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Tool for sheet metal

Hi everyone!

I am trying to find a tool, any tool, for cutting forms from sheets
of metal like brass, copper and silver of a thickness of 0,4-0,6
milimetres. The forms I want to cut are very detailed and small, like
the shape of a cat or dog or frog often smaller than 2 cm. The hand
cutter/scissor and the sega saw I have take a lot of time and effort
and often the sheet gets so much bent and distorted that the form is
destroyed. And even when I manage to cut the form I want, it takes a
lot of time to file the edge where it was cut. Is there a tool for
cutting such small forms in metal sheets with smooth cuts? Please
make my life easier!


Etching is one possible solution. There are commercial companies
that do this as contract work if you do not want to do the process
yourself. There are usually art charges and set up fees involved, but
the per piece charge can be reasonable for quantities. You can have a
number of pieces of different designs on the same sheet of metal.

Rick Hamilton

I used to do cat and dog earrings in those sizes, 18 or 20 ga
sterling. I cut pancake dies and use the hydraulic press, there’s
still a little cutting but the edges need much less work than

Donna in VA


You don’t say if you are normally a metal worker or jeweler so I am
assuming not. For the kind of small detailed cutting you need, you
should use a jewelers saw. You can stack your metal and glue it
(temporarily) together and cut more then one animal out with a saw.
Check out the selection of saws from Rio Grande. Also look at smaller
blades 0/3 and below as your cutting blade.


Hi Valia

This will be a somewhat long post so settle in.

Cheapest solution, get a blade of the correct size for the material
you are cutting. A saw blade should have at least 2 teeth and
preferably 3 in contact with the edge of the metal. The other side of
the coin is having to many teeth in contact, the tooth void fills
with metal before you cross the sheet, it will really slow the
cutting down, but gives a very good finish to the edge.

Speaking only for myself, I use a Delta Shopmaster Scroll saw. It
will hold the finest jewelers blades with out breaking them. Not that
I haven’t broken any, but when I did it was my fault not that of the
saw. On my saw you can’t use it straight up, there is a lip in the
area of the saw plate (a small plastic plate which the blade goes
through) which catches on nearly everything. What I did to get over
this problem was to take a piece of aluminum from the hardware store
and cut a cover for the regular table, drill a 1/4" hole in it and
clamped it down using little ‘C’ clamps. I used Plexiglas a couple of
times but the aluminum seems to work better and last longer. The
smallest item I have cut to this point is a dime size snow flake in
30 gauge silver. Another thing I like about this saw is that it has a
removable pan in the bottom which holds the material removed during
cutting (swarf). You have to put the blade in so the teeth face
down, that way it pulls the work into the table to keep it steady.

Finishing of the items is done with ceramic media, fairly course and
run it for about an hour in a vide tumbler. What little smear there
is in the sawn area is abraded away and leaves a nice smooth piece.
You can reduce this time by sawing slower, it produces less of a kerf
ridge. Another thing that helps keep this ridge down is to use a
finer blade. When selecting a blade, use an eye loop and you want at
least one tooth and preferably two in contact with the metal at all
times. Less than that and you break blades, or it looks like you
attacked it with a chisel, the saw has a 1 inch stroke so cutting is
pretty fast. Polishing is done in the same vibe unit with a bowl of
steel media. There are saws which are sold specifically for this
purpose at Rio Grande and several other establishments, but I owned
this one already and decided to give it a try. I was very pleased
with how well it worked and greatly increased the amount of saw work
I can do before my thumbs give out. (Its not really my thumb, it’s
the joint where my thumb joins into the palm) It is really
aggravating to have to stop a project because my thumbs won’t join in
or grip a saw or file handle.

Anyhow, there are about as many suggestions on which machine or
method to use as there are people in this group, but this is the
method and machine I use to cut very small items from plate. I have
never had a problem with distortion.

Hope this helps

Valia - the best answer for your tool is a pancake die. It is a
piece of steel cut with your design in such a way that when metal is
inserted in the tongue it will cut out your design. Dar Shelton makes
these for use with a hydraulic press. If you don’t have access to a
press, he has a service that cuts them for you. He is a real
character located in Albuquerque near the college. His website is and he explains the process ever so much better than
I can. He also makes some outrageously cool wire sculpture. The dies
cut so clean that there is minimum cleanup required.

Judy Hoch - a satisfied customer, both of dies and sculpture

There’s a tool called a die blank which should work, with a male
punch and a female slot, like a circular or scrapbooker’s novelty
paper hole punch.

There’s instructions on how to make your own: called the R T
blanking system,

I’ll leave further discussion to people who actually know what
they’re talking about.

Sebastien Bailard - self-reproducing 3D printer project.

Take a look at the R T Blanking System.

It has been discussed in Ganoksin (see about 2/3 down in

I’ve got one and it works surprisingly well.

Regards, Gary Wooding

A jewelers saw frame and the proper blade for thickness of the
metal. And some practice with the saw and a bench block. Unless you
are going to cut out a lot of them and are willing to pay to have
stamping dies made. Any good book on art metal work jewelry or
silver/gold smithing will have info on the saw and sawing.

been there done that !