When anyone approaches a new hobby or new thing in life, it would be nice if we all had some sort of mentoring information to help us start out. When I got into scroll sawing and started to crank out some scroll saw projects, I discovered some good scroll saw techniques that have helped improve my ability in my hobby.
Some good scroll saw techniques to follow are; cutting slow and steady, managing blade speed, your cutting perspective, giving yourself something to hold onto, drilling holes first, and blade size management. Your experience will greatly improve if you manage these techniques.
I wanted to get into 6 easy scroll saw techniques that helped me improve my scroll saw experience and helped me create better scroll saw projects. Let me get into some more detail here and share those techniques with you.
Slow and Steady to Perfection
When you fire up your scroll saw and start pushing you project through the blade, there can at times be a bit of impatience that can take hold. This can ring true if you are doing a business of some sort, selling your work, and you have some sort of deadline you are shooting for.
Be wary though, we know that impatience can lead to issues and problems as we have found out in many general aspects of life. With creation of a scroll saw project, I have learned that impatience can end up creating issues and problems as well.
This impatience manifests itself in our scroll saw projects by going to fast, pushing the wood to quickly through the blade. As I have found, if I am impatient and start pushing to quickly I start to make some mistakes.
Those mistakes generally include me not being on the line where my cut is supposed to be, or I at times have overshot the line by pushing too hard, then attempting to stop, only to find that the blade with its greater tension from me pushing too hard, continues to cut.
I have found that if I do the simple act of taking it slow and steady I can greatly reduce the amount of mistakes I make while making my cuts.
Think Blade Speed
With what I mentioned about impatience and going to fast, if I continue with those impatient thoughts and turn up the speed of my cutting blade, I will encounter other problems as well.
The general thought I and many others likely have is if you turn up the speed of the blade, it will cut faster. Meaning I can cut quicker and get the project scrolled out sooner.
Well… There is some truth to that but along with that comes some new issues you will face. Issues that can cost you time and money, and in general give you less of a positive experience in your hobby.
A faster moving blade means more friction. Friction means more heat, and when things heat up your scroll saw blade will break sooner. More broken blades means you having to switch out blades more often, not to mention purchasing blades more regularly.
You can turn up the speed of the blade and take your cutting much slower if desired. Slowing it down at a high speed should help prevent your blade from wearing out to quickly. Always keep in mind though, when it comes to mechanics, the quicker things are moving the sooner they wear out.
Speaking of heat though. I know that if I turn up the speed of my blade then go slower on my cutting, I run into another issue. That issue being wood burning. This is when the heat is so intense that it starts to brown or burn the wood.
If this happens you can attempt to sand out the burn. I know I have had to do so many times. Slowing the speed of the blade down helps me out on this one.
I recommend keeping the speed down, not too far down as I want to actually cut the wood, so I can avoid some of these issues I mentioned. As time has gone on, I typically just keep the speed at a desired setting and leave it alone.
When I start cutting my project out, I have found that I like to rotate the project in a manner where every cut I make, I am pushing the wood strait away from myself. I think that this would be the case for most scroll saw hobbyists.
I realize that it can be difficult to get things in a strait line sometimes when I come out of my rotation of the wood. An example of this issue is when I rotate my project and find that the blade is bowing to the right or left instead of it being strait. Sometimes it does not matter how steady of a rotation I make, I can come up with some bowing in my blade.
When this happens, I try to take a moment to move the wood in a manner that will remove the bowing of the blade and get me set up for my ‘strait away’ from me cut again.
An additional thought on this is there could be too much bowing on the blade when you come out of your rotation and you may need to increase the tension of your blade.
Another thought to throw out there is if you encounter too much bowing in the blade as you cut, you may need to replace the blade as it is not cutting as nicely anymore. You can more easily determine this by thinking how long that blade has been on there and how many projects you have done with it.
Something to Hold Onto
A scroll saw project can be in various sizes, some very small and some rather large. Its those smaller projects that can be a bit hard to keep a grip on and can cause some difficulty cutting out.
A good way, and probably the best way, when holding onto your scroll saw project is to have a hand, or fingers, on opposite sides of the wood. As soon as you don’t have this equilibrium on your project, I have found that the project starts to jump with the blade.
A jumping project is not only a little scary when it happens, especially if it is some delicate work, but it can be a little unsafe. Keeping your project form jumping is very important if you don’t want some very unfortunate mistakes.
To help prevent this, on any project, make sure you have some wood to hold onto when you are cutting out your projects. I like to work from the inside to outside of the project. Cutting out the empty spaces in the middle and working my way to the outside.
Sometimes the project is really small. In this case you need to make sure you have some extra wood on the outside of your project to hold onto, as you do not want your fingers very close to the scroll saw blade.
Drill Holes First
A lot of scroll saw projects have empty space to be cut out in the pattern. To do this you need to drill pilot holes into the pattern on those empty spaces.
I have found that I like to drill the hole somewhere where I can make a 90 degree cut to a line and then rotate the project from there on my cuts. This is not something that is a must and I am betting many others may do things differently, but I found it works nicely for myself.
Anytime I do a scroll saw project, I drill my holes first. I like to have all the holes ready to feed the scroll saw blade through without having to keep getting up and drilling a hole every time I need one.
With all the holes drilled you can avoid having to make a pilot hole on a delicate piece of the project where you have already made cuts that have weakened the integrity of the wood. Ripping of a piece of the scrolled project off when trying to drill a hole is very upsetting, I might add.
Sometimes you forget to drill a pilot hole or two, and in those cases lets hope you don’t run into any issues when you have to make those latter pilot holes in your scroll saw project.
Fine Lines and Fine Blades
When you are cutting out lines and empty spaces, you may find that those lines and empty spaces are very small. Using that larger blade on your scroll saw for those fine lines will likely yield undesirable results.
I always make sure I have a set of smaller, fine tune precision blades ready for this type of scenario. With smaller projects you will encounter this issue of needing a smaller blade for sure.
So what does one do when there is a very tiny line and no opening to get to that line to make the cut? The only feasible way here I have found is to get the smallest drill bit possible and make a pilot hole on that line.
Feeding the scroll saw blade through that hole can be fairly difficult though. On top of that, having a larger drill bit than the blade size can be troublesome for that fine line you want to cut. It may be your only option and you may have to make due with what you have or buy some more fine tune drill bits.
If you make the cut and it looks like a pilot hole is still very prominent along the line, you can work out the line to be a little larger with the scroll saw blade. Thought this for sure requires some steady hands.
There are quite a few techniques one can learn from starting out in doing scroll saw projects. Not all techniques are desirable by all scroll saw hobbyists but I feel all techniques are worth hearing about.
I hope my handful of techniques can be helpful in your scroll saw experiences as you cut out your scroll saw projects. These techniques mentioned are the ones I thought important to share.
If you are new to the scroll saw you might be interested in an article I have written entitled 10 Things I Needed to Set Up My Scroll Saw Workshop that can be helpful for improving your scroll saw experience.
Thanks for reading and good luck on your scroll saw projects.