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Piercing Metal 101

Piercing or sawing metal seems to be one of the most difficult
parts of metalsmithing to master for beginners. The tip I give
my students is this:

You should be able to hold the sawframe and cut metal with only
two fingers. By doing this first, you allow the blade to cut the
metal, and not push hard with your hand. Begin cutting with only
two fingers on the frame, and then wrap the rest of your hand
around to “guide” not “push”.

Use the whole blade, not just one inch in the middle.

Buy the best blades you can. There has been much discussion
about giving beginning students economy blades because they will
just break them anyway. I give my students the best blades money
can buy, and they become better piercers for it. Before they ate
through the economy blades and snapped right through them. Now,
they barely go through a dozen in ten weeks.

Karen Christians
416 Main St.
Woburn, MA 01801


Current Artwork:

When I first started making jewelry many years ago, my first
project was a pierced and soldered belt buckle. With the first
stroke of the jeweler’s saw I knew I’d found my instrument. It’s
such a meditative thing for me; sometimes I feel my hand has a
mind and a design sense of its own. I love to saw to music and
feel the rhythms blend.

And Karen is right about buying the best quality saw blades you
can find. It really does make a big difference.

Janet Kofoed

One more tip (although tipping is un-american…) lubricate the
blade with beeswax first ; pass the blade through a piece of wax.

Bees wax always gets stuck for me. I use something called
Bur-Cut. It’s green and works really well. It is a little
temperature sensitive, which I discovered by leaving my tool box
in my hot car and the Bur Cut ran all over the place. Yech!

I have been using the nice aluminum sawframe for a lot of my
cutting. Nice and light. Big handle too.

Just turned one of my students onto #4 cut Grobet needle files.
Grobet should give me kickbacks for all the marketing I do for

Getting colder nowin Boston, but liking all the Xmas lights.

Karen Christians
416 Main St.
Woburn, MA 01801


Current Artwork: