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Finishing question

You guys are wonderful! This group is the most helpful resource
I’ve found in thirty years as a metalsmith. Thanks for all your

WalkIn Beauty,

Susannah Ravenswing - who now has nicely polished pierced knife
handle scales thanks to Orchidians

I do a lot of work with pierced overlay, and finishing is indeed a
pain. I cut fine emery paper into narrow strips roughly 1/32" wide,
and then kind of saw the strips back and forth to finish those

Hope that helps.

Allan Mason

I’ve pierced some arabesques and scroll shapes through 18 gauge
sterling sheet and am having trouble figuring out how to smooth and
polish the inside walls of the piercings before soldering them onto
their backplates.

Hi, here are many ways to clean up the insides of pierced work.
Avoiding the saw marks in the first place might be a time saver.
When sawing you can tilt your saw slightly forward at the top of the
stroke and end with the saw tilted slightly back at the bottom. By
using this slight wrenching movement, instead of the standard
straight up and down, the saw marks will be much smoother. Very
little tilt is necessary to smooth out the cut marks. Smaller saw
blades which have more teeth will make for much smoother cuts also.
Steering the smaller blades is more difficult, and they break more
easily. Because they break more easily you learn quickly the
important skill of finessing the saw. I wish one of the
manufacturers would make thick kerfed blades with a higher
proportion of teeth for cutting single pass scroll lines. We often
use a #6 or #8 for this purpose, gluing the sheet to masonite to
keep the metal from collapsing and giving some resistance to the
large blade.

Since it is more difficult to steer a smaller blade one trick which
helps is to continuously move your head from side to side as you
cut. This technique allows your eyes to see the work from more than
one perspective and your brain can use the triangulated visual data
to better perceive both the distance and progress of the work. This
is how deer, coyotes and many other animals behave when viewing an
unidentified but suspicious object. (Deer usually use up and down)

Cheers Martin

    Since it is more difficult to steer a smaller blade one trick
which helps is to continuously move your head from side to side as
you cut. 

This is a good technique. Another one that helps me saw straight is
looking past the saw’s frame at the blade. When my eyes are focused
on the blade, I see a double image of the saw’s frame in the
foreground of my vision. As an example, hold your finger up in front
of your eyes and look past it to a point in front of you. You should
see a blurry double image of your finger as you focus on an object
past it.

The analogy is, the object you’ve focused upon would be the
sawblade, and your finger would be the back of the saw frame. So,
while sawing, focus on the sawblade, and keep the two slightly
blurred images of the back of the saw’s frame evenly on either side
of the blade.

James in SoFl