Saw Frames and Saw Blades in Jewelry Making


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sawframe
Saw Frame

 

A jeweler’s saw frame and blades is essential for cutting shapes out of sheet metal. The saw blade is placed in the holders above the wooden handle and tightened into place with the knobs. If the blade is too tight, it will snap when you start sawing. Too loose and it’s ineffective and will eventually snap.

The teeth of the saw blade need to be pointing down to the handle as cutting is done with the downward stroke. You can run your thumb lightly on the blade, or rub the blade with a piece of cloth. The blade will snag in only one direction. The saw blade needs to be tensioned so it will PING. If the blade is too loose you can’t saw accurately; too tight and you get to put in another blade.

I would suggest that you buy some good saw blades and some cheap ones to practice with. You will break blades, it’s better not to use the good blades until you build up some skill with the saw frame. I use sizes 1 and 4/0. The rule of thumb is to have at least three teeth on the thickness of metal you are sawing.

Hold the frame, in a relaxed hand, at a right angle to the piece being sawed. A piece of beeswax or a piece of cotton dipped in wintergreen oil can be used to lubricate the saw blade so it won’t bind up. A bench pin attaches to your work bench to provide support while sawing.

Saw frames are sold based on throat depth from blade to the back of the saw. A 3″ (76mm) or 4″ (102mm) throat depth is preferable as a start. I use a saw frame with a two and a half inch throat. If I need to cut a piece longer than two and a half inches I just turn the metal around and start cutting from the other side. In all the time I’ve been doing this I’ve used a deeper saw frame a handful of times. The deeper the saw frame the harder it is to use.

  • The Germans make a saw frame that is top-notch. Rio Grande and Otto Frei offer it on their website with various throat depths. The blades are sold separately based on thickness.
  • Amazon sells a less expensive version of the German saw frame on their website with various throat depths. Blades are sold separately based on thickness.
sawblades
Saw Blades

Saw blades are sold separately in differing thicknesses. 3/0 is a universal thickness. They run from 8/0 (the smallest) to #14 (the thickest). Rio Grande sells excellent quality blades on their site. Otto Frei offers them as well. Spending a bit more and purchasing better saw blades is a wise investment.

You’ll need a lubricant to coat your saw blades once they are strung in the saw frame. Beeswax is a common lubricant. Synthetic versions of lubricant is available on Otto Frei’s website.