Bench Pin and Saw Frame


A number of years ago I acquired a jeweler’s saw or saw frame along with some vast quantity of blades.  My attempts to cut brass sheet with it were not very successful.  Upon acquiring Simon Bolton’s books (Weekend Reading: Scratch-Building Model Railway Locomotives by Simon Bolton), I learned a bit about what I was doing wrong and determined to have another go.

Things I learned:

  • Get a bench pin.  This some sort of wood block that clamps to the edge of your bench and projects out allowing you to get right up close to the sawing.  Jewelers typically have high benches so they can get their faces right up by the work.
  • Pins are consumables.  You can customize for your needs, for example I cut a notch in the top face of mine to improve holding of round bar and tube I needed to cut.
  • Get the right size of saw blades.  I bought #4 blades, what I should have got is 4/0-6/0 blades.  These are much finer and don’t snag on thin .005″ brass stock.  A 6/0 blade can fit through a #79 hole allowing you to start a cut in a very small area.
  • Lubricate the blade.  Jeweler suppliers sell purpose made lubricating sticks.  I am making do with a surplus candle until my next order.
  • You don’t need to work hard to make a cut. Properly sized and lubricated blades cut very quickly.  Unexpectedly so, for me.  Thus the scrap metal pile did increase and learning took place.


Weekend Reading: Scratch-Building Model Railway Locomotives by Simon Bolton

Reading is the one hobby I have pursued longer than model railroading. Naturally, some of the former involves subject matter relevant to the latter. I thought I would share some titles that I have found interesting:

Scratch-Building Model Railway Locomotives by Simon Bolton is an accessible read covering the subject from a start useful to the beginner new to scratch-building in metal i.e. me.  This was an exciting find since the articles on the subject in such wonderful publications as Model Railway Journal tend to assume a basic level of knowledge and experience that many of us in North America lack.

Simon describes the construction of a simple British locomotive in a cheerful style illustrated with many colour photographs and hand drawn diagrams. Tools and techniques are introduced and explained in detail.  Neither is unachievable by the average intrepid modeler.  No lathe or milling machine required!

Even if I never actually scratch-build a locomotive, I learned several techniques that I have already put into use.  There is a sequel, Scratch-Building Model Railway Tank Locomotives that builds on the first book while tackling a more challenging modeling subject.  Both books are available through certain large online book sellers in North America which is how I found them when searching for books on the subject.