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  • Spiral or Straight Blades?

    I've used spiral blades for my last couple of projects and they worked good because I did a lot of letters that had curves. Could a straight blade do the same work as a spiral? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of each blade?

    Thanks

  • #2
    You will get a much cleaner cut with straight blades. Also a much finer kerf. 99% of my work is with straight blades. And yes you can do all of the same work. The only time I use a spiral is when I need a wide uniform kerf (Volker Arnold designs come to mind) or if the project is very big and you can't turn it easily.
    Rolf
    RBI G4 Hawk, Delta SS350, 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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    • #3
      I agree with Rolf. I use straight blades almost all the time. I use spirals for portrait patterns with a lot of rounded areas. My bobcat comes to mind.
      Denny
      ArtCrafters in Dayton, TN

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      • #4
        Straight blades are preferred for cuts where a clean edge and sharp corners are required. Straight blades are available in larger sizes, so they generally work better in thicker hardwoods than spirals. However, since you have to spin the piece, you are limited in how large of a piece you can easily handle on the saw. I think by & large, straight blades are used for the majority of general scrolling.

        Spirals are more of a specialty blade, ideal for specific applications, but not necessarily a general purpose blade. They are great for projects that are large and difficult to spin around in the saw. Being able to cut in any direction makes it easier to handle wood that is too large for the throat depth of the saw or otherwise too too awkward to easily maneuver around. Spirals won't cut as cleanly as a straight blade and points/corners won't be as sharp and crisp.

        Most portrait patterns lend themselves well to cutting with spirals. This is where the spiral excels, in my opinion. Most portrait patterns have few straight, smooth lines and don't need precisely cut sharp corners. Since portraits are usually cut from thin plywood, the slightly rougher edges aren't as noticeable as they would be with thicker wood.
        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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        • #5
          Everything I cut is straight blade Learned on straight blades and at my age old doesn't learn new tricks very well.
          Straight blades you will have less sanding on inside cuts I feel

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          • #6
            Anything I can cut with straights, I cut with straights. There are only a few things that require spirals. (such a spiral candlesticks where different parts of the blade are cutting different directions).

            Others on the forum use spirals exclusively. There is no wrong answer. For the new scroller, I would try straights long enough to get a feel for them, then chose that balance for blade choice that makes sense to you. You might find that once you learn how to drive straight (smooth), you have more control.

            --------Randy
            Last edited by hotshot; 03-02-2014, 12:40 PM.
            "Ever Striving, Never Arriving"
            website: http://www.coincutting.com

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            • #7
              I've never used anything but spirals and I love them. Most of my work is large that I couldn't do with flat blades. The only thing or draw back to me is you can't do intarsia work with a spiral. I tried to learn with flat blades but like the guy said, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Ray

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              • #8
                I tried spirals and used one blade of twelve I bought and gave eleven of them away. I was making toys at the time and spirals left such a rough surface they had to be sanded. A band saw does the same thing. With straight blades the cut surface is extremely smooth and no sanding is required. I use straight blades #5 for: Inlay, compound cutting, bowl making, toy making, intarsia, segmentation, lettering, and sign making. If I were to ever do fretwork I suppose I would try sprials again.
                Hegner Polymax- 3,Hegner Multimax-3,
                "No PHD, just a DD 214"

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jim Finn View Post
                  If I were to ever do fretwork I suppose I would try sprials again.
                  Almost everything I do is fretwork with a variety of FD flat blades. I use some spirals for parts of portraits.

                  Someone said there is no correct answer--but I feel it is in a mix of blade/techniques. I am probably 99.5% flat, but have those tubes of spirals if the piece requires.

                  Hope you find the mix that works for you.

                  Rolf stated the clean edges with flat blades--I almost NEVER have to sand name plates, except fuzzies on rear. Flats give a superior finish on the cuts, IMHO.
                  Last edited by Jim McDonald; 03-02-2014, 09:20 PM.
                  Jim
                  When looking at the clock at work--the correct time is:
                  Too early to leave, too late to call in.

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                  • #10
                    I have NEVER used spiral blades for my work. I do own some and I practised with them and decided I hated them. I do portraits, Christmas ornaments, name plaques, clocks etc.

                    Marg
                    No one knows what I do until I'm not here to do it..

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                    • #11
                      Like others I stick to the straight blades and only use spirals on extra large projects that don't turn easy.
                      Brian in the Four Corners

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                      • #12
                        I use spirals most of the time & like the results too. I use the FD 2/0 & 3/0 exclusively & if I need a larger curf, I use the #1 or #3 blade with the flat ends. Most people feel that they are too hard to control, but, I don't have that problem. It does take practice, but, all scrolling takes practice. It depends on your own personal needs & likes. I have never had a problem using them on hard woods or even Acrylic's. In defense of the Spiral, I really like them & will continue to use them exclusively. Good Luck
                        PERK

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                        • #13
                          With the risk of repeating myself from former posts. spirals are much easier to control on saws that have an almost vertical stroke (front to back) When I used them on my old Delta with a huge front to back motion, it was easy to control straight in to the blade but when I went sideways the blade is trying to cut a kerf the width of the front back motion. That is a real booger if you are trying to sneak up on a fine detail. They work very well on my Hawk.
                          Rolf
                          RBI G4 Hawk, Delta SS350, 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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