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  HOME TECHNIQUES SCROLLSAWING Scroll Saw Blade Guide

Scroll Saw Blade Guide
Proper selection of scrollsaw blades increases safety & success.

Blade Selection:

To find the right type of blade, you really need to know a number of things, but remember everyone has their own opinion and preferences. You really have to do your own homework. Most manufacturers have charts with recommended speeds and material thicknesses for their blades. This helps, but here is a bit more info for you to consider.

What you are cutting?
(type of material, its thickness and the intricacy of your pattern). Certain types of material, like Plexiglas and aluminum require a special blade, but most wood can be cut with standard blades. All blades are stamped from steel blanks. Most are hardened and tempered.

Better Quality Blades:
Quality scrollsaw blades use better quality steel and a refined tempering processes. This may be important when cutting difficult hardwoods. Hardwoods, also, usually require a higher number blade, where the blade kerf (width of cut) is larger, and allows easier dust clearout. This is especially true with oily woods.The greater blade thickness also gives a longer life on denser woods. Gummy white pine may encourage you to try a skip tooth blade (more space between the teeth), for better dust removal. Trial....Trial ... and more Trial.

Thickness of the wood:
With thick wood you want less teeth per inch, and of course with thin wood you need more teeth. The basic philosophy is to keep at least 4 teeth in the wood at all times (3 teeth if very thin wood). If you have too many teeth the sawdust can not clear out, the blade heats up and the wood burns, with too few teeth they catch on the wood, pulling it up and down on the table and out of control.

If you are cutting very intricate patterns, you may choose a finer blade to get greater control. If on the other hand, it is long gentle curves on the outside of a plank, you may choose less teeth to increase the speed of cutting. The cut will be rougher but you will be in real production mode.

Skill of the cutter.
As a new scroller you always want to be conservative in your blade selection. Use a blade that has more teeth and a heavier gauge. It will be less likely to break and more easily controlled. A blade with 8 TPI will cut faster than a blade with 12 TPI but you have more control with more teeth.

The higher the number the thicker the blade, so a #9 blade will break less often than a #3 blade. You can put more tension on a #9 blade and exert more pressure against the blade with less deflection from its straight up and down path. If you are a production cutter, this is an advantage if your end goal is to increase your speed of cutting. Remember though, nothing is gained, if you then must spend twice as long sanding your work because the cutting edge is not clean enough for your application.

Remember in any blade selection process, it is always balancing act between speed of cutting, quality of the finished edge, control of the blade's path and blade life.


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theWoodbox.com Jan 2007