The Scroll saws ability to cut in intricate detail makes it the ideal saw for wood makers and craftsmen alike.
Sometimes confused with a jigsaw, the scroll saws ability to cute finer detail is due to its small blades. Most scroll saws today have a knob that allows the machine to adjust to different speeds.
The most common scroll saw can be adjusted between 400 and 1,800 strokes per minute.
Scroll Saw Uses
Woodworkers, craftsmen, carpenters, and artisans love scroll saws for its ability to cut intricate contours that other saws cannot achieve.
Common uses for a scroll saw
- Lettered signs
- Wooden toys such as jigsaw puzzles
- Dovetail joints for small furniture
Scroll saw blades are measured in teeth per inch (TPI). The more teeth a blade has, the fasting it can turn and create intricate detail. There are two main kinds of blades we will be looking at today. These are: –
Pinned blades (aka pin-end blades)
Pin-end blades are thicker therefore better for cutting through thicker and tougher wood. Below we will look at the Pros and Cons of this blade
- Simple lock in position
- The blade sets to correct tension
- Ideal for cutting thicker and tougher wood
- Given the size of the blade, you cannot insert these blades into very small holes
- Less variety of scroll saw blades to choose from
Unpinned blades (aka flat blades)
Flat blades require careful clamp and blade tension
- Comes in various sizes, such as fine blades for accurate intricate cuts
- “Nought blades” are the smallest of blades and are available without pin-hole
- Extra set up time (blade locking and tension)
- Not ideal for difficult cuts on wood (unpinned flat blade is best)
Cutting Different Materials with your Scroll Saw Other than Wood
While primarily a woodworking tool, the humble scroll saw can also be used on a variety of other materials when used with the appropriate blades and techniques are used.
Corian – Ideally cut using a Skip tooth blade and a motor speed around 60% of capacity (So you do not melt the material). This is a fun material for creating coasters, trivets, cutting boards, etc.
Acrylic – Acrylic is great if you are after transparency. But be careful when cutting with a scroll saw. You must take precautions to ensure you do not generate too much heat as this material can melt.
Metal – So long as you are using the correct blade such as a metal-cutting blade and provided you are cutting through thin metal, the scroll saw can make short sort of metals such as aluminum, copper, silver, gold up to 1/8 inch thick.
Tip – If you want to prevent shavings from flying all over your workbench, consider sandwiching your metal between to pieces of plywood.
Beginners Guide to Scroll Sawing
You did it, you went out and purchased yourself a scroll saw, and you are pleased with it but don’t know much about it. So where to go from here? Well, the first thing you may wish to consider is your set up.
Scrolling while standing or sitting? Most woodworkers will tell you that they prefer to sit while scrolling. The reason for this is because if you are standing for long periods of time, your back can begin to ache, and you can become uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable, you are probably not going to produce a good product.
You will need to take note of where your saw height and where your chair height and forearms are positioned.
You will want your forearms to be straight across. Each person will have their own setup preference when it comes to the best sitting and working position. The key here is comfort.
Bolt your saw to your stand
The second thing to consider is whether or not you have your saw on a stand. It is highly recommended that you do in fact have your saw on a stand, simply because having it on a bench means you can bolt it down securely.
Because no matter how many rubber feet you have under the bottom of it, it will still vibrate and move. So, bolted down to a bench is best.
If you are still experiencing excessive vibration once your saw is bolted to your table, you can minimize this but putting rubber washers between the feet of your saw and the stand.
Throat clearance in your saw
The throat clearance in your saw is the hole in your table that the blade goes through. You need to ensure that your blade is perfectly center by checking the alignment of your table so when your blade is under tension is dead center-left to right within the gap of your blade hole.
If it is not, you will need to loosen your table mountings and shirt the table left or right, whatever you require to get that mounting correctly.
Not all tools come perfectly adjusted once out of their box. So make sure you commit to making all necessary adjustments to your tools before working with them.
Squaring the Blade
The next thing you will want to consider is whether your blade is square to the table. Without the blade being square to the table at 90 degrees, you will end up with a crooked cut and if you are cutting a line while thinner stock, it may not make a difference but the thicker you go, the more your line is off on the opposite end of the stock. So, you are now no longer cutting your true pattern.
To make sure your square blade is square, grab a 2-inch square. Raise your blade up to its highest point and place (not push) your square along the side of the blade. If it looks perfectly square, then you are right to go.
If you find that it not in square, even just by a little bit, you will need to adjust your blade until it is square.
Now that you have your table centered, your scroll saw is mounted and you have selected your blade, now it is time to mount your blade.
Insert your blade down through the throat plate hole, line it up with your retaining bolt, tighten slightly, attach it at the bottom, and tension your blade. That is it. Your blade is now installed.
If you find that your blade is slipping out, it may be due to factory oil residue. In this instance, you can give your blade a little bit of a sand down.
Tensioning the Blade
If your blade is too loose, there will be serious deflection. You will not achieve a clean cut and you are going to break your blades.
To check for tension on your blade, pluck the blade as you would a guitar string and listen for a high-pitched tone. If the tone is dull, tension up your blade.