What is a scroll saw? Why do we need scroll saws? How to use a scroll saw? You will get the answers to all of your questions here.
First of all, you need to know what a scroll saw is. Well, it is an electrical machine with a tiny thin blade which is used to cut sophisticated, elaborative designs or curves on your wood or metal or any kind of other crafts. You cannot perform any designing work in your wood with any other saw as easily as you can with a scroll saw.
You can create designs on thin wood, tiny wooden block, intricate wood projects, etc. you can make circles, zigzags or even 90o cuts and also mitered cuts.
In addition, you can use a scroll saw to make mitered edges, dovetail joints, and awkward angles. You can also work on tasks like household projects, intarsia projects (interior cuts), wooden letters, making wall arts, puzzles, toys, holiday decorations and many more.
To start using a scroll saw, you have to get ready for it. Using a scroll saw is very easy. But mastering it is very hard.
First of all, you have to make your design on the wood surface. Draw your design with a pencil very carefully and make sure it is visible easily.
You can spray adhesive to glue paper design with blue painters tape. This will ensure you a better design. If you do not have painters tape, you can use the spray adhesive directly on the wood. It will come off of if you rub it with mineral spirit later.
Before you start to cut wood with a scroll saw in an actual project, try mastering your scroll saw skill by cutting and making different types of designs on scrap woods first. It would be much better if you practice the same cut as you have in your project. If you do so you can see what you will do when you will work on an actual project. In this way, the probability of making any mistake during your actual work will drop.
Check the blade tension before you start working with a scroll saw. Make sure the blade is perfectly fitted in the saw. Not too tight and not too loose. If it is too tight then it might break suddenly since the blade is very thin. And if it is too loose then it will move around which will result in making irregular cuts and eventually a failed project. You can know about the correct tension form the manufacturer’s instruction manual. You can test the tension by plucking the blade with your fingertip like a guitar string. It will make a sharp ping noise and will not move around if it is perfectly set.
An important thing for every woodworker, DIY worker to remember is to read the manual came with your saw. You have to know the machine well before you use it. The instruction manual of the saw is the best guide you will have for that particular saw you have.
Prepare your wood board for working by making it smaller in size. Cut it down into small piece to work with it comfortably. A too big sized workpiece is difficult to handle and position. Unstable positioning might bring unwanted result.
You are using a power tool here. So we do not have to remind you about the safety factors. But still, do not forget to use your safety goggles before cutting. It will prevent wood dust from entering into your eyes. You should also use a dusk musk to prevent specks of dust entering your nose and mouth. Dust will cause irritations if they get inside your body. Irritations might be of disturbance in the middle of the work. And you also should not wear loose clothes or pieces of jewelry while working with a power saw.
This is the most crucial thing for using a scroll saw. A scroll saw blade is different from other saw blades. It is long and thin in size. You cannot cut thick wood or many hardwoods with these blades. Blade type varies with the thickness of project and work type.
THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF SAW BLADES
- Pin-end blade
Pin-end blades are usually thicker than plain-end blades. They produce faster cuts. And with faster cuts, they will give you rough results.
- Plain-end blade
Plain-end blades are flat blades and also called unpinned blades. Because they do not have pins at their ends to fit inside the saw. You have to clamp them at the edges to attach them to the blade. They are versatile to use. They are thinner than pin-end blades. So they produce much furnished cuts. You can use them generally to work on interior projects.
When you are buying a saw, I suggest that you buy a saw that supports both these pin-end blades and plain-end blades. And while working with the saw, I would prefer a plain-end blade over a pin-end blade. And just so you know, you should not buy tooled saws. They require other tools every time you need to change a blade. This is very annoying while working.
Types of blades depending on the blade teeth
Most of the scroll saws come with some blades. But you should have the following blades to work without tension.
Standard tooth blade: They are normal blades with normal number of teeth in the equivalent distance. All the teeth in these blades are in the same distance apart. And it should be mentioned that they are a bit noisy than the other blades.
Crown tooth blade: Every second tooth in the crown tooth blade is in the opposite direction to the first one which looks like small crowns from a distance. They are ideal for cutting plastics.
Skip tooth blade: These types of blades are ideal for beginners. They are named as skip tooth because their teeth are missing always right after a tooth. They are a bit slower than the other blades.
