What am I doing wrong?

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Forum topic by lumberjoe posted 08-12-2013 02:19 AM 1472 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2854 posts in 1070 days

08-12-2013 02:19 AM

So I’ve had a scroll saw for about 8 months and I finally decided to give it a shot tonight. No matter what I do, I cannot follow a line. It seems when I put pressure on the blade, it wanders. I’ve tried speed, more tension (bad idea) less tension (bad idea) and different blades. I practiced on a piece of cherry – about 3/8 thick with a No2 Olson plain end blade.

Any good places to look for the basics? I’d really like to start scrolling as I have a few projects in mind that would benefit from some fretwork


17 replies so far

View b2rtch's profile


4399 posts in 1870 days

#1 posted 08-12-2013 09:28 AM

I never used a scroll saw in my life, did you check YouTube or other videos?,or.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=9e2c13b57a36ff47&q=how+to+use+scroll+saw+video

-- Bert

View Handtooler's profile


1155 posts in 954 days

#2 posted 08-12-2013 09:48 AM

ASK LJ Sheila Landry! She’s the real McCoy. Go to blogs or Jocks, find her and drop her a PM. She’ll be glad to stop her busy chores of the day of painting, pattern making and scrolling solve your problem. Keep us advised, Please.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View CFrye's profile


4459 posts in 662 days

#3 posted 08-12-2013 11:00 AM

I’m no expert either. Here are a few who are…
Sheila Landry (Scrollgirl) did a LJ series of classes here.
Steve Good explains cutting a straight line on a scrollsaw here.
Helped me understand.
As with anything it takes practice. Your first inlay cutting board wasn’t perfect…keep trying!

-- God bless, Candy

View americancanuck's profile


178 posts in 1431 days

#4 posted 08-12-2013 11:01 AM

Go to the classes section here on lumber jocks and find Sheila Landrys series on scroll sawing. It was invaluable to me when I started and I still go back and look at it all the time.

View Handtooler's profile


1155 posts in 954 days

#5 posted 08-12-2013 11:48 AM

Candy, Thanks for Steve Good’s video It’s invaluable knowedge

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View HorizontalMike's profile


6970 posts in 1736 days

#6 posted 08-12-2013 12:54 PM

Since no one has mentioned “feed rate”, I will. Scroll saws are small scale cutters and NOT like BSs and TSs. You need to slow down… a lot. Also note that some woods with coarse grain will cause the blade to jump/follow the grain. Just my 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View scrollsaw's profile


13032 posts in 2676 days

#7 posted 08-12-2013 01:50 PM

Make sure your blade is not loose and take your time.The more you scroll the better you will get

-- Todd

View kepy's profile


186 posts in 1095 days

#8 posted 08-12-2013 02:09 PM

You might want to try a softer wood to get you started. The main thing is to let the saw do the work without forcing. A little larger blade for beginning might also help (maybe a #5 or 7).

-- Kepy

View lumberjoe's profile


2854 posts in 1070 days

#9 posted 08-12-2013 03:37 PM

Thanks guys. Candy, that’s what I was looking for.

Mike, you are correct. I think my major problem problem is balancing stroke speed and feed rate. I need to find a good combo that works. If I feed slow I find I have to use more pressure than I like and the blade really wanders/deflects. Too fast of a feed and the tracking is waaaay off.

From my experience with other tools (routers, bandsaws, jigsaws), the results I was getting indicated a major tool setup issue since no matter what I did I could not get a proper cut. After looking at some of the stuff mentioned here, technique plays a very large role.


View distrbd's profile


1412 posts in 1268 days

#10 posted 08-12-2013 04:55 PM

I am a total newbie with a scroll saw(and woodworking in general).For me ,in order to cut straight ,I always sit to the right of the blade and feed the piece I’m cutting towards the left(slightly) and forward.
Another tip I learned from an old timer is: it is alright to go back and forth ever so slightly ,to cut on the line.

I hope this helped,there’s a great scroll saw you can check out,great members and lots and lots of info:

-- Ken from Ontario

View RolfBe's profile


28 posts in 636 days

#11 posted 08-21-2013 12:38 PM

I have been scrolling for about 8+ years and have learned a few thing in that time.
First all blades tend to cut to one side (with a few exceptions) that is because of how they are manufactured. There is a burr that will cause them to cut to your right as you face the saw. You learn to compensate for that.
The main thing is to use quality blades Olson, Flying Dutchman, Pegas to name a few. The next thing is blade tension. Judy Gale Roberts had a great audio file on her site that gives you an idea on how the blade should sound. Another thing is to look where you are going not where you have been like when you drive.
Once you remove the pattern no one will know that you wandered off the line.

-- "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can" Hawk G4 ss, New Nova 16-24 DVR XP

View DKV's profile


3207 posts in 1326 days

#12 posted 01-14-2014 04:11 AM

Lumberjoe, is your problem completely solved. Any revelations you care to share? Thanks,

-- Have fun and laugh alot. Life can end at any moment. You old guys out there know what I mean...

View lanwater's profile


3101 posts in 1756 days

#13 posted 01-14-2014 04:16 AM

lumberjoe, I have mine for 3 over 3 years and I only used it a handful of time.
I cant cut strait or make an angle. I am also rushing.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View lumberjoe's profile


2854 posts in 1070 days

#14 posted 01-14-2014 04:23 AM

Yeah. 1 word – DRIFT. I’m able to do some pretty acceptable scrolling now that I figured out the drift angle of my saw. That was the biggest thing setting me back. it gets tricky when the piece changes directions. I have to remember what side of the line/pattern to keep the blade on so I am working against the drift instead of letting it wander.

I’m not sure if this is normal, but instead of trying to fight with it, I made friends with it. Also playing with FPM and feed rate was a big help. I tend to speed things up (both) when doing long sweeping curves or straight portions, then slow things down when it’s about to get intricate – not unlike driving a high performance vehicle at it’s edge.


View DKV's profile


3207 posts in 1326 days

#15 posted 01-14-2014 08:42 AM

Thanks lumberjoe. Every little bit of feedback helps.

-- Have fun and laugh alot. Life can end at any moment. You old guys out there know what I mean...

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