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Herkules Blades breaking

I have a regular German jeweler’s saw. I have been using the Laser
Gold blades from Rio Grande which are great. But I got a bunch of
Herkules blades from Contenti and they seem so brittle. They break as
I am screwing them into the saw frame. Does anyone else use these
blades. I think that I am going to get a Knew Concept’s Saw, can you
recommend some blades to use with it?


they seem so brittle. They break as I am screwing them into the saw

10-15 seconds in a low flame with just the tips of the blade will
temper them a little more stopping breakage when tightening the

Dan Culver

I use several brands of Blades including Hercules. I just bought them
and find they are a bit stiffer than I am used to but they should not
be brittle perhaps you have a bad batch?


I recommend and use the Laser Gold blades.

The Herkules blades have a slightly different temper than the laser
gold blades. This can make them slightly brittle. The Laser gold
blades tend to have a better temper to them making them slightly more
flexible so they tend to break less. They may cost slightly less up
front but they are a better value since they last longer.

The Knew Concept saw is fantastic. Is well balanced and not top heavy
like the German jewelers saw so you have more control. You’ll find it
much easier to tighten the blades to just the right tension. Even on
very thin blades. You also don’t have to jab it into your chest to
tighten your blades any longer. I personally like the one without the
cam better unless your using the same size blade for every job.

Phillip Scott
Technical Support
Rio Grande


Just a little more would help folks advise you. One does
not “screw” blades into a regular jeweler’s saw. The normal procedure
is you put one end of the blade into the bottom end, hold the thing
to your chest and flex the bow part in a bit, put the upper end of
the blade the in upper part of the saw, then tighten it. You then
"ping" it to see if it is tight enough. Ping meaning… well that is
subjective. Think of it as a guitar string. My ping might not be
someone else’s ping… it is a higher note. Too low a note, too
loose… too high a note… too tight and the blades will break. It is
not the blades if you are breaking them putting them in the saw. The
only thing I can think of that would break a blade in a regular saw
is being way to tight… too much tauntness. Most of us break blades
by pushing them too hard. using the wrong size blade for the job… or
by getting them too tight or loose and break them in use. It is
unusual to break a blade putting it in the saw unless you have way
too much tension. You CAN break a blade fast in a Knew Concepts saw
putting it in… but that is not a “regular” saw.

I’d suggest a few things:

  1. tell us more what you do when you put the blade in the saw.
    “Screwing them into the saw frame” does not fit my idea of a
    standard saw frame… you flex it in and tighten the nuts.

  2. Don’t buy the Knew Concepts saw until you can master the regular
    saw. It is a saw that makes experts better… not a saw that makes
    up for short comings in the use of the saw.

  3. Honestly, don’t get hung up on blades or a saw frame. Master a
    basic frame and decent blades (Herkules or Rio’s Gold are fine)
    first… then the rest will come.

  4. If you have access to someone who can provide you a simple lesson
    this… do that. A lesson is worth more than a thousand words.

Don’t get the fancy saw until you can use a regular saw. Think of
the KnewConcepts saw as the Porche… you gotta be able to drive the
Chevette first before moving to a high performance saw. Others may
disagree :slight_smile:


I’ve been using Hercules 3/0 blades from Conenti for a recent
project. No pro lems.

Thanks for all the good advice. I will try tempering them in the low
flame, great idea. I can’t wait to get the Knew Concept saw, I’ve
heard great things about it.

Hi Brent,

1) tell us more what you do when you put the blade in the saw.
"Screwing them into the saw frame" does not fit my idea of a
standard saw frame.. you flex it in and tighten the nuts. 

KC saws are, as you note later, a little different. ‘Screwing the
blade in’ isn’t exactly how I’d describe it, but it’s not far off
the mark. The blade clamps are screws. The blade is clamped directly
in- between two hardened screw faces, which gives a much higher
contact pressure than a traditional style blade clamp.

You don’t tension a KC frame by trying to flex it with your sternum.
You’ll damage yourself if you try. They’re way too rigid for that.

