Saw vs. Shears: Create Stunning Intricate Jewelry With a Jeweler's Saw

I asked our Facebook friends last week: If you have to cut out a curvy metal shape, do you use a jeweler's saw or metal shears? Every single commenter said they'd use a jeweler's saw!

  Chinese floral fan medallion by Jasmine and Igor
Chinese floral fan by Jasmine and Igor

I'm torn.

Contrary to what all of our Facebook friends said, when I cut out a curvy shape–for example, the petals when I make my flower rings now–I use shears (though I used a saw the first time I made the ring). If I want a circle or oval (and don't have a disc cutter in the right size, or a purchased blank), I reach for shears. If I'm cutting out a really large shape, I choose shears. For cutting straight lines, I usually choose shears, but if I need to cut an absolutely straight line, the saw wins.

To say I'm a fickle metal cutter would be no exaggeration. When I draw a design on metal that I want to cut out exactly, whether it's a simple design or detailed–if it needs to be exact, a jeweler's saw is the natural choice. The saw is the only option for piercing, too, of course–and that's a very important win, because the ability to pierce and saw shapes out of metal sheet opens up many more design possibilities, beyond anything that shears can do.

intricate sawing by Jasmine and Igor  

Case in point: Meet Jasmine and Igor, a cute pair from California who operate Intricate Cuts. I was doing a search for something else on Etsy and found their breathtaking silver pieces cut with a jeweler's saw. Their pieces are so intricate, so detailed and delicate, they look as though they must have been cut by a laser–but they were meticulously cut by hand using a jeweler's saw.

While looking at jewelry-making tools, Igor says, "the jeweler's saw caught my eye. As soon as I saw the decorative pieces this tool is capable of creating with metal, I knew I had to try it. Once I did, I was hooked. There's personal satisfaction to the process of taking a delicate saw blade nearly as wide as a sewing needle and almost paper thin and cutting through sheet metal to create anything from a simple shape to a complex ornamental piece."

  finishing Snowflake pendant by Jasmine and Igor
All photos courtesy of Jasmine and Igor.

Jasmine began by making beaded bracelets for herself and eventually wanted to explore other jewelry-making techniques, such as metalwork. "Igor became interested in the jeweler's saw and I started to solder sterling silver and copper," Jasmine says. "We began spending our days making whatever came to mind and learning a lot of new things, such as how not to saw through one's finger."

The result is a collection of well-designed and well-executed hand cut, hand polished jewelry that ranges from artistic to almost mind boggling. The hours it must take to saw out all of those little shapes and crevices–symmetrically, even! I can't imagine. Intricate, delicate design like Jasmine's and Igor's pieces are definitely the pinnacle that my own sawing efforts are aiming for now.

tropical flower earrings by Jasmine and Igor  
tropical flower earrings by Jasmine and Igor

Want to take this sawing challenge with me? Get started by grabbing our Mastering the Jeweler's Saw collection of videos, books, even saw blades and more! And if you've already made some pretty impressive jewelry, don't miss your chance to win a Gemmy! Today is the last day to enter!

P.S. Check out more of Jasmine's and Igor's amazing hand-sawn silver jewelry in their IntricateCuts shop on Etsy.

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