Thursday, August 4, 2011
CUTTING TUBING FOR NECKLACE SPACERS
This how I do it, the method and the tools. There may be better ways, so you should not consider this the only or best way.
I use 1/8 inch diameter tubing to make the spacers, but the method applies to other sizes as well.
The tube cutting jig I use is made by Pepe Tools. A medium cost range tool. It comes with a handle for hand held use, but I don't use it that way. Can be adjusted to cut lengths up to 13 cm. Has a little lever clamp to hold tubing in place while you cutting. Most suppliers will say it can't be used in a vise. Well, I disagree.
Vise. Most any small vise can be used. I use either a vise with a 1 inch wide jaw, or a Panavise with a 2 1/2 inch jaw. I prefer the latter. The jig can be mounted in the vise securely, leaving room for tightening or loosening the adjustment screw.
Jeweler's Saw Frame. I use a Grobet, with a 2 3/4 inch throat. Any other will work just fine. With the Grobet frame, you must really tighten down the thumb screws. I've failed to do this a couple times and ended up breaking brand new blade. Bummer! I have a German made frame as well, but it holds the Faux Bone™ blade, and I'm too lazy to change it. Why two different saw frames? Wanted to try both kinds out. I have no actual preference.
Saw blade. Size 4/0. The only brand of saw blade I have ever used are Rio Grande's Laser Gold brand. These blades seem to last a long time, but I have no way to compare them with other brands. I use 4/0 size because it doesn't leave very much of a bur on the ends of the tubes. The cutting length of this blade seems a little short, 2 3/4 inches. I don't know how this length compares with others.
Bee's wax. I use this to lubricate the blade by very lightly stroking the block of wax along the backside of the blade. I try, but sometimes forget, to lube the blade before every cut. This may be overdoing it, but I think it prolongs the life of the blade. The blade will eventually break no matter what you do, as metal fatigue sets in aftwer awhile and weakens the metal.
Tweezers, fine point. I'm cutting very short pieces from the tubing, 2, 3, 4 mm in length. Sometimes, more often than not, I need tweezers to remove the cut-off from the jig.
Good lighting. You always need good light.
Receptacle for the cut-offs.
Tumbler. I tumble the cut-offs with Lortone tumbler in water with a dash of Dawn dish detergent for an hour to polish them up a bit and minimize any tiny burs that might be left.
Sawing: I find fresh saw blades tend to be grabby in the metal until I've sawn five or six pieces, then the blade settles down, broken in, and the sawing becomes easier. I positioned the tube cutting jig so the sawing is horizontal, and I only use the weight of the saw frame for pressure on the metal. I have no frame of reference as to how fast I move the saw back and forth, but I guess it's somewhere between fast and slow.
I listen to the sound of the saw blade working through the metal. When the sound changes, softens, I know to slow down and go easy as I'm almost through the metal. I also know that if I don't, when the blade breaks through, it will drop and hit the bottom of the jig and bounce. This bounce can send the little cut-off flying out of the jig to who knows where and is lost. And, it's probably not good for the blade.
Well, now you know. Perhaps some who visit this blog will find this information useful. Thanks for taking time visit. Meanwhile, be well, stay happy and make great jewelry.