Seeing the ongoing suffering of jewelers with bruised sterni
(Sternae? Sternums?) we’ve thoughtfully provided the KC saws with
either knobs or levers that allow one to tension them quickly,
without having to abuse one’s tender flesh in the process.

2) Don't buy the Knew Concepts saw until you can master the
regular saw. It is a saw that makes experts better... not a saw
that makes up for short comings in the use of the saw. 

All joking aside, I have to disagree with the above statement as
strongly as I possibly can. I realize, working with Lee, that my
comments may sound a bit self-serving, but follow along heRe: the
biggest difference between the KC saws, and traditional designs is
the increased stiffness of the KC design. Which lets you get the
blade as tight as you want, and keeps it tight. Which forces the
blades to cut closer to straight. To borrow from your Porche analogy,
why would you want to learn to drive on a car with a loose steering
wheel?? I’ve taught people how to saw for pushing 20 years now, and
have used the KC saws in classes for the past two. It’s amazing how
many fewer saw blades we’ve chewed up, and how much less frustration
I’ve seen since I switched over. Even if I weren’t involved in making
them, I’d still be recommending them for beginners. Yes, they’re more
expensive to start, but on the other hand, you’re not then trying to
learn a technique while simultaneously fighting a tool that could be

3) Honestly, don't get hung up on blades or a saw frame. Master a
basic frame and decent blades (Herkules or Rio's Gold are fine)
first... then the rest will come. 

We’ve used Antilope or Otto Frei’s house brand to load the saws with
when they ship, and I’ve used Herkules and Lasers in mine, all with
perfectly fine results.

Two things to watch out for:

(A) the frames are so much stiffer than traditional designs that it
is entirely possible to tear blades apart, especially with the lever
versions. Dial the tension in gently at first, until you get used to
what the frame can do, and what the blades can handle.

(B) it shouldn’t happen, but it is physically possible that the
anvil screws in the blade clamps can get out of alignment, which can
snap the tails off of blades as you try to tension the saw. The
troubleshooting instructions are here on the KC website:

Don't get the fancy saw until you can use a regular saw. Think of
the KnewConcepts saw as the Porche... you gotta be able to drive
the Chevette first before moving to a high performance saw. Others
may disagree :) 

Indeed. That would be me. See above. It’s not so much a difference
between a Chevette or a Porche, as it is a car with sloppy steering
versus more-or-less the same car, with the steering fixed, and the
front-end realigned.

Brian Meek
Knew Concepts.

You don't tension a KC frame by trying to flex it with your
sternum. You'll damage yourself if you try. They're way too rigid
for that. 

Brian, not to correct the saw’s maker or anything, but I find that
you can, indeed tension blades in the KC frames the same way you’d do
with the old german ones. It works a bit differently, but it works. I
often do it this way simply because it’s an ingrained habit, and it’s
faster. And the wider rounded end of the KC frame’s handle actually
makes it slightly more comfortable than it is with the old style

Consider: Saw blades are quite hardened and tempered steel. They
don’t stretch appreciably when under tension. At least, they stretch
less than the flex of the KC frames, slight though that may be. When
you compress a saw frame with your sternum, it doesn’t matter how
much is does or does not flex, so long as it flexes just a little
more than the blade will stretch. In doing so, you create a situtaion
where, when you release the tension after clamping a blade in place,
the saw frame recoils back with the same pressure you put on it when
tensioning. With the KC frames, this requires less flexing of the
frame, but it remains that the resulting tension on the blade is the
same with both types of frames. If the saw blades themselves were
stretchy, then the distance flexed by the frame would make a
difference, but given how solidly the blade clamps on the KC frames
hold the blades, there simply isn’t much stretch/elongation of the
blades to compensate for.

