scroll saw for metal work

I am starting a clock project made almost entirely of brass plate. Specifically I am building W.R. Smith's Lyre clock. I need to saw out patterns in 3/16 brass for the main plates,
80 thou brass for the dial and 60 thou brass for the other parts such as gear spokes.
I tried roughing out the main 3/16 plates with my 4x6 band saw in vertical mode and quickly discovered the small throat really limits the work envelope. It also does not allow me to do inside cuts.
Mr. Smith shows roughing out the plates with a table jig saw and finishing up with a die filer and belt sander.
I believe a jig saw would not work well on thin stock but work work well on the thick stock. I am wondering if a good scroll saw would work on the 3/16 plate.
A bit of web research tells me the top of line scroll saws are Hegner and Excaliber. Middle of the road in Dewalt and everything else is lumped together.
So will a good scroll saw cut the 3/16 brass plate in a timely manner? Do I need a jig saw and a scroll saw?
Looking for advise!! thanks chuck
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On 16 Sep 2004 14:06:51 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@w-sherwood.ih.lucent.com (Charles A. Sherwood) wrote:

How about using a rod saw? You know, those alloy steel wire affairs covered with carbide grit? Changes direction easily since it cuts in all directions. Should handle brass easily... they cut ceramic no problem.
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Scroll saw would work fine. Pretty expensive purchase just for one clock, though.
For larger internal cuts, you can always cut and silver solder the bandsaw blade.
Think I'd go with a jeweler's saw, though.
John Martin
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Some die filers can chuck a piece of bandsaw blade. Of course, this can pierce solid stock. If you plan to get a die filer to finish this project, look for one with an overarm saw support. These chuck the blade at the bottom and also at the top. The top arm is spring- loaded to keep the blade under tension. You can just cut up pieces of bandsaw blade stock (maybe 4" long) and grind off the tooth set on the sides of the ends so the blade will sit solidly in the chuck.
To me, this is all theoretical. But I'm working on getting my die filer up and running and I've already got some pieces of blade stock with which I intend to test this out. The die filer literature I've read mentions this capability. Of course, for any given width of blade, there is a smallest radius you can cut with it. To do fine scroll work you'd need a very small blade, perhaps like jeweler's saw blades. Those are sold in packs of 12 and as soon as you start trying to use them you realize why! (They break very easily indeed!)
Grant Erwin still working on my die filer Web page, few more weeks maybe
JMartin957 wrote:

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On 16 Sep 2004 16:22:31 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (JMartin957) wrote:

I would't hesitate to tackle this with my little 12" overarm jigsaw - not counting the used lumber for the stand, I have at least three dollars tied up in this machine. Use a fairly coarse toothed jewelers blade with lots of tension on it. Gerry :-)} London, Canada
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"Charles A. Sherwood" wrote:

The short answer is you can do very good work on even thin brass with a scroll saw of the right kind with the right setup.
For my work in silver, brass and other soft metals, I spent a couple of hundred bucks at MicroMark for a specialized Microlux variable-speed scroll saw that handles metal, plastics, etc. It's really for thinner stock, but with the appropriate blade and slow feeds, it should handle 3/16 brass.
You can do the same sort of thing, although perhaps not as well, with a conventional scroll saw. The good ones have enough power to handle 3/16 brass easily.
There are two keys to making this work. The first is that the saw should have a variable speed control. The second is the blades.
Don't bother with the blades you get from the saw company. Go to a jeweler's supply store (or order on-line from someplace like Rio Grande) and get a gross or two of jeweler's saw blades of the appropriate gauge. These are plain-end blades about 6" long that will fit any scroll saw that takes plain end blades. The blades are cheap, but you can't buy them in quantities of less than a dozen and even the experts break them constantly. Expect to break a lot of blades and don't worry about it.
The usual method of scroll sawing very thin stock is to put something heavier over the top of it, like 1/8 plywood, and set the presser foot firmly on the material.
Good luck. It sounds like an interesting project.
--RC
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snipped-for-privacy@w-sherwood.ih.lucent.com (Charles A. Sherwood) wrote in message

