How To Easily Cut & Shape Sea Glass and Stones Using Diamond Wire Hand Saw Blades
What You Will Need:
Diamond Wire Hand Saw Blades
Jewellers Piercing Saw Frame
A Pencil to mark where you want to cut
A plastic tray filled with water
EZE-Lap credit card hone, 600 grit
Gemstones, beach pebbles, sea glass or ceramic pieces
An Apron or an old top, and a mask and safety goggles - especially if cutting through shell.
I love to use sea glass in it's natural form with all its irregularities. However, I often have a piece that I just wish I could slice off the top, or remove that little bit that is in the way. Well, now you can with the help of diamond wire hand saw blades.
It's worth noting that a diamond slitting disc on a mandrel in a hobby drill or pendant drill will do a similar job, however, one slip of the disc or move of the drill and your nice neat cut line is no longer! With a diamond wire in a piercing saw frame, you will have more control.
The following tutorial can be used to cut any material that is very hard such as glass, stone, ceramic and shell. Those little bits of broken china you find in the soil of your garden or on the beach, pieces of slate, pebbles or agate, shell or bone.
If you want to cut a wavy line it may be best to use the wire to cut a straight line and then create the wavy shape you desire using a diamond burr. More on that in Step 3. Finishing towards the bottom of the article.
Step 1. Setting Up
1. With a pencil, mark your glass or stone where you wish the cut to be.
2. Fill your tray with water and have a cloth nearby to dab your glass onto you once it has been in for a dip.
3. Fix your diamond wire saw blade into your jewellers piercing saw frame.
If you've not used a saw frame before it seems fiddly at first but you'll get the hang of it, just tighten the wire into both fixing screws leaving it slightly slack in the middle. Then tighten the saw frame by moving the frame along ensuring your wire is nice and taut - it should 'Ping! Finally, tighten the top fixing screw.
Now you are ready to start cutting. Move onto Step 2.
Step 2. Cutting
If you are using a jeweller's vice attached to a workbench then you will use the saw frame vertically, making sure to apply very little pressure to avoid burning off the diamond coating of the wire saw blade. If you are using this method make sure to apply water via a drip feed system or regularly with a sponge.
If like me you are holding the sea glass with your fingers you can follow the next steps.
A couple of things to note: It is best to take the glass to the wire saw blade, not the wire saw blade to the glass. This will ensure the diamond grit coating on your wire lasts well.
I use the underside of the saw blade, cutting through from underneath as can be seen in the above image.
1. Make an initial cut. I always find this helps when cutting or drilling before you go through with the entire proceedings - much like putting a paint sample on the wall before you paint the entire room with it.
2. Use a back and forth action cutting through from underneath as can be seen in the above image.
3. Dip your glass into the water tray numerous times as you cut. then return to the wire. The more water the glass and the wire have on them the cleaner the cut will be and your diamond wire blade will last longer. With any diamond products, they are best used wet otherwise the diamond grit gets too hot and burns off.
Step 3. Finishing
Now you have two halves of what used to be one! Let's tidy the cut edges....
The slightly rough edges can be smoothed to a lovely finish using any flat diamond coated abrasive such as a diamond file, diamond lap or diamond sharpening hone.
My personal preference for this particular job is the Eze-Lap credit card sharpener. They come in a range of grit sizes from super-fine to extra coarse and everything in between, but a 600 grit would be my recommendation. So-called, because they are the size of a credit card, these diamond hones are substantial and heavy so when you work with them on your bench they don't move around. They are brilliant for a number of uses such as sharpening knives, tools, fly hooks, shaping crystals, jewels and hard materials, and they will smooth off your cut sea glass in no time at all.
1. Dip your sea glass into some water and run the glass back and forth across the diamond sharpener until you can feel the smooth edge with your fingertip.
If you are creating a curvy line or a shape you may find it easier to cut some part of the shape with the diamond wire saw blade and some with a diamond cylinder burr.
If the cut is very jagged and extremely rough it could be because of a few reasons:
Not enough water was used to lubricate and cool
Going too fast whilst cutting
Applying too much pressure
Diamond wire saw blade needs changing
Run the diamond wire through your fingers and if it feels smooth, it is time for a new diamond wire saw blade
How Long Will the Diamond Wire Saw Blade last?
Much like steel wire saw blades for cutting metal, it is best to keep a few of these diamond hand saw blades to hand as they do wear out. The life of the wire saw blade depends on many factors including the speed with which you use the wire, the amount of pressure applied, and the hardness and thickness of the material being cut. It cannot be given finite measurement.