Think of it in terms of classic compression springs: If you take a
light duty spring and compress it with, say, a pound of force,
assuming this isn’t enough to fully compress it, it will then be
pushing back with that same force. If you compress a much heavier
spring with that same pound of force, you won’t depress it by
anywhere near as much, but it will be pushing back with that same
pound of force as the light duty spring did. If you have a situation
where only that recoil pressure counts, rather than the distance the
spring compressed, then the difference between the two springs
becomes moot, as the result is the same. The same situation exists
with the KC versus the old style saw frames, due to the relative lack
of stretch of the saw blades being tensioned. If the blades stretched
more than the amount of deflection of the frame when tensioned, then
this would not be true, but I’ve not found that to be the case.

The result, at least as I find it, is that the amount of pressure
needed to tension a blade by pushing it with your sternum is the same
with either type of frame. The difference is that with the KC frames,
you’re not limited to doing it this way if you wish, and that with
the screw tension arrangement of the KC frames, you have rather more
precise control over the exact tension, being able to finely adjust
the tension via the sound made when plucking the blade. Slight
adjustments of the tension with the old German frames is harder to


Hi Peter,

You’re right: you can sternum-crunch a KC saw, but remember a
couple of things:

(A) I say this affectionately, but nobody would call either one of
us normal. Your tolerance for sternum bruising may well be higher
than the average bear’s. (Or not, I would have thought, but practice
makes calluses.)

(B) One needs to get at least enough of a flex to the frame to let
the clamps fully bite on the tang of the blade, which may take more
pressure than most users want to put up with. (especially for the 3"
or Ti frames.) Both of us are big guys. Our average jewelry customer

© When I’m writing with my KC hat on, I have to be careful to say
things in ways that won’t come back to haunt us 18 months down the
road. So I’m very conservative about what I say. There may well be
special cases that don’t exactly line up with my “normal” advice,
but I have to keep the average user in mind when I say things.


(A) I say this affectionately, but nobody would call either one of
us normal. 

Too True. Well, at least in your case… :slight_smile: Me? Nuthin wrong here.
Really. I promise…

Your tolerance for sternum bruising may well be higher than the
average bear's. (Or not, I would have thought, but practice makes

Well, age and diabetic neuropathy may have dulled things a bit, but
I doubt it’s that much. And, there’s a couple stainless steel wire
twist ties still imbedded in my sternum from the bypass operation
tying the bone back together. Lean on those, and it hurts.

(B) One needs to get at least enough of a flex to the frame to let
the clamps fully bite on the tang of the blade, which may take
more pressure than most users want to put up with. 

My point, Brian, is that it does not take any more pressure to
tension the KC frames than it does any other frame. The pressure you
need to put on the frame to tension the blade is exactly the same as
the tension needed on the blade, and that’s determined by the blade,
not by the frame. The resulting deflection of the frame is less,
perhaps much less, with KC frames, but this doesn’t make a difference
in the end. In practice, one first tensions the blade via your screw
adjustments after properly mounting the blade. From there, you need
not touch the screw again. Tensioning the blade by pressing on the
frame, if you push hard enough to get the same tension you had
before, automatically positions the blade end far enough into the
clamps, same as it was before (you do have to be sure to pull the
blade straight back, so it’s not bent or flexed while doing this.
Fail to do this, and my whole argument goes in the trash) And as I
said above, the pressure on the frame needed to do this is the same,
regardless of the type of frame. I find that retensioning a blade
this way makes sense when I’m doing the sort of piercing on small
work that requires repeated insertions of the blade through yet
another opening, but with work that’s small enough so holding the
blade straight while re-clamping it is easy. In that situation, it’s
simply faster than having to loosen the tension with the screw (or
cam), remount the blade, then retension (though with the cam, the
speed is roughly the same, which of course is the reason you put it

It’s also quite likely that my use of this method is more due simply
to the similarity to the way I’ve tensioned saw blades for about 40
years now. Old habits become automatic…

And with many situations, I also use your tensioning design. Very
fine blades, for example, are harder to retension simply by leaning
on the frame, as the tension adjustment is so delicate, and the
blades, after making one or two cuts, often have a slight curve to
them when the tension is removed, making them slightly harder to hold
in exactly the right postion to mount them properly using my quick
method. Then, your screw system is better.