I do things like this all day and my advice is use the jewelers saw. Its very accurate, cheap and you can get in tight. I have a sabre saw turned upside down and bolted to bottom of a table that sorta works. I use it sometimes for piercings when welding a bandsaw blade it to much trouble. We also use 1/16 bandsaw blades that will do very tight curves and die filers which are great if you have one.
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I tried my 1700rpm scrollsaw, and it moves far too fast for use with a jeweler's saw blade. It's a 13-inch Delta, which would otherwise be just fine. I'll try a router speed control on it later, see if I can control it. /mark
ken wrote:

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I think the variable speed feature mentioned in another reply, would be a key feature for this type of work. The scroll (or jigsaw as it's known) wouldn't neccessarily have to be a top-of-the-line model, any older cast iron tabletop jigsaw should be more than adequate. Step pulleys can accomplish speed selection for powering with an AC induction motor.. I don't care much for high RPM brush-type universal motors, but they can be adjusted with inexpensive speed controls or a big variac. A foot switch might be a very handy feature too.
I dunno if cutting dry is the general practice, but I'd think that a wax-type cutting lube would be more appropriate, since a liquid would likely be slippery and possibly create a situation where it would be too easy to slip and get fingers cut.
Keeping the stock firmly pressed downward against the saw table surface is an important factor in efficiently cutting your stock. Back-up material is generally called for, when cutting thin stock. This could be hardboard or luan ply, and works well when the metal is glued to the back-up material (for less vertical reaction).
The table insert that surrounds the blade (I forget what it's called) should have a fairly close fit to the shape of the blade, and be securely mounted to the table.. not just a loose-fitting drop-in insert.
Very thin stock might be problematic on the jigsaw, and hand sawing might be required. Maybe someone can describe the old method used to cut intricate precision fit inlays in wood.. I forget what that's called too.. but I watched a program about how it's done. There was a fairly long training program to learn the skill to become artist-level in the procedure.
The worker sat at the saw fixture with his heel on the lever that secures the work in the vise, and the heel pressure was let up to release the vise for frequent movement of the work, to change the direction of cutting. The saw was in a fixture similar to a linear sliding rod, and the work was held perpendicular to the blade cut.
WB ..............

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Wild Bill wrote:

It's pretty much a must. But most of the decent scroll saws these days have the feature.
It's also important to get the right gauge blade. Jeweler's saw blades run from about 6-0 to 8 or so. You want a blade that will keep 2-3 teeth in the work at all times. Most of what the saw suppliers and hardware stores will try to sell you are too coarse for this kind of work.

A foot switch doesn't matter all that much because of the way you feed the stock. (To stop cutting, stop advancing the material.)

Beeswax. Buy it by the cake at any fabric store.
<(other good stuff snipped>
--RC
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A scroll saw will do great on thin sheet--if you use a fine enough blade. For thin sheet, I would still stay with a jeweler's hand saw myself; you will probably spend as much time rethreading for the next hole as you will sawing, so a power saw doesn't really speed you up with thin material (at least not after you are practiced at the hand saw). This depends on the number of holes and their perimiter, of course.
If you are interested in a nice scroll saw, take a look at the RBI Hawk: http://www.rbiwoodtools.com/s/dynamic/scroll_saw_three/scroll_saw_three.cfm They appear to be on sale currently, but this may be a permanent sale for all I know.
The brands you name are good too. One of the factors that made me pick the RBI saw was that it has a DC motor. The speed can be varied from dead slow to full speed continuously with decent torque. At the time, it was the only saw with this feature, which may be of use to you. I don't know if others have DC motors now or not.
Steve
Charles A. Sherwood wrote:

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I found a guy at work that has the Dewalt saw. I gave him some 3/16 engravers brass and an Olsen metal cutting blade. He told me it cut easily and estimated 20 seconds per inch which is much faster than I could cut it with a jewelers saw. I think this saw will make my clock project go much faster. I'm sure I can find other uses for the saw and hey, any excuse to buy a new tool works for me!
chuck
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