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Efficient cutting for 14 ga. sheet metal


I see that Ken and others have recommended using a scroll saw to cut
metal. This is good advice and I have a couple of other bits to
share as well.

1.) If all the pieces are to be the same size and shape you can do
what is called a stack cut. This is where you take your material,
stack it all into a single pile, use double sided sticky tape to
keep the pieces all together and then cut them all at the same time.
Wood workers use this technique all the time. Take 2 pieces of 1/8
inch hardboard (aka masonite) to use as a top and bottom. If, for
instance, the pieces of metal can all be cut to a preliminary shape
of 2"x 2",cut them out to that size. Then cut the masonite to say
3"x3". Cut some small pieces of wood to 3"x1/2"x what ever the total
thickness of your metal stack is. Put the bottom piece of masonite
down, put your small wooden spacers around the edges with the metal
sandwiched in the center between them, put on the top piece of
masonite and fasten them all together around the edges where the
spacers are. Try to keep everything as tight as possible. Make sure
the pattern you want to cut is traced on the outside of the stack,
directly over the metal, set your scroll saw to it’s slowest
setting, and proceed with the cut. If you don’t have a scrollsaw you
can make this cut with a coping saw as well. The total thickness of
the metal will allow you to use a slightly coarser blade than you
would use cutting the pieces individually and, if you’ve kept
everything tight together in the cutting, you should have several
pieces identical in shape using only a single cut.

2.) You can use this same type of cut when cutting only a single
piece too. Just sandwich your metal between the 2 pieces of
masonite. Again, this allows the use of a coarser blade because the
overall stack is thicker. To get more life out of the blade (
constantly cutting on the same small region of blade ruins them and
causes breakage) try using thicker bottom pieces for the stack. This
raises the cutting area of the blade (or lowers it) so that you
aren’t cutting on the same part of the blade all the time. Be sure
to use a cutting lubricant also.

3.) The reason for using the masonite sandwich is that it also
produces a smoother cut. Without the support the backers provide,
the metal goes essentially unsupported in the immediate area of the
blade. This causes the metal to bend in those areas and produces
really rough cuts. The supporting backers eliminate these problems
and any really rough cuts will show on the disposable masonite and
not the metal.

Practice on some scraps till you get the hang of it and get used to
your saw. I own a single speed Delta I bought at Harbor Freight. I
heartily recommend getting a multi-speed machine. You maintain
better control this way. A scrollsaw can be used for a great many
projects in a jewelers shop. They can be used to cut exotic
hardwoods that can be set just like you would set a cab of stone. I
tend more toward sculpture so power saws and sanders get a lot of
use. So do hand-piece type tools.

I hope this made some sense. If not, contact me offline and I will
try to explain better.