My scrollsaw

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Forum topic by jeepturner posted 12-12-2010 09:40 PM 2378 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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939 posts in 2756 days

12-12-2010 09:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: scroll saw scrollworking

My wife who has always tried to choose a unique and useful gift to give me. One Christmas she bought me a scroll saw. Now this gift was bought without any input from me, but I had probably mentioned that I might like one.
I have only used the saw on one project, that I can think of, and that was a candle box project that my daughter and I built for my wife.
So, I haven’t really put it to work, because one, the projects that I would normally do don’t require it and two, it doesn’t seem to cut that well. If I use thin material it does OK, but anything over a quarter of an inch it takes a long time to cut. Could the blades be the reason that it doesn’t cut well? . Could the brand of the saw be to blame? Could it be that, I just need to better technique?
I have had this saw for over ten years, and haven’t really used it much, but as I have seen some of the Scroll work here, I wanted to see what I could do with it.
If I bought better blades would it make lots of difference?
I bolted the saw to my work bench last night, (I had it mounted to a board that I would clamp to the bench) and that seems to take some of the vibration out of it, and that did improve the cut.

-- Mel,

17 replies so far

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 2981 days

#1 posted 12-12-2010 10:09 PM

Not to insult you but could it be possible your blade is upside down? the teeth needs to be pointing down. Yes the wrong type of blade makes a huge difference as does using too fine a tooth blade. If you have other blades, I suggest trying different ones and see what happens. Ideally you should have no problems with anything 5/8” or less. Thicker or harder woods does tend to cut slower. Talk to Scrollgirl and I am sure she will have answers for you.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View sedcokid's profile


2731 posts in 3562 days

#2 posted 12-12-2010 11:18 PM

I have mostly used cheap blades, a friend gave a ‘good’ blade and what a difference that made. Since he gave me the blade it dosen’t have a name on it but made a world of difference.

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2756 days

#3 posted 12-13-2010 12:02 AM

Yeah, I know which way to point the blade, it would be kind of painful if you did try holding on to your work with the teeth pointed up I am thinking, never tried it though. LOL

-- Mel,

View TheDane's profile


5399 posts in 3626 days

#4 posted 12-13-2010 12:12 AM

Mel—I had a tough time getting started with my scroll saw using the blades from the big box.

I ordered some Flying Dutchman blades from Mike’s Workshop ( ) and have been delighted. Mike’s prices are very competitive, and you just cannot beat the quality of his blades and the personal service you get from him.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2756 days

#5 posted 12-13-2010 12:18 AM

Thanks for the input Gerry, I will go check out the link now.

-- Mel,

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3005 days

#6 posted 12-13-2010 12:34 AM

It is just like all tools with blades, the better the blade the better the result. I use Bosch 18.5 tpi blades from the big box stores and cut 3/4 wood and works pretty good. Thinner stock works a lot better. But you really can’t beat the flying dutchman.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3038 days

#7 posted 12-13-2010 01:17 AM

Like you, I own a scroll saw and I use it very little. However, I know people who are serious scrollers. I learned one thing from them that kind of surprised me – The life of a scroll saw blade is very short. If you are cutting 1/2” oak, you can expect a blade to cut, on average, about 4 feet before needing to be replaced. Of course that varies by the quality of the blade. Now I know why my friend buys 100 blades at a time.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2756 days

#8 posted 12-13-2010 01:51 AM

Rich, with the blades I have now it seems as if they only stay sharp for half an inch.

-- Mel,

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9222 posts in 2883 days

#9 posted 12-13-2010 02:07 AM

I use Olson blades and I find that they are really great for blade life and control. Also, if you are cutting any type of hard wood, I think it is necessary to cover the piece with clear packaging tape (usually about 2” wide) that you can find even in the dollar store. The adhesive on the tape helps lubricate the blade and not only offers longer blade life, but virtually eliminates burning. You should give it a try.

Another thing is that if you aren’t used to using a small blade such as with the scroll saw, you may be used to feeding your wood through whatever saw you use at a much faster speed. I recently posted a video of me cutting through three layers of 1/8” Baltic birch plywood and you will see that it is not what you would call a ‘quick’ process. It is just the nature of the beast. You need to learn to relax and enjoy yourself while cutting.

