Tips & Techniques: The Ultimate Guide for Cutting Sheet Metal in Jewellery Making

Tips & Techniques: The Ultimate Guide for Cutting Sheet Metal in Jewellery Making

In the world of jewellery making, where every detail contributes to a piece's brilliance, sheet metal emerges as a surprisingly versatile and rewarding material. From delicate earrings to bold statement necklaces, sheet metal allows crafters to translate their artistic vision into stunning reality. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the tools, methods, and tips for efficiently and effectively cutting sheet metal, to enhance your jewellery making and help bring your creations to life!mixed-shot-jewellery-making-tools

What is Sheet Metal & How is it used in Jewellery Making?

Sheet metal is a versatile material that allows jewellery makers to create a wide range of pieces, from simple geometric shapes to intricate filigree designs, or even used to build functional mechanisms such as latches and clasps - further enriching complex designs.
Prized for its consistent quality, sheet metal is a favoured material among jewellers. Its defining characteristic is its thin, flat shape, achieved through a precise manufacturing process that ensures consistent thickness across the entire sheet. Ore Metals supplies sheet metal in a variety of thicknesses / gauges ranging from 0.3mm up to 3.0mm. This millimetre-level precision enables jewellers to execute their designs at a professional level, guaranteeing consistent results in every piece they create.

Understanding the different types of metals, tools, and techniques will guide your decisions throughout the creation process and help answer critical questions such as; 

What Metals are Used in Jewellery Making Sheet Metal?

The most commonly used jewellery metal alloys are 925 Sterling Silver, Fine Silver, 9ct / 18ct Yellow Gold, White Gold and Rose Gold. However, recently we are seeing a higher demand for more exotic precious metals including Platinum, Shakudo and Shibuichi.
Base Metals including Copper, Brass and Titanium are also being heavily utilised as materials to practise techniques and designs before investing in more expensive metals.
Bonded Sheet Metal is also on the rise as a more affordable option that provides the same quality and finish as a solid sheet.
Here’s a summary of each of the metals listed above:

The workhorse of jewellery sheet metal, also known as 925 Silver due to its composition of 92.5% Silver and 7.5% Copper. Prized for its durability, affordability and its ability to polish to a high shine. An easy metal to cut using coarse or fine saw blades, shears, snips or cutters. This alloy does require regular cleaning to maintain brilliance as it will tarnish over time, and is softer than other metals.
  • Pros:
    • Highly durable
    • Affordable
    • Polishes well
  • Cons:
    • Can tarnish over time
    • Softer than some other metals
    • Requires regular maintenance
Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver, making it a great choice for those with sensitive skin. Known for being softer and more malleable than sterling silver, these properties make it a great choice for intricate designs. Almost any tool in your arsenal should be able to easily cut this metal. The double edge of this sword means finished pieces are more susceptible to damage and scratches, and pure silver will also tarnish over time, requiring cleaning to maintain its shine.
  • Pros:
    • Easy workability
    • Beautiful lustre
    • Hypoallergenic
  • Cons:
    • Softer and less durable
    • Can scratch easily 
    • More expensive than sterling silver

9ct-gold-colour 9ct-white-gold-colour 9ct-rose-gold-colour 9ct Gold
(Yellow, White, Rose):

9ct gold also known as 375 gold is an alloy with 37.5% gold and other metals like silver, copper, and palladium. Luxury metals offer rich colour and a timeless look. 9ct alloys are more affordable, highly durable and can last many lifetimes. The extra strength this alloy provides means premium quality tools are essential. Sharp fine-teeth saw blades are the best solution when cutting this alloy.
  • Pros:
    • More affordable
    • Highly Durable
    • Available in various colours
  • Cons:
    • Lower gold content
    • Can tarnish over time
    • Not as lustrous as higher carat golds

 18ct-yg-colour 18ct-wg-colour 18ct-rg-colour 18ct Gold (Yellow, White, Rose):

18ct gold also known as 750 gold is composed of 75.0% gold and 25% other metals, providing a harmonious balance between purity and durability. It is prized for its high gold content which gives these alloys a rich colour and powerful lustre. A high gold content makes this alloy tarnish resistant, softer and more easily malleable than lower carat alloys, but also at the cost of being prone to scratches. Sharp fine-teeth saw blades are also recommended when cutting this alloy.
  • Pros:
    • High gold content
    • Rich colour
    • Durable
  • Cons:
    • Expensive
    • Softer than lower carat golds
    • Can be prone to scratches
Platinum is a dense, highly durable metal often used in fine jewellery. Generally alloyed as Platinum 950, is an alloy composed of 95.0% platinum and 5% other metals. It is known for its exceptional strength and resistance to tarnishing. These properties make it one of the most difficult metals to work with and cut. Ultra sharp Medium grade to coarse teeth saw blades should be used when cutting this alloy.
  • Pros:
    • Extremely durable
    • Hypoallergenic
    • Does not tarnish
  • Cons:
    • Very expensive
    • Can require specialist tools
    • Can be difficult to work with

shakudo-colour Shakudo:

