Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cutting Dry Metal Clay With a Jeweler's Saw

by Janet Alexander
Technical Advisor

In my first post, I mentioned some fabrication skills to consider when making metal clay jewelry. One of these is using a jeweler’s saw for cutting out negative space or open areas in your clay instead of using a file. Here's how it's done.

I have a piece of dry (unfired) sterling silver PMC. I want to cut an opening in the center. First, I drill a small hole in the area I want cut out.

I take the drill bit and twirl it between my fingers until it drills through the clay. You can put the drill into a small pin vise for more control while drilling. Do not apply pressure to the drill bit; the bit should automatically cut into the clay.

I then string my saw blade (# 03) through the hole with the design facing upward.

Using my bench pin as support, I saw out the area.

I have a 7-part video on how to use the jeweler’s saw on YouTube.

Once the area is cut out, I file it smooth with a needle file. I use a needle file that is the same shape of the area I am filing. Since I need to get into sharp corners for this piece, I am using a triangular file.

Make sure you are supporting the dry clay as much as possible so that it doesn’t break. Notice how I have four fingers supporting it while I file! Additionally, my fingers are against the bench pin so that they don’t move. I use short strokes while filing the opening smooth. Sometimes I move the file sideways, removing the ridges.

Cutting areas out using a jeweler’s saw saves a lot of time. Had I used a file it would have taken me a lot longer. If you have any questions please post them and I will do my best to answer them.


Linda Kaye-Moses said...

I just want to mention that, if you are planning to use your jeweler's sawblades and bench pin, it's necessary to remove all metal filings from them. I would even suggest dedicating a sawblade for each type of metal clay, and not using sawblades that have been used to cut metal sheet. It's not practical to dedicate a bench pin for each formula of metal clay, but the bench pin needs to be scrupulously cleaned each time metal clay is used, and each time a different formula of metal clay is to be used.

Julie Cannariato said...

Thanks Janet,
I love the way you explain things, easy to understand and such great detail. Looking forward to your class at PMC Connection on the 18th!!!!!
Julie Cannariato
ArtZcat Creations

Janet Alexander said...

Thanks for your input Linda! It is some good points. I personally don't clean the bench pin since the clay is dry. I do however vacuum it when finished. I guess it does help that I only use fine silver or the new sterling silver clays, so there isn't contamination of brass, bronze or copper to worry about.

Janet Alexander said...

Thank you Julie, please let me know if you have questions about a topic then I will find an answer for it.

St George Diamond Rings said...

thanks for your effort in making a tutorial to guide people! Really appreciate it alot.

St George Diamond Rings