From small puzzles that can amaze your kids to bird houses to home decors, there are lots of projects that you can complete with a scroll saw.
Plus there are lots of wood that you can use for scroll sawing such as plywood, red cedar, Spanish cedar, black walnut, American Holly, ebony, tulip wood, bird’s eye maple, mahogany, rosewood, cherry olive, and oak.
Most people think that they need to enroll in a scroll saw class to be able to operate their tool. While that’s always welcome, the truth is that you don’t need to enroll in one. There are lots of people who were able to learn the craft on their own. Of course, you need lots of practice and patience if you want to learn scroll sawing on your own.
There are three types scroll saw work that you can learn on your own. These are:
The internet is the best venue to look for scroll saw projects for beginners. There are lots of websites that offer free scroll saw patterns. These patterns can be legally used by anyone for their scroll saw projects.
The patterns vary in design, from simple picture frames to plaques to clocks and handy items. These patterns also vary in cuts, from tight radius, sweeping curves, to long straight lines. Others have jagged edges and sharp corners.
If you’re a beginner, you should look for and use practice patterns first. Doing so will help you get acquainted with your scroll saw. It can also build your skills and confidence.
As mentioned earlier, you should be persistent in practicing your scroll sawing skills. This is the only way for you to improve your skills.
Patience is also important. Don’t get too frustrated if you are not able to follow the marked lines well. Correctly follow a pattern as best as you can. Once you have built up confidence, you can move on to a bigger project.
It’s up to you to choose a scroll saw pattern. You may simply choose a pattern depending on the design. Others choose a pattern that they feel is complicated enough to challenge them and consequently improve their skills.
You don’t even have to follow the pattern that you downloaded online. You can also add or remove elements. Like in any craft pattern, you can use your imagination to make a scroll saw pattern look like your own.
Regardless of the scroll saw pattern you find online, you can download the file onto your computer. Then print the file on a piece of paper.
Once you have it printed, apply the pattern to the wood piece. Spray adhesive or put glue to attach the pattern into the piece of wood that you will be cutting.
Rubber cement could also be an option as it can come off easily. It also doesn’t leave any marks on the surface of the wood. Others use a double sided masking tape to affix the pattern into the wood piece.
It is not recommended, though, that you hand-trace the pattern into the wood with a pencil or tracing paper. The reason is that the slightest movement of the pattern could be enough to weaken an area, or make it hard to cut. Even the act of tracing the pattern on the wood itself could move the line, which make it hard for you to get an accurate cut.
After attaching the pattern to the wood, you can then drill pilot holes at the start of each line as well as starting point for the shapes.
Once you have started to cut the pattern, you may wonder if you are supposed to sit or remain standing throughout the entire scroll sawing process.
The rule of thumb is to stand directly in front of the scroll saw during the initial stages. Don’t avoid standing off at the sides as it would make it hard for you to feed the work piece into the blade.
If the project drags on for hours, you could get a high stool so you can work longer. This would enable you to sit down and continue working on your project.
Remember that when working with thin woods, you should use a number 3 double tooth blade. It can produce fewer chips on woods aside from lasting longer than other blade types.
Once you have inserted the blade, fasten the tension knob. It should be turned three quarters beyond the resistance point.
The bottom line is that there are lots of scroll saw projects for beginners that you can find online. You can follow the patterns you find online to improve your skills, or get a better feel of your tool. You can then progress with scroll sawing after completing several projects or patterns.
With the numerous scroll saw blade types, you can’t really blame novice scroll saw users to buy the first blades they see on the shelves. Others also buy the cheapest blades.
There are two major kinds of blades that work with scroll saws—plain end and pin end. The former is mostly used in modern saws, while pin-end blades are used in older saws.
Beginners are generally discouraged from using pin-end blades. While it is easier and faster to change pin-end blades, the main problem with this type of scroll saw blade is that it would require a 1/16” starter hole in the workpiece. On the other hand, a plain end blade can slip through a 1/64”inch hole. This can make a big difference especially when working on an intricate project.
Moreover, it is no longer that difficult to change plain-end blades. In the past, a special wrench was needed to set and adjust plain-end blades in scroll saws. But these days, quick release pads are now being integrated in newer saws. Thus, there’s minimal effort needed in changing and setting up blades.
