Friday, July 28, 2006

Tips for carving mother of pearl

Monday, November 14, 2005

I started carving mother of pearl for my inlay today, I'll post more about that in the next couple of days when I finish. I just wanted to post a couple tips on here that helped me a lot. If you use a jeweler's saw for cutting the mother of pearl, run your saw blade through some beeswax. This helps the blade move through the material much smoother, and keeps it from binding and getting caught up, which leads to more blade breaks. I am still breaking more blades than I should, but each time I do, I know why it happened, and know what I could've done differently to avoid it happening.

Another tip is to make relief cuts as you go to take the pressure off the saw. Instead of trying to continue following the curve of a letter all the way around, finish one curve and keep going straight to the edge of the pearl blank, and then start a new cut where you left off. I suspect that with more practice, these relief cuts might not be necessary, but they help me as a beginner.

If you break a blade, don't automatically throw it away. A 3" piece of blade can be put back in and used again, and in some ways works better than the full length ones.

Lastly, I want to talk about my jewler's saw. I've got a generic saw frame that takes any standard 5" (and probably a little larger) blades, and right now I'm using Zona brand blades, size 0 which is 51 TPI or teeth per inch. No reason for the brand other than that's what they sold at the local hobby store in the mall. I have only found one other post on the Cafe about jeweler's saw blade sizes, and someone mentioned that they use size 3/0 61 TPI blades, which are even tinier than the ones I've got right now. I can imagine something more fragile than these size 0 blades, but I'll give them a shot.

**EDIT: Do yourself a favor and buy a quality jeweler's saw like the one that Stew Mac sells. That's the one I have now, and it's a thousand percent better than the one I used back when I wrote this blog. -Darren Kern, 7/28/06


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