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Problems with puzzles

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  • Problems with puzzles

    Perhaps this should be in the beginner forum but I'll post here anyway.  I have been trying to make a couple free standing puzzles using 1' stock.  After making all the cuts I've found I can't insert the pieces from both the top and bottom.  

    I understand this is a problem with the table not being perpendicular to the blade.  I checked the left/right angles and all is fine.  I did notice a forward lean to the blade and presume this is the problem.  My saw is a Dremel.  I have tried adjusting the hangers for the blade as Dremel suggested but that didn't seem to make much difference.  Dremel told me this is 'normal' for scroll saw but based on the number of puzzle patterns that must not be the case.

    Am I doing something wrong or is there someway to fix this (aside from getting a new saw)?  Thanks

  • #2
    Re: Problems with puzzles

    Clem, there are a few things you can do to correct this. First you must check that the table is (90 degrees) to the blade and that can be done one of two ways. Use a machinist square or go to your arts supply store and get a draftsman angle maker You know the plastic or metal, which I like better, thing they draw angles with. They come in all different angles and shapes like curves and circles. They are very accurate. Or you can take a piece of wood say 1' thick, saw half way through, remove it and place it behind the blade and the blade should slip right into that kerf. If not then the table needs to be adjusted and keep doing it until you get it just right. (Remember though you have to make a new cut each time you readjust because you are changing the angle of the cut.) Most saws have a forward lean to the blade which is to aide in cutting faster. Only the parallel link saws run true up and down. I think the main problem you are having is twofold. You are cutting 1' thick wood and when you are turning it you are adding sideward pressure as small as it may be, it gets magnified with thicker stock. When you do this it tends to bend the blade and cuts at an angle. My suggestion is to get youself some good blades for you want the blade to do the cutting and you don't have to push so hard. Second try to be more aware of you sideward push. As for blades you will not beat the Flying Dutchman blades. The web address is Ask Mike about his puzzle blades. They are especially made for cutting puzzles. Hope this helps and good luck!!!!
    John T.


    • #3
      Re: Problems with puzzles

      John T , good response but maybe a mistake on parallel link saw. I heard DeWalt with parallel link have mucho back forth move. Parallel arm saws have much less.
      Maybe I misunderstand.


      • #4
        Re: Problems with puzzles

        It seems to be a sidewards pressure problem (ie operator error). I was using oak, as I had it left over from an earlier project, and I guess because of the hardness of the wood I pushed sideways. When I tried again with WRC everything came out fine.

        There is still a forward movement to the blade but that doesn't seem to be the problem here.

        Thanks for the help all.


        • #5
          Re: Problems with puzzles

          Sparplug, I will have to disagree with you on the parallel arm saws. Just look at the construction and you can see the difference.
          John T.


          • #6
            Re: Problems with puzzles

            John T has said it quite well.
            # 1 is tension. Better too much than not enough. The blade should give a very nice high pitch, they say like a high C in music. Second, You have to go very, very slow. Don't push to hard into the blade, let the blade do the cutting. If not, you will get a bevel and the pieces will never come out on both sides.
            Third, you need a blade for cutting 1' thick wood.
            For puzzles you don't want to get a wide kerf but you should not go lower than a # 5.
            When making a corner, stop cutting, keep the saw running put just a slight back pressure on the blade and turn the wood. Practice on some scrap wood. No problem to make a 360 degree hole, same width as the blade.
            I don't think that front to back movement is a problem for the pieces not coming out on both sides. Too much of that and you will get some over cutting on the bottom compared to the top. This really shows when stack cutting.

            SD Mike


            • #7
              Re: Problems with puzzles


              With the puzzles, make sure the table is well adjusted and balanced (or level), don't move the saw from point A to point B this will throw off the table been there done that. There is a product called Accu Angle, they are 8 U shaped guides in various degree's to help center or balance the table, I found the Engineer's squares to be too long to fit between my table and where the blade attaches to the upper arm.

              I use a piece of scrap and just cut in from the edge a circle until the piece falls completely through then I know it's ok to start cutting the puzzle I make a lot of puzzles.

              Oak is very hard to start with for cutting puzzles, a trick with this would be to wrap the piece of oak with clear packaging tape, it lubricates the blade and makes the cutting go much easier, it is messy to clean all the pieces of tape off the piece of wood. Start out with a piece of softer wood, like Birch, or Pine, make sure the pine does not have large grain, because that can cause the puzzle to snap down the road. :


              • #8
                Re: Problems with puzzles


                I forgot to add about the blades....... A # 5 blade is great for cleaning out and cutting the edges, don't matter what the tooth type or design is. When I make all the inside cuts I found a # 3 works really well and even a # 2 reverse works well, if you go too large like a # 5 you will have a hard time keeping the puzzle together. I make 3-Dimensional puzzles that can stand up for fancy artwork, and be played with by children also.


                • #9
                  Re: Problems with puzzles

                  By cutting a circle the table still can not be square to the blade. The thickness of the blade can let the table still be 1 or more degree off.
                  A small square is the best. You can also cut about 1/16' into 3/4' wood, move it to the back of the balde and see if it fits.
                  Or turn it over and see if it fits again in the front.
                  Mike M
                  SD Mike


                  • #10
                    Re: Problems with puzzles

                    The puzzles I do and sell put a note with them stating hard puzzle. That way makes people think you made that way on purpose. That problem solved. : 8)


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