How to Choose the Correct Scroll Saw Blade
What scroll saw blade should I use? This is a common question we get asked. Choosing the correct scroll saw blade is dependent on a few factors including the hardness of your wood and thickness, and how intricate your cuts will be (such as doing fretwork). In addition you'll need to know whether your scroll saw accepts a pin or pinless blade. Reading through this article will help to better orient you and assist you in choosing the correct scroll saw blade. You may need to also add in a little trial and error until you find the blade that best suits you, your scroll saw and what you're building.
First, what is a scroll saw? A scroll saw can be used for everything from making intricate wood pieces to cutting through metal pipe. Modern scroll saws have a knob that permits the machine to be adjusted to different speeds. Most scroll saws can make between 400 and 1,800 strokes per minute. The saw's table tilts and may be locked into place at various angles for cutting bevels. It’s often confused with a jigsaw, but a scroll saw is more heavy-duty and may be used to cut several materials. The scroll saw’s ability to make intricate cuts is due to its small blade.
Right: This Porter Cable scroll saw is a pin-blade model for under $200 with a floor stand. It’s available through Lowe’s on the internet. I’ve used one of these for years for my toymaking. It’s great for toys that do not require intricate fretwork. You’ll need to buy a pinless blade model for delicate fret work. A pinless scroll saw blade allows you to thread the blade through a tiny hole in your material for sawing delicate fretwork.
Blades are measured in TPI (teeth per inch), and the more teeth per inch, the more intricate work the saw can do. The greater the TPI, the faster a blade can make tight turns.
Below: A popular scroll saw among the professional scrollers is this Excalibur model available online for under $1,000. It’s a pinless model that is great for fine fretwork. It’s solid construction and durability work well for scrollers that want to produce higher production quantities.
Left: This massive 6 ft. tall scroll saw is used for wood toy manufacturing in the orient.
Look at the length of that blade! The blade length and the horsepower of this scroll saw can accommodate the thickest and hardest of materials.This is a scroll saw to die for. Well, I don’t think I’ll be picking one of these up any time soon. It weighs so much that I’d have to strengthen the floor of my shop to support it!
Scroll Saw Blade Rules
- Start the machine and gently feed the blade into the work piece along your marked line. Hold the work piece down on the table and move it steadily to obtain a good finish.
- When negotiating particularly tight corners you may need to pull the work piece gently towards you to stop the blade cutting as you turn the work.
- Be careful not to exert any sideways pressure on the blade. If you need to reverse out of a cut, it is better to switch the machine off first and then carefully withdraw the blade.
- The secret of successful scroll sawing is to use a light touch and be patient.
- When making a cut with a scroll saw, make sure the tension is set properly. To set blade tension, place a piece of wood at the front of the blade. Tighten the blade until it can move only about 1/8 inch.
- Stamped scroll saw blades tend to veer over to the side, so when making a straight cut, the wood must be fed into the machine at an angle from the right.
- To cut out a corner, put a little pressure on the side of the blade, and spin the wood around.
- Do not use dull blades. Scroll-saw blades are inexpensive costing from 15 to 75 cents each and easy to replace.
- To remove a blade, unlock the tension, pull down the chuck and pull out the blade.
- Clean blades with turpentine or steel wool.