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  1. Tips And Tricks

    There was a great idea posted in this thread about making a list of tips and tricks for scrollers. Having them in one place would be a great resource for new scrollers, and a fun place for seasoned scrollers to find new ideas.

    So post your favorite tips here and I'll add it to the list. Please keep the tips short and sweet so it's easy to read and add to the list.

    Let the sharing begin! :thumbs:


    I am a "bottom feeder." After drilling a few holes, I take an awl and enlarge the bottom of the holes. This creates a funnel shape to put the blade in. On a large piece, if you have trouble seeing the hole, lay a CD on the saw table. It reflects A LOT of light up.

    Take a pencil #2 rotate in hole makes it very visible.

    If you have a small grinder ,taper your blades like an arrow .

    I keep a push pin by the saw. Push it through the pilot hole and it works for me.

    1. small engineer's square for getting the 90 degree angle which is critical for puzzles
    2. packaging tape for blade lubrication.
    3. paste wax for the table
    4. band aids for those inevitable nicks on the fingers.
    5. Magnifying light.
    6. Good quality blades
    7. Dust mask or central vac system with good pick-up.
    8. Adjustable height chair with back support (drafting stool)
    9. Subscription to "ScrollSaw Workshop and crafts"
    10 3M sanding wheels (for use with drill, drill press, or lathe)
    11 3M "77" adhesive spray for permanent bond or Elmer's spray adhesive for temporary bond.

    [For Squaring The Blade] - I cut into a scrap. Stop the saw, spin the wood around to the back of the blade. If the blade goes into the cut, you're good. Low tech, but accurate.

    For projects due to be repeated; I use a thin stable materiel (hardboard-- plastic etc.) and cut the template to re-use along with the original cuts!

    I also use an additional blade lube of old WHITE preferred candles ran right into the blade-- even between cuts. I have fantastic blade life.

    I like having an air compressor with spray nozzle to blow all of the dust off my work when its finished.

    I always spray a clear coat over fretwork before I frame it to keep any stray sawdust off the inside of the plexiglass.

    [Replacement Dust Blower] - I went and purchased an aquarium air pump and hooked it to the saw. Very powerful, and no more problems with saw dust on the project.

    Use a sacrificial board under your piece with the pattern when drilling holes to avoid push out and after drilling sand the back with 220 grit so the surface on the saw table is smooth

    For really intricate cutting (especially 1/8"), I usually put a sacrifice luan ply above and below the piece. Saw all 3 pieces the same size and wrap with blue tape. Often put a dab of glue in the 4 corners also.

    I keep a very small, cheap, shop vac next to my saw and use it constantly. I have also installed a ceiling mounted dust collector. Just blowing off the dust with the compressor is spreading it around the shop and it will end up in your finely sanded, oiled finish, not to mention your nose and lungs.

    I have a cardboard box that I place over items I have applied a finish to. It protects the finish from any dust I happen to blow around while working on other projects.

    I have an $8 hair dryer blowing the dust off of my work as I saw.

    To use more of your blade teeth you can cut off the bottom 3/4" of a dulled blade reinstall, and you will then be using the unused teeth. Not sure all saws will accommodate the shorter blade but all mine will.

    • Apr 12, 2016 05:06 PM
    • by Travis
  2. Setting Table Tilt On Your Scroll Saw

    Saw's Bevel Gauge
    Most saws have a basic bevel gauge built in. Often times this is below the saw along the rocker. A simple needle points to the gauge marked on the rocker to indicate the angle. My scroll saw has a gauge built into the table, which makes it easy to see. This is a good way to get in the general ballpark, but not very accurate nor repeatable. Use this gauge if you don't need repeatable angles, or if accurate angle isn't necessary.

    A simple protractor is an easy way to get an accurate reading. You can pick one up for a couple of dollars at an office supply store. Make sure you buy a small enough one where you can lay the protractor against the blade. Line up the bottom of the protractor to the center mark, then adjust your table to the appropriate angle.

    Paper Protractor
    I like using a paper protractor. Download this paper template here. Use spray adhesive to attach it to some 1/4" plywood, then cut it out with your scroll saw. The nice thing about paper protractors is you can write on them. Use a red pen and draw a straight line from center point to the appropriate angle. Then simply adjust the table and line up the red line with your blade. You can also write notes on the protractor for each project (IE Bowl. 20 degrees for 3/4" stock.)

    Digital Angle Gauge
    I use a digital angle gauge. I picked mine up for about $30 on Amazon. This is super accurate, getting within 1/10th of a degree. You turn it on, place it on the bed of your scroll saw, then push the "Zero" button to zero out the gauge. Then you can start tilting your saw until you get your exact angle. This is my favorite method. I also love being able to use the gauge on other tools where I need an accurate angle. The magnetic bottom will attach to a table saw blade as you tilt the blade.

    Smart Phone
    Phones now days are amazing. They even have a built in angle gauge. I usually have mine within easy reach and it's very convenient. I use the iPhone, and the gauge is listed under the "compass" app, which is pre-loaded on your phone. Swipe to the left to get off the compass and onto the angle gauge (level). Place the phone on it's edge, then tilt your bed. Be careful to keep a hold of your phone. You don't want it to slide off onto the concrete floor (I won't tell you how I know this). This is super convenient. The only draw backs is your table has to be level with the floor to begin with (no zeroing option) and it only measures to the degree, not a fraction of a degree. I'm sure there are other free apps that address these issues, but the built in app works well enough.


    • Feb 27, 2014 07:03 PM
    • by Travis
  3. Making a “Zero Clearance” Plate For Your Scroll...

    Originally published in The Village Square - June 2010

    For those of you who like to scroll saw, you know how tedious it can be to cut around very small pieces. After years of wear (and sometimes even weeks) the hole in your scroll saw table gets scuffed and enlarged from repeated rubbing of the blade. This occurrence is not generally due to user error, but is what I would refer to as ‘the nature of the beast’. In my 13+ years of scroll sawing, it is rare that I come across a scroll saw table that doesn’t have this type of wear soon after its initial use.

    For the most part, this does not interfere with production, but when cutting small, delicate pieces it can cause the problem of lack of support as well as losing the piece as it is cut off. In order to rectify this, many scrollers make what is referred to as a ‘zero clearance plate’ for their saw. The purpose of the zero clearance plate is to provide better support for small and delicate pieces, as well as avoid losing them in the pile of sawdust underneath.

    There are several ways you can make this add-on for your saw. I will be focusing on what I feel to be the easiest, quickest (albeit, temporary) method of making this plate. It is a great ‘quick fix’ for those of you who don’t need or want a more permanent type or don’t want to use it all the time, and can be installed in less than five minutes.

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    • First of all, make sure your scroll saw table is clean. Give it a spray with WD-40 and use some fi ne grit sandpaper to clean any adhesive or debris that may have collected on it. (Fig 1)
    • After sanding, use a paper towel to clean off the WD-40. This will leave the surface slick and oily. You will now need to use Windex or another window cleaner or alcohol to remove the oily residue. You want the table as clean and grease free as possible.
    • Next, take an empty two liter pop bottle and cut a rounded rectangle from the plastic. The rectangle should be about three inches square with rounded corners. (Fig 2)
    • Use your drill press and a small bit (about 1/16th of an inch) to drill a small hole in the center of the plastic piece. (Fig 3)
    • Go to your scroll saw and place a small blade in the blade holder. Release the top of the blade and thread the plastic piece through, curved side down.
    • Reattach the blade and tighten the tension. (Fig 4)
    • Square out the plastic and use 2” clear packaging tape to tape the plate into place. I use strips of at least 6” long. Place four stripes – two vertical to each side of the blade and two horizontal at the front and back of the blade. Do this carefully so you don’t get any wrinkles in the tape which would interfere with your cutting.(Figs 5 & 6)
    There you have it! An easy, effective and quick zero clearance scroll saw table!

    I found that this type of plate works great. After a few projects, the hole does start to get bigger and sometimes the tape will roll up slightly at the edges after a bit of use. If this occurs, I just take a sharp scraping knife and trim off the loose edges of the tape. After a while, I replace the plate, cleaning my table as stated before.

    Even though I need to replace the plate periodically, I still use this method as opposed to a more permanent one because it is inevitable that even on wooden overlay plates which are popular, the hole will show signs of wear and get larger. Also with a wooden plate, you are raising the surface of your table the thickness of the wood and this could affect the performance of reverse-tooth blades, which I use often.

    Many people also use this method using old credit cards or other plastic, but I found that they are a bit thicker than the pop bottle plastic and form a ridge which causes problems when feeding delicate work through. I keep a several ‘blank plates’ in my supply drawer, as I cut anywhere from four to eight of them from a discarded pop bottle at a time, which lasts a while.

    I hope you try this method and it works well for you. If you have any questions or comments about this article, please contact me at the email address below and I will be happy to assist you.

    If you have any questions regarding this project, please email me at sheilalandrydesigns@gmail.com. You may also see and purchase other patterns at www.sheilalandrydesigns.com and download free articles and a catalog of my designs.

    Come join me on Facebook at Sheila Landry Designs Scroll Saw Art! See previews and updates of articles and projects.

    • by scrollgirl
  4. Handy Tips

    The following tips were collected from The Village Square Newsletter (no longer being published). What's your favorite tip? Leave a comment below and tell us your favorite scroll saw tip.

