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.