Then there are the seven major types of blades, to wit:
The major characteristic of this type of scroll saw blade is its simplistic design. The standard blade has teeth of the same size and same distance from each other.
Standard scroll saw blades are made of wood or metal. Wood blades have larger teeth that metal blades. These also have more space between the teeth. Wood blades are designed to clear the sawdust.
You may easily mistake skip tooth blades as standard too blades, until you notice that every other tooth is missing. This space between the teeth is designed to keep the blade cool even after long periods of use. This characteristic makes the skip tooth blade ideal for novice scrollers.
this can also be mistaken for a skip tooth blade. However, the difference is that it has a large space between sets of two teeth. Compared to the skip tooth blade, it can cut a bit slower. But it leaves a very smooth cut.
this type of blade has a skip-tooth configuration. However, the last inch of the teeth is pointing in the opposite direction. This is designed to cut on both the up and down stroke, and minimize tear out on the underside of the work piece.
Compared to a standard blade, reverse tooth blades cut slower. However, you can expect a smooth edge when you use this type of blade.
this type is also very similar to the skip tooth blade. But it has tiny and sharp teeth made from fine carbon steel. If you are looking for a blade that can outlast and outperform other blade types, then this is the type you should get. It also has the ability to cut fast and smooth, in both straight and radius cuts. However, it isn’t recommended for beginners due to the sharpness of this type of blade.
this is the type of blade that is best used for cutting very intricate portrait patterns. It has normal blades which have been together, resulting to all sides having teeth. With that teeth design, spiral blades are capable of cutting well in all directions. You don’t even have to spin the work piece to do so.
as you would expect from its name, this blade has teeth shaped like a crown. Also, there’s a noticeable gap in between each crown. With its unique design, crown tooth blade can cut on both up and down strokes. In terms of speed it cuts slightly slower than regular blades.
With the various scroll saw blade types, a novice scroll saw user may get confused as to which type he should get for his project. Aside from knowing the characteristics of each blade type, the following factors can help him decide which type to purchase:
The kind of material that you intend to cut is one critical factor to consider in determining the kind of blade you would use. Standard blades, for instance, can be used in cutting most wood types. But for other materials like aluminum and plastic, special blades like spiral and crown tooth blades are more appropriate.
Blades are available in sizes using numbers. The numbers range from as high to #12 to below #0, like #2/0 and #3/0. Generally speaking, the higher the number of the blade then the bigger it is. It also has a lower number of teeth per inch.So a #12 blade has fewer teeth than a #7 blade. It also has thicker and wider blades than the #7 blade.
Moreover, you would need thicker and wider blades when dealing with thicker and harder materials. Going back to our example, a #12 blade can achieve cleaner cuts than a #7 blade.
Finally you should also look into the intricacy of the pattern that you are to work on. You should use a blade with small teeth when you are to do complex patterns. Keep in mind that bigger blades won’t be able to cut tight corners.
In closing, it is important for any novice scroll saw user to know the different types of scroll saw blades. This would help him or her find the right scroll saw blade for a particular type of project, and increase the likelihood of completing the project without any hassle.
Scroll saws are one of the more commonly used tools for woodworkers. It is very useful in cutting intricate joints and curves. It can also be relied upon in quickly and accurately cutting dovetail joints.
Scroll saws aren’t just used in making precise cuts in woods. It can also be used in cutting other materials like metal and plastics. While the tool may appear intimidating at first, the truth is that it is relatively easy to use.
Before you use a scroll saw, let’s look first at arguably the most important part of this tool— the blade.
Scroll saws have very thin blades. In fact, some blades appear like pieces of human hairs. Blades are measured in teeth per inch (TPI). The rule of thumb is that the more the TPI, the more capable the blade is in making smooth and accurate cuts. However, it also means that the more TPI the blade has, the slower and more fragile it is.
The Pin-End blade has a small cross pin in each end. It is a lot easier to change Pin End blade. But the downside is that it isn’t as widely available as Plain End blades.
