How to Cut Designs in Metal for Handmade Jewelry

Learn how to cut designs in metal from jewelry designer Courtney Gray in this Howcast video.

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If you've ever looked at a piece of jewelry and thought, "I could do that!" now's your chance: Custom jeweler and sculptor Courtney Gray teaches you jewelry making basics in these Howcast videos. Courtney shows you how to use flex-shaft jewelry tools; how to use textured metal; how to cut jewelry designs into metal; how to work with silver; how to solder; how to make wire-wrapped pendants; jewelry casting; and much more. She even shares tips on how to sell your homemade jewelry.

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Courtney Gray: Welcome to Creative Side Jewelry Academy of Austin, online at creativeside.org. I'm Courtney Gray. I started my school here, Creative Side Jewelry Academy, four years ago. I'm here in Austin, and I'm going to tell you about jewelry making today. Today I'm going to show you how to cut out designs in metal. And these pieces can be used for jewelry-making, or they can be used as decorative ornaments, gift-giving ideas, anything that you would like. The first thing you need to do is pick out a saw blade that's appropriate to the metal that you're going to be sawing. Usually a good way to judge what size saw blade you need is to measure the thickness of the metal up to the teeth. You want to have three teeth per thickness of metal. So, if this is an eighteen gauge piece of copper that we're going to be cutting today, and I'm going to line it up and make sure that three teeth are touching that metal on width. So when you load your saw blade, you absolutely need to have your teeth facing down toward the handle and out. You're gonna be sawing the metal in this direction, so you need to have those teeth facing the right way. So first thing I'm gonna show you is how to load this blade. I always use my hip as kind of a third arm. We're gonna load it in the top, clamp first, and clamp that down tightly. From that point, you want to take some wax and lubricate your blade. Now keep in mind that every jeweler does this differently, and I'm just showing you my way of approaching this one technique. So, from there, you want to take your metal, we're going to cut this heart out of copper, this eighteen gauge copper. So the first thing we want to do is we want to take a drill bit, and we want to create an opening in the metal, and I'm gonna use my flexible shaft tool here. This is a foot-operated tool. Insert our drill bit into the eye. I'm gonna take my metal and I'm gonna create my hole where we can feed that saw blade through. I'm putting kind of a medium pressure on the metal. And, we're through. So I have my saw blade here, to feed the work through where the top surface is facing up so that when I saw, I can see. We're going to go ahead and start our sawing now. I'm going to work my way around. Always keep your blade moving while sawing. Once you get your piece cut, you're going to need to remove the blade. You can then file and clean up those edges. Start with the really heavy file and then work your way to the finer tools. That's really important. Its gonna save you a lot of grunt work. Ok, work your way around and get that as clean as you can. And that is how you saw out a piece for jewelry.

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  • Courtney Gray

    Courtney Gray is the owner/founder of The Creative Side Jewelry Academy in Austin, Texas. Courtney has been working with metals for over 10 years and specializes in lost wax casting. When she isn't teaching, Courtney designs and creates one-of-a kind jewelry pieces, specializing in engagement rings and wedding band sets in various styles.