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Spiral Blades

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  • Spiral Blades

    I used spiral blades for the first time with very poor results. Straight lines were impossible at slow and moderate speeds. Turns were okay but a bit ragged. Advice, please.

  • #2
    May sound to simple but it just takes practice-practice-practice. But yes cutting straight lines was the hardest. For me any way


    • #3
      Trackman is right - practice is pretty much everything ..... and with enough practice you are likely to discover that:

      - a well tensioned blade is really important - a loosely tensioned blade will be frustrating.
      - slow speed is better than fast speed
      - slow feed is better than fast feed
      - smooth and gentle guiding of the piece into the blade is good - pushing is not.
      - assuming one side of your straight line is waste then cutting up to the line at slow speed (but not into the line) is good - and once done - revisiting the cut at high speed and very gently (as in REALLY gently) shaving the cut up to the line will give you the straightest cut you have ever done ..... really ....
      - some spiral blades are a lot more manageable than others - important variables are obviously the blade - but also the species of wood and the thickness of your project - experimentation will tell you what blade is best for you and the work you do.

      Really hope this is helpful - once you get comfortable using spiral blades it is very possible they will become your go-to blade for most projects.

      Last edited by RangerJay; 11-24-2016, 05:12 PM.


      • #4
        Spiral blades in my experiences need practice and a bit of artistic talent. Since they have the ability to cut in multiple directions it will take practice to make turns, cut straight lines, etc. A lot of us do not use them much except for veining and things like this. There are several however that swear by them and cut quite intricate designs using them. From what I have experienced using them patience is a good part of being able to use them well.

        Life is hard. It is even harder when you are being stupid.
        John Wayne


        • #5
          I use spiral blades for certain situations. If there are straight lines, I switch back to flat blades.
          ArtCrafters in Dayton, TN


          • #6
            Like Denny says, switching to straight blades for long straight cuts is really the best way to go. It may seem tedious, but with careful planning of your cuts, it can be efficient and you will likely be happier with the results. If, with some practice, you become more proficient with spirals, you can use them for all cuts, but in the meantime try switching back and forth.
            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."


            • #7
              Alot of practice, best bet is get simple designs or patterns on some scrap to practice. First time I tried spirals lasted all of about 5 seconds and gave up, went back a couple months later being bored and tried again, problems I had were twisting the ends when I tightened the clamps advise was to use a hammer and ever so lightly tap the ends of the spiral blade flat, that helped. For cutting go slow and easy takes practice to get the hang of it going straight was hard, they do have the benefit for curves and if miss a cut are easy to cut or nibble away the waste unlike straight blades.

              Tension was another issue I had would either pull to tight and snap a blade in two or too loose and would break mid cutting. But once you get the hanf of spirals its a whole other ball game, you are hooked. Can cut larger projects on smaller saws, cut in every direction no more turning the project. I planned on getting more spirals and attempting some more bigger challenging patterns like charles dearing has just not on such a large scale.

              Just take your time and practice you will get the hang of it.


              • #8
                Many thank for all the useful tips for using spiral blades. They seem so simple and non-threatening, that is until installed and I begin sawing--all manner of hell breaks out. as y'all say, practice, practice, practice. Again, thanks for the advice.



                • #9
                  In general I am not a fan of spirals, they leave a very rough finish. That said they do have their place and I do use them on occasion. Primaily for projects that have a lot of veining (Volker Arnold designs). They give you a uniform width cut. I do find that the aggressive front to back blade motion on some saws makes it more challenging going sideways.
                  As the others have said Practice with any blade is most important. I have found the Flying Dutchman NEW spirals the easiest to control.
                  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


                  • #10
                    Just to add to the conversation on doing straight lines with spiral blades here are a couple pictures of one of 3 straight lines (roughly 6 inches each) in the project I was working on today.

                    First cut on the line is in the waste area away from the line (picture 1) - cut at relatively slow speed (about 1/4 speed on my EX16) and slow feed - but working hard to be steady - I was intentionally a bit more wobbly than I might be at the start of this cut just to illustrate the point. Most critical thing is to make sure you do not "wobble" into the line.

                    2nd set of passes is at high speed - with relatively quick feather-light back and forth motions up to the line. Secret here is to "shave" up to the line in smooth, light motions. (picture 2).

                    3rd picture is meant to show how straight the entire cut is - could have been a better picture - but what can I say - I'm better with the scrollsaw than I am with a smartphone camera ..... if I do the second set of passes right (they aren't hard - and they go quickly) I will still have some minor blade marks to smooth out with sandpaper - but they will take only seconds to complely remove.

                    The first two pictures are taken through a magnifying lens which I use for all cutting - have really gotten used to cutting through a lens - think it really helps with cutting accuracy in any fretwork. The material is 2 pieces of stack-cut 1/4" walnut. The blade is an FD #1 flat end spiral - I will also use smaller blades - a 2/0 or 3/0 - but rarely larger.

                    Really hope this helps.

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                    This gallery has 3 photos.
                    Last edited by RangerJay; 11-28-2016, 06:59 PM.


                    • #11
                      Showoff! Nice straight lines.
                      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


                      • #12
                        A lot of good advice given but if anyone doubts that quality work can be accomplished very well with spiral blades only has to look at some of Charles Dearing's very large fretwork portraits. Charles uses spiral blades exclusively. Some of his very large fretwork pieces would be impossible to cut with a flat blade. Using a combination of flat and spiral blades for fretwork makes sense if the material used is small enough to be able to turn. I agree with Rolf that Flying Dutchmen New Spirals are presently the best ones on the market as they are easier to control and provide a smoother cut. The FD new spirals are now the only ones I buy.
                        Stoney aka Al

                        This gettin old stuff ain't for sissies!


                        • #13
                          Yes charles dearing cuts only with spirals has never to my knowledge used a flat blade, though we have been hounding him in a challange to try it. He has cut some big projects, his talent is top notch.


                          • #14
                            Hi my name is Irene and I'm a spiral blade user. I have been scrolling for a year and have made some intricate pieces. Truth be known that if I hadn't found the spiral blade I would have quit scrolling before I even started. Problem is now I want to try cutting puzzles and intarsia, (I cut a puzzle last night and it doesn't hold together as good as I would like.) My question is there must be some spiral blade "tricks' that I could do to continue on my scrolling adventure? Would putting the table off a degree or so help?


                            • #15
                              Are you using a spiral blade? Try switching to a reverse #5 or #7 blade for puzzles. I don’t use spiral blades so I’m not sure how they would do on puzzles. Don’t forget pictures of your work. We like pictures. And welcome!!

                              "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital


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