On the other hand, a Plain-End blade is flat and pinched in place between the jaws of small clamps. This is considered the standard for most users of scroll saw. Thus you’ll always be able to get a Plain-End blade from various sources.
Blades aren’t that pricey. Its price can range from 15 to 75 cents. It is also very easy to replace a blade—simply unlock the tension and then pull down the chuck. Pull out the blade, and then insert the replacement. Tighten the screws and then test out the new blade
Whether you are shopping for a scroll saw or using one for the first time, you could get confused with the various features of this tool.
Let’s make a short rundown of the basic features of a scroll saw:
Now that you have a basic understanding of scroll saw parts, let’s discuss how you should operate it.
While most experts agree that scroll saw is a safe cutting tool, it is still important that you observe basic safety procedures first before operating the tool. For one, you should wear safety goggles to avoid eye injuries. You must also wear a dust mask and hat to hold back your hair.
Prepare the workpiece by cutting it to the required size. Then draw your design into the workpiece, or transfer the patterns you want to cut onto it. You need to ensure, though, that the marked lines are very visible.
Prepare to use the scroll saw by bolting it firmly to the working surface. The put the blade and ensure that it fits firmly onto the saw. The tension of the blade should also be correct. You can refer to your scroll saw’s instruction manual to learn how to find the right blade tension.
Switch on the scroll saw. The on/off switch is usually located on the top of the unit. You should also turn on the light of the scroll saw, if there’s one.
Check if the scroll saw is working properly by taking a scrap wood and making a short cut on it.
You can then start cutting. But first, you will have to set the speed of the tool. The speed would depend on the material you want to cut. A general rule of thumb is that a slow speed is needed for cutting hard and thin materials like hardwoods and metals.
Once you have set the speed, direct the blade toward the first marked line that needs to be cut. Guide the workpiece into the blade by using both hands. Use your forefingers and one thumb in moving the workpiece through the blade. Your other fingers, meanwhile, must be away from the cut line.
Don’t remove your fingers or one of your hand as it could lead to the workpiece jumping or even a jagged cut. Don’t rush the piece through the blade as well because it may have your fingers slipping, and getting into contact with the blade.
Once you reach a turning point and you need to make a 90 degree turn, don’t fret. Simply move the bladeback through the cut, and then remove the workpiece from the saw. Then insert it from the beginning of the adjacent line, and continue cutting through it until you’ve seen the point where both lines converge at an angle. Then move to the next line.
Once you have completed cutting out the pattern, turn off the saw, remove the blade, and unclamp the tool from the working surface.
It’s easy and absolutely a breeze to use, once you get the hang of it. And getting the hang of using a scroll saw isn’t difficult at all, if you put your heart and mind into it. All you need to do is pick out a good web link providing detailed, step-by-step directions, which you then have to stringently follow at all times. So here’s what you should do to use a scroll saw properly and effectively.
While the above is a step-by-step guide to the process of cutting wood, metal or even hard plastic with a scroll saw, there are other things you should keep in mind when actually taking on a cutting task.
One of these important things is the need to wear protective gear, including glasses to shield your eyes from flying debris, and possibly even a dust mask to protect yourself from inhaling the dust generated in the process. If you have somewhat longish hair, remember to keep it tied so that it doesn’t get in the way while cutting with a scroll saw. The same holds for the sleeves of your shirt, which should be tucked in such a way as to keep them safely away from the work station.
Then there’s the preparation part too, which you need to work on before starting the actual cutting process. Depending on what you wish to create, you should first cut the wood to the required size and clearly mark the design pattern with a pencil.
The preparation extends not just to the material to be cut but also to the saw itself. You need to be sure of fitting the right scroll saw blade firmly and properly on to the saw, checking it by switching the saw on and then trying it out on a waste piece of wood or other material that you need to cut.
As far as precautions go, just be careful how you guide the wood with your hands/fingers—after all you don’t want to end up with chopped fingers. Also, remember that you don’t need to switch the saw off every time you want to make a 90° turn; all you have to do is to slide the saw back through the cut line and then gently remove the wood from it.
Finally, good finishing is as important as good cutting. Once you’re done with cutting the pattern, do what you can to smoothen the rough edges and let your creativity shine through the wood or whatever you’re working on.
