A Beginner’s Guide To Scroll Saws

A scroll saw is really a nice and a cool power tool to have for young woodworking students. You can cut varieties of delicate patterns with a scroll saw, it is fairly easy and safe to use (even small children can use it with a bit of training and given they are observing the basic precautions) and beginners in the field of woodworking can plunge right into it with the help of a scroll saw and develop a passion for woodworking projects in no time.

Having said that, it is necessary for any beginner to have a good and properly functioning scroll saw at his disposal. As someone who is new to woodworking, you don’t really need the most sophisticated or expensive equipment. But what you do need is some good basic knowledge of different parts of the machine and how they work and this will help you make the right choice when you go purchasing your first scroll saw as well as scroll saw accessories. So, in this article we provide you with a brief guide on everything scroll saw and will hope this comes to your aid.

Scroll Saw Blades

All scroll saw models accept two basic varieties: Plain End blades and Pin End blades. Plain Ends are the flat, generic cutting blades that you will place between the clamps. Pin Ends are the same only with the difference that they come with two cross pins–one at each end of the blade. The advantage of a pin-end blade is that you can change it quickly and it is slightly easier to handle for a beginner. On the downside, however, it is difficult to thread a pin-end blade through very small holes. Also, you won’t get that many varieties in pin-end blades as you will get in plain-ends which means that as you slowly make your way up to more ambitious projects, a pin-end blade may not be an option for you.

Blade TPI: This is one important feature when it comes to scroll saw blades. The TPI or the teeth-per-inch refers to the cutting surfaces of a blade and how many teeth per inch the surface of any given blade has. Typically, you get a smoother and more accurate cut with a higher TPI blade whereas the cut will be somewhat rough and aggressive with a low TPI blade. Normally, you will need higher TPI blades to cut through thicker stock of woods. Any scroll saw blade pack will include many numbers of blades with different TPIs. So, we suggest that you just try out the different blades for different projects and slowly, you will develop an idea of what TPI is best for any particular project.

Different Blade Types: There are also different types in scroll saw blades based on how the teeth of the blade are arranged. So we have:
• Standard Blades with all their teeth placed in one direction
• Reverse-Teeth Blades which have ¾ of their teeth in one direction and the rest in the opposite direction- the idea being that a smoother cut will be achieved when the blade slashes back through the wood on the upstroke of the saw.
• Spiral Blades which, like a cylindrical shredder, have teeth all round the blade and will cut in any direction. Apparently this is great, although with a spiral blade, you may often have to face problems such as difficulty in handling, frequent breaking of the blade and others.

In addition to the above, you also have varieties such as Skip-Tooth and Double-Tooth blades. They have their functions, but as a beginner you are not likely to need them.

Scroll Saw Speed

Most good scroll saws will come with variable speed control. In order to get a fine cut or cut through a piece of vey hard wood, you’ll need high speed (1,200-1,800 SPM) while softer wood pieces are best cut at lower speeds (400-800 SPM). Any best scroll saw will allow you to adjust the speed to most any SPM. However, we recommend a two-speed scroll saw for any beginner.

Other Things to Look For

When you are looking to buy your first scroll saw (and maybe going through a number of scroll saw reviews), keep in mind factors such as throat capacity (we recommend a 18″ throat capacity saw for beginners) and whether the saw comes with features such as forward mounted tension adjustment, quick-release blade clamps and so on. You must also ideally look for scroll saws at a reasonable price but which at the same time come with some basic (or in some cases, advanced) accessories such as Blowers, Lights & Magnifiers, Quick Clamps and Foot-Mounted Power Switches.

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