Shakudo is an alloy originating from Japan composed of 4% Gold and 96% Copper. Shakudō can be treated by the niiro process, to develop a black, purple or sometimes indigo patina. Depending on the thickness of the sheet you're cutting - both coarse and fine teeth saw blades are suitable for cutting this metal.

  • Pros:
    • Unique appearance
    • Historical significance
    • Malleable
  • Cons:
    • Requires patination for colour
    • Softer than other metals
    • Challenging for beginners.

shibuichi-colour Shibuichi:

Similar to Shakudo, Shibuichi also originates from Japan and is an alloy of 75% Copper and 25% Silver. Shibuichi is also treated through the Niiro process, to develop shades of olive brown to silvery-grey. Depending on the thickness of the sheet you're cutting - both coarse and fine teeth saw blades are suitable for cutting this metal.
  • Pros:
    • Unique appearance
    • Historical significance
    • Malleable
  • Cons:
    • Requires patination for colour
    • Softer than other metals
    • Challenging for beginners.

copper-colour Copper :

Copper is recognized by its warm-reddish tones, known as a versatile and affordable metal often used for practice pieces and mixed metal designs. Copper is a soft metal that can be very easy to work with. Suitable tools for cutting copper sheets include shears, cutting pliers, snips or a jewellers saw with a medium grade saw blade.
  • Pros:
    • Very affordable
    • Easy to work with
    • Attractive colour
  • Cons:
    • Tarnishes quickly
    • Can cause skin reactions
    • Softer than many other metals

brass-colour Brass:

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, known for its bright gold-like appearance. Similar to copper in its workability, often used for practice pieces, mixed metal designs and costume jewellery. Thick sheets of Brass can be difficult to cut with snips or shears, a jewellers saw with a medium grade blade is recommended.
  • Pros:
    • Very affordable
    • good workability
    • polishes to a high shine.
  • Cons:
    • Tarnishes over time
    • Difficult to achieve fine detail.
    • Not as durable as precious metal alloys.

titanium-colour Titanium:

Titanium is an ultra-lightweight yet strong material, also known for its hypoallergenic properties making it ideal for creating jewellery for those with skin conditions. Titanium is also used heavily in modern and contemporary jewellery. Due to its hard nature titanium can be slightly more difficult to work with then other base metals. Coarse teeth saw blades with a jewellers saw should be used when cutting this alloy.
  • Pros:
    • Extremely durable
    • Lightweight
    • Hypoallergenic
  • Cons:
    • Difficult to cut
    • Limited colour options
    • Difficult to shape
Bonded sheet metal is created through a cold welding process known as roll bonding. Two sheets are  pressed together with immense pressure, fusing the sheets together and resulting in a single piece of metal. Precious metal sheets are generally combined with base metals to provide the same quality and finish of precious metals without the expense. Bonded sheets can sometimes be more challenging to cut and shape as there are two different alloys to take into consideration. A medium - fine grade saw blade with a jewellers saw is a safe approach when cutting bonded sheet metal.
  • Pros:
    • Combines properties of different metals
    • Can create unique aesthetics
    • More affordable than solid precious metals
  • Cons:
    • Can be more complex to shape and cut
    • May require additional maintenance
    • May not suitable for certain designs

What are the best tools to neatly cut sheet metal?jewellery-making-tools

  This trusty tool boasts a thin, delicate blade ideal for intricate cuts and tight curves. It allows for detailed work without distorting the metal. Here are a few tips for using a jeweller's saw:

  • Selecting Blades: Choose the right blade for the thickness of your metal. Finer blades are ideal for delicate work, while coarser blades can handle thicker sheets and tougher materials. (6/0 = Fine Teeth, 4 = Large teeth)
  • Lubrication: Use beeswax, polishing compound or another lubricant on your saw blades to reduce friction and prevent breakage.
  • Technique: Keep the saw blade perpendicular to the metal and use a steady, gentle motion.
  • Use a Bench Peg: A wooden bench peg provides the ideal surface to hold or clamp your sheet metal in place while sawing. The “V” shape allows you to cut deep into the sheet metal while maintaining the correct cutting technique.
Perfect for small straight cuts and trimming sheet metal to size. Some shears have the capacity to cut through thicker gauges of sheet metal, however we recommend only using them for preliminary cuts as warping and deformation can occur.



