Coin Cutting with the Jewelers Saw - Work In Progress

Although there are many coin cutters that prefer to cut out the backgrounds, and showcase the original artwork on their coins, that approach is very well known and documented other places on the net. There are still aspects of the following approach that you might find valuable. Cutting coins using patterns is not a well known approach, so this is where we will focus. Hang on, the secrets are about to spill . . .
I am eager to bring new friends into this area of scroll sawing. The more, the merrier. If this material is of help to you, please return the good will and contribute patterns and assistance back to the community. I created the original scroll saw version of this content for a tutorial on the SSV forum Oct 4, 2015.
Help is always a click away. You can find me and countless other friends in the forums at and

  1. Jewelers Saw: You can find a variety of Jewelers Saws that range in price from $10 to over $100. Any of these will work, but the better saws general have a better mechansim to clamp and tension the blades. I personally use the "Knew concepts" version that has swivel heads and tensioning lever, which are better than on many scroll saws. I don't use the "swivel" part, and don't need the depth of cut, so if I were to purchase again, I would get the 3" with cam lever tensioning. Link for One Possible Source
  2. Drill, I us a dremel with stand, and chuck, but other drills, even hand drills can be used with care
  3. Bench Pin: These are cheap to purchase, or easy to make. I made my own and use a quick clamp to hold it to the table, but, Google "Bench Pin" (or it), and decide what is best for you.
  4. Jewelers Blades: I use Pike 2/0 or 3/0 from the vendor with the best price from The smaller the blades, the easier they break. Buy a gross, you will go through a lot, especially while learning. One additional note, if you are not used to small blade sizes, #2 is much different than #2/0. Make sure you order #2/0 or #3/0.
  5. Drill Bits: If you are doing detail, I would suggest starting with #72 drill bits from Sloans. Flying Dutchmans don't work, period. For my beginner patterns, 1/16 from your big box store will probably work fine. The smaller bit's dull fairly quickly, or sometimes break, so buy a pack.
  6. 3-in-one oil or equivilent (for drilling)
  7. Super glue (Gorrila impact resistant Gel)
  8. Spring loaded Punch for marking the drill entry holes. I like the adjustable impact because I want to keep the surface divits small. My current favorite is the "General #89" available from or HomeDepot
  9. Ask around for Kennedy half dollars. If you want to try on something smaller (cheaper), you can shrink the pattern down to that size. The smaller the coin, the more difficult to handle, so for beginners, the bigger the better.
  10. As a cheat, if you want to start with smaller coins, find some thin wood to superglue the coins to so that you can hold it easier for the cut.
  11. Acetone (with a small jar to hold it). This is to soak and remove the superglue.
  12. Reading Glasses. For detail work, I have very powerful reading glasses (6+ via You can probably get by without all that magnification for the starter patterns. You can only cut what you can see, so you can be the judge
  13. Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish

  1. Take a good pair of scissors, and under your magnifier, carefully cutout the pattern, staying on the outside of the black like, but close enough that almost no white is showing. Take your time.
  2. Use the Gorrila CA (Superglue) to glue your pattern onto the coin. Press the pattern down tightly so that all parts of the pattern are in good contact with the coin. Use Polyethylene gloves if you don't like to have glue on your fingers.
  3. Use the spring punch to mark holes
  4. Again use CA glue, and with the Polyethylene gloves, rub a thin coat over top of the pattern to seal it, let dry, repeat 2 or three more times.
  5. Put a little 3-in-1 oil in each punch mark (or just cover coin) and carefully drill each holes in the divits created by the punch. I also use a magnifier at the drill press to line it up. My eyes just aren't that good. Take your time, drill gently as small drill bits break easy.
  6. After the holes are drilled, wipe all the oil from the coin.
  7. Feel the bottom of the coin, de-burr if there are burrs on the bottom holes. Best way I found to do this is by turning over the coin, pattern facing down, placing it on a soft surface, and using the spring punch in each hole.
  • This should leave you with a pattern secured to your coin. Sounds like a lot of steps, but it is just a few minutes in practice. As a beginner, getting the holes drilled and the pattern on was my greatest obstacle as I was trying to drill the holes without oil and using a spray adhesive which caused me a lot of frustration. Once I got the above process down, this part (that I originally dreaded) became trivial and made the whole experience much more fun.

  1. If the corner is very steep, consider not turning at the end, but hitting it from both sides.
  2. If you are just starting the cut, cut directly to the line, back the saw up slightly, and grind the path another bladewith wide. That should give you enough room to turn and resume directly along the line.
  3. Unless you have sharp corners or tight detail, go to a #2/0 or larger blade. Smaller blades break easier, with no benefit for many designs

  1. Once you are done with the cutting, drop the coin/pattern (and possibly the cheat if you used one) into a small jar of acetone, then go do something else for a few hours. When you return, the pattern should be completely loose from the coin. If when you dry the coin, it has a milky film, replace the acetone with new, and resoak coin for a few minutes to remove residue.
  2. I always polish my coins, even if they already look good because the edges of the cut line are sharp, and polishing not only give it a mirror finish, but it takes the edge off of the cut lines.

    To polish, load a polishing pad on your dremel, then apply some Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish to the buffer wheel, and proceed to polish the coin. The coin get's hot, but a quick dip in a glass of water will cool it off.

This is really more of an explanation as to why you might be able to do this kind of work even if you think you hands are too shaky, or your eyes are too bad.

There are two very important things to understand:

  1. You can magnify the heck of things. When you get older, you lose your ability to focus on things that are close. Magnifiers and reading glasses bring that focus point closer. Depending on the nature of your vision issues, with heavy reading glasses, you should be able to regain that focus at a much closer distance, and as an equally powerful benefit, things are much much bigger.

    Unfortunately, the more magnification, the closer you will need to be to your work piece. With heavy magnification, you will find yourself right down close to the workpiece. When you sit down to cut, take a few minutes to determine how close you need to be to find the sweet spot, and see the pimple on a flea.

    If you have other issues with your eyes that can't be overcome with magnification, then you might not be able to do the more detailed work. Print out some of the patterns in the pattern section, then look at at those with strong reading glasses, and if you can get a clear image, you should be good to go. You can only cut what you can see.

  2. When cutting metal, the cutting is slow, and you have plenty of time to adjust. So, what this means, is that when you magnify the heck out of things, you see the pattern much bigger, and your cutting rate, because of the very small scale, perceptually is like working at a larger scale. This speaks to cutting at a smaller scale and maintaining control. If metal cut like butter, we wouldn't have a chance. So, cutting small isn't magic, and doesn't require superhuman cutting ability or superman vision. So now you know my secret, I'm not really good, I just cheat with optics and patience.

Bottom line, for most of you, this type of cutting is within your reach, however, you will need to practice. Your first effort will probably not be great. You will need to get a feel for how metal cuts, and eventually it will become more natural. There are techniques that you will learn with a little practice, that makes some of this a lot easier. We will cover these coming up.