Scroll saw blade selection is a monumental task. It can however prove to be daunting, especially for newbie scrollers. A visit to a hardware store can leave you overwhelmed by the many kinds, sizes and brand names of blades available. Some scrollers take the easier option of buying any blade or one that looks good to them. This should not be the case because the success of your project will be greatly determined by the type of blade you choose.
An application chart containing a comparison of the various types of blades is beneficial but should not be used as the only guide. There are other factors that should be considered.
When it comes to compatibility, scroll saws accept either Pin-end or Plain-end types of blades. More often than not, older saws use pin-end blades whereas modern saws use plain-end blades. It is much faster to change pin-end blades than the plain-end ones. Nevertheless, plain-end blades are the more superior of the two. They don’t require a large starter hole in the work piece because the pin is not required to pass through the material. A plain-end blade can slip through a 1/64” hole where a pin-end blade would need a 1/16” hole. This is of great benefit when cutting very intricate patterns.
2. Type of material
The type of material to be cut is an important factor in determining the type of blade to use. All blades are made from steel blanks and are usually hardened and tempered. As a result, standard blades can be used to cut most wood. Some types of material such as aluminum and plastic have to be cut using special blades.
3. Blade Measurements
A blade’s measurement determines its suitability for use on a material depending on the material’s hardness and thickness. You should therefore be familiar with every aspect of measurement before buying any blade. Blades come in sizes that are listed using numbers. The numbers usually range from as high as #12 to sizes below #0 such as #2/0 and #3/0. The higher the number of the blade, the bigger it is and the lower the number of teeth per inch (TPI). This implies that a #12 blade will have fewer teeth per inch on it than a #7 blade. The higher number blades are thicker and wider.
The thickness and width of blades should increase as the thickness and hardness of the materials to be cut increase. This implies that thicker and wider blades are required to cut thicker and harder materials. The higher the TPI the more the aggression and smoothness of the blade’s cut. Blades with a higher TPI achieve cleaner cuts. A point to note is that these blades can burn wood
more easily if they are run too fast. It is therefore advisable to use slower speeds with them, and faster speeds with the larger blades such as size #9 to #12 blades.
4. Complexity of patterns
The intricacy of the scroll saw pattern is an important consideration when choosing the right blade for your project. In general, complex patterns will require a blade with small teeth. Bigger blades cannot cut tight corners. Even though the application material may be thick and hard, the blade you select should be small enough to cut the sharpest corners of your pattern without giving you a lot of trouble.
5. Tooth design
The tooth design has an impact on the performance of the blade. Let us have a look at the different types of blades and clearly bring out the differences between them.
- Standard/Regular tooth blades
These have the simplest tooth designs. The teeth are of the same size and are right next to each other. The two major types of standard tooth blades are metal and wood blades. Metal blades have smaller teeth and less space between them in comparison to wood blades.
- Skip-tooth blades
These blades are similar to standard blades but have a much wider space between the teeth hence a reduced TPI. They are recommended for the beginner because they stay cool and cut smoothly.
- Double skip tooth blades
These are skip-tooth blades with a gap between sets of two teeth. They cut slightly slower on most materials but leave a very smooth finish.
- Reverse tooth blades
These blades usually have a skip-tooth configuration but with the last inch of teeth pointing in the opposite direction. This allows them to cut on both the up stroke and down stroke, minimizing tear-out or splintering on the underside of your work piece. They cut slower than a regular blade but produce a smooth, splinter-free edge on both sides of the material.
- Precision-ground tooth blades
These are skip-tooth blades with small, razor-sharp teeth that have been ground to shape from the finest carbon steel. They outperform and outlast all the other blades. They cut faster and smoother in both straight and radius cuts. Because of how sharp and aggressive the blades are, they are not recommended for beginners.
- Spiral blades
Spiral blades consist of normal blades that have been twisted together in such a way that all sides have teeth. They therefore cut well in all directions without having to spin the work piece. They are ideal for cutting highly detailed portrait patterns.
- Crown-tooth blades
These blades have teeth that are shaped like a crown. There is a gap between each crown. Their unique design allows them to cut on both the up stroke and down stroke. They cut slightly slower than regular blades. Their cutting action prevents melting behind the cut, making them good for cutting most plastic including lexan, acrylic and Plexiglas. When one side of the blade dulls, you can get a new set of teeth by simply turning over the ends.
Use the factors listed above as a guide for selecting the right scroll saw blade for your next project. It is advisable to always use the largest size of blade that gives the desired results. Amazon offers a Great Selection of blades at great prices for all your scroll sawing needs.