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Spiral Blades - Tips & Tricks?

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  • Spiral Blades - Tips & Tricks?

    Our scrolling SIG is discussing using spiral blades at our March 17th meeting. After past bad experiences with the spiral blade, I took the time to cut two different projects (below) with spirals using a combination of Pegas and Flying Dutchman. The bear is cut from bigleaf maple and the lion is we think elm.
    I have some thoughts on "technique" and I have compiled the following ideas from other's posts but I was hoping for some technique thoughts and tips when using a spiral blade. From my recent experience, it is obvious that the spiral blade cuts better toward you and tightness of the blade is key
    Looking forward to everyone's thoughts.

    Ideas compiled from past posts:
    1. Each individual saw has a motion of the blade front to back that affects how the blade cuts.
    2. Fuzzies – periodically sand the back to remove any fuzzies to keep your work flat to the table / Can also use a small butane torch to burn off the tiny hairs
    3. Keeping blades in the clamps – Flatten end - or buy the flat end blades
    4. FD “New Spirals” – tighter twist making it more round and maybe more controllable
    5. Blade must be taut - at least on my saw - (EX 16) - the blades seem to either stretch or work themselves a bit slack in the clamps - I find myself tightening them up at least once or twice during the life a blade - and if I don't that blade will end up finding a life of its own and go wherever it wants
    6. A smooth and seamless flow of moving the work with the cutting of the blade is an absolute must; this takes a bit of getting use to but lose it and your line is toasted
    7. Choice of Woods – Spirals follow the path of least resistance so if your wood has significant graining in it, you may be fighting the blade to cut

    Attached Files
    Proud user of Excalibur, RBI Hawk, & Delta

  • #2
    I have used some spirals on portrait style cuttings and while I don't hate them, I find my concentration level goes way up with them. If I am thinking 1/8" ahead with a flat blade, my interest seems to be about 1/32" with spirals.
    Also, I am not a fan of the jagged edges inside the cuts.
    That said, I still keep a couple of sizes in the rack for when nothing else works.
    When looking at the clock at work--the correct time is:
    Too early to leave, too late to call in.


    • #3
      Your list is a good one. Tension and feed rate are imperative for me, and like you said---the less major grain differential the better.
      Linda at


      • #4
        The best tip I have with spirals is to cut straight lines backwards. instead of pushing the work piece into the blade, pull it toward you. Seems to allow for better control on straight lines (most other lines too)
        Texas - The Republic
        With the exception of hand guns and Tequila, computers have caused more problems than anything else


        • #5
          I have been using spiral a lot more lately Thanks to Charles Hand stunning designs. I have used them of and on since I started scrolling.
          They were a real challenge on my Old Delta SS350. cutting straight in and out was easy, trying to cut details going sideways was the problem because of the huge front back blade motion on that saw. (almost 1/8) It would be the same issue with the Dewalts and any saw with that aggressive motion. That is one reason I bought the Hawk G4 which allowed you to adjust that motion to almost vertical. The Hegners, Pegas and the EX 16 that I have also have an almost vertical blade motion.
          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


          • #6
            Thanks for the post. I have tried spirals in the past and had lots of issues. I need to set down one day and keep cutting with them until I get the hang of it. Part of my problem may have been covered by your number 7. Tried pine thinking it would be easy to cut but now realize the grain may have been a major part of the problem.
            Thanks for sharing the info.
            "Time to Give Back"


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