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Cutting small holes

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  • Cutting small holes

    I'm not new to scroll sawing but I haven't done very much fretwork. I'm trying a piece that has a lot of small holes (stars etc) I have the pilot holes drilled and tried to start cutting the holes. I was going to use spiral blades for the stars. The problem I'm coming across is the blades bend whenever I try to put them in the holes. Is it better to thread it from the top or bottom? I've always done through the bottom but they were always bigger holes. Also, the blades seem to be real flimsy and bend easy. What's the best kind of blades to use for small holes and which is better - threading through the top or through the bottom?
    I've never done a big fretwork before.
    Thanks for any suggestions you can give me.

    (the wood is 1/2 inch plywood)

  • #2
    I have better luck feeding the blade from the top of the wood. Even then, if I have small blades and small holes, it is still difficult and the blades do tend to bend. The only suggestion I have is to use the largest size drill bit that will fit in the space you have to cut.


    • #3
      I feed the blade from the bottom and find that it is much easier if I take the time to push an awl a little way into the holes to make sure they are rounded at the bottom.


      • #4

        I found that feeding from the top is much easier than feeeding from the bottom once you get use to it. I've never been able to master the spiral blades and if you're cutting stars, I don't believe that you will be able to make really sharp points. I have done a lot of fretwork and my usual choice of baldes are Flying Dutchman Polar blades or Ultra Reverse blades # 1,3 & 5from You may also want to stack cut the pattern.
        I hope this helps you.


        • #5
          Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I drilled the holes a little bigger so maybe that will help.


          • #6
            Whether you feed from the top or from the bottom, it will take a little practice to get to the point where you can easily and quickly thread holes. To me feeding from the top or the bottom is as much about which blade clamp is easier to load a few hundred times as it is about which way you feed the blade. Some brands of saws are easier to work one way than the other.

            Drilling larger holes is a good way to get started. Once you have done some and are more comfortable with it, you will find that you can drill smaller holes. It isn't always necessary to drill the smallest holes, but there will be times that the hole will need to be just a little larger than the blade. I do like PatteM does and use an awl to open up the entry to those tiny holes, making it easier to get the blade started. On some blades, I've even ground the leading end of the blade to a point on the belt sander so that it goes through easier.
            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
              I personally did not like the spiral blades myself so I don't use them at all. The FD #1 blades last a surprisingly long time and I've used them to cut up to 1" thick hardwoods and usually use them when stack cutting at 3 1/4" pieces regularly. Depending on how small you need to be FD also has a superior puzzle blade that is pretty small.
              Douglas Fraser
              Eagle River, Alaska

              My Gallery - Aurora Wood Crafts


              • #8
                On some very detailed work where I need to keep the holes as small as possible, I use Mikes recommendation on bits for each respective blade. Those recommendations make a very tight fit let me tell you. I use needle nose pliers and grab the bit right next to the wood and push it through, a little bit at a time. It's not fun, but I haven't found any way better yet. If the work allows it, I prefer to drill much larger holes.

                Another trick I use: find an old blade the same size as you are trying to use, cut it in half cleanly. The middle of the blade is smaller than the outsides, so it will easily go in the hole. I'll use the bit to loosen up the hole by moving the blade in the hole in a sawing motion in the direction of the line. A few push and pulls of the blade fragment, and the whole blade will go right in.

                Last edited by hotshot; 07-10-2012, 11:35 PM.
                "Ever Striving, Never Arriving"


                • #9
                  drill the hole from the top.

                  then flip the item over and run the bit through the hole from the bottom.

                  will make it alot easier to thread the blade.


                  • #10
                    For smal details I most certainly would not use a spiral blade.

                    crupia ? I don't understand.
                    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


                    • #11
                      I've only done 4 pierced cuts so far. I 'enjoyed' it enough to order a (hand powered) fretsaw. lol Now I need to make a fretsaw table for it.


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