Online Scroll Saw Class - Incredibly Fun Adventures in Scroll Sawing #2: Basic Supplies and (EGADS!) Homework!

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 07-09-2011 03:47 AM 24970 reads 20 times favorited 46 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Introduction - Sign Up and Objective Part 2 of Online Scroll Saw Class - Incredibly Fun Adventures in Scroll Sawing series Part 3: Applying the Pattern for Scroll Sawing »

Well, it looks like we are going to have a great group here! I am really happy with the enthusiasm of everyone who wants to participate, and also the cheerleaders. You can all get back in your seats now and we can start to get down to business.

I wanted to get this post up here by the weekend so that if you need to get some supplies to start, you will have some time to do so. One thing that I really like about scroll sawing is that it takes very little ‘equipