Sunday, March 4, 2012

Which Disc Cutter to Get for Jewelry Making?

I am thinking about getting a disc cutter.  However, I haven't yet taken the plunge as I am unsure if I want to make that many round discs enough to justify buying one. I did do some research though  so I will share what I found out in case you are also trying to decide.

Economy disc cutter
Disc cutters are available at different price points. Like with many things, you get what you pay for.

All the demonstrators featured here have excellent tips.

Economy Model
Roma Buchanan demonstrates a typical economy model disc cutter in this video.  The block unit or die is one piece so the gap where one slides in the metal sheet is preset. You cannot change it. So Roma shows us the trick of pressing down the punch firmly before striking.  You could also use double sided tape to help keep the metal sheet still.  If you allow the sheet to shift, then repeated strikes will leave unwanted edge marks and a ragged cut. Many artisans also use a large and very heavy brass hammer so they can cut with just one or two blows.



Pepe Disc Cutter
The Pepe disc cutter costs a bit more than economy models. It avoids the set gap problem because the block unit is in two pieces. You assemble the top one over the bottom part by slotting onto the pin (red arrow).  The result is both the top and bottom pieces will firmly hold the metal sheet everywhere.

Jill Erickson of Art Jewelry Magazine demonstrates in a video how to use this model.  You will have to register (free) with their site to be able to see it.


The striking section of the punches are colored black so it lessens the risk of accidentally hitting the cutting side. The cutting edge of the punches is also not flat like the economy models but slightly angled. This improves the cutting performance because that angled edge helps pierce the metal efficiently.

Swanstrom Disc cutter
This is the deluxe model and it will set you back $250! Like the Pepe, the cutting edge of the punches are all angled. But unlike the Pepe, the unit doesn't come apart. The distance between the top and bottom parts is adjusted with the clamping bolt (black handle).  You can thus clamp down on the metal sheet and it will be held firmly. Check out this video and see for yourself.


The Rio Grande instructor uses a shim on the other side as well as a punch lubricant which eliminates the stuck punch problem. Both handy tips.  Center positioning plugs (not included in the main disc cutter set) are also available for making your own washers.

 

Artisan Reviews
Melissa Muir over at Kelsi's Closet Jewelrybox wrote an excellent review of her experiences with different disc cutters. Pangea Designs bit the bullet, bought and raved about her Swanstrom and the centering plugs.

Before You Go :
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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

9 comments :

Regina said...

I got myself a disc cutter with some Christmas money. I did my research and came to the conclusion that the Swanstrom model is the one to get, 'long lasting, stays sharp, the only one you will ever need' and it was on sale not too long ago at Rio Grande at I put down the bucks for it.

Pearl Blay said...

Ooooh, lucky you! I too want the Swanstrom but I do not make enough disc jewelry to warrant buying the top of the line. May be I should keep an eye out for sales!

Roberta said...

The Swanstrom is the one to get. The cheaper ones are really hard on your wrists and arms. My advice is, don't buy the cheap ones in this case.

Wait until you can afford the god one. You may find you will make more since the ease of use is a factor. My two cents.

Pearl Blay said...

Good tips, Roberta. I also wish there were more shapes available than just round!

Saturday Sequins said...

Pearl, I'm going to send a link to this post to Mr. Sequin -- we've been thinking of getting a disc cutter, and I love the idea of being able to make washers. Thanks! :)

Also, thanks to Roberta for her comment -- I suspected that the Swanstrom was the best one to get, and ease of use is a big issue for me, being not-so-strong.

Catherine said...

You'll be happy you did. I had to go thru several over the years before I got off my assets and bought it. It's expensive but you are going to save going thru all the rest to get here and that's even more expensive. Speaking from experience.

(via Facebook)

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

I have the Pepe 194.10 model. It has a thumb screw in the middle which holds tightly to the metal, so you get a clean cut. It goes from 1/8" to 1/2". It suits my limited use fine, but I see the advantages of the Swanstrom one. Maybe one day if I have used the one I have enough to justify it, I will up grade. Love the idea of the centering punches. Making washers with my set is next to impossible!

Anonymous said...

Stumbled on this post and saw Pearl Blay wishing for more shapes in a disc cutter - check out Rio Grande for new disc cutters in different shapes ... pricey, though

http://www.riogrande.com/Search/disc-cutters

Pearl Blay said...

Sigh. Thanks for sharing that info though about different shapes.

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