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  • Blade tension...Help!

    I have heard of two theories for blade tension, and like the two theories of arguing with women, neither seems to work!

    First, there is the tighter is better group...the "It needs to make a sound like "C" on a piano keyboard" school of thought. What's that sound like?

    Next, is the "leave it a little loose" school of thought....maybe leaving the 1/8 in. deflection?

    I've tried both ways, with mixed results.

    Confused? You bet! I tighten the merrie aitch out of my blades, and they make a nice clear "ping" noise, and don't deflect much...but they keep breaking...they don't have a chance to get dull.

    Soooo...experts, tell me, please; What am I doing wrong? How do I adjust my blade tension so I can wear them out, or at least get them a little dull, which would be much less frustrating, and less expen$ive, too!

    Thanks.
    Last edited by flyboy; 07-17-2012, 02:49 PM.

  • #2
    Good tension is when the blade does not move sideways more then 1/8" and that is almost too much. Second, have good speed. I love the high speed. Third,
    use low feed rate. Let the blade do the cutting. If you push too hard into the blade, the blade will start cutting with a bevel.
    Fouth, use the top blades.
    Fd Mike
    SD Mike

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    • #3
      Try this link for the Sound
      Scroll Saw Tension
      It is on Judy Gale Roberts Intarsia site.
      Rolf
      RBI G4 26 Hawk, EX 16 with Pegas clamps, Nova 1624 DVR XP
      Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
      Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
      And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association

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      • #4
        3_M and Rolf: Thank you! Wow! From that, my tension is usually between "A little tight" and "SCREAMING"! I shall remedy that immediately!

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        • #5
          I have only broken one blade. I wonder if I am doing something wrong with my saw. I always crank the tension all the way up too.

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          • #6
            The "more tension is better" theory made it's impression on me several years ago. I started scrolling with a Craftsman saw. The tensioning mechanism was a knob you turned until the blade was tight. You really never had any accurate way to tell if you were getting consistent tension on the blade. It wore over time and I didn't fully realize I wasn't getting enough tension and at the time, I probably didn't know any better.

            Eventually the tensioning screw stripped out, right in the middle of Christmas projects, so I was in a bit of a pickle. I borrowed my BIL's Delta Q3, which was a totally foreign machine to me. Once I got used to the clamps and tensioning system on that saw, I quickly realized that I was able to much more tension to the blade and I was in fact, breaking fewer blades and they were cutting far better & longer than they had on my old Craftsman. I resolved right then & there to scrap the Craftsman and upgrade.

            For a variety of reasons, I ended up getting a DeWalt. Tensioning was easier to apply consistently and there is a numbered scale on the lever so that you have some relative gage to measure it, each time you change the blade. I still think the Q3 had a few advantages over the DeWalt, but the moral of the story is that I believe scroll saw blades perform better under high tension. If you are breaking a lot of blades, there are other factors that may be more in play than high tension. I'm sure there is a point where too much is too much, but I haven't found it yet.
            Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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            • #7
              I haven’t experienced broken blades. Maybe I guess I put just enough pressure and then release the tension after it is not in use.

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              • #8
                Hi all,
                I'm using my saw to cut thin brass to help in making 1/12 scale model hot rods parts, and joined the site to see if there are any tricks or modifications I could use. I saw this tread and remembered looking for blade tension information a few months ago. I found that "C" note technique, and being a classical guitarist (struggling student anyway) I knew exactly what to use, and it wasn't my ear. They make guitar tuners, and they can make them pretty cheap. Mine cost about $10.00, and it works perfectly. Just clamp it to the upper arm where the blade mount pivots from. I'm sure most of you have found your own best setup, but just in case you want to go the "C note" route. Here is what I use.
                Snark SN5 Guitar-Bass-Violin Chromatic Tuner at AMS

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                • #9
                  it is not necessary to purchase some tuning device to tension your scroll saw blades. However if you have on and want to use it go for it.
                  "Still Montana Mike"

                  "Don't worry about old age--it doesn't last that long."
                  Mike's Wood-n-Things LLC

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                  • #10
                    is it possible that once the tension reaches the 1/8" lateral movement, the ping made on the blade is a 'C-note'? My saw produces a ping akin to the one linked above and my tension is high.

                    Gary

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                    • #11
                      I was snapping blades like crazy and asked about tension. The problem turned out to be pushing too hard on the blade and not letting it work. I was creating lots.of heat and flex.

                      I picked up some pinless blades at a.local supply store and was amazed at how little tension they needed vs the giant pinned blades I had been working with.

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                      • #12
                        Jay, now get some good blades from FD or Olson. Another revelation.
                        Steve in Richmond, VA with a DW-788

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                        • #13
                          Picked up some Olsons. Major difference between them and the pinned blades.
                          Plan on ordering from Mike, still playing with which I like best. Now know the difference between skip tooth, hook tooth, 7TPI vs 20, have learned much just playing with different thickness and types of blades and wood.

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                          • #14
                            Mike has a sample pack which provides some of five different types.
                            Mant feel the go to blade is the #5 UR. Recently I am leaning towards smaller like #3 for 3/4" wood. Of course the projects drive the picks.
                            Steve in Richmond, VA with a DW-788

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