No need to reiterate, of course, that using a scroll saw is quite a simple affair, as long as you don’t try to experiment with the process. Caution is an essential part of cutting with a scroll saw, which can otherwise cause injury, especially if you’re a beginner.
But then, when all is said and done, this saw is ideal for beginners, given the ease of its use. So just check out the step-by-step instructions on the links shared above, or any other resource you find convenient, and then follow them stringently.
Take your time grasping the intricacies of the process, and practice as much as you can. Practice will make you perfect, just as it does in any other task you’re beginning to learn. Remember, once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll find the end result worth every bit of your effort, and you’ll also find others reveling in your successes.
You just got yourself a scroll saw after months of contemplating which model to purchase. It’s understandable how excited you are for your new benchtop machine. A scroll saw is one of those tools that you can benefit from, especially when it comes to cutting wood and other materials in fine detail. It’s something perfect for concentrated woodwork projects.
But the moment that you have the scroll saw on your shop, the next question you would obviously ask yourself is—how do I set up this tool?
Reading the manual of the scroll saw will tell you everything you need to know about the tool, from its parts and accessories to how you set it up, to how you can maintain its good working condition.
Suffice to say, read the entire manual first before you try to set up the scroll saw. You should also refer to it before you make any changes like adjusting the tension.
The typical scroll saw has the following parts—blade, on/off switch, speed control knob, upper arm, air hose, blade tension lever blade clamp thumbscrew, bevel scale, material hold down, bevel knob lock, and table. You obviously should know these parts well so you have a better understanding of how they work together in making your saw effective.
Most scroll saws today are ready for use the moment you take them out of the box. Thus the next important step in setting up the machine, right after you read the manual, is to mount the scroll saw to a bench.
It is generally recommended that a scroll saw is mounted to a solid bench instead of a plywood bench, as the latter can cause noticeable noise and vibration. If you can’t get a solid bench and what you have is just a plywood bench, you can put a soft foam pad between the bench and the saw.
For most owners, getting the correct tension on the scroll saw blade is the toughest part of setting up a scroll saw.
Getting the right tension of the scroll saw blade is important as blades will break if the blade tension is too much, or too little.
The general guideline in finding the correct blade tension is to pluck the scroll saw blade like a guitar. You should hear a sharp ping when you do so.
Of course, not everyone has the “ear”, so to speak, to determine if the scroll saw blade has been correctly tensioned. The fact is that the scroll saw blade would make a sound when you pluck or strum it.
One way to find the right tension of the scroll saw blade is to feel some resistance when you strum the back of the scroll saw blade. When there’s resistance when you pluck the scroll saw blade, you are almost near the right tension of the scroll saw blade.
Thus it can be said that finding the right blade tension is really a trial-and-error thing. You should not really expect to get it on your first try.
Squaring the scroll saw blade to the table is important if you are working on a project where the pieces must fit together. The same goes if you are into stacking cutting or cutting thicker stock.
Most scroll saws these days would only require you to move the table to adapt to 90 degrees. You’ll also have to look into the inserts, and make sure that these fit nicely and not chewed up. The insert must also let you easily square up the workpieces on the table.
Inserts on new saws aren’t really a concern. But these can be a problem when you have an older saw. The easiest way to go about this is to make your own by using the original insert as a template. You may even use the scroll saw to cut its own inserts. You should make sure, however, that the material you are to use would be as thick as the original insert. This would ensure that the top is absolutely level with the table top.
Some of the materials for inserts that you may want to use are soft aluminum alloys, solid wood, hardboard, and clear polycabornate plastics.
Since you want to have smooth cuts when using a scroll saw, it is important to set up and use the hold down and dust blower.
Both parts of the scroll saw play pivotal roles. The hold down barely touches the work surface. It helps keep a workpiece from catching a tooth on a quirky grain, and then jumping off line as you cut. On the other hand the dust blower keeps the marked lines free from sawdust so you can easily follow your pattern.
Most scroll saws today have sawdust blowers. But if the scroll saw you have doesn’t have one, you should consider adding this part. You may even want to improvise. One popular way to do so is to add an aquarium air pump to the scroll saw.
