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HOW TO


SCROLLSAW BASICS


An average scrollsaw has two cutting-speed settings. This model cuts at either 850 or 1725 cutting strokes per minute, but the speed settings vary from model to model. Some saws have variable speed settings that allow you to choose the exact setting within their cutting range.

Making delicate, intricate cuts is a breeze with your scrollsaw. similar in appearance to its relative the bandsaw, the scrollsaw is a stationary machine used to cut shapes and curves in wood, metal, or plastic. The scrollsaw specializes in cutting intricate curves too sharp for a bandsaw blade, cutting fine lines, and making internal cuts without making an entry cut into the side of the workpiece. Scrollsaws cut on the downstroke, with a short, thin blade that reciprocates between an upper and lower clamp. The most common type of scrollsaw today is the constant-tension saw, which has a pair of movable arms that hold the blade and provide the cutting motion. Unlike the old rigid-arm saws, these constant-tension saws maintain blade tension by pulling on both the upstroke and the downstroke. The cutting motion has a slight forward pitch to it, so the blade enters the workpiece more aggressively. This type of cutting action reduces blade wear and makes a faster, cleaner cut.

Choosing your scrollsaw
The size of a scrollsaw is measured by its throat depth, which is the distance between the blade and the base of the arm. The throat size determines the maximum board width that can pass through the saw. Throat depth measurements vary quite a bit from model to model, but most are between 15 and 24". Choose a saw with a throat only as deep as the largest workpiece you envision yourself using. Keep in mind that some blades can he turned 90° in order to feed long workpieces past the blade from the side.
Most scrollsaws have a maximum cutting depth of 2" and come equipped with a blade guard, hold-down, and tension adjustor. While dust blowers are also fairly standard, not all models have them.
Depending on the model, scrollsaws have one set cutting speed, several set speeds, or a variable speed control. Most cutting is done at high speed, but slowing down gives you greater control over cuts, and also makes it easier to cut veneers, plastics, or metals.
Saw stands and antivibration pads also are available. These effectively cut down on excessive vibrations that can make controlling your cuts difficult.

Scrollsaw blades
Scrollsaws take two different types of blades, which have either straight ends tnat clamp into a blade holder or pin ends that hook into slots in each blade holder. Some scrollsaws accept either kind, but be sure to buy the type specified for your scrollsaw.
Blades are categorized by a universal numbering system according to specific width, thickness, and teeth per inch (TPI). Blades range from about 1/16" to 1/4" wide and between 1/64" and 1/32" thick. Saw blade manufacturers give blade specifications and will best inform you on the wide range of blade sizes, but a 15-TPI blade is good for general use.

Choose the best blade for the material you're cutting. If your cutting pattern has loose curves, fairly straight stretches, or if you are cutting a hard workpiece, use a wide, thick blade. However, a workpiece with very sharp turns requires a shallow, narrow blade. Using a heavier blade helps minimize the tendency for the saw blade to wander from the line and follow the wood grain. Essentially, you must use the widest and thickest blade possible that will allow you to follow the intricacy of your cutting pattern while producing a stable cut and desired kerf. Tooth patterns of saw blades also vary. Skip-tooth blades are good for fast cutting without clogging the blade with sawdust, making themgood general-use blades. A reversetooth blade is similar to a standard blade, but has several teeth set in the opposite direction at the bottom end of the blade to prevent tearout on the underside of a workpiece. Spiral blades cut in all directions, so you don't have to rotate the work; however, they do cut a wider kerf. Metal-cutting blades are also available for cutting thin sheet metal or other hard materials.


Make simple cuts on the workpiece first to clear out as much waste material as possible. Then, return to make the more intricate cuts and curves.

Basic Scrolling
Prepare your workpiece by planning and marking a cutting path. Plan ahead to avoid interrupting your cut and backing the blade out of the kerf. While this is sometimes necessary, a steady forward pace makes cleaner cuts. Prepare for sharp curves and tight spots by drilling holes in the waste area next to the curve.

Before you begin, unplug the saw and check the movement and tension of the blade. The blade should move up and down freely, without bending or twisting, and the cutting teeth should point down. To reduce vibration, adjust the hold-down to secure the stock to the saw table.
Guide the workpiece slowly, with both hands, keeping your fingers out of the direct line of the blade. Apply moderate pressure as you feed, neither forcing nor rushing, and keep the blade on the waste side of the cut. To prevent uneven cutting or blade twisting, cut more slowly through thick materials or sharp turns.
Internal cuts
To make an internal cut without cutting into the side of the workpiece, drill starter holes in the waste area. Remove the blade from the upper clamp. Thread the blade through the starter hole and reattach it to the upper clamp. Readjust your hold-down and make your cut.

BUYER'S TIPS
Here are some features to consider when you choose a scrollsaw: Your needs will determine the size, but a 15" scrollsaw is a good place to start for general purpose work. The smaller saws tend to vibrate more than others, so consider an antivibration pad.
Look for a model with more than one set speed, a dust blower, and a quick-release tension leverfor easy blade changing. If you plan to make a lot of bevel cuts, be sure to get a table that tilts.

WOODWORKER'S TIPS
If you cut a lot of thin material, chances are you're only using a small part of your saw blade. To get full use from your blades, make an auxiliary tabletop out of 3/4" plywood, which will raise the workpiece. This will use the upper part of the blade that normally goes untouched and will make your blades last longer.
Here "s an easy way to accurately transfer a cutting pattern. Trace yourpattern on any type of paper, then affix the sketch to the workpiece with spray-mount adhesive. When you're done cutting, simply peel off the remaining paper.

Gang-cutting is a useful technique for making multiple cutouts of a pattern and when cutting thin materials. Simply stick, several workpiece blanks together with double-sided tape, trace the cutting pattern on the top piece, and cut.

Prices subject to change.
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Updated: 07/2017   copyright 2012 U-Repair.com