Choosing Scroll Saw Blades

A complete book could be written on scroll saw blades alone. There are many kinds and sizes of blades—the beginning scroller could very easily get very confused in choosing the right blade for the right job. 

There are two major kinds of blades, plain end or pin end types. It is highly recommended that you do not use the pin end type saw or blades. Thus, pin saw blades will not be covered in this workbook. 

Plain-end blades are five inches long and will fit most scroll saws. (Note: I find I have to trim off 1 inch from the standard five-inch-length blade when using the sixteen-inch Delta scroll saw.) 

IMPORTANT:  Remember the teeth must always point down. Be sure to check this when installing the blade. 

Very briefly the major seven types of blades are: 

1. Standard Tooth Blades 

The teeth are all the same size and distance apart on standard tooth blades. There are two major kinds: wood blades and metal blades. The wood blades have larger teeth and more space between the teeth. They are designed to clear the sawdust as you cut. The metal blades have much smaller teeth and less space between teeth. I find these a bit noisy. 

2. Skip-tooth Blades 

These blades are similar to the standard tooth blades, but every other tooth is missing. The space (gullet) between teeth is much wider and keeps the blade cooler. Personally, I like these for most work. They are especially good for beginning scrollers. 

3. Double-tooth Blades 

This blade is a skip-tooth blade with a large space between sets of two teeth. These blades cut slightly slower but leave a very smooth cut. 

4. Reverse Skip-tooth Blades 

This blade is exactly like the regular skip- tooth blade, except the last few bottom teeth point upward. This is great for preventing tear- out or splintering on the bottom of the cut and for use with plywood. 

When using a reverse skip-tooth blade you must set the blade in the clamps so that only two or three teeth are pointing up above the table top when the saw arm is in its highest position. You may have to trim a little from the bottom of the blade to accomplish this. 

5. Precision-ground Blades 

These blades are actually a skip-tooth blade with small teeth that have been ground to shape rather than simply filed. These blades are much sharper, cut in a straight line and leave a very smooth surface. Personally, I find they are great blades but very aggressive and unforgiving. I do not recommend them for the beginner. 

6. Spiral Blades 

These blades are simply a group of blades twisted together so there are teeth all the way around. You can cut in all directions without turning the wood. There are a few applications for this kind of blade, but they leave a very rough, wide surface, cannot make a tight or sharp corner and have a tendency to stretch as you use them. I do not recommend these blades except for special applications. 

7. Crown-tooth Blades 

This is a totally new design in scroll saw blades. The teeth are shaped like a crown with a space between each crown. The nice part is that the blade can be put in either way, so there is no upside down with these blades. I find they cut a little slower than a regular blade, but they are good for cutting plastic or Plexiglas®.

When the blade dulls you can reverse ends and have a sharp blade again. 

Other Special Blades 

There are special blades designed to cut metal, plastic and even glass. Check them out as you advance in your scrolling. You may want to use them for special applications. Most all saw companies provide special blades. 

At the time of developing this workbook, Olson Saw Company came out with a new PGT double-tooth scroll saw blade in sizes 5, 7 and 9. This new ground-tooth blade has superior per formance and produces a super-smooth finish. 

For Beginning Scrollers 

To eliminate all confusion about blades and for all projects in this book, only standard skip tooth blades will be recommended. Purchase a few dozen each of #3 and #5 skip-tooth blades and a dozen crown-tooth blades. 

As you master the scroll saw, experiment with other types of blades. Find the one or ones that “fit” you and with which you are most comfort able. Don’t go out and purchase a dozen of each kind available; you won’t use them. 

Choosing the Correct Blade 

Consider the following criteria when choosing blades: 

Material thickness—Thicker materials require bigger blades. 

Material hardness—Harder substances require larger teeth and/or a different type of blade. 

Complexity—A very complex pattern will require a blade with small teeth. 

Always use the largest size blade you still get the desired results you want. 

This article is excerpted from Scroll Saw Workbook.

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