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  • Spiral blades? Help!

    Help!!!!!
    Someone gave me a pack of spiral blades and I haven't a clue how to use them. I have a Craftsman 16" variable and can't seem to get them to stay clamped in place. I have tried everything I can think of, considering I'm new at this, but have not been able to figure it out.
    Please help me!!!

    Sherri
    Sherri

  • #2
    I had the same problem last weekend when I used my spiral blades for the first time. Most spiral blades are spiral from end to end - leaving no flat surface for the blade clamps to grab. They seem to be installed securely, but they soon pop out after some use.

    I used two needle nose pliers to carefully untwist about 1/2 inch at each end of the blade. That seemed to do the trick for me. I also ordered some new spiral blades that come with flat ends.

    Spiral blades take some getting used too since they cut aggressively in any direction. I found it helpful to use a lower saw speed and slowly feed the wood toward the blade. With an hour of practice, I was getting pretty good at cutting out letters.
    Inside every piece of lumber, there is a pile of sawdust waiting to be uncovered

    -Andy-

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    • #3
      Sherri,

      Spiral blades pose a challenge to get clamped securely, at least they do for me. Part of the problem is that they are twisted all the way to the ends, so there isn't a nice flat spot for the blade clamp to grip. You can try to flatten the ends. Lay them on a hard flat surface and tap one end with a small hammer. Don't hit it too hard. These blades can be brittle and I've broken a number of them trying this. Once you have one end flat, you have to orient the blade so that when you flatten the other end, it is facing the same way. In other words, you don't want to end up with the two flat ends, 90 degrees from each other.

      What I had the best luck with was to carefully place the blade in the bottom clamp first. (I'm presuming the saw uses some type of set screw clamping method) You may have to turn it a bit, but pay close attention to how it's resting in the clamp and how the set screw is contacting it. Turn the blade until you get the set screw to seat firmly between the twists. Now that you have the bottom secured, do the same with the top clamp. You may need a pair of needle nose pliers to twist the blade until you get good contact in the clamp.

      I hope this helps. I used spirals extensively for the first time several weeks ago on a Christmas project. It was an excercise in frustration for me and I never did master it, but the methods I described were the ones that worked most often for me. Depending on the type of blade clamps, some saws may just be harder to use spirals than others. Good luck and hopefully someone more experienced will chime in.
      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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      • #4
        Doodle1, what everone else said, plus I have found that I must control the feed rate more carefully then a flat blade since it cuts all directions it is easy to wander from where you want to cut. What works for me is keeping part of my hand on the saw table and part on the wood. This keeps me from moving the wood too fast and it didn't take long to get everything under control. As far as clamping, I too do the untwist, or attempt to. Some times the darn things don't want to twist the way I do. Practice on scrap until you build up your confidence. I don't think spirals are the be all end all but for some cuts they work the best for me.

        EarlinJax

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        • #5
          Why not buying spirals with Flat Ends.
          Mike
          SD Mike

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          • #6
            Ahhh spirals, I love them things!

            Spirals are great for many projects and I use them extensively but as Earlin stated they are not the be all end. For portraits there is no other choice but spirals (my opinion), I have also used them on segmentation but they do leave a wider kerf which can be unsightly if your not careful.

            Having never had problems clamping spirals myself I would have to guess that perhaps different saws and their clamps must be the difference, both my Hawk and my old Dremel accepted spirals with no issues. I don't think hammering them flat is the best course of action but if that is your last resort then so be it, I just think your reducing the life of the blade in doing so. As Mike stated why not just buy flat end spirals, in doing so you will enable yourself to concentrate more on your technique and less on figuring out how to get them clamped.
            Todd

            Hawk G4, Dremel 1800

            Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

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            • #7
              Thanks for all the helpful tips. I tried bending the ends flat but was affraid I might break them with too much force, but hey, the blades were given to me so I can afford to break a few to figure it out. The blade selection in my area is not very good so I may have to order some.
              Sherri

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              • #8
                Mike! Guess they have never tried a FD Spiral!
                Old Scrollers Never Die...They Just Saw Away!

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                • #9
                  Flat-end blades will make them much easier to work with. But once you do figure out how to clamp them, then you'll need to get accustomed to using them. I haven't used them much, but when I have I have found them easier to handle if I use a regular blade to create a kerf and then go back over it with the spiral blade to widen it. This helps me to control the blade better.

                  Jeff

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                  • #10
                    My only experience with spirals came a few months ago when I stack-cut 3 door-toppers out of 1/4" BB ply for Xmas gifts. The recipients (and others who saw them) went ape over them, so I guess I did get the hang of them somewhat.

                    Wow! They are agressive! Practice on scrap first; I'd even use the very pattern you want to use to practice on. (Paper and glue is mighty cheap for a bit of experience before committing the good wood). I also initially found it odd to keep the wood in the same general orientation instead of "spinning" it.

                    As for keeping the blades in the holders (aren't flat-end spirals a bit more expensive?), my saw has a set-screw to adjust how tightly the holder grabs and an arm you throw to actually lock it in. I'd open the set-screw as much as needed to get the blade in, then tightened it down, then threw the clamp. This, I found, would smash or mold or bend the blade end to the shape of the blade holder. When I went to the next fret-hole, the blade was much easier to insert. (All this for the top holder - the bottom holder I only had to insert once, of course - it's a bottom-feeder.)

                    Hope this helps a little!
                    Kevin

                    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. -- Dr. Seuss

                    NEW DeWalt 788 and that old, Jimmy- Jerry- and Kevin-rigged Delta 40-560

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                    • #11
                      I just tried some olsen spirals. They are an aggressive little blade. I like them because when cutting those hard spots you don't have to rotate the piece around as much. But do got another question I got them to clamp ok but after putting it in the third hole to cut it broke. I tried another one and after the third hole it broke. Is there something else that I'm not checking or doing?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Depends on where the blades are breaking Steve. Top and bottom breaks or middle breaks?

                        Do a mental check:

                        Blade tension?
                        Feedrate?
                        Blade Speed?
                        Type of wood you are cutting (soft or hardwood, thickness etc.)

                        Generally by asking yourself questions like this you can quickly solve your blade breakage problems.

                        Not for nothing but my experiences with Olson spirals while limited hasn't been a positive one. I've used them in a pinch and found they were not as durable as other manufacturers. Just my opinion.
                        Todd

                        Hawk G4, Dremel 1800

                        Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

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                        • #13
                          Exactly where was the blade breaking? One of the problems I had with spirals was that the blade clamp on my DeWalt would crush and crimp the end of the blade, if it was clamping on a twist, instead of a flat part of the blade. When it did that, the blade would break right at the clamp, often before I ever started cutting.
                          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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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Rivari
                            Not for nothing but my experiences with Olson spirals while limited hasn't been a positive one. I've used them in a pinch and found they were not as durable as other manufacturers. Just my opinion.
                            This just proves that what works for one person, isn't going to work for the next. I had the same luck when I tried FD spirals. Most of them would break when tensioning, even though I tensioned each one the same, once I thought I had the tension figured out. However, the little I've used Olson spirals for, haven't given me a breakage problem. Go figure. Different strokes for different folks.
                            Mike

                            Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.
                            www.picturetrail.com/naturephotos

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                            • #15
                              Mike it could be that we get ourselves "trained" if you will with particuliar tools and accessories. When we make a change it throws our whole world out of balance. Creatures of habit we are.
                              Todd

                              Hawk G4, Dremel 1800

                              Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

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