Welcome to another FREE Woodworking Resource sponsored by your fellow
woodworkers at Shopsmith

Models, Setup & Features
Scroll Saw Blades
Patterns & Layout
Speeds & Feeds
Basic Techniques
Pad Sawing
Piercing Cuts
Bevels & Chamfers
Solid Wood Inlays
Raised or Recessed Inserts
Small Pieces & Thin Stock
Cutting Metal, Plastic, & Other Materials

Shopsmith Scroll Saw
Click here for a printer friendly version of Tip -
Pg 1-3,
Pg 4-6,
Pg 7-9, Pg 10-11, Pg 12-13

Basic Techniques

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Figure 15-6. A scoring cut in a thick piece of scrap is a way to check that the blade and table are square.

After selecting and installing the correct blade, adjusting the blade tension, checking the speed setting and adjusting the work hold-down, you're ready to begin cutting. If you have a tall stool handy, you may want to work sitting down instead of standing. It's a lot more relaxing--especially for long sessions.

Before cutting thick stock, it's a good idea to be sure the table is square to the blade. This can be checked with a square or a thick piece of scrap wood. Just feed the scrap stock into the blade enough to score the wood slightly--then swing the piece around behind the blade (Figure 15-6). If the table and blade are square, the blade will be aligned perfectly with the kerf. If not, adjust the table to eliminate half the difference and try again.

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Figure 15-7. An outside corner makes the best starting point. Avoid starting at a curve -- especially whn cutting parallel to the grain.

Selecting a Starting Point The best place to begin cutting is almost always at an outside corner (Figure 15-7). Then when you come around the workpiece you can finish off with a sharp, clean corner with little or no sanding.

If you must begin cutting along a curve--such as when sawing a round circle--begin cutting across the grain, not parallel to it. This reduces the tendency for the blade to follow the grain and make a bump or dip where the cut begins and ends. You may even want to begin and end the cut slightly outside the pattern line and then sand away the excess to produce a perfectly smooth curve.

Simple Cuts
For general cutting, press the stock lightly against the table and feed it smoothly into the blade. When properly adjusted, the hold-down will minimize vibration and yet be loose enough to allow the stock to move freely.

The scroll saw cuts fairly quickly, but don't try to force the stock or you'll bend the blade and reduce the accuracy of your cut. In most cases, slower feed rates will result in a smoother finished cut. This is especially true when cutting very soft or stringy woods and less critical on harder woods such as maple or oak.

If you're new to the scroll saw, you may be tempted to cut slightly outside your pattern line and then sand away the excess. Although this can be done, the scroll saw cuts so smoothly that sanding is seldom required. Therefore, practice cutting right on the pattern line and eliminate the extra work, except for special situations as mentioned above.

On straight cuts--especially with heavier blades--you may find that the blade tends to "lead" or cut slightly to one side of your intended line. This is caused by the set of the blade or minor imperfections in the teeth which cannot be eliminated during manufacturing. It's easy to compensate for this problem by feeding the stock at a slight angle--usually two to four degrees.

You may also notice a tendency for the blade to follow the grain of the wood when you are ripping or cutting parallel to the grain. This problem can be eliminated by slowing your feed rate to give the blade plenty of time to cut.

Corners and Tight Turns
Although a constant tension scroll saw will permit you to make turns in an area only slightly larger than the width of the blade, no machine can cut a sharp, square inside or outside corner in a single pass. Therefore, some compromise or combination of techniques must be used.

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Figure 15-8. Sharp outside corners can be cut: (A) in two passes or (B) by looping around in the scrap area.

Outside corners are usually cut in one of two ways. One method is to cut completely across the stock and out, then turn the workpiece and begin cutting in the new direction (Figure 15-8A). The other method is similar, but you simply loop around in a scrap area and come into the corner from the new direction (Figure 15-8B).

Sharp, clean inside corners must also be cut in two passes which intersect at the corner. This can be done by cutting into the corner from one direction, then backing the blade out through the kerf and approaching the cut from another angle (Figure 15-9A). An alternative is to cut into the corner from one angle, back up slightly and cut across the corner, then come back to clean out the small remaining piece of scrap (Figure 15-9B).


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Figure 15-9. Sharp inside corners may be cut: (A) in two passes or (B) by cutting across the corner, then coming back to remove the remaining scrap.

Many scroll saw projects do not require perfectly square corners and a tight radius turn will be all that's required. Unlike a bandsaw or jigsaw, the scroll saw lets you turn almost on-the-spot by spinning the workpiece around the blade. Just hold the stock against the table and spin it smoothly and quickly, being careful not to press sideways and deflect the blade.

This spinning technique is easy to learn. Practice making these on-the-spot turns with a scrap piece of 1/4" thick stock until you can make a cut, turn 180° and come back out the original kert (Figure 15-10).

Planning Complex Cuts
Always take a minute to plan your cuts--especially in delicate or intricately detailed scrollwork. Whenever possible, break complex designs up into several simple curves or shapes and don't hesitate to back up along the kerf or leave the pattern line and cut into the waste area to get a better angle for the next section.



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Figure 15-10. With a little practice the scroll saw can make 180° turns in little more than the width of the blade.

In some cases--such as cutting inlays or matching parts--there will be no waste stock, so the en-tire shape must be cut in a single pass. In these cases, you may want to simplify the design to make cutting easier or you can practice cutting the shape in scrap stock to locate trouble spots and develop confidence.

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