How to Choose the Correct Scroll Saw Blade (page 3)

If you're new to scrolling, be conservative with blade selection.

If you are a beginning scroller it is best to choose a blade that has a high number of teeth and is of a heavier gauge steel. This will help to minimize the number of broken blades. It will also make the blade easier to control. For example, a blade with 12 TPI (teeth per inch) will provide good control but will require sawing a little slower than a blade of 8 TPI.

The number given to a scroll saw blade gets larger with the increase of thickness with each blade. A #9 blade is made of much thicker steel than a #3 blade. The thicker the blade steel, the less likely the blade will break. Much more tension and pressure can be applied to a #9 blade than a #3 blade and with less deflection from #9 blade’s vertical path. This is important to consider when increasing cutting speed. Keep in mind that higher cutting speeds can create a need for more sanding.

Scroll saw blade selection requires choosing between blade life, speed of sawing, quality of the finished edge and controlling the saw blade’s path.

The most important thing to remember when trying to control sawing with a scroll saw is to not go too fast. Many retail store scroll saws have small motors with fine blades and are not designed for speed cutting. When sawing too fast on hard woods the blade will walk with a mind of it’s own. Blade breakage is an indication of excessive speed and push against the blade when sawing.

Use this Universal Blade Number chart for choosing the correct blade type based on the wood thickness.


When sawing, use an even consistent pressure. Push the wood into the front of the blade, NOT the side.

When sawing long, sweeping curves use the movement of your body to help guide the work piece into the blade. This will work better than trying to use just your hands to constantly make small adjustments as you guide the work piece into the blade. You can practice this on a piece of scrap wood until you perfect the technique used by many pro-scrollers. Always use the largest blade you can get away with, since small blades are more likely to break and are much more sensitive to correct blade tension and operating speed.

When drilling initial pilot holes use a scrap board under the work piece to prevent tear out from the blade.

This is especially useful when making tight cuts and you don’t want the drill hole to interrupt your pattern lines. Place pilot holes near to a corner if turn room is needed. Pinless blades can be sharpened on the end to make it easier to insert the blades into fine holes when cutting highly detailed fretwork.

Review this before buying your next batch of scroll saw blades.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a scroll saw blade for your project. Thickness and hardness of wood as well as intricacy of the pattern are important factors.

Review the complexity of the pattern that is to be cut out with a scroll saw. Choose a blade that is small enough to easily cut into the tightest areas of the pattern. Thicker and harder wood requires larger and thicker blades. The blade being used must be able to turn within the radius of the sharpest corners of the scroll saw pattern.

Scroll saw blade sizes are listed using numbers. The higher the number, the bigger the blade. The numbers can range from as large as #12 to sizes below #0, such as #2/0 (pronounced two aught), #3/0, etc. Generally you won't be needing anything that's smaller than #3/0 as they are usually considered jeweler's blades.

Bigger blades will be both thicker and wider with less teeth per inch. There is no standard governing these specifications so there is a slight variation between manufacturers and between different series of blades by the same manufacturer.

Size of the blade is not the only factor that affects turning ability. Different manufacturing techniques make similar looking blades act vastly different. Experimentation may be required to find what brands work best.

There is a great difference between standard stamped blades and Precision Ground Tooth (PGT) blades. PGT's are a little more expensive. PGT’s are sharper and stay sharp longer than stamped blades.

PGT’s do not have a stamping burr on one side. This allows PGT blades to cut perpendicular to the blade rather than at the 10-15 degrees to the right required when using stamped blades. This alone makes the higher cost more than worth it.

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