The functionality of a scroll saw is built right into its name. Scroll saws are intended to be used for intricate, frequently ornate wood working including, but not limited to, scroll-headed designs and patterns. Functionally, a scroll saw is similar to a jigsaw, coping saw or band saw. Its fine toothed blade reciprocates up and down between an upper arm and work platform. With the option to interchange blades easily, scroll saws can effectively cut wood, plastic, metal and glass. Advantages built into the scroll saw’s functionality are its fine removable blade, which allows for interior cutting without the need for an entry slot, as well as unparalleled precision in design and pattern cutting.
While a scroll saw’s utility and functionality reaches outside of the realm of woodworking, its home is usually on the bench of an avid woodworker’s shop. For intricate patters in wood up to a thickness of 2”, the scroll saw is unbeatable. However, because of its specialized functionality, a scroll saw tends to be a later addition to the shop than a table saw, miter saw or band saw, which all rip and crosscut more effectively. When troubleshooting any problem with your scroll saw at home it is important to remember the general functionality of scroll saws as a category of power tool.
Because the majority of scroll saws sold today are electric models, they are subject to the overheating dilemma that plagues all electronic power tools. In the case of scroll saws this problem arises when the saw is being overworked. The most important factors to consider when your saw appears to be overheating are blade choice, blade dullness, cutting material and material thickness. The best way to prevent overheating your scroll saw is to use the right blade for the right job under appropriate blade tension. If your saw is actively overheating the best thing to do is turn it off and unplug it long enough for the motor to cool off. If it overheats more than once under normal and appropriate operating conditions contact the saw’s manufacture
#2 Tripped Breaker, Blown Fuse
Like most electric power tools, scroll saws use enough electricity to blow fuses and trip breakers. In the event that your scroll saw suddenly ceases to function, your fuse box should be checked immediately. In this situation the problem has little to with the tools functionality. When firing your scroll saw back up after tripping a breaker or blowing a fuse make sure to have it set to the slowest blade speed, then work your way up from there.
#3 Blade Tension
As with any bladed power tool, the tension of the scroll saw’s blade will affect its ability to cut with accuracy and precision. An inability to repeatedly cut on a straight line is an indicator that your scroll saw blade might need to be tightened. The first thing to do when tightening any scroll saw blade is to consult the manual. It will inform you on exactly which pieces of hard wear are involved and what tools will be needed to execute the task. Next, locate the saw’s tension rod and depending on the model, tighten the lever located at one end of the rod or use a screw driver to tighten the screws that serve the same purpose. The tension of the blade is managed by the tightening of this lever or screw. After you have managed the blade’s tension use a piece of scrap wood to test the blade before resuming your project. If during your test cut, the tone of the blade cutting is extremely high pitched the tension may be too high. On the other hand, a much lower tone may indicate that your blade is too loose.
#4 Table Vibrations
The benefit of the scroll saw’s removable blade is that it allows for interior cutting without the need for an entry slot, the negative is that its reciprocating, cutting action can cause the table to vibrate significantly. This can make it hard to make the intricate cuts characteristic of scroll saw work. If the table portion of your scroll saw vibrates to the point where you must press down hard to keep the piece you are cutting in place, there are a few things you should do. First, relocate your saw to a very clean and level surface. If the saw’s base is not entirely flush with the surface it is sitting on you will likely have issues with table vibration. Next, if you have c-clamps available, secure the saw to the work surface it is on. This can reduce table vibration significantly. Last, if the table vibrations are so extreme that they completely inhibit efficient usage, think about upgrading models. Low vibration scroll saws are more expensive but extremely worthwhile.
#5 Blade Twisting
Scroll saw blades come in a vast variety of shapes, sizes and costs. When cutting a new or unfamiliar material, it is important to have a variety of blades on hand. Sometimes smaller, thiner blades tend to follow the woodgrain pattern of the piece of material being cut. When the grain apposes the desired cut line or direction the blade can twist. This makes it difficult if not impossible to make a clean cut. Upgrading to a thicker blade or different serration pattern can make all of the difference. If you are having issues with blade twisting experiment with a variety of blade patterns and sizes.
I hope this article has helped you identify one of the major problems of scrollsaws and how to solve them. Feel free to browse around and learn more about tools at www.toolerant.com 🙂