A sheet metal guillotine is ideal for straight neat edges, longer cuts, thicker sheets and stronger alloys. It provides precise, clean cuts with minimal effort. Unfortunately these machines can be quite large, expensive and impractical.

Quick Tips for Easier Cutting - How Can I Make Sheet Metal Easier to Cut?

  • Lubrication: Apply a lubricant like beeswax, polishing compound or even WD-40 to your tools to reduce friction and enable smoother cutting.
  • Fresh Blades: Use sharp blades! Dull blades can cause damage to the metal, making clean cuts extremely difficult. 
  • Annealing: Heat the metal to soften it, making it easier to cut. This is especially useful for thicker or harder metals. Find recommended annealing temperatures in our product descriptions.

How do you cut intricate designs in sheet metal?

Now we’ve gone over the fundamentals we can start exploring how to achieve more complex designs such as custom shapes, filigree and intricate details. This is where your jeweller’s saw shines. There are two main approaches to tackling intricate cuts: transferring a pre-printed design or freehand drawing directly onto the metal.

Step 1: Applying the Design

  1.  Apply a thin layer of a temporary adhesive, like spray adhesive or a glue stick with low tack, to the back of your printed design. Smooth out any air bubbles  ensuring it's flat and free of wrinkles. 
  2. Alternatively, use a fine tip semi permanent marker to draw your design.

Step 2: Drilling Pilot Holes

For intricate cuts that don't start at the edge of the sheet metal, a dremel / micro motor comes in handy. Use a mini drill bit with a small enough thickness to just fit the width of your saw blade. These starting points allow you to insert your saw blade and begin your intricate cuts without damaging the outer edge of the metal.

Step 3: Cut with Precision and Patience

Using a saw blade with a fine tooth count (Size 6/0) is optimal for these types of cuts. These ultra fine blades ensure only a tiny amount of material is removed with each stroke, ensuring millimetre-perfect cuts. Take your time, use a light touch, and follow the design closely.

Additional Tips for Success:

  • Secure Your Work: When possible, Clamp your sheet metal firmly onto a stable work surface using a vise or bench pin. This prevents the metal from moving while you cut, ensuring clean lines and better control.
  • Lubricate the Blade: Use a similar approach as polishing compound - Use small amounts frequently.
  • Patience is Key: Intricate cuts require patience and a steady hand. Don't rush the process, and take breaks as needed to avoid mistakes.
    • Recycle your materials: Sheet metal can be recycled and repurposed, making it a more sustainable option compared to other materials. Additionally, some jewelers are exploring the use of ethically sourced and fair-trade metals to further reduce environmental impact. (Source: Ethical Metalsmiths)

    By mastering these techniques, you'll unlock the potential for creating truly stunning and intricate pieces of jewellery. Remember, practice makes perfect! So grab your tools and some practice material and unleash your creativity - transforming your sheet metal into captivating works of art.
    Explore the diverse range of precious metal and base metal alloys available at Ore Metals, your premier destination to buy jewellery making sheet metal.

    - Don’t just take our word for it, with over 2000 5 star reviews, it’s clear why our beautiful customers keep coming back!

    Fun Fact! Sheet metal has been utilised by artisans since the times of ancient Egypt - thin sheets of gold metal were hammered and cut into decorative forms, then embellished with stones and engravings. This method allowed for the creation of elaborate designs and laid the foundation for advanced metalworking techniques used by jewellers today. (Source: Jewels and Jewellery: Clare Phillips)

    About the Author:

    Oliver C is a passionate advocate for the artistry and innovation within the world of jewellery making, and is the founder of Ore Metals. His ten-year odyssey through the precious metals industry has exposed him to a vast and diverse landscape. From collaborating with independent jewellers crafting unique masterpieces to working with international manufacturers on a large scale, Oliver has a deep understanding of the industry's intricacies. His journey even led him through one of the world's largest precious metal conglomerates, where he played a pivotal role in pioneering the adoption of groundbreaking technology. Oliver’s extensive experience allows him to translate his knowledge into insightful articles that empower and inspire jewellery makers of all skill levels.

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