The jeweler's saw, sometimes called a piercing saw, is one of the most essential tools in a jeweler's workshop. At first, however, working with a jeweler's saw can be rather frustrating because the blades used are small and they can break easily. Sometimes a single blade will last for weeks; sometimes you will get through an entire pack in an afternoon. Don't worry it happens to everyone.
Blade sizes range from 4, through 0 to 06, which is the finest and is used with metal that is as thin as 0.3-0.4mm. Use a No. 4 blade for cutting metal 1/16 inch thick, or for cutting acrylic that is up to about 1/4 inch thick. Begin by practicing on a piece of metal about 1/32 inch thick and with a size No. 1 or 01 blade.
A coping saw is about one and a half times larger than a jeweler's saw, but it is used in the same way. A scroll saw is useful for cutting from a large sheet of metal as it enables you to cut your pattern without having to cut away small pieces or cut from many different angles.
Attaching a blade
Sit so that you can hold the handle of the saw in one hand and the blade in the other, and so that you can push the head of the saw against something solid, such as the side of your work bench.
Hold the blade with the teeth facing toward you but pointing down toward the handle of the saw. Run your fingers down the blade. If it feels smooth, the blade is correctly positioned; if it does not, turn it the other way up. Place the top end of the blade into the top anchor point of the saw and tighten it. Push the handle of the saw against the bench and fasten the lower end of the saw into the bottom anchor point. The blade should be taut before you start work.
Holding the saw
Hold the handle of the saw as lightly as possible and let the saw do the work. The cut is made on the down stroke, so try to develop a rhythm whereby the saw almost falls through the work and needs only a gentle hand to guide it up again. Keep it upright, so that the blade is at an angle of 90 to your work unless you are deliberately cutting an angle.
Using the saw
Hold the saw upright, with the blade just touching the line on the metal you wish to cut. Place the index finger of your other hand against the side of the saw and use it as a guide as you move the saw up and down and gently forward into the metal.
When you begin to use the jeweler's saw, you may find it helpful to cut between two close parallel lines. For example, when you are cutting a strip of metal to make a ring, set a pair of dividers to the required width, place one side of the dividers on the straight edge of the metal and use the other side of the dividers to draw a line parallel to it. Open Out the dividers by a further fraction, and draw a second line, parallel to the first. Pierce between the two lines.
You may also find it helpful to cut circles in this way at first. Use dividers to scribe the circle on the metal, open them a further fraction and scribe a second circle. Cut between the lines and use a file to clean up the edge down to the first scribed line.
Cut to the edge of a corner and, while you keep the saw moving in rhythm, use the smooth back edge to work around the corner. Pretend be cutting backward and, once the corner is turned, continue with the forward movement.
Piercing out central areas
If the pattern has enclosed areas, use a small drill to make a hole in the corner of each area. Unfasten the bottom end of the blade, thread it through a hole, and refasten the blade tightly. Pierce out the area, undo the bottom end of the blade, and thread it through the next area to be removed.
Writer - Jinks McGrath