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A Little Sawing Secret

What do these objects have in common and why are they in the workshop??

Today we are talking about lubrication. Saw piercing is a fine and subtle art and success at the bench peg can be influenced by your tools, your mood and sometimes it feel like the wind direction.

To help the saw slide through the metal you should lubricate the saw blade. Particularly if you are cutting thicker sheet or detailed designs you may find the saw blade juddering or catching on the upstroke as you saw. Adding a little lubrication makes everything go a little more smoothly. Anything with a waxy slippery texture can be used - some jewellers even spit on their blades (eeeewwww), but here are four of the more common products used by jewellers.


This commercial product is designed to help tools cut through metal more easily. It will add life to saw blades, burs and drill bits. It can dry out and go a bit flaky so don't leave the lid off.


Easy to get hold of, clean and pleasant to use and, we hope, you probably already have some in the house. Most brands and types of hard bar soap seem to work well. Avoid getting any water near your tools though as they will rust. Note: liquid hand soap or hand sanitiser are not suitable for saw piercing.


An old birthday candle, garden candle or tea light perhaps. Even something scented if that's your thing.


This is our favourite method and the one we use at NJS. A block of natural beeswax is a lovely thing to have on your workbench and smells heavenly as you saw - that's got to help too right?


Any vegetable, mineral or petroleum oil will work as a saw lubricant. Vaseline is clean and easy to use - less messy than a liquid oil. It smells a little nicer and is kinder to your skin than a machine mineral oil and doesn't go off like a vegetable based oil.

Which ever method you choose, keep a block near you bench peg so it's readily to hand when you need it. Run the block against the back of the blade so it doesn't interfere with your sightline as you saw. Reapply as needed. If you are cutting a line or seam to solder, remember to remove any traces of lubricant before you solder as it can interfere with the flow.

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