November 29, 2021

What Scroll Saw Blade to Use | The Easy Guide

This will mean changing blades based on the project. Choosing scroll saw blades is not always a straightforward task. It depends on what you are working on. Let us look into some ways to pick a good blade for your top of the range Scroll Saw.

Types of scroll saw blades

There are two types of blades: the plain-end and pin-end. Most scroll saws use plain-end blades except a few entry-level models. Pin-end blades do not come in small sizes, and the 3/16″ (5mm)-diameter blade-entry hole they require is often larger than the frets you want to cut.

Consider using blades from the local or online scroll saw suppliers for reliability. Bear in mind that scroll saw suppliers stock a wider variety of blades than standard hardware stores. The blades cost 41 at the hardware store, whereas they are 20 from a scroll saw supplier. If you are looking forward to saw blades that last longer, consider buying in bulk. 

Choosing the right scroll saw blade for your project

  • Speed
  • Blade size
  • Brand 

What size scroll saw blade to use

Blade Size

Some manufacturers list the width and thickness of the blade, but some use the semi-standard number system. Larger saw blades are represented by higher numbers. They show how thick or the density of the wood increases. 

The rule of thumb uses a #5 or #7 blade for 3/4″ (19mm) to 1″ (25mm)-thick medium-hardwood such as cherry. Some scroll saws use the smallest saw blade they can. Depending on your cutting style, you might use the largest blade possible, larger than a #9.

Larger blades range from #9 going up and being more durable. Applying pressure leads to breaking, although they cut faster. Large blades are for thick or hardwood. Using smaller blades causes more breakages.

When considering large blades, you can choose between a #9 and a #12 saw blades. However, not every tooth configuration comes in a #12, so that may help you decide. A #12 is ideal for cutting wood as thick as your saw can handle.

Use smaller blades for thin wood. These are #3 and smaller blades, and they cut more slowly. That gives you additional control when cutting thin wood. A #2/0 blade is the smallest size that you can use for wood. 

Puzzle cutters sometimes use smaller blades for tight turns. For standard scrolling, a #2/0 blade is small enough. Choose the blade that will allow you to cut the smallest frets without breaking every few cuts.

For stack cutting, choose a blade based on the thickness of the stack. If you cut eight 1/8″ (3mm)-thick blanks at once, it gives you a  1inch  or 25mm, uses a #5 or #7 blade. When cutting four 1/8″ (3mm)-thick blanks, use a #2 or #3 blade.

Tooth Configuration

Cutting teeth come in different configurations like blades. Some manufacturers indicate the teeth per inch (TPI), while some specific terms.  However, the TPI method depends on the width and thickness of the blade. 

A #2/0 regular-tooth blade would have more TPI than a #2/0 skip-tooth blade, but a #1 regular-tooth blade sometimes has a similar number of teeth to the #2/0 skip-tooth blade.

Regular-tooth blades have teeth evenly spaced along the saw blade. Where one tooth stops, another tooth starts. That has the standard tooth configuration. However, manufacturers have created multiple variations that work better when cutting wood.

Skip-tooth blades are the standard configuration. You do not have one tooth right next to the last, but they skip one tooth, leaving an open space between the teeth. The tooth space helps clear sawdust and helps the blade cut faster. These make rougher cut surfaces than do regular-tooth blades.

Double-tooth blades are like skip-tooth blades in the spaces between the teeth. The difference lies in two teeth that are back to back, and then one tooth is skipped. That makes smoother cuts possible, although it does not cut quite as fast.

Reverse-tooth blades are similar to skip-tooth or double-tooth configuration, but with the bottom couple of teeth pointed in the opposite direction from the rest. These cut as the saw blade travels upward, and they remove these splinters. Reverse-tooth blades make the bottom cut cleaner than other blades since it clears more sawdust. 

Two-way cut blades are similar to reverse-tooth saw blades. However, for every two teeth that point downward, one tooth points upward. The cutting process becomes slow but with smoother cuts. 

Crown-tooth blades have one tooth pointing up connected to each tooth pointing down. The name derives from the crown-like shape the teeth make. The saw blade cuts on both the upstroke and the downstroke of the saw. It is the slowest configuration but produces a smooth cut.

Spiral blades are flat blades twisted into a spiral. They only cut in every direction. That is from the front, back, and side to side. It is difficult to cut straight lines with these blades but saw cuts fretwork portraits better since they have few straight lines. They are a bit difficult to control because they cut everything they touch. 

Premium blades come in multiple variations depending on steel and tooth shapes. These cut hard, dense wood quickly.

What causes scroll saw blades to break

  • Using too much tension or too little tension while sawing causes scroll saw blades to break. That is improper tension. 
  • Too much speed.
  • Run the saw machine with no feed into the blade.
  • Misalignment.

You also want to deal with scroll saw vibration early to avoid breaking blades.

How tight should scroll saw blades be?

Place a piece of wood at the front of the blade. Tighten the blade until it can move only about 1/8 inch. The scroll saw blade resists any movement when properly tensioned when twisted or pushed with your fingers.

What are spiral scroll saw blades used for

  • Cuts wood, plastic, wax, non-ferrous metals, plaster.
  • Power scroll saws.
  • Hand-held fret.
  • Jewelers saw frames.
  • Cutting speed and finish.

How do spiral scroll saw blades work

  • Tension your blade well.
  • Use slow speeds and slow feed as well. 
  • Gently, glide the piece into the blade is good. 
  • Cut up to the line at slow speed and revisit the cut at high speed.

What direction does a scroll saw blade go?

Before you start the saw, check the direction of the teeth. They should be at the front of the saw and pointing down. The blade should have the right side up and the blade teeth facing downward to cut on the downstroke of the saw blade.

What is a modified geometry scroll saw blade?

Modified Geometry blades have a specific tooth design that makes them efficient. They tolerate aggressive feed rates, avoid overheating, leave a smooth finish, and have no splinters. They also move fast. 

What do scroll saw blade numbers mean?

Scroll saw blades numbers represent sizes. They range from #12 to #2/0 or #3/0. The higher the number, the thicker and wider the blade and the fewer teeth per inch on the saw blade. TPI is the number of teeth per inch on the scroll saw blade. Some scroll saw blades use the “Universal” numbers, from 0 to 12. The smaller the number, the finer the saw blade.

David D. Hughes

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