One final thought is that using a larger blade is not necessarily better. If you use a blade that is too large, there is a lot of ‘drag’ from it and it will not only slow you down but also build up additional and unnecessary heat, causing more burning. If you want a blade chart (anyone reading this) you can PM me with your email and I can send you a chart which will help you with basic sizes for the type of wood you are cutting.

Also the speed of the saw comes into play. You didn’t say which saw you had of how fast you were cutting.

I know it sound like a lot, but once you get a feel for it, it is like any tool and becomes second nature. Keep trying!

:) Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2756 days

#10 posted 12-13-2010 02:21 AM

My scroll saw has two speeds. I don’t know how fast either speed is though. There is no indicator. I will have to watch the video. I have watched one of your videos Sheila, it wasn’t thick material though. It was a pattern of an angle I believe. Thanks for the email reply.

-- Mel,

View TJ65's profile


1376 posts in 3013 days

#11 posted 12-14-2010 07:05 AM

Another point to make is apart from going with Shielas advice about Olsen Blades as I think they last longer too is that they have a ‘Mach speed blade’ which cuts very quick. The tpi is usually small and it is great for doing “a cutout” although they do leave a pretty good clean cut as well.
If you are using pinless blades you can adjust where you place your blade in the holder to get more wear. Also by placing a floating floor -so to speak you can raise the cutting point if you are cutting thin stock which also gives you longer life on your blade.

-- Theresa,

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2647 posts in 2885 days

#12 posted 12-15-2010 06:53 PM

Remember that a scroll saw is about the slowest cutting saw in a workshop. Espicially on thicker than 1/2” material. I cut a lot of 2” cedar on mine and love Mikes blades. I use his Polar #5 blades myself.

-- Website is

View MrsN's profile


985 posts in 3489 days

#13 posted 12-16-2010 02:58 AM

lots of great advise here already. One thing I will add is that it really helps me to have a project that I want to do. If you haven’t found Steve Good's Blog yet you should check it out. Hundreds of free patterns, you should be able to find something that really interests you. There are also some good scroll saw forums that may be helpful, steve good has one of those too.

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 2800 days

#14 posted 12-16-2010 06:11 AM

To the forum… I’ve owned a Dewalt 20 inch saw and have used it quite successfully for the 6 years I’ve owned it. I also have a full functional 24 X 24 workshop where I bring in rough lumber and take out nice finished work from furniture to other useful items. I even made wooden refrigerator shelves we can take in and out like the original ones that broke. Back to scroll saw… what is being said about the slow cutting scroll saw is true. I also use Olson blades (may try out Mikes blades) and have had good luck with them. The point I would like to make is a comment on Sheila’s tape trick. It’s true… it works very well. As a matter of fact, I can cut CORIAN using that tape. Corian is a resin product made by Dupont used for counter tops and if you try to cut it, the heat from the blade melts the resin and binds the blade. The tape cools it so I can cut intricate designs out of it. When installing counters, a Corian shop I know will cut out wholes for sink placements. I get the blanks for nothing and make things out of it. I made the shop a very beautiful WELCOME sign out of a piece they gave me. They value it so much, they load me up with whatever pieces I want.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View JTTHECLOCKMAN's profile


214 posts in 3113 days

#15 posted 12-16-2010 01:50 PM

Well you have gotten alot of great advice here. It sounds like you have a dremel 2 speed saw. It sounds like you are not used to using a scrollsaw and as was mentioned it is not design to cut fast but to cut accurate. It is a slow cutting tool because of the way the blade travels and the size of the blades so you need to learn patience.

As far as blades go I too am a Flying Dutchman fan. I disagree with not being able to get long life out of a blade. These blades last a long time even cutting 1/2” red oak. Believe me I have been cutting for over 25 years.

The tape trick is a good one for lubricating a blade if there is alot of tight turns to be made. It is not the adhesive that lubricates the blade it is actually the ingrediant that is applied to the top of tape so thjt a roll of tape will unroll easily. If this was not there then the tape would not unroll and just adhere to itself.

There are alot of tricks to set a scrollsaw up properly to ajieve its cutting potential and if you are an occasional cutter it can get frustrating at times if not adjusted right. So then you give up on the saw and another potential scroller is lost. Good luck and follow sonme of the good advice you got here.

-- John T.

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