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How do I know when to change my blade?

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  • How do I know when to change my blade?

    Brand new to using a scroll saw.
    Since they sell the blades by the dozen, I am assuming you either break or wear out blades often. If I don't break my blade, how do I know when it is just "time" to change it out. I am using 3/4 inch pine for all project and it is a skip tooth blade. Is there some general amount of feet/blade or time sawing per blade? Does the blade become more resistant to accepting the wood as it gets duller? Any help would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Most people will tell you when you have to push harder to cut and when the blade starts wondering instead of following the line.
    Bob making sawdust in SW Louisiana
    with a EX-21


    • #3
      I'm with Bob on this one. Dull blades struggle. From time to time, I put in a new blade that don't behave right. I take it out, throw it away. Others who are more cost conscience get every penny/mile out of their blades, which I admire. I'm just not built that way.

      "Ever Striving, Never Arriving"


      • #4
        Knowing when to change blades is tough, even for the most experienced of us. Usually the best time would be a few minutes BEFORE you realize you need to change it.

        The tendency is to try to get as much life from a blade as you can. The thing to remember is unlike blades for most saws, scrollsaw blades are a 'consumable' item like tape or glue. Deciding to wait a another few minutes before changing it usually isn't worth it.

        You didn't list the brand of blades you're using, but being new to the hobby my guess is they're something you got a the local hardware store. If so, these USUALLY aren't the highest quality, and I'd suggest getting better blades - the interesting thing is not only do better quality blades last longer and cut better, they are also usually less expensive than the cheap blades because you can buy then in higher quantities.

        Almost everyone here recommends using Flying Dutchman blades from Mikes. ( Mike's Workshop English featuring Flying Dutchman fretsaw blades for sale. )


        • #5
          By all means, check out Mike's Workshop for Flying Dutchman blades. He sells them by the gross, half gross and the dozen. He knows more about blades than most of us have forgotten and can get you on the right track.

          Old, tired blades are not your friend. They tend to get hot, burn the wood, break and wander off the cutting line.

          Welcome to the hobby. You'll like it around this forum.



          • #6
            Just picking up on Jan's comment. Dull blades usually struggle to cut which means you have to push the wood a little harder than normal into the blade instead of gently feeding it towards the blade and letting the blade cut without effort. Difficulty in cutting, burning of the wood and blueing of the blade due to overheating are sure signs that the blade is coming to the end of its life.

            Be careful of buying blades sold in 12 packs in DIY stores as there are some cheap brands out there which are just not worth the money and time. Many people on the forum, including myself, use the Flying Dutchman blades which Jan also mentioned, and these are very good quality blades and great value and Mike offers exceptionally good advice and a service second to none. Olson blades are another well recommended brand.

            One tip which greatly increases blade life is to 'lubricate' the blade by placing a layer of clear packing tape such as Scotch or 3M, or blue painters tape, between the wood and the pattern. The anti stick agent used on the non sticky side of the tape to stop it sticking to itself transfers onto the blade when cutting and assists in reducing friction between the blade and the wood thus reducing overheating and increasing blade life.
            Jim in Mexico

            Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
            - Albert Einstein


            • #7
              I always start with or change to a fresh blade when cutting critical detail. As the others have said when you feel that you are pushing harder ar it is more difficult following a line than it had been, put in a new blade. Plywood is a blade killer 3/4 pine not so bad. My blade go 15 to 45 minutes before I toss them. I mostly use Olson (from Sloans) FD (from Mike) and buy them by the gross.
              RBI G4 26 Hawk, EX 16 with Pegas clamps, Nova 1624 DVR XP
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              Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
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