I am probably being overly cranky, but I have to say this. I am so,
so tired of the commercial soapboxing here. I have been a metalsmith
for 40 plus years now, can someone please help me understand how a
new saw or new alloy is going to suddenly make me better. I love
tools, but tools don’t do much by themselves. You have to know what
to do with them… and a KC saw is not going to make someone who is
struggling to use a saw a master. Brian, you can spin this anyway you
wish, but the KC saw is not much of an improvement if you have to
fiddle with it to make it work. And, yes… many of us have to fiddle
with it to make it work. I found it very offensive when it was
suggested we just needed training on how to use the saw… the one I
own is working thank you. I did not suddenly get stupid when the KC
saw was released. Please stop confusing the issue for those who are
struggling with just using a saw… and by the way, there is nothing
wrong with a regular old saw either. In the hands of an experienced
metalsmith the KC can do some things a regular frame can’t… we won’t
argue with that… but, will you please stop trying to hawk the KC saw
on orchid at the expense of common sense. If folks want to buy the KC
saw we know who sells them. Let’s not complicate issues of those who
are trying to work through issues with a saw with your very clear
conflict of interest with the KC saw. Maybe folks need to learn to
use a regular old saw first. Pitch the KC for what it is… a damn
good saw for those who need it. It is not a beginner’s saw. It is not
a replacement for a regular jeweler’s saw. It is what it is.

Orchid is not a blog. It is a diverse community of designers,
artists, metalsmiths, jewelers, and the odd assortment of the those
like me who just have a passion for design (I seriously suck at
design) or metalwork. It is not a blog. We support each other, share,
support, advise and bitch. Hawk the saw somewhere else. I have a
fretz hammer fetish… but I can achieve the same results with a
range of dollar store ball pein hammers after filing, tempering,
cussing etc… it is not the tool, it is the maker. It is amazing
what primitive cultures can do with sufficient training and
specialization… pretty sure they did not use KC saws or Fretz
hammers :slight_smile: Weare judged by our results … not our tools.

I tend to agree with what Brent Jones (basically) says about people
needing to learn the skill (sawing, in this case) by simply doing it
until you’re good at it, before worrying about getting the spiffiest
tool right away in the hopes that the tool will make the work
better. Sawing is definitely a skill that takes some time to get
really good at. I started out doing complex, southwestern-style
overlay pieces when I was 14 and it didn’t matter what saw I used;
there wasn’t much choice back then , so you learned to saw by sawing.
It doesn’t take an encyclopedia to findout that x blade and tension
works better on z metal in y thickness than some other combination.
You had your jewelry making books and your job or your class, and

you got down to work ; I imagine things haven’t changed much in that
regard since the 70’s… oh yeah, except there are forums on which
to pontificate now (^;.

Sawing tool steel dies was much the same in the beginning; even
though I was great with a saw, I sucked at sawing with the saw
always pointing straightforward, guiding the work around that
’stationary point '. Sawing steel was lots harder, physically, than
what I was used to. It too me a couple years to get really good and
accurate sawing that way , and while I’ll be the first to say that
the original RT saw was a

t.p.o.s. , once I got away from it and doing the job with a real
saw, getting better was about getting better by doing it, not by
getting a better saw. There were no better saws for that in 1986, so
I made one based on the RT idea which was nice, and could handle
large pieces, but it was too heavy, so I made a different setup that
used an intact jewelers saw.

While my experience sawing dies clearly shows that using a bad tool
can really make things rough, using decent and good tools, not
necessarily great ones, doesn’t have to interfere with getting great
results. I also didn’t give the RT saw any real time , intact, but I
know people who didn’t mind using it the way in came out of the box.
I consider myself to be fairly talented, and I can get supremely
good at things if I do them enough, but I’ve run into a lot of
people who seem like magicians in how they do something well right
away, something I know I couldn’t do so well, so easily. That’s part
of what tells me that talent and ability have a lot to do with
results. Great craftspeople can achieve greatthings with average
tools, while average people may not ever be able to duplicate those
results with all the finest tools in the world.