Reverse tooth blade: They come with the last set of teeth facing upward instead of downwards. These inversely facing teeth prevent tear outs from the bottom of the workpiece.
Double tooth blade: They have a large gap between each set of tooth. They are also a bit slower than other blades.
Spiral blades: These blades have teeth on all directions. So they can cut on any directions at a time simply by just turning them as necessary. You do not have to remove the workpiece every time you need a large angled cut.
Precision ground tooth blades: These blades have smaller teeth than skip teeth or reverse skip teeth. They are ideal for cutting straight forward cuts.
There are a different number of blades available for various works. The numbers start from #0-#12 (Universal numbers for scroll saw blades). Each individual blade has their individual working materials. Thinnest blades are #3/0, #2/0 and #1/0. They are to be used for fine and smooth works on a thin workpiece. These blades are ideal for working in interior works. The blades like #10, #11 and #12 are thick blades with less TPI. They produce faster cuts than the other ones. But they will also give you rough cuts.
For general usage, I would suggest using #5 or #7 blades. These neither are thin nor thick. And if you are new in DIY works, then it is strongly recommended for you that you use #5 or #7 blades.
Scroll saw body parts and how to use them
The body parts of scroll saws differ per brand. But all of them come with some basic parts. Here, we will only name those important basic parts. You saw may have some extra parts with extra features. To know them, you have to read the instruction manual.
Table: It is the surface where you will place your workpiece and work on it. Most of the time the scroll saws come with a tilting work table. This tilting feature lets you select an angle for tilting which allows you to make mitered cuts using a scroll saw.
Variable speed knob: This is a knob situated in front of you to adjust the blade speed of the saw. Speed of blade is a very crucial factor in using a scroll saw. You speed up and down from time to time to make necessary cuts with perfection.
Throat: The throat part is measured as the distance from the blade to the back of the saw. The longer saw throat you have, the larger project you can work on.
Blade clamp: There are two clamps found on the top and bottom side of the saw. These clamps are for placing the blade perfectly.
Blade tension knob: Blade tension is at the back of the saw generally. You can adjust the blade tension using this knob. As I have stated earlier, pluck it with your finger to test whether the tension is perfect or not.
Blade guard: Blade guards are placed in front of the blade to protect your fingers from the blades.
Dust blower: Most of the saws come with a default dust blower right at the position where the blade cuts.
Light: Some of the saws have a small light attached with it to give your vision accuracy. If your saw does not have a light, you can buy it separately and install in your saw. Having a light with a scroll saw is highly recommended. It will give a better line of sight than normal light in the working place.
How to cut using a scroll saw
Now, to start cutting with your saw, after you are done setting up your working space and taking necessary measures, place the workpiece on the saw table and slowly push it towards the blade. Keep both of your hands firm on the workpiece. Use one hand for applying pressure and the other one for moving the workpiece as necessary. But never force it very hard. If you force the workpiece through the blade during work then there is a great possibility of breaking the blade. By this time you have already known that the scroll saw blades are thinner than all other blades. While pushing your workpiece with your fingers, never ever put them in front of the blade. Always remember to keep them on the lateral sides. And keep them at a safe distance.
When you are cutting any interior work, you might need to start your cut from the middle of the board sometimes. So, drill a small hole at the point where you want to start cutting. Then put your saw blade through the hole and finish your work simply. And when you are cutting form side, it would be better for you if you start cutting from a corner.
When you are cutting thick wood, you have to increase the reciprocating speed of your saw with the help of the variable speed knob. On the contrary, you have to slow down the blade speed when you are cutting thin wood or making fine cuts.
When you need to make tight angled cuts like 90o than you have to remove the workpiece first and then turn it in the necessary angle and then start cutting it again. If you are using a spiral blade then you do not need to remove it every time you need to pivot. Do not try to turn in 90o angle in the middle of cutting without a spiral blade. You will not be able to make the cut and you will end up breaking the blade.
After you are finished with cutting, you need to furnish your cut smoothly. Use sandpapers to remove the unpleasant burrs form your project. If you use a reverse skip blade then you will have splinter-free cuts from the start.
After finishing your work with the saw, unplug it from the power source and remove the blade and then store it away in a safe place.