I had a request the other day, asking how I make the scrollwork found on some of my jewelry pieces. So, why not write a tutorial? Let’s give it a go… Here’s what you are going to need:
- Jeweller’s Sawframe
- pack of blades for the saw
- computer with scanner(optional)
- sheet of 1mm copper
- Small drillbit that will fit into the area you are going to cut out
Okay, first thing to do is draw out your design, or find an image that you are going to use. If you are going to be using a computer to get the final image, you can draw it larger than you want and scale it down later. Remember that the design must all be connected together otherwise the unconnected parts will be lost when you cut it all out. My pieces often involve the same design mirrored on both sides of the piece, so I scan my drawing and copy and flip it so that I can get a printout of my final design. Make sure it is the size you want, and the lines are nice and clear and print it out.
The piece I am doing here is actually going to be a die for future use, so it is made of steel, but the process is still the same. Take your sheet of copper(or whatever you want to cut out) and give it a good sand with some 320 grit sandpaper. make sure you get it nice and clean. It is tempting to skip this and just get your design on, but you will regret it when you are halfway through cutting your design out, and it starts to lift off the metal.When it is nicely sanded, grab your gluestick and glue up the piece of paper with your design on, and stick it on the metal where you want it to go. You can hold it up to the light to see where the edge of the metal is so that you get it placed properly. Now, you gotta wait while the glue dries……. be patient.
Okay, time to drill holes everywhere that needs to be cut out. A 1.5 mm drill bit is good-not too small that it breaks easily. Obviously if the section you are cutting out is smaller, you are going to have to use a smaller drillbit. Just go slow, if you drill it too fast, you are going to overheat the bit and it’s gonna get dull and probably break.
Holes drilled? Get out your jeweler’s saw. One of the handiest tools in the world in my opinion. You can find them on ebay for about 12 bucks. Don’t forget to get blades, for something not too intricate, some 0/1 size blades should do. And yes you are gonna break blades, so you probably want more than 12. Get a gross and you’ll be good for a while. When you put blades in the saw, they go with the teeth pointing down so it cuts on the down stroke. Put the top of the blade in it’s place and tighten the screw, then put the end of the saw you just installed the blade in against something firm, and the handle against your chest and, using your body weight, compress the saw a bit. While you have that pressure on the saw frame, tighten the bottom end of the blade. If you have done it right, if you pluck the sawblade it should give a nice high pitched ring.
You are going to have to figure out a place to do your piercing. Good if you can get your work just under chin level while you are sitting comfortably. Or if you are desperate, you could kneel beside a normal kitchen table. I have made a little board which makes it much easier to saw. If you make one of these and then use a c-clamp to hold it on to a table you should be pretty good to go.
Got your saw, got your blades, got a place to cut, It’s time to start cutting. Pick a nice easy part to cut out, undo the bottom of your saw blade, slide blade through the hole in your piece, and then tighten up the saw again with the piece hanging on your saw blade. Get it on your board with the saw blade vertical and start to saw. Try keep it nice and smooth, follow the outside of the line, turning the piece as you need to. If you need to make a sharp corner, saw up and down without pushing the blade forward and slowly rotate the blade.
It is amazing what you can do with these things. It will probably take a bit of practice and quite a few broken blades, but I am sure you will make some amazing jewelry!
Oh, yeah, lastly, soak the paper off in some water to reveal your design. Voila!