What size jeweler’s saw blade should I choose for my project?
This is a question I get quite often in classes or in emails from students who’ve found themselves at a pause in their work. The size of your jeweler’s saw blade depends on the thickness of the metal, and there are usually about four or fives sizes that would be appropriate for the task. The one you choose depends partly on what you have on hand and/or what size line you want to cut.
Think of cutting wood. If you have a 2×4 that needs cutting, you would probably reach for a typical hand saw – those big, floppy metal wood saws – to get the job done. If you tried to cut that 2×4 with a little hack saw, you most likely would dull the blade before you even got a centimeter into the wood! Along the same lines, if you wanted to cut a dowel rod you’d certainly reach for the smaller saw. The teeth on the big wood saw are just too big and would catch and grab at the dowel with no cutting effect.
The same idea applies to choosing your jeweler’s saw blade. If it’s too big for the metal, it will catch and grab, if it’s too small you will be ineffective and your blade will dull in no time.
The “correct” saw blade will have three teeth on the metal thickness. So, if your sheet is thicker, your blade will be coarser. However, who wants to use a microscope to see three teeth of a size 4/o blade and how it relates to your metal thickness?! Plus, there is a very wide range of blades you can choose from and still have success with your cutting. Sometimes, for instance, you want to choose a thicker blade for a thicker line. Or perhaps you only have one size on hand and you really want to work on your piece.
Follow the chart below for best results, but don’t be afraid to try blades that aren’t “appropriate” for your metal gauge. You’ll notice a difference in how the cutting feels and the width of the line, but it’s not impossible. For instance, I often reach for a 2/o blade with my 24ga sheet – mainly because I have a lot of them on hand. And it’s never a disaster.
A Note About Jeweler’s Saw Blade Sizing
Jeweler’s saw blades are sized on a scale. Considering size 0 (zero) to be the middle of the scale, larger blades are subsequently numbered: #1, #2, #3 etc. The higher the number, the larger the blade. Smaller blades are subsequently numbered: 1/0, 2/0, 3/0. The higher the number the smaller the blade.