Trick VII: On the cutting edge

Bench jewelers frequently need to make precise cuts in gold and platinum sheet metal, but a regular wire saw blade just won’t do the job. According to Tom Weishaar, JAr Certified Master Bench Jeweler and shop manager of Underwoods in Fayetteville, Ark., wire blades bend and bow as they cut through metal. The lines they cut just don’t have the precision that is sometimes required.

Here’s Tom’s solution: Select a safety-edge razor blade and stand it (sharp edge down) on a rough-cut flat file. Using a steel hammer, firmly tap down onto the razor blade’s safety edge. This will drive the sharp edge of the blade into the teeth of the file, causing the pattern of the file to be transferred to the razor blade. The result is a very fine cutting razor blade saw-a blade that will cut a true, uniform line without the bowing seen in normal wire blades.

For a variation on that technique, try this: Select a No. 11 scalpel blade instead of a safety-edge razor, and follow the procedure outlined above. Scalpel blades make wonderful saws because they are rigid and taper to a point-and best of all, they have a firm handle. Scalpel blades can often get into tight places where regular wire blades can’t go.

Benefits for the Working Bench Jeweler

  1. Economy. You can re-sharpen razor saw blades when they become dull, or make your own saw blade if standard saw blade supplies run out.

  1. Precision. Increases precision when custom-making jewelry items using fine materials.

  1. Efficiency. Works well with carving wax at getting into tight design configurations.

  1. Continuing education. This technique will be helpful to those taking any levels of the JAr Bench Jeweler CertificationT practical bench tests.

“JAr T Masters in Motion” will be conducted during the Rio Grande Catalog in Motion at the Tucson East Hilton, Tucson, Ariz., February 2-4, 2001. JAr Certified Master Bench JewelersT will present four 90-minute demonstrations each day-played live via high-tech close-up video cameras and large-screen monitors-during which they will share their tips, tricks, and techniques. The sessions are interactive and there is no cost for admission. Seating is limited and on a first come, first seated basis. Contact JA for information at (800) 223-0673.

Bench Tricks is an exclusive monthly column designed to give jewelers a quick and handy reference for solving many common jewelry repair dilemmas. Be sure to look for Bench Tricks every month in JCK. We extend many thanks to Jewelers of America for providing this valuable service to our readers.