Saturday, 2 June 2018

Cutting Lead Came

Cutting came is a gentle process rather than an abrupt chopping effort.
There are at least three kinds of implements in common use to cut lead came.

Lead nippers or lead dykes
Lead nippers/dykes are a kind of adapted side cutters, used for cutting wire and by electricians. But these have the bevel only on one side of the jaws, making them almost useless for anything other than cutting lead. This arrangement only crushes the lead on the cut-off side and also leaves a minimum of lead next to the back of the jaws.

In use, the jaws of the dykes are aligned in the same angle as the heart of the lead, cutting across the leaves of the lead. They do not cut from the top and bottom of the came. These are very quick for right angle or very oblique angles on the came. However they are of little use for acute angles.

Lead knives
For more acute angles, blades are more commonly used. These can be either straight edges or curved blades. The straight edge lead knives are essentially putty knives or stiff scrapers sharpened to an acute angle. This kind of knife is normally wiggled from side to side while applying pressure to work through the came.

Other knives are curved to make rocking back and forth easier. There are a variety of knives such as the Pro or Don Carlos. Some look more like a scimitar than a lead knife! These are used to rock along the line where you are cutting the came.

Whatever kind of knife you are using, be sure to be directly above the knife, looking along the blade to ensure vertical cuts.

Of course, saws are sometimes used. The blade needs to be coarse toothed to enable the soft lead to drop out of the teeth. These saws can be hand held or table saws. Normally, it is quicker to use lead dykes or knives. However, if you are in production mode, a powered table saw may be worthwhile.