

On Aug 28, 2012, at 9:38 PM, acohen36 wrote:

> Hey,
> Am in Turing classroom as I write this.
> Any fab persons reading this have GOOD suggestions for separating the
> rubber out of steel-belted radial tires for the use of various
> projects??
> Have already *somewhat* figured out how to cut auto tires crosswise
> into manageable strips. Each strip still has the three layers of a)
> the vulcanized rubber "surface" tread, b) the tightly integrated
> steel-belt webbing, and c) the beaded rubber lining on the internal
> part of the tire.
> Would primarily want the more manageable surface-rubber (a) for fab projects.
> NO, a sharp knife does NOT work for this separation!
> Will stand by my keybd waiting for good suggestions<G>
> -a
> ---
> When you must stand up for something important in the face of those
> who would readily cut you down, then you must continually remind
> yourself of the words of the great Mahatma Gandhi,
> "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you,
> then you win."
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