Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tool Review: Swanstrom Disc Cutter

Rio Grande ran a special on Swanstrom Disc Cutters last spring and I finally bought one for my classroom.    I had spent years cringing at the price, but the special had it low enough for me to finally be able to justify it.  It was worth every penny and then some!  One of the jewelry projects I do with my students is based on designing a piece that unifies the form of a dome with both texture and contrasting metals.  Some student examples from my most recent class can be seen above.  The disc cutter easily shaved more than a week off this project.  As anyone who has done doming before knows, you need to cut near perfect circles to get a good domed form.  This took a tremendous amount of time for my beginners, especially those that had more complicated designs with multiple domes.  This simple tool has you clamp the metal in the middle, select your punch and then tap it with minimal force to pop out your perfect circle.  I had an older, smaller disc cutter donated to my classroom years ago that I was never super excited by the results of, so I had not really considered the Swanstrom.  That was a mistake.  Each student was able to take the time they would have spent cutting all these circles and re-allocate it to developing more complex designs.  I have since bought a second one and it allows my class of 18 to never back up.  Pop - Pop- Pop - done!  That's how fast it is.  I can also speak to the quality of it, since it is getting regular use by a class of 18 at a time and holds up to the beating my students give it (I can not say the same for all the tools I purchase in the classroom).  Whether you are considering it for the classroom or your benchwork involves disc cutting, I would highly recommend it and the possibilities it creates.

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