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Scroll Saws
..Basic Description & Use
..Best Scroll Saw?
..Set Up & Care
..Blade Basics
..Scroll Saw Blade Guide
..Blade Tension & Misc.
..Basic Cutting Skills
..Pattern Transferring
..Cutting Multiples
..Cutting Plexiglass
..Scroll Saw Safety Rules

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Scroll Saw Blades:

Scrollsaw Blade Size Number
Most scroll saw blades are numbered using the "Universal" numbers, from 0 to 12, where the smaller the number the finer the blade. Some manufacturers of course use their own coding, so you'll have to get a table listing TPI (teeth per inch), thickness and width, to be able to cross reference these codes. There is no direct correlation between the Universal number and the TPI. It can only be said, the higher the number the lower the TPI and that they generally fit into this range (ie. #12= 9.5 TPI, #7=11.5, TPI #5=12-15 TPI, #1&2= 20-28 TPI.

Higher number blades are always thicker and wider, so they cannot cut as tight corners. Lower number blades are thinner and narrower, do cut tighter corner, but break much more easily and cut slower. If the wood burns too easily, you probably have too fine of a blade, if the cut is too coarse you probably have too few teeth. Small blades can burn the wood more easily if they are run too fast, so use slower speeds with smaller blades and faster speeds with #9 to #12 blades.

Tooth Design:

Often you will find blades with a number and a letter like R, F, or S. The letter designates the cut pattern of the teeth.

Reverse Tooth (R):
These blades usually have the bottom 5-9 teeth facing up and the rest facing down. Make sure you install it correctly, with the majority of the teeth facing downwards. The reverse teeth are designed to prevent tearout on the underside of your work piece... particularly good if you are cutting plywood. They do not cut as fast as a regular blade. If the reverse teeth are coming through the top face of thin pieces of wood, you can always shorten the blade from the bottom to correct this and remount it in your scrollsaw. Remember if the reverse teeth come through the top, you're now getting tearout on the top instead of the bottom.

Fret Blade (F):
Generally this denotes a blade that is designed for fine internal cutting, with higher TPI's. It makes a great cut that requires next to no sandiing.

Skip Tooth (S):
Designed with a tooth and then a space, then a tooth and a space. They are great blades for fast cutting, and rarely leave burn marks, but tear out is significant and they leave a rough cut edge that must be sanded.

..... you'll also find reference to...

Spiral Blades:
you can cut in any direction with these blades and that sounds great, BUT I haven't met anyone that really likes them. They are hard to control and keep on the line. They do have a special application, when a line has been cut with a regular blade and then you wish to make it larger and more visible. A spiral blade handles the job.

Double Tooth:
Teeth are grouped in twos and then a space, to improve on the cutting quality of a Skip tooth blade but still allow for efficient removal of the dust. They are made with and without reverse teeth.

This designates a blade that uses a different technology to cut the teeth. They are "precision ground" with no burr, from carbon tool steel and hardened to a greater level than normal blades. For exotic woods, of higher density, they are great. Generally they will outlast all other blades. As far as I have seen they are always made with reverse teeth.

Blade Type

Pin ended:
Blades have a small pin on the top and bottom to allow mounting on the blade holder of your machine. Some cheaper machines only handle this type of blade. They are a more rigid blade and do not cut as tight corners. They are not available in as many blade sizes and tooth configurations. They are beefier and do not fit through very small holes due to the top pin design.

Plain Ended:
These blades are the standard, flat on both ends. Come in a wide arrangement of sizes from jeweler accuracy on up. Sized in numbers from 00- 12. Saw must have a holder to allow you to use these blades.

Most veteran scrollsawers will always use the plain ended blades, mostly because by that time they have probably upgraded their saw a few times, and almost all of the quick change heads are designed for flat blades. As a novice first check to see which type of blade your machine holds, then order a selection of sizes to try. They will never go to waste.

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theWoodbox.com Jan 2007