Those lost trades | EN

The diamond sector has considerably developed over the last five centuries. From the individual mill worked by hand, the hydraulic mills to overall electrification, the cutting workshops have known them all. If the cutting technique, as discovered by Louis de Berquem in Bruges, nevertheless remains the basic principle, several trades related to it have however been lost.

Saw cutters
The archives of the city of Antwerp have kept records of sawing operations dating back to as early as the 17'h century. In those days, the saw was a metal arch and an iron thread was stretched between both sides and then it was coated in diamond powder The sawing operation was a long exhausting one, but It was lost two centuries later. At the end of the 19th century, indeed, mechanical sawing came to light, enabling to get better proportions. The first sawing machines used to stand on a base, and the saws had to be cut and coated with diamond powder on a separate bench that was entrusted to the saw cutters. The production of the sawyer was a matter of swiftness and it depended on the dexterity of the saw cutter. To work, the saw cutter used to receive thin sheets of phosphorous bronze, which would absorb the diamond powder. A hole was then hammered in with a mould and then cut with metal scissors so as to get more or less circular saws. Later on, the saw could be stuck between two valves and inserted in a grinding machine so as to cut the circular saws to perfection With two sand paper boards, the distortions were smoothed out The tray would then be placed on a powder machine where the saw would be coated with diamond powder mixed with oil and fat. In 1920, the Inserter or saw cutter trade had died out since the machines came without any base and the sawyer could then cut and coat his saw by himself Diamond cutting was performed with pliers, called tang it was a wooden tool fitted with metal pliers in which a dop was affixed, a kind of yellow copper shell affixed on a red copper stick, more easily malleable. The copper stick enabled the cutter to bend the stick while holding the dop in various positions. The dop was filled with a mixture of lead and tin gas lamp melted, making it possible to get a soft burning cone in which the inserter would drive the rough diamond. The dop would then be cooled in a cold water pool Inserting in the dops is one of the oldest trades closely linked to cutting, but it died out when the mechanical dop appeared after World War I. In the cutting workshops, the inserter was the person who used to prepare the diamonds for the cutter. Such basic systems have nevertheless enabled to obtain perfect results.

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