Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cane Slicing

I'm pretty good at "eye-balling" measurements, but I wanted to be even more exact for slicing canes.  Anything to lessen sanding requirements, right?  I've tried different cane slicers, but none have given me the precision and uniformity I desire.  The Precise-a-Slice from ValKat Designs worked the best for me, but I was still having problems.  The stiffer blades are thicker and had a tendency to mash down the cane and make marks on the slices, while tissue blades are so flexible, I kept getting curved slices of varying thickness.   My hands couldn't hold the tissue blade rigidly enough.  Then this morning I had a brain storm - my jewelry saw might hold the blade!  Sure enough, it did, and it worked especially well when I cut the blade to the shortest length possible.  For paper thin slices of canes with translucent sections, I'll probably still hold the cane and blade in my hands, but so far, this method is working very well.  (The Precise-a-Slice is available at Polymer Clay Express.  Scroll down the equipment page to find it.)

Here's how I did it.  I used tin shears to cut a tissue blade to a length of 3 1/4 inches.  It was very easy to cut, but be sure to wear eye protection!  Then I put the blade in my adjustable jewelry saw, making it as taut as possible.  Again, be careful doing this because the cutting edge of the blade will be up while you are pushing against the saw to tighten it.

I centered the cane in the Precise-a-Slice and stabilized it with some Super Sculpey (putting some on top of the cane, at the back, keeps it from rising when you slice), and then I sliced by holding the saw so that the blade was against the guides and angled slightly.  So far, I've had good luck slicing at the thinnest increments marked on the device.


  1. Cynthia! You are BRILLIANT!!! My gawd, so simple, yet soooo elegant! Thank you for sharing. *dashes down to workbench to find here jeweler's saw*

  2. Very nice! I've hesitated buying a slicer but maybe now I will give it a try!

  3. Hi Cynthia,
    This is great, thank you for sharing the saw idea, brilliant!
    I wonder, does this slicer advance in incremnets controled by a screw?
    I saw one on line that advanced the cane this way and now I cannot find it, thank you, Arbel.

  4. No, Arbel, there is no screw to advance the slicer. I had one of those slicers and it did not work well and eventually broke. To advance this unit, loosen a screw on the side, move the sliding piece forward, then tighten the screw.

  5. I love this slicer for larger canes, hexagonal and square ones.
    I have found that holding the blade by pulling outwards on it and slicing rather than pressing I get good results. Securing the cane definitely helps - ideally the slicer would have another perspex block to place on top.
    The most important part is a really sharp firm blade.
    Freezing the cane first also helps.

  6. I have the style that advances with a screw, and I love it. Admittedly, I don't use it too often, but I find I get VERY regular results with it. Wish I could remember where I got it! Using a saw to steady the blade is a REALLY great idea.