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Sawing thick line in thin metal


Hello out there in Orchid-land!

Any advice for sawing a thick line in thin-gauge metal?

I am using 26g silver and would like to attach it to another piece
of the same using the method someone here (was it Charles
Lewton-Brain?) likened to paper doll base assembly; i.e. a cut
through one piece fits into a cut through the other piece.

Since the original sawed line is so small (I’m using a 2/0 blade,
which I know isn’t small enough for the metal but it’s the smallest
I have…I am only cutting about 2-3mm into the piece so the blade
hasn’t been breaking) I can’t go in and file it, and saw-filing
isn’t really working for me (the pieces are tiny tiny and it’s hard
enough to hold them even for the original sawed line). Should/could
I use a bigger blade, even though it’s thin metal?

I know it’s a long shot, but hey - Orchid’s full of answers for long

Jessica in San Francisco, who seems to have gotten over her
unfortunate toxic White-Out incident.

    Any advice for sawing a thick line in thin-gauge metal? I am
using 26g silver and would like to attach it to another piece 

G’day. Don’t be tempted to use a thicker saw blade: you’ll break
several! Can you put two #2 blades in your frame side by side?
Tricky, I know but it can be done. Otherwise put a piece of sticky
tape on the back of a strip of suitable wet ‘n’ dry paper to stiffen
it and use it like a file, gently. What about trying one of those
very thin nail files containing ‘sapphire[’ crystals, available from
most pharmacies? Use a bit of spit to lubricate it.

Cheers for now,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ


Jessica, If you wish to cut a thin sheet of metal with a “large” or
coarse saw blade, simply place it on (or glue it to) a thicker sheet
of brass and saw through both at the same time. The key to effective
sawing is having at least two teeth contact the metal at the same
time. If you don’t, you will find that the saw blade “chatters"
through the cut. I made a very effective “sawing table” for my bench
by simply turning a bench pin flat side up and attaching a small
sheet of 1/8” brass sheet to the bench pin with epoxy and a couple
of screws. I use a Bench Mate system, so it is easy for me to change
bench pins when I want to, but you can also just pull out your old
bench pin and shove the sawing table in when you need it.

This table always gives me a flat surface to saw on, so it is easier
to get straight cuts with a 90 degree edge. Piercing flat sheet is a
breeze. It is easier to get very accurate cuts and, unlike the
wooden surface of the bench pin, it will take a decade to wear it
out. Use your wooden pin for filing…

Doug Zaruba

Any advice for sawing a thick line in thin-gauge metal? 

Hi Jessica, Since it sounds like you’re only going a few millimeters
into the metal, and straight cuts, I would consider using a
separating disk (or a couple stacked for the right thickness) on a
mandrel with the flex-shaft.

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)


Jessica, Place the piece to be sawed over another thicker piece of
metal and saw both. You may want to adhere the piece to the other
with Superglue or some such. Jerry in Kodiak


Hi Jessica,

Assuming the pieces are flat - or nearly so, do as I do with small
flat watch parts and stick the metal to something bigger first. When
I have to make a tiny shaped part in steel or whatever, I stick it to
a big lump of flat brass sheet using ‘Superglue’ (cyanoacrylate) and
cut the two pieces at once. That way I have a convenient ‘handle’ to
hold the piece with and I can use bigger blades in the saw if

Best wishes, Ian –

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield, UK

Use a bit of spit to lubricate it. 

John, I loved your advice on lubrication. Reminds me of the old days
when they used ear wax on their saw blades etc. Cheers from Don.


I always reply directly to those who have answered my questions, but
just wanted to send out a big collective thanks for the sheer volume
of answers on this one! I must have been a little unclear though; I
wanted to saw a thick-width line in thin metal rather than making the
metal thicker to use an on-hand blade; John Burgess’ suggestions of
using two blades side-by-side or sanding with masking tape-enforced
sandpaper fit the bill exactly. Thank you all for the suggestions on
how to thicken the material to use a smaller blade; although that
wasn’t the problem for me this time around, I now have great tips for
when that situation does present itself!

Again, many many thanks.
Jessica in SF, where the weather is turning away from autumn.


Whupps! I must be a bit slow (I blame it on that toxic whiteout fume
experience last week!) but I now realize that the folks who suggested
that I attach my thin piece to a thicker metal were indeed trying to
solve the problem I posed, and were suggesting I do this so I could
use a bigger blade and hence cut a wider line. My mistake! Thanks to
everyone who wrote to clarify this for me.

Jessica in spectacular SF


Hi, I just remembered this thread when I was cleaning out my lapidary
bench. A few years ago I purchased some diamond saw blades of
different thicknesses that might work. They are really just
stainless steel wires with diamonds sintered on, and they come in a
number of different gauges. I think I got them from a crystallite
(sp?) dealer at Tucson one year. They were actually fairly cheap at
$1.00 each. Maybe you could saw the line, and then finish it up with
one of these blades. I haven’t used them on metal yet, but I have
used them on opal and lapis. (I have never had one break yet either.)
Just a thought from a total jewelry rookie out here. Eric


Hey Jessica, I’m a bit behind on Orchid (500 left to go, YIKES!) so
you may have already had an acceptable answer. But thought I’d
offer my 2cents worth.

I’ve done this before several ways depending on the project.

  1. Cut the line with a small blade then use a larger blade to
    thicken the line. Though its difficult to cut with a large blade on
    thin gauge initially, it works quite well to start with a thin blade
    then simply make a line thicker. You may need to mess with the
    angle that you hold the saw frame at to get this to work.

  2. Use a thin disc-like bur to follow the line and widen it. This
    only works if its a fairly straight line and the bur is the
    thickness you desire. Also Dremel discs work well, but the line
    would have to be dead straight. Both require a very steady hand.

  3. Cut some 280 (appx) sand paper into thin strips and run it in the
    grooves. I’ve also doubled up a thin strip by folding it in half
    then putting it loosely in my saw frame like a blade, then running
    it in the grove. This helps it to stay straight and not round the
    edges of your line as much. This method and #1 are the ones i use

If you need a better description of any of this just drop me a note.

Good luck
David Tomich