by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
When using a jeweler's saw and saw blade, avoid pushing the blade against the metal being cut; it will catch and snag, possibly breaking the blade. Using a gentle up and down motion, let the teeth of the saw blade do the work of cutting the metal.
Use a marker to draw the pattern or shape you are cutting out onto the metal being cut.
Select the correct saw blade for the metal to be cut. Insert the blade into the jeweler's saw frame. Pluck the blade to ensure it is properly strung. If it isn't, it will not cut the metal well.
Reference the "Inserting a Saw Blade into a Jeweler's Saw Frame" for complete instructions on this process.
If you are cutting out a hole or the center section of a piece of metal, drill a small hole in the metal area being sawn out, then thread the hole onto your saw blade before inserting the second end of the blade into the frame.
You are ready to begin sawing, although it is recommended to notch the metal a little bit to help get the blade engaged. Use a jeweler's file to file a small notch on the edge of the metal.
Place the metal onto the bench pin mounted in the bench pin system. Position the fingers of your non-dominant hand onto the metal, stabilizing it and holding the area to be cut first over the "V" notch in the bench pin. Run the saw blade across a block of beeswax to lubricate the blade. Hold the saw frame so the blade is vertical or slightly pitched forward at an angle to the metal being cut--the position is a personal preference.
Place the blade in the notch filed in Step 2. Begin to move the blade up then down, utilizing the full length of the blade.
The sawing motion should be fluid, up and down, not pushing forward--letting the tool do the work.
If your pattern calls for curves, or when it's time to turn a corner, turn the metal being cut, not the saw.
If the blade gets caught in the metal: stop moving the saw then try to remove it from the metal.
If you are able to get it out, re-lubricate the blade while it is in place then try to move it.
If you are not able to get the blade out, try to start sawing again.
Once you are able to free the blade from this one spot, lubricate the blade again, to keep the friction at a minimum.
If you force the blade through a tough spot, you run the risk of breaking the blade. If this happens: remove the blade, reinsert a new one then start sawing again.
Continue sawing all the way around the metal until the shape is cut free. If you are cutting out the center section of a piece of metal, remove one end of the blade from the saw frame to free the shape you cut out.
File then polish the metal edges so they are smooth.
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