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Question from scrollers just getting started.

I want to buy a scroll saw, what do I need to know before I do?


First and foremost, you need to buy a saw that will accept pinless type scroll saw blades. A scroll saw that will only accept pinned blades will limit the type of projects you can make and are useless for small internal cutting. It is ok to buy a saw that will take both types of blades; you just won't use the pinned blades very often.

Whats the difference between Pinless and Pinned blades? 


The obvious difference between the two is that the "Pinned" blade has a little steel dowel that goes through both the top and bottom of the blade. The "Pinless" blade does not have this dowel. The one advantage that pinned blades have over pinless blades is that pinned blades are much easier to install than pinless blades are. 


The big disadvantage to pinned blades is that, in order to

feed the blade through the holes needed to make intricate internal cuts, A rather large hole is required to fit the cross pin through, usually at least 1/4" in diameter.

For most practical purposes, this is much too large for most scroll saw patterns that require internal cuts. If all you are going to be cutting is external cuts then pinned blades will work fine, otherwise pinless blades will do everything a pinned blade does and more. They allow you to do that really intricate cutting that is the reason most people decide to get into scroll sawing.

Should I buy a new scroll saw or a used scroll saw?


New scroll saws come in a wide price range from $80.00 to several thousand. Since you are new to this hobby and you don't know yet if you will like it, I would suggest finding a used scroll saw in good condition to try out first. Once you have tried it out and you know that you will be staying with the scroll saw hobby, then you can do the research needed to buy a saw that will suit your needs and your budget. I know it might be tempting to go out and buy one of those cheap $80.00 saws because it is "New" don't do it! You will end up frustrated and give up on a great hobby. You can usually find a decent scroll saw locally through places like Craigslist or a pawn shop at a very reasonable price. 



Subject: How do you know what speed to cut at?



Hi Joan,

In my opinion, slower is better. The faster the blade goes, the harder it is to stay on the line, and your blades and bearings wear out faster. I usually have my speed dial set at about 1/2 to 3/4 speed. I never set my scroll saw on the fastest speed anymore. My best recommendation is to set the speed dial to where you can comfortably stay on the line and keep your piece under control. This speed will vary with the hardness and thickness of the wood so it is something you will develop a "feel" for over time. When cutting at slower speeds, you should notice that it is much easier to stay on the line which makes the quality of your cuts instantly better.







Subject: Is it Ok to use pine? Is it harder to cut with the grain?


Two questions...

1. Is 1/2 or 3/4 inch pine a good choice of wood to use on my projects?

2. Does it make any difference when cutting along the grain or across the grain? Because cutting along the grain today would just not cut. Felt the blade might break if pushed as it was bending a lot. 



Hi Yasmin,


Q 1- It depends on your project, are you making something that will be painted or are you going to leave the wood natural? For painted projects pine is fine. If you are not going to paint, I would use either a hardwood or a higher quality pine such as “Select Pine’ which Home Depot carries. I do not use natural pine, too many ugly knots, but I do use Select Pine for specific projects.

Q 2- Cutting across the grain is always easier than cutting with the grain (Ripping). To prevent your blade from deflecting from the top of the wood to bottom of the wood while ripping, you need to have very good tension on your blade to prevent the deflection. Cutting with the grain is always harder and slower so don’t force it or push harder, or you can break your blade.

Happy Scrolling!









Subject: Scroll saw blade type.


 Hi Bob, I am a beginner to scrolling and have watched all three videos you have. I am doing record/LP (Long Playing Vinyl Records) art using a scroll saw and was wondering if a spiral blade or a regular blade would be better for this type of project? 



Hi Chris,


Welcome to the world of scrolling, I think you will enjoy it. 

LP Art that's cool, I like different things. As for which blade to use, since I don't know what type of scenes you are going to cut, it's hard for me to give a definitive answer. I can go over the basic differences between the two blades and let you decide which will be the better choice for your needs.

I will assume you have at least a 16" scroll saw, and since an LP record is 12" in diameter, choosing between Flat and Spiral blades will not be considered since one of the benefits of a spiral blade is cutting projects that are larger than your scroll saw's size. In this case, spirals add no benefit. 

I will use two different landscape scenes to illustrate the artistic differences between the two types of blades. 

Scene One: A deer in the woods with a small bridge, and a babbling brook with trees behind it.

A nature scene like this, with lots of natural curves and no straight lines, is a good match for a spiral blade where clean, sharp edges are not required. The rounded profile of spiral blades makes cutting straight lines a challenge but is useful for a rougher more natural look.

Scene Two: A silhouette of downtown New York on a bright sunny day viewed from a distance.

A scene like this has lots of straight lines that would look very odd if they were not perfectly straight. A flat blade is an obvious choice for this scene.

Another item is Faces. There is a great debate as to which blade, Flat or Spiral, looks best on portraits. I think they both have their place, but it is ultimately the scrollers choices as to which look they prefer. In my opinion, older men and Indians with rough, aged faces can be cut with great success with a spiral blade. However, If you need your subject to look young, yes even older women, than a flat blade will keep you out of trouble. Never make a woman look older than she is.  







Why the blue painters tape?



Hey Dino,


The blue painters tape does a couple things. First, it makes it easier to remove the pattern since you are not gluing the pattern directly to the wood. Second, the glue in the tape actually lubricates the blade as it cuts making cutting a bit easier. Good luck and and have fun.



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