Scroll Saw Blades for Fretwork

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Forum topic by PyNCy posted 03-02-2012 06:13 PM 3873 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View PyNCy's profile


99 posts in 2476 days

03-02-2012 06:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question scroll saw

I have been using my Tool Star scroll saw a lot lately, getting ready for the spring craft show season. I make a lot of stuff with inside cuts, some I would call fretwork (If things don’t go right, I “fret”! heehee) Normally, I can cut (let’s say) 10 Oak Cat Desk Clocks (see my projects for what it looks like), which are 1/2” thick, on a single #7 Reverse Tooth blade. I have used the MACH blades, and I think they are the best. However recently, they don’t work very well for me at all. The last dozen I bought seemed to be dull &/or have a terrible burr on one side. They seemed to wander all over. I can usually handle that, especially cutting Oak, when you can get a lot of wandering the way the grain is. But this was nuts. On top of that, they kept breaking. Right where the reverse is on the blade. I got to looking at the new blades, comparing them to the older, used MACH blades, and the steel looked different – cheaper, tarnished. I’m not bragging or anything, but I can usually cut with one blade, through Oak, on numerous projects until it gets so dull it won’t cut the softest Balsa. I’ve never had blades break as often as I have in the last couple years.

So, instead of my buying my trusty MACH blades on the next order, I bought something else. I don’t remember now what brand it was, but it was cheaper than the MACH. They were even worse than the MACH blades. They seemed to cut straight and nice, what I’m used to. But as I cut, they felt dull, and would only cut maybe 2 of those 10 cats before becoming impossible to use. And they would break almost every time I went to use one. The NEXT time I ordered blades, I bought the Precision Ground Reverse Tooth blades. They cost more than the MACH, so that means they’re better, right? Well, not if you ask me. They cut the 1/2” Oak really nice. Except, again, I can only cut about 3 of those 10 cats before I have to struggle to get the blade through. The blades are burnishing the wood (it’s ok with me, b/c the shine is nice), and the blade itself has burn marks on it. I cut the 1/2” Oak with this blade. It was brand new, right out of the package, when I cut for 1 ½ hours. After the first 30 minutes, it was like this and hard to cut. I know Oak is a really hard wood, and the Oak I got this time was especially hard, but it’s doing it for any 1/2” wood I use, even Red Cedar. “They” teach that a blade is dull when it doesn’t catch on your clothes or skin when you rub it. These blades always catch, but they just don’t cut very good.

Just wondering, has anyone else been having this same problem? I think it’s pretty much just the #7 blades for me. It’s pretty sad when I have to use a smaller #5 to do a #7’s job. They even cut better on the Oak for me (for a little while). Have they started using cheaper steel, and so our blades are breaking and dulling faster?

It seems the reverse part of the blade is only catching the bottom of the wood. Could that mean the stroke is too short or long for the blade? Or is this the way it is now? I know when I started using reverse tooth about 8 years ago, I never had the trouble I do now.

What kind of scroll saw blades have you found to work best for certain projects?

Tell me whatcha think! :)

-- The Sawdust Fairy ~ Making Magic with Wood

5 replies so far

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3131 days

#1 posted 03-02-2012 06:55 PM

I have been satisfied with these blades.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View simarilan's profile


145 posts in 2656 days

#2 posted 03-02-2012 08:17 PM

Had the same problem several months ago.
I bought several dozen of 2R, 3R, and 5R – one of the packages of the #3R blades seemed dull when I tried to use them. I emailed Sheila Landry and ask if she ever had a problem like that, and so far she hasn’t, but I could have gotten a bad batch. She suggested I try the Mach blades, I ordered more of the standard Olson blades and some of the Mach blades – still online, but this time from a local vendor (SEYCO). No problems so far with either of the blade types.
The original blades I had the problem with, had been repackaged with a hand written scrap of paper noting the blade number. After thinking about the whole thing, I wonder if the dozen of #3R that I had the problem with, were not really Olson blades.
I’m still a big fan of Olson blades.

-- Quality is easy to see - but hard to explain

View paul44224's profile


68 posts in 2647 days

#3 posted 03-03-2012 11:37 AM

A lot of people rave about the Flying Dutchman blades. I do like the Ultra Reverse line. But, for the most part, I have stayed with Olson. Once in a while, I have run into a bad batch. It’s usually just a few blades.
The best pricing I have found is Great service. I have been dealing with them for over 5 years.
There’s a great scrollers forum at Anything you could ever possibly want to know about scrolling is there. Quite a few free patterns, also.
You really have some nice work!

-- Paul,

View MrsN's profile


987 posts in 3669 days

#4 posted 03-03-2012 02:34 PM

I find oak to be a really tough wood to cut, more so then many of the exotics that are harder materials. Looking at the cat clock, I would be happy getting 3 from a blade, that would be about what I think I could get.
Are you using packing tape to help keep the blade cool? I have found that some tape work better then others. Adding another layer to the top or bottom may extend the life just a bit.

View PyNCy's profile


99 posts in 2476 days

#5 posted 03-07-2012 05:42 PM

I haven’t used the packing tape yet. I put the blue painter’s tape on the wood, and I thought that was supposed to help lubricate the blade, too. Maybe I’ll put the packing tape on the Oak and see if that helps :) It’s not just the Oak that gives me problems with the blades, it’s pretty much any 1/2” wood. I was wondering if my saw might be too old for the new blades. Its manufacturing date is 1995, so maybe they changed the design of the blade a little and my saw doesn’t fit it right anymore. Don’t know :)

-- The Sawdust Fairy ~ Making Magic with Wood

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