Why use a jeweler’s saw?
My husband doesn’t understand why I can’t use a bandsaw, jigsaw or a hacksaw for cutting my sheet metal. Can you explain why I should use a jewelers saw instead of these other types of saws?
Your husband is right, in a way – those saws will all cut metal and many people use these saws for the construction of jewelry. But, you need a jeweler’s saw in addition to the saws noted in your question above.
Here are a few of the reasons to use a jeweler’s saw for jewelry making:
1. The ultra fine blades with their many small, sharp teeth and ultra thin blades cut a smaller kurf or swath in the metal. When you are using precious metals like gold or silver, you don’t want to waste the metal by cutting broad kurfs.
2. The large blade on a band saw/hacksaw CANNOT cut the detail/sharp curves/tight angles involved with working in minute scale. If you tried to pierce the piece above with either tool you’d end up with very little detail, wide cuts that don’t taper and no subtlety. With a jeweler’s saw you can create delicate, graduated lines – similar to the lines that can be achieved with a fine paint brush. Remember the scale we are working in! My pierced piece is 1 1/2″ round. Using a hack/band/jigsaw to pierce jewelry like that, would be like framing a house with a rock on a stick and a pruning saw – it can be done (maybe) but why would you?
3.Using a jeweler’s saw is a very controlled process which allows for more accuracy in cutting.
4.Jeweler’s saws are precision tools that are used in many other industries where a fine line, intricate detail and sharp angles are required. Woodworkers and other branches of the metalworking industry employ them for these purposes.
5.Remember: The harder the material being cut, the slower the blade needs to move. Metal is pretty danged hard. So, the speed of hand sawing is perfectly suited for cutting metal.
6.The jeweler’s saw is great for cutting plastics as the slow speed obtained by hand use, allows the blade to cut the material without excess heat and subsequent melting of the plastic. When the plastic is overheated, like when using a jig or band saw, the blade binds and can snap.
7.The jeweler’s saw frame is adjustable and the hacksaw isn’t. This allows the person sawing to control the length of their stroke, accommodate different angles and depth of material.
8.Jeweler’s saws are very efficient tools. They make cutting metal almost as easy as cutting through butter. Electric tools are definitely easier but, there is nothing like getting into the rhythm while sawing! I love sawing! When used properly, the saw doesn’t cause any strain on the body. It’s an easy, effortless, hands on process.
My question to your husband is: why not a jeweler’s saw? They are much cheaper than a band saw, about the same price as a hack saw and they would enable you to create beautiful work. Here is a very reasonably priced saw. As for blades: start out with a 2/0 or 3/0 and a 6/0. You can create a lot of different lines with two blades, more with three, etc. Saw Blades run about $5.00 for a dozen. I don’t recommend buying cheap blades. Rio Grande’s Laser Gold Blades are great for their strength, consistently sized, sharp teeth and reasonable price.
Don’t forget to lubricate the blade with beeswax, oil or Bur-Life.
BTW, here is a jeweler’s “bandsaw.” It’s the Knew Concepts Power Saw. It uses a jeweler’s saw blade.
Can I use a scroll saw to cut metal?
I am just getting started in metal jewelry and have looked everywhere but cannot find the answer to this even in your videos on sawing. I have an excellent Hegner scroll saw with which I am “reasonably” proficient-at least in wood! Why would I not use that with some jeweler’s blades to saw my designs in metal rather than a hand saw?
Most of the time people don’t use the saws because the saws eat up too much of the metal up and especially, if you’re working with gold, they can be quite costly – waste wise. If, it’s working for you, continue to use it. You may decide, down the road, that you can’t get the detail you need. I recommend practicing with a jeweler’s saw, it WILL come in handy, some day. It is also more difficult to piece out interior spaces.
How to make sawing easier
“First, you’re the best! I’ve learned so much from you. Second, what do you think of the Rio Knew Concepts jewelers saw? I have fibromyalgia and am looking for something that may make it easier to saw with.”
A standard jeweler’s saw (3″) weighs about the same as Knew Concepts Titanium – around 6 ozs or less.
Sawing should be done a gentle push/pull and shouldn’t be strenuous. I hold the metal in my left (non-dominant) hand that holds down and turns the work. This, to me, is the most difficult, physically. A tool to consider is a bench pin that holds the work.
Really good saw blades will help too. I like Rio’s Laser Gold blades.
Also, check your technique to be sure you aren’t working too hard and ensure that you are using the right size blade for your metal’s gauge. Are you sitting with the correct posture? Is the bench pin around mid-chest height?
Here are some links to products and ideas:
- Cynthia Eid: Development of the Newest Knew Concepts Saw.
- Jewelry Sawing Techniques by Rio Grande.
- Knew Concepts 3″ Saw Frame at Rio Grande
- Knew Concepts 3″ Titanium Saw at Rio Grande
- Knew Concepts Video: KC Blade Tensioning Video
- Knew Concepts website
- Metal Artist’s Workbench: Demystifying the Jeweler’s Saw by Thomas Mann
Related Web Pages
- Saw Blade Chart. Shows saw blade sizes, matching drill bits, sizes in centimeters and inches, teeth per inch/cm and thickness of blade.