All that being said, I’ve known Lee Marshall for a long time and I
know he doesn’t make unnecessary tools, or tools that aren’t engineer
ed the way they are for specific, well thought out reasons. I have an
8" sawframe he made me for my motorized saw that I’d never part with,
because of how it outperforms a standard 8" sawframe when sawing big,
thick dies. It’s made of 1/2" square, solid, aluminum bar. I have not
gotten around to trying the KC saws on dies, except for brief
testing, simply because what I have works so well, but I willl
sometime soon. I’m someone who can use the very best in sawing gear,
but the average person, or beginner, should just get your basic saw
and some decent blades and learn how to saw. I’m continually
surprised at how many people I talk to, who are making metal parts
for their jewelry, act like a jewelers saw is some kind of alien

For me , as a kid, it was just part of a natural progression : tree
saw, lumber saw, hacksaw, coping saw, hole saw, bandsaw (not
necessarily in that order) jewelers saw.

Like using scissors or pliers or an electric drill or any other,
very basic, metalworking skill ; how could you NOT know how to saw ?.
I know, I know… but it’s been second nature to me for so long.
It’s 'my thing ', while there are a lot of other jewelry skills I
never got good at because I never had to.


Have I missed something here (comment on “commercial soapboxing”)? I
have no affiliation with the KC folks, but I do not see any "hawking"
going on. I do see rational promotion, and more to the point I see
genuine product support. I have 5 or 6 jeweler saw frames, from
shallow to deep and one of the original KC saws. Guess which frame is
my go-to saw, the KC. Seems lighter and more maneuverable, and fewer
breaks. As it is the original, it does not have a cam tensioner, so I
find it a PITA for piercing work and use other frames for that.

I know there is an upgrade, but I am not going to pay half the price
of the (premium priced) frame to upgrade it. I am a tool junkie and
really appreciate the tool support a few of the outstanding makers
provide to this forum. My 2 cents. marlin

You can buy tools but you have to work to get your skills. 

Wrong tools don’t make it easier and good tools don’t garanty for a
better job. The person behind the tool is key. The skills and
experience make the value of his work. So simple to understand but so
easely forgotten.

Perfectly explained Dar!

Have fun and enjoy

I made a mistake on the saw blade brand. They are actually Champ

I’m not affiliated with Knew Concepts either, and sure didn’t see
anything ‘highly offensive’ posted by Brian, but then I don’t read
all the posts here. I mentioned that I don’t use KC saws -unless you
count old-style Bonny Doon saw guides, which I have no good reason
to stop using - but (as I also mentioned) I will be trying one or two
out for pancake dies sometime, for real.

I failed to add, in a post the other day about the over-reliance on
fancy tools as a substitute for skills, a couple of good reasons for
having one of the guided ones. The obvious reason is for sawing
pancake dies, as it is my opinion that sawing dies freehand is not a
good approach. I’m not saying that some people don’t make dies that
way that work, just that I wouldn’t ever do it. Here we go into that
area I skirted on earlier, about some people being rather unusually
good at doing hard things, and I would look at anyone who could saw
dies freehand well, right away, as being unusual. Maybe I’m being too
much of a perfectionist in wanting the sawing angle to be exact and
consistent, but I’ve seen the process be uncooperative, so I like to
be perfect where I can with it, where I think it needs to be.

Anyway, a guided saw for dies is the way to go , and also for
piercing extra-thick sheet, especially for beginners on the thick
sheet. It can be tricky keeping the saw vertical going around
corners, and things like 1/8" steel -say for a gate latch hole - can
be a problem.

OUT BETTER, that’s what I think (^8.


I have never used my sternum to push on a saw frame. I use the
muscular triangle just under the ribs. I have trained as a singer,
and learned to tighten my diaphragm, so this was natural for me. Just
tighten your abdomen as if someone were going to punch you in the
belly, and feel the area below your ribs get tight and strong. No
bruises, ever!

M’lou Brubaker
Minnesota, USA’louBrubaker/

Sheltech is right about a guided saw. I cut all of mine freehand. So
it can be done but a guide would make it much easier.