Save for finding the right blade tension, setting up a scroll saw isn’t that complicated. It helps that most scroll saws today can work right out of the box. And you can always refer to the user manual if you are having difficulties in setting up your saw.
Now that you have an idea how to get your scroll saw up and running, why don’t you start setting up the said machine so you can get productive as soon as possible?
Now that’s an interesting question. Not everyone, after all, wants to do intricate designs on wood. Metal is as popular, if not more, for such creations. In fact, there are certain things for which wood wouldn’t really do. A knife is one such example, and if you’ve seen all those awesome knife designs and wondered how you could do such designs yourself, a scroll saw is probably your best bet. So the answer to the question is a strong affirmative. Yes, it definitely can, as long as your scroll saw has the right kind of blades, because, eventually, it’s the blade that does the cutting job, as you’ve probably discovered by now
Finding the right blade
Your battle with cutting metal with a scroll saw is won virtually the moment you find the most suitable blade for the job. For metal cutting, you need a scroll saw with skip teeth that are also ideal for cutting through the insides and the panels.
With skip tooth blades, you can use your scroll saw to cut through virtually any kind of metal—from copper to brass, cold rolled steel, bronze, and aluminum sheet. It is, in fact, perfect for cutting soft metal up to 1/8th of an inch in thickness. And what’s more, you can cut through a single sheet or even a stack of them with such a scroll saw.
You can check out the link for more on finding the right kind of blade for your metal cutting requirements.
Broadly speaking, however, it’s not a good idea to use a woodcutting blade for a metal cutting job because it’s a sure way of ruining the teeth of the blade. For obvious reasons, metal cutting blades need to have hard teeth and are available in various sizes to suit your diverse metal cutting needs.
How to do it
Now that you’ve got the right kind of blade fitted in to your scroll sawright kind of blade fitted in to your scroll saw, the next step is to figure out the best possible way of going about the task of cutting metal. Depending on the type of metal you’re working on, you may or may not need to use oil or lubrication. Aluminum, for instance, is better cut with lubrication while gold, brass and even copper are quite fine when cut dry.
Soft vs. hard metal
Metal, as we all know, comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and more importantly, in a variety of hardness. Quite frankly, a scroll saw is just not the thing you need to cut through hard metal. But if you really have no option, and have decided to go for a scroll saw, then just take care of a few things to ensure that the blade doesn’t break apart during the cutting process. For one, use a slow speed setting. Secondly, the blade should be well lubricated, and finally, let the metal go through the blade slowly.
But even then, there are limits to the kind of hard metal you can use a scroll saw on. For a hard metal that’s more than ¼” thick, you will need to find another saw since a scroll saw is just not going to help you with this one. Of course you can always find a high-end scroll saw with a super high-end blade if it’s a somewhat hard metal that you want to cut through.
Keep an eye on safety
You also need to be aware of the fact that the risk of injury while cutting metal with a scroll saw is higher than while cutting wood, so you should put the metal between two pieces of plywood, which will protect the metal from forming a burr at the bottom while also preventing metal pieces from dangerously flying around.
This relates to the operational functioning of the scroll saw, which can be electrical or battery operated, or even manual. The battery-powered scroll saw is generally found to be more convenient, even as compared to the electrical one, which has a cord trailing it as you cut. How to proceed with the metal cutting process is something you can easily find online.
How to proceed with the metal cutting process is something you can easily find online. Here’s one such link for you to check out. At the end of the day, your success will depend on how meticulously you follow the guidelines.
As you can see, metal cutting is possible with a scroll saw but you need to be careful about a few things before you start using this tool for such a purpose. The metal you propose to cut shouldn’t be too hard, and the blades you use should be ideally suited for metal cutting. If you try to cut metal with a wood scroll saw blade you’re going to end up ruining the metal piece instead of transforming it into an enviable creation.
Then there are the safety considerations which you need to pay attention to in order to minimize the risk of injury, which, unfortunately, is more the case with metal as compared to wood.
And finally, of course, it’s the way you do it that makes the big difference to whether you’re successful or not, and what kind of end product you come up with. You can’t possibly hope to do a great job if you don’t follow the rules of metal cutting, which are somewhat different from wood-cutting guidelines.