Hi Laurie; As others will tell you, a good pair of these shears is a
hefty investment. Why not work on your saw piercing technique? I
have a couple pointers you might try.
First, make sure you're using the right saw blade. For 16-18
gauge sheet, I prefer a 3/0 blade, a 4/0 for finer gauge up to 20
gauge. The distance between the teeth should always be less than one
thickness of the metal you are sawing.
Make sure the blade is well tensioned in the saw frame. If it's
too loose, it will sag and twist while cutting, and steer itself away
from where you expect it to go.
Don't use too much pressure. The blade will cut fine with only
enough pressure to keep it in contact with the metal in front of it.
Take your time. Try to use the entire lenght of the blade with each
stroke. That will accomplish faster cutting than bearing down on the
blade (especially when you take into account time in changing
When I have students that break a lot of blades and can't seem to
cut straight, I always make sure their blade is tight enough in the
saw frame to make a nice musical "ping" when plucked. Then I make
them try sawing holding the saw handle with only their thumb and
first finger. You can actually do all your sawing with that light of
a grip, as long as the blade is sharp. And try a bit of carving wax
on the blade as a lubricant, especially when cutting silver or
Finally, when you are sawing on a straight-a-way, lean the top of
the saw frame forward towards the direction of the cut. This will
cause the blade to cut through the sheet at an angle to the surface,
wherein you'll be cutting a thicker section of metal, but the blade
will also cut a leading channel in the metal and the blade will keep
itself cutting straight, as long as you've met the aforementioned
criteria of right blade, right tension, and right grip/pressure.
When you get the technique down for using a jewelers saw, you'll find
that saw piercing is one of the more enjoyable efforts in jewelry
Practice on some brass sheet.
David L. Huffman