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Very intricate sawing for jewellery


... That's what I've been doing an awful lot of in the last few days. And here is the outcome of some of that work - an arabesque pendant in sterling silver with glass beads.

Arabesque necklace in sterling silver and red beads.

About saw piercing

If you've ever tried sawing (or saw piercing) detailed designs in precious metal, you'll know that it's a skill which takes many hours of practice and a lot of patience to perfect.

Jewellers use incredibly fine saw blades which break easily - and every novice jeweller will break hundreds if not thousands of them, generally without getting much good work finished.

I've long suspected that jewellery teachers start newbie jewellers off with sawing to weed out those who just don't have the patience required for this sort of work.

As for me, I got better at it over time, but it wasn't exactly a task I relished.

A change in perspective

Several years ago I unexpectedly developed a love for doing very intricate saw piercing work. This was the result of a change in thinking about sawing: I realised it has a lot in common with carving, which is a process I enjoy a lot.

Rather than anxiously sawing along detailed lines I found my work flowed a lot more easily with a simple change of perspective. These days I feel like I get in the zone and can saw away quite happily.

Here's an old blog post which talks more about my change of perspective regarding intricate saw piercing work.

Since then have spent thousands of hours sawing out such designs and constantly improving my skills while doing so. I now feel I'm pretty handy with my saw frame and enjoy taking on much more challenging designs!

Of  course I still break my fair share of jewellery saw blades - such is the life of a jeweller.

Fretwork sawn into sterling silver sheet with a fine jeweller's saw before the outlines are cut out.Jewellery components sawn out of sterling silver sheet by hand using a very fine jeweller's saw blade. These pieces are yet to be filed and sanded.

Above to the left is a sheet of sterling silver with the fretwork for some designs sawn out. To the right are the designs fully cut from the sheet, before any filing, sanding or other cleaning up work was done.

If you like this sort of intricate and unique jewellery, you should check out the online jewellery store.

Interested in chain making?

If you're interested in the techniques of silver jewellery making, check out a time lapse video we made of a handmade silver chain being made from scratch.

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  • HI, loved this. Had a question. For Fretwork earrings, what gauge sheet would you use? I am talking about mid to big size earrings

    Diya Sen
  • Your sawing is great!
    I absolutely love sawing. I remember the first time I picked up a saw and tried just to cut a straight line! My husband watched my frustration and laughed at me saying you know you could always use metal sheers for that and it’s a LOT easier. I explained I dint like the curled edges from sheers and I “wanted to learn intricate sawing skills”! Looking back now , it was just a matter of letting off on the death grip I had on my handle! . Other than that, my piercing has improved a LOT. I met Thomas Mann at a show an he gave me a 2 min lesson which was a game changer for me. (Forever grateful )
    I am always looking for more intricate patterns to saw that have inside the image details . Do you have any favorite websites or books you can recommend? I google silhouette images but I’d like more intricate inside the image details to cut out.


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