Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Swanstrom Disc Cutter - Review


When running your own small business, it is often a difficult decision to invest in tools. I find that I purchase new equipment rarely, especially since I do more beadwork than benchwork in my handmade jewelry business, Peggy Li Creations. However, I recently purchased a Swanstrom disc cutter from Rio Grande and love it! It takes minimal force from a brass (I use a 1 lb) hammer to punch perfect discs from soft metal sheet. Metals such as copper, sterling silver, fine silver no thicker than 20 gauge. Be sure to use burr-life lubricant on the cutting tools to extend their sharpness and a piece of scrap sheet opposite the hole you are punching (in the same gauge of sheet) to extend the life of the tool.

The Swanstrom disc cutter is a bit on the pricey side, but look at the cool handmade jewelry pieces I've been able to make with it. See these and other handmade jewelry pieces at Peggy Li Creations:

Domed Pearl Necklace



Patterned Disc Earrings

6 comments:

Claire said...

Hi Peggy, I am thinking about buying a disc cutter. The Pepe disc cutter or the Swanstrom. Does the disc ever get stuck in the Swanstrom?

Thanks!
Claire

plcpeggy said...

Hi Claire,

I tap the hammer on the cutter die to push the piece all the way thru the plates, so the piece never gets stuck. I also use Burr-life lubricant on the dies each time I cut to help keep blades sharp and things running smoothly. So far, so good. That being said, I've also heard good things about the Pepe disc cutter, and it is less expensive! I think it depends on how often you will use, and with what material, to determine how much you want to invest.

Good luck! peggy

MBW said...

Hi Peggy..
Am starting to explore some new techniques/tools....have not worked with sheet metal or disc cutter before....but how do you then put the designs on the blank discs? Some kind of stamping tool? Is there a class you recommend for how to do this?

plcpeggy said...

MBW, I use pre-patterned sheet, which is avail from various specialty supply shops -- try Metaliferous in NYC.

You can also use a rolling mill to transfer patterns onto plain sheet, or use hammers to create patterns on your discs. There are a variety of texturizing hammers available that look so cool! Try Rio Grande or Otto Frei for suppliers, and Beaducation.com for possible (online video!) classes.

I haven't taken a class on this technique, so I don't have any direct suggestions. I've just been experimenting! Good luck and post back about how you're doing!

Love Z Bows Princess Boutique said...

Hi Peggy,
I wanted to buy a disk cutter for making jewelry. But how or what do you use to smooth the edge of the disk so they dont cut people & arent sharp? Thank You, Hester

Peggy Li said...

Hi Hester,

If you use the tool properly, the edges do not come out sharp or ragged. If you still want to finish them, you could file them down/polish them/tumble them.

Hope that helps!
Peggy

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