The jewellers saw or piercing saw is the place most new silver smiths must begin. Having said that - it's not an easy skill to learn. Lots of new jewellery makers have a love hate relationship with their piercing saw.
The jeweller saw is in two main parts - the frame and handle and the blade. The blades come in a variety of sizes and they break. A lot. Especially when you are first starting out. And that's OK. They are sold in bundles of a dozen (12) or a gross (144).
At NJS we use size 2/0 and 3/0 the most often - in fact we use it for nearly everything but you may want a finer blade for thin delicate work or a thicker blade for something more substantial. A general rule of thumb is to have two saw teeth within the depth of your metal. Saw blade sizes run from 4 at the coarsest to 8/0 at the finest. See this handy table if you need to know the exact measurements of a blade.
Saw blades come in a few variations. The most basic and most common, often known as a German frame is a simple U shaped frame and handle. This is the style we use at the jewellery school and the type we recommend to our jewellery students. It's a tool that has been unchanged for many decades and served generations of jewellers well. More recent and popular (and expensive) makes include Knew Concepts, Green Lion and Haymaker.
Bench Peg or Pin
The saw works best when it's paired up with a jewellers bench peg. The peg is nothing more than a short length of wood, with a V shaped cut out section, which protrudes from the edge of the jewellers bench. It supports your metal and allows you to turn and manipulate the work with out losing control.
Some jewellers have very strong opinions on the best brand of frame or saw blades. As you become more proficient you might want to experiment to find the ones that work best for you. But in our experience as long as your frame is well tensioned and your blade is fresh the most important thing is to practice. Set your self some intricate designs and get a sheet of 0.7mm copper to practice with. Get to know your frame and learn to love it and it will do any job you ask of it.
Want to try your hand at using a jewellers saw? Have a look at our 'Just Add Patience' saw piercing kit.