In jewelry making, there are times when sterling silver must be cut in order to achieve the desired form. Most sterling silver cutting is on a small scale; sheets are usually thin enough to cut by hand, but special tools are needed to make the clean, precise cuts necessary for making jewelry.
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Most sterling silver cutting for hand-made jewelry is done with a jeweler's saw, a small hand saw with a very thin blade. The tiny blade allows for very precise cutting, and in skilled hands can cut intricate shapes. Jeweler's saw blades break easily and dull after a certain amount of use, so they must be replaced often.
For less precise cuts, metal shears cut sterling silver quickly. Use shears to cut a small piece of silver from a larger sheet for cutting with a jeweler's saw, for cutting templates from a thin sheet of metal or for chain cutting. Metal shears may resemble scissors, or they may look more like small gardening shears.
Flexible Shaft Tool
The Flexible Shaft tool is a small power tool used to cut sterling silver. A pen-like hand piece is inserted into a motor, which is controlled with a foot pedal. It can be used for detailed cutting. Because of its small size, flexible shaft tools are used by both professional jewelers and home jewelers. In addition to cutting, this tool can also drill, lathe and polish silver.
Most sterling silver die cutting is done with a machine to mass produce sterling silver charms and cutlery. Dies in the shape of the object being made are stamped into sheets of silver, leaving a cutout that can then be machine-rolled, filed and/or etched. Die cutting is very economical in commercial applications because it efficiently creates a large quantity of shaped silver. It's rarely used by silver artisans.