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My first experience at the scroll saw

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  • My first experience at the scroll saw

    Hi Everyone,

    Well as confessed at the title I'm a complete newbie at scrolling. I did decide to post however as I have read many of the posts here and many have helped me so far.

    First off saw choice,

    I did land up getting the Ryobi as I couldn't find a dewalt anywhere near where I live up here in Canada, and was restricted to my home depot basicly. I did however get the new 18" model where based on what everyone has complained about the 16" model seems to be reworked a bit on the new design. The controls are on on top, very accessible, was within my range I would have preferred the dewalt but just couldnt find it.

    additional choices.

    Based on alot of comments from people on this site I got a foot pedal from wildwood desisgns and I grabbed some flying dutchman blades. Sorry Mike I found a guy in Canada out in BC that had some so I grabbed them there, I just hate waiting 2 weeks plus sometimes for cross border shipments.

    I also grabbed the beginner scroll saw workbook by John Nelson again based on what alot of people recommended here on this forum.

    Ok now for my first experience..

    Right away I noticed that for some frustrating reason, the pinless blades had a hard time staying inside the clamps and frequently slipped out. I tried everything to fix this, what I landed up doing was trimming a small strip off of a business card, folding it into a "V" and placing that inside the clamps I then placed my blade inside that. Tightened it all up and works great no more slipping. I checked the blade for square and everything works great. But not to say it didn't drive me nuts for a couple hours trying to find a solution.

    So far I've only completed the the first exercise in the book, but man it's alot trickier than it looks. Things I learned so far. When doing wavey lines etc, try as much as possible when spinning the wood to insure the blade stays straight rather then trying to bend or twist the blade into the turn.

    The one thing that did bug me was if the pattern loosened on the adhesive as I cut the paper flapped up and down. While not huge problem, it can drive the eyes batty.

    Well so far that's how I turned out. I have to redo the exercise a few times as I was off the line a few time especially on turns but it'll take practice.

    In thinking ahead thouh I do wonder what will be the best sander to use. I read alot in the magazine about everyone using a palm sander. By this I've noticed that there are 2 kinds. the 1/4 sheet palm sander and the random orbital palm type sander. Which is better for this kind of woodworking..

    Thanks alot for all your posts and help I look forward to checking the board here often to learn more.


  • #2

    1st: Welcome to the forum. It is great that you decided to stop by.

    Now for your questions:
    I have been in the hobby for a little over a year, but have been a woodworking hobby type on and off for many more years. I will offer what limited expertise I have.

    Scollsawing is slightly different from standard furniture woodworking in that some complex fretwork can be damaged by sanding after you cut the wood. Just too delicate. You should do most of your sanding before cutting. By using the correct combination of feed rate, blade selection, and strokes per minute you can minimize, or avoid, any post-cut sanding. Hand sanding post-cut should clear up any problems.

    A random orbit sander (ROS) will not leave sanding swirl marks on large table tops. Coffee tables, with clear gloss finish, sanded with standard orbital sanders suffer a lot of swirl marks that can be seen through the finish. Scroll sawing, as a rule doesn't have the large surface areas where the eye will be drawn to the sanding marks.

    The type of finish you use can also affect the eyes ability to find sanding imperfections. The subject of finish selection is better for another thread.

    ROS are almost as fast at sanding as a standard orbital sander. Sanding supplies for ROS is $$$. 1/4 sheet palm sanders are cheep, noisy, and use inexpensive sanding sheets. 1/4 sheet palm sanders take longer to change sanding sheets than ROS. ROS will be the better long term investment if you ever get into other woodworking or start to work with man-made products like Corian.

    {Just between us guys-- there are absolutely NO bragging rights to owing a 1/4 sanding sheet palm sander; none, zero. }

    BTW: get some blue painter's tape at your Home Improvement store, you know the Big Orange Retail Giant (The BORG), and apply that first and attach your pattern to the painter's tape.



    • #3
      Hi Troy

      Congratulations on making your first cuts !

      As a matter of interest, what did you make?

      There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
      (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)


      • #4
        Troy ~~ Welcome to the fun world of scrolling. I will try to address some of your comments. A friend of mine has that saw and He had to put a piece of carpet padding under it to help with the vibration which is not bad but to me any is too much and this helped in his case. If you find this to be a problem that is a quick fix.

        Second you mentioned blades. You are smart to learn with the FD blades but just a heads up there is a right blade for everything you are doing and when you get more involved ask questions and they will get answered. For now if you are practicing at least use a #5 or #7 blade. It will help you control it better. Practice practice practice will be the key here. When practicing let the blade do the cutting and learn to work your fingers because they will become important when doing turns. You have to learn finger pressures and be able to spin the wood using all fingers more or less. When cutting curves if you go off line do not try to come back to it right away but gradually get yourself back on line.

        You mentioned blade slippage. You should never have to use any props to hold the blades. Two things here. Your saw is new so there will be some oil residue on the clamps take a piece of sandpaper and slip between the clamps and tighten just enough so you can pull the sandpaper thru and then turn it over and do the other side of the clamp. Do this for top and bottom. I am not sure if those clamps have a setscrew on the opposite side of the thumb screw but if they do they should just protrude a fraction into the clamp. Check this on top and bottom to make sure they are the same so the blade traks up and down in a straight line. All blades come through with oil residue on them from machining so to rid them of this just hit the ends with a bit of sandpaper before installing. Also because this is a new saw the clamps may need a little extra turning torque untill they get broken in.

        Now you mentioned sanding. Like Phil said try to sand the piece to final stages before cutting so all you have to do later is knock off the fuzzies on the back. You can help yourself here by using reverse tooth blades. These are blades that have a few teeth pointing up at the end of the blade and cut on the up motion thus eliminating the fuzzies on the bottom. As far as sanders go I use a 1/4 sheet sander because it is more forgiving than an orbital. I find an orbital can catch edges easier. Also you can use a block of wood with a piece of sandpaper wraped around it. Just curl up the edges so they do not catch. Porta Cable make a great 1/4 sheet sander. Sanding scrollsawn pieces will not show scratches because the wood is brken up so much with fret work.

        As far as pattern staying on try using clear packing tape under the pattern and adhearing the pattern to it . It will help also to prvent burning in some respects.

        I know this was lenghty but I took a page out of Phils book and just keep practicing and do not be afraid to ask questions here. Good Luck!!
        John T.


        • #5
          Hi Troy,

          Welcome to a very good scroll saw forum, Troy. I don't have to add much more what has been said already.
          No problem at all about the blades and the book. Hope you got them from Mike Lenton in BC. He is one of my dealers.

          Mike M
          Last edited by 3_M; 05-01-2005, 09:22 PM.
          SD Mike


          • #6
            Thanks a Ton,

            Great replies, thanks so much I'll let everyone know how I did based on your suggestions thanks alot. It's definetly alot of fun learning.

            Yes, I did land up taking a piece of carpet underpadding, and mount the saw on the top of that, not that I found alot of vibration but just as an added way to reduce whatever the saw would give. The only time I notice any vibration is under 750 strokes, it really smooths out over 1000.

            Hmmm never took into account that perhaps the saw is so new so have difficulty clamping the blades properly, I'll let you know how the saw holds up after a few hours of usage. I guess I just got to break it in a bit.

            Mike, yes I did get them from Lenton in BC. He was great to deal with and I'm sure to land up dealing with him again in the future.

            Just for the record though once I managed to understand how to clamp the blades properly I haven't broke one yet. But I can tell that I have to change one though, I can really feel the blade start to drag, as I really have to now push the wood rather than have the blade do the cutting, so I guess it's time to chuck that blade and put in a new one.

            O and yes I'm practicing with the #5 reverse FD blades. I haven't made anything yet still working through the workbook.



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