Every tool can have its problems. The scroll saw is certainly no exception. In fact, I would think based on my usage of several tools in my time, the scroll saw is one of the more likely tools to run into some issues.
Some common scroll saw problems include; overheating, tripping the breaker, vibration, crooked cuts, vibration, and the blade coming lose. These common scroll saw issues due pose problems, but they can be alleviated.
Putting some thought into my past projects and gathering some information from research, I have come up with 7 common scroll saw issues that may be causing your scroll saw problems.
Scroll saw problems can vary in degree of occurrence. Some issues happen more often then others. Let me go into some more detail on some particular issues.
My Scroll Saw is Overheating
As I have been creating scroll saw projects for some time, I don’t really think I have got to the point of the scroll saw overheating. I think on some of my projects I have even gone on scrolling for over an hour or so. I do stop the scroll saw regularly, to make adjustments or to feed the blade into a pilot hole on my project, and this may help with overheating.
I have done a little bit of research on this and found that in some cases the scroll saw will indeed overheat. I’ve read that some common factors can include items such as a dull blade or a smaller blade cutting very thick wood. These items do make sense as you do need to gauge your blade size to the thickness of wood you use. And as always, if your blade is not cutting as well, replace it.
Now in my thoughts, it is not necessarily the blade getting hot that is the issue, but the increased amount of work your scroll saw goes through on the moving parts. The harder it is for those arms parts to move up and down the more likely it will overheat the motor on the scroll saw.
I know that temperatures can get a bit hot in my workshop during the summer. I don’t like to wood work in hotter temperatures and that is likely good for my tools when it comes to overheating.
If your scroll saw overheats, don’t panic… Yet. Give it some time to cool off and then make sure it will turn on some time later. If you are lucky, you did not cause too much damage to your scroll saw. Hopefully your motor did not seize up and render your scroll saw inoperable.
Learn from the overheating instance and make changes and adjustments to keep your scroll saw from overheating again.
Why is my Scroll Saw Tripping the Breaker
This can be a common instance with not only your scroll saw but some other more power consuming tools.
My workshop is wired to the outside outlets of my house. I believe this wiring circuit is on a 120 volt 15 Amp breaker. I chose to tap into this particular wiring circuit as it is not used often. This in turn gives me a higher probability that I will not trip the breaker when running my tools.
So why would your scroll saw be tripping the breaker? If you are on a wiring circuit that includes other items drawing power from it, while at the same time you are trying to use your scroll saw, you may trip the breaker.
Unplug some of those items, if possible, to reduce the draw on power to the wiring circuit you are on. This could help keep your scroll saw from tripping the breaker.
A scroll saw does not draw as much power as some other tools out there. So if you find that there is not too much on your wiring circuit other than your scroll saw, and you keep tripping the breaker, I would recommend talking with an electrician.
Experiencing Scroll Saw Vibration
If your scroll saw is vibrating in any way, I suggest fixing the issue as soon as possible or you will likely have some bad scroll sawing experiences.
Make sure your table is on a fairly level surface. If possible, find a way to secure your scroll saw to the floor. I do have a scroll saw stand that allows me to do this.
I don’t actually attach it to the ground, however, I do have a piece of wood propped under one of the legs of the scroll saw stand to keep it level.
My Scroll Saw is not Cutting Strait
Incorrect blade tension can be a contributing factor to bad cutting for your scroll saw projects. It can make it quite difficult at times to get a strait line if the tension is too loose.
If the blade is too tight then you will start to break blades more often.
Read over your scroll saw manual for any instructions on blade tension. Make sure you understand how to set the tension on your scroll saw.
I use the Dewalt scroll saw for my scroll saw projects. When I am cutting with this scroll saw I have found that a tension of 2 seems to work fairly well for most of the wood I have used.
I read that pushing on the attached blade firmly, while off obviously, will let me know if it is at a good setting if it gives way about an 1/8″. I have been using that setting for quite some time now.
In my photo here, I am pushing firmly and it is giving way at least a 1/4″. This would be too loose for me and I would have a harder time getting good cuts as I moved the wood through the blade.
Having your scroll saw at a good tension can help in keeping your cuts as strait or in control as one would need.
My Scroll Saw is not Cutting
If you find that your blade is not cutting very well, consider how long you have been using the blade. It could just very well be you need to replace it as it is worn out and dull.
If you just put the blade in and it is not cutting check to ensure that the blade was not put in twisted. It can be very easy to accidentally put a twist in the blade especially if the blade is fairly small.
At times you may very well just put the blade in backwards. If you have a spiral blade then no problem. If the teeth are on one side, like most blades, then you need to correct your blade to the front facing direction.
Sometimes, and I have to admit that I have done this a time or two. You can put the blade in upside down. This will not necessarily keep you from cutting but you will notice a difference in the smoothness on the surface of your scroll saw project. It will be rough and will require some touch up sanding.
The Wood is Vibrating with the Scroll Saw Blade
One of the symptoms of putting your blade in upside down is that you may get what I like to call wood jumping.
This is where the wood you are cutting bounces or jumps with the blade as it moves. The teeth being upside down will cut in the upward direction. This creates a stronger pull upward with the cutting of the wood, which can pull the wood you are cutting off the table more so then if installed properly.
I have found that if I hold down my project firmly on both sides, I can also help reduce any vibration in my project as I am cutting it. I know at times I may not have a firm hold on two adjacent sides and I will get some very bad vibration of the project when cutting.
If you find that you cannot hold down the project firmly on two adjacent sides you can install a wonderful spiral blade and attempt to rotate the project so you can hold it down on two sides. Being able to cut in any direction with the spiral blade can be wonderful thing for any scroll saw project.
I have never tried this but I think there may be some lubricants to put on the blade to make them cut better and even last longer. I have not really investigated this one as I seem to be doing fairly well without it, but it might be something you can look into.
Scroll Saw Blade is coming loose.
Don’t you just love it when you start cutting out your scroll saw project and then you hear a ‘ping’ noise and realize your blade came off the clamp. (Well, I really don’t love it, but I am guessing you caught my sarcasm)
The first obvious thing is to attempt to clamp it down a little tighter. Unfortunately, you may have at this point bent the blade when it first came off the clamp. You can attempt to bend it back, but keep in mind, the integrity of the blade is now compromised. It may not last long after that.
What if you clamp it tighter and it still keeps letting go of the blade. At this point you may need to watch it more carefully as you clamp it down. Is the blade being fully clamped down on, or are you just clamping maybe half of the blade. Maybe the pin end is bent a little and you can’t get a good clamp on it.
It may also boil down to you needing to replace your clamp. Clamps can wear out and stop doing their very important function.
There are various issues that can arise with use of your scroll saw. From my experience the more common issues tend to revolve around, overheating, tripping the breaker, vibration, crooked cuts, vibration, and the blade coming lose.
Problems with your scroll saw blades will top the list, if you get into a good process of attaching your blade correctly to your scroll saw, you can avoid many issues you may have when cutting out your scroll saw projects.
Additionally you will want to make sure you have a good environment to work in to help prevent problems. I have written an article on 10 Things I Needed to Set Up My Scroll Saw Workshop that can be helpful for you on that topic.
If you are looking to better improve your scroll saw experience, which can also help to prevent problems while on your scroll saw, I wrote this great article, 6 Easy Scroll Saw Techniques to Improve Your Experience, that can help give you some thoughts into a better scroll saw experience.
Thanks for reading and happy scrolling.