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How much blade tension?

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Forum topic by Steve Kreins posted 12-23-2013 02:46 PM 654 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Steve Kreins

344 posts in 318 days


12-23-2013 02:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question scroll saw blade tension

On my new/old scroll saw I don’t know how tight to tension the blade and I assume that’s important.
What effect if too loose?
What effect if too tight?
What’s perfect tension?

-- I thank God for everything, especially all of you!


15 replies so far

View Don1's profile

Don1

33 posts in 2436 days


#1 posted 12-23-2013 02:53 PM

When you pluck the tensioned blade you should hear a nice clear High C note.
Don R

-- www.oldcrowscrollwerks.weebly.com

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

1700 posts in 1609 days


#2 posted 12-23-2013 02:54 PM

Too tight, breaks the blade, even before running the saw. Too loose will cause the blade to wonder off the pattern line and can cause blade breakage. Too loose will give a bulged cut in thicker woods. (3/4” – 2”) This is important in doing inlay and in thick, stand up, puzzle making The pieces will not fit together properly. You should get a high pitched “Ping” when you pluck a properly tensioned scroll saw blade.

-- In God We Trust

View JustJoe's profile

JustJoe

1554 posts in 725 days


#3 posted 12-23-2013 03:29 PM

I too would like to know, since I finally have a decent scrollsaw on the way.

When you pluck the tensioned blade you should hear a nice clear High C note.

Sheila mentioned that in one of her scrollsaw tutorials, and I’ve read it elsewhere here on LJ and in other forums.
But I don’t have perfect pitch and wouldn’t know a C note from a E flat to save my life. I’ve got one of those little guitar tuner things the size of a pack of cards, but surely there’s a better way than trying to tune my scrollsaw like it’s a 1-string banjo.
Is there any way to know how to properly tension the blade then, without channeling the spirits of Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia?

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View ScrubPlane's profile

ScrubPlane

187 posts in 883 days


#4 posted 12-23-2013 04:18 PM

New saws will have a tension wheel you simplay match up against the blade recommendation on the package.

If not, press your finger against the side of the blade, preferrably in the off position :-), blade should flex about 1/16 of an inch.

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

5084 posts in 1485 days


#5 posted 12-23-2013 04:32 PM

I’m not a scroller (nor do I have perfect pitch) but the same question comes up with the chevalet and tension is very important in marquetry. I now know by feel and sound just from experience. The way you get the experience is by observation. Where you want it is just short of where you broke the other one.
What I’m saying is learn from your mistakes. No one can tell you how tight is tight enough but it won’t take you long to get it ….. as tight as you can but not so tight it breaks too often. Blades are cheap, experiment.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

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floyd1365

26 posts in 534 days


#6 posted 12-23-2013 04:55 PM

you can download a free guitar tuner app for your smart phone or laptop as an aid

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alohafromberkeley

248 posts in 1091 days


#7 posted 12-23-2013 06:11 PM

I’d go with deflection as ScubPlane said. If you can’t push it then it’s too tight. A nice ping is what you want…Not sure if there’s such a thing as perfect tension. Every guitar player I knew had different string tension preferences (lighter gauge vs heavier) Bad technique will break a blade faster than Jimi could burn a guitar. Pushing too hard and too fast a cut is a feel thing that you’ll gain from experience. What are you going to try? Scrollwork. Intarsia. Marquetry.Inlay. They all have different blade requirements and you’ll develop a feel as you get comfortable with the machine. Is the saw one with variable speed settings? That would allow you to do a wider range of projects.

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

View JustJoe's profile

JustJoe

1554 posts in 725 days


#8 posted 12-23-2013 06:25 PM

Floyd I’m that one guy left in the world who doesn’t have a “smart” phone, so there’s no app for that.
That’s a lot of good info there. I’ll try the finger deflection bit – thanks. I hope it helps the OP, I know it helped me.

What are you going to try? Scrollwork. Intarsia. Marquetry.Inlay

Well now, that’s a good question. I can’t speak for the OP (And I hope I haven’t stolen his thread.), but myself I plan on giving it the old LJ try. I’ll post about the box it arrives in and how happy I am or aint with Amazon and UPS and the entire buying/shipping process. Then I’ll post a few times asking which stand I should buy, before deciding to build my own. I might just launch a “scrollsaw stand of your dreams thread” that scrollsaw fanatics will flock to, but regular woodworkers will probably shun. Then maybe a few posts asking which blades to buy, where to get them. Then I’ll pop out a snow-flake or two, put the scrollsaw back in a corner with a tarp over it to keep the dust at bay, and start a thread lamenting the lack of quality scrollsaw blades because they just don’t make them blades like back in great-grandpappy’s day when proud USA union guys would slave over hot American Steel straight from the mills of Pittsburgh, sharpening each little tooth by hand…..

But seriously – just got another email from Amazon. Saw is on the way with expected delivery date of tomorrow?? Original scheduled date was the 30th. I hope I didn’t check the wrong box and sign up for amazon prime.

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View alohafromberkeley's profile

alohafromberkeley

248 posts in 1091 days


#9 posted 12-23-2013 06:31 PM

Hey Joe, what saw are you gettin’ – just curious and apologies to Steve for getting OT (I don’t even have a land line let alone a smart phone)

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

View Steve Kreins's profile

Steve Kreins

344 posts in 318 days


#10 posted 12-23-2013 06:32 PM

Thanks for all the input folks! I just fooled around with different tension settings and was amazed that I was able to play “House of The Rising Sun”. ;)

-- I thank God for everything, especially all of you!

View JustJoe's profile

JustJoe

1554 posts in 725 days


#11 posted 12-23-2013 06:38 PM

I’m getting the Dewalt DW788. $329. It was a tough choice between that and the Hegner ($1354) but in the end I decided Amazon probably wouldn’t accept my crayon-colored $1300 bill, and the yellow of the Dewalt would accent the blue in my little Record lathe quite nicely.

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View Pimzedd's profile

Pimzedd

461 posts in 2491 days


#12 posted 12-23-2013 08:19 PM

I have an old Craftsman. I tighten the blade as I pluck it and listen to the tone. The tone will get higher in pitch as it is tightened. At some point, the tone change slows down and increases very little. That is point I stop. Works for me. I never seem to break a blade and the blades cut straight.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

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oldwormy

16 posts in 578 days


#13 posted 12-28-2013 02:17 PM

As tight as you can get it without the blade slipping in the holder.

-- AlW

View sgv's profile

sgv

266 posts in 579 days


#14 posted 12-28-2013 11:11 PM

Joe I have the 788 great saw I get my blades http://ocoochhardwoods.com/ $3 dozen, free shipping, 8) Scrollsaw work shop, he has a vid with the proper tension sounds on it.http://scrollsawworkshop.blogspot.com/

-- Tite Lines, May the wind be at your back

View JustJoe's profile

JustJoe

1554 posts in 725 days


#15 posted 12-28-2013 11:16 PM

Thanks, that’s good info. Mikes Workshop has the blades cheaper if you buy a gross, but ocoochardwoods is cheaper if you just want a dozen.

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