How to Use a Jewelry Disk Cutter

Written by irene a. blake
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Although a professional jewellery artisan or general craft person can purchase metal circles or disks for use in jewellery craft or clothing accessorising, many use jewellery disk cutters---"punch and die set" metal sheet cutting tools. Disk cutters provide a quick and efficient means to make various types of metal disks in a wide range of sizes. No matter your personal level of jewellery making expertise, you can easily make metal disks for your craft with your cutter, metal sheets and a hammer or mallet.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Disk cutter
  • Wood block
  • Metal sheets
  • Circle stencil or guide (optional)
  • Fine-tipped, non-permanent marker (optional)
  • Soft-headed hammer or mallet

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Wipe your jewellery cutter punches and the exterior of the die plates lightly with a lint-free microfiber cloth to remove any excess oil that manufacturers place on the cutter to protect against rusting. Leave any oil between the plates to continue to protect against rust.

  2. 2

    Place a 1-inch thick wood block the size of your cutter on your flat work surface and then place your jewellery disk cutter on top. The wooden block not only helps to protect your work surface by buffering the force or blow of your hammer or mallet as you punch your holes, but it also protects your dies from damage that can result from hammering and cutting on hard surfaces.

  3. 3

    Select a type of metal sheet to cut. Most disk cutters can handle a wide variety of metals and alloys including copper, brass, gold, silver, sterling silver and tin. The thickness or "gauge" of metal that your cutter can handle depends entirely on the amount of preset or adjustable space that your specific disk cutter has available between the top and bottom die plates and the manufacturer's recommendations as based on the cutter design and materials used in the cutter's construction. Refer to your cutter's packaging and/or user instructions for the specific thicknesses that work best with your cutter.

  4. 4

    Choose a disk size---1/8-inch or higher depending on your disk cutter model. To reduce metal waste, use a circle stencil or guide with holes the same size as the holes in your cutter die plates to measure the number of holes you can successfully cut from a single metal sheet. To measure, place your guide over the metal and use a fine-tipped, non-permanent marker to draw your holes on the sheet before cutting.

  5. 5

    Slide your metal sheet between the cutter plates and align the metal under the hole of the disk size you choose. If you use a circle stencil or guide, align the first drawn circle on the outer edge or corner of your sheet. If you don't use a circle stencil or guide, reduce metal waste by aligning the metal sheet so that your first punch occurs at the corner. Subsequent punches should then flow from that corner across the entire sheet until you reach the opposite corner.

  6. 6

    Clamp your jewellery disk cutter die plates together to secure the metal sheet in place between the plates.

  7. 7

    Insert the bevelled, shiny end of your hole-matched punch into the hole.

  8. 8

    Hold the wood block and die plates in place with your non-dominant hand, pick up your hammer or mallet with your dominant hand and strike the top of the punch in one firm blow to create a disk. If you're using thick metal or the first strike wasn't hard enough, strike the punch a second time to cut out the disk. Repeat as needed to create additional disks.

Tips and warnings

  • Always handle metal sheets carefully as metal sheets have sharp edges and corners that can easily cut through skin.
  • Never use a hammer or mallet with a hard head as impact from hard surfaces can damage your punches or die plates.

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