    Seeing Better - Leaning over your scroll saw for an extended period of time can strain your back and shoulders. Try putting a 2×4 under the back legs of your saw. This will tilt the saw slightly toward you. It is much easier to see your work and will relieve some fatigue during your long scrolling sessions.

    Used But Good - It drives me nuts when I have to change to a different size scroll saw blade part way through a project. The blade is still good. But what do you do with it? Don’t throw it away. Try this instead. Go to your local craft store and pick up some magnets. The rare-earth magnets are especially good. Hot glue or epoxy the magnets to your scroll saw table. This will hold your gently used scroll saw blades until the next time you need it.

    Pattern Removal - An easy way to removing patterns is to use mineral spirits. Use a old windex bottle or rag to wet the pattern till it turns translucent in color then wiping away the excess spirits along with the pattern with another rag. ---Blame

    Air Scrubber - Many people use their scroll saw in their home instead of their unheated/air coditioned garage. But this can cause an aweful lot of dust which can irritate your better half, and (more importantly) irritate your lungs. Here’s a cheap and easy way to create an air filter: Buy a box fan. These usually run about $12-14 at most stores. Also buy a furnace filter about the same size. Duct tape the furnace filter to the back of the box fan. Just like that, you have an air filter. The box fan will pull air through the filter and clean the air of sawdust particles. It’ll not only keep the dust out of your lungs, it’ll also keep it off the livingroom furniture.

    Using Adhesive Paper On Photo Puzzles - I used a photo mounted to a 1/4 bbply and it was coated with triple thick spray. You have to make sure the what ever you use to mount the picture is totally dry and you must use a protective coating over the picture. I let both dry for about 12 hrs and had good results. The paper peeled off pretty easy and it only left a little residue hear and there. What it did leave behind actually rubbed off with my finger. I used Sloans adhesive paper. This is not really any faster than any other methods but it does work! ---Firedkm

    Tearout - Sometimes wood will splinter on the back of your workpiece when drilling pilot holes. This is frustrating when it interferes with threading the blade. The tearout can even ruin a project, especially on delicate cuttings. So next time when you’re drilling your pilot holes, place a piece of scrap wood below your workpiece. This will support the wood as the drill bit penetrates your workpiece. You’ll be left with a clean hole with no tearout.

    Cleaning Your Bed - Sometimes the bed or your scroll saw will get gummed up with residue which makes sliding your work piece around difficult. Here’s how to clean it. Get a can of WD-40 or similar oil and spray down your bed. With a scouring pad (detergent free), scrub down the bed, then wipe clean with a paper towel. This will remove any glue, pitch, and dirt on the scroll saw bed. Follow this up with an application of furniture paste wax (silicon free). Rub it in with a paper towel, then buff it out with a new paper towel. Not only will this protect it from rust, but it will also make your work piece slide smoothly across the surface.

    Blow Off - After you’ve finished sanding your project to the final grit, use an air compresser to blow off any dust. This will get the dust off between the fretwork, as well as the surface. This will provide a clean surface for the finish to adhere to. Don’t have an air compressor? Go to your local office supply store and pick up a few bottles of canned air. Canned air is used to blow dust off computer keyboards and cases. It works great too!

    Too Much Glue - Sometimes we get carried away with the spray adhesive and leave a nasty residue behind when we remove our pattern. Don’t throw away your project just yet. Use some mineral spirits to loosen up the adhesive and wipe as much as you can away with a paper towel. Do this several times until it looks clean. Then resand the surface. You should be as good as new.

    CD Glitter - I thought I would e-mail an idea I have came up, I’ve used it a lot and it works. I have taken old CD’s that I’ve collected threw the years and sanded the silver part off. Then when I had a Christmas Ornament coated with Poly . I took the silver dust and sprinkled it on the wet Poly to make it stick. It looks like glitter and looks great too. Believe or not, it added that great touch that only a Christmas Ornament would have. ---Marshall Border

    Organized Patterns - I hate it when I lose the pattern inserts from my favorite scroll saw magazines. Here’s a simple solution that will keep you organized. Buy a 3 ring binder and some sheet protectors. Sheet protectors are clear sleeves used to protect documents. They have an opening in the top to allow you to insert your paper. These can be found at any office supply store. So next time you get your latest issue of your favorite scroll saw magazine, remove the pattern insert and safely stow them away in your 3 ring binder. Your magazine is now easier to read without the bulky insert, and your patterns are now organized and easy to find.

    A Tight Fit - Here is a handy intarsia tip. If two ajoining pieces don’t fit tight, take both pieces to scroll saw. Hold the pieces tight together and saw between them carefully. This will even up any gaps for a nice tight fit. ---Hosie

    • Nov 04, 2012 06:49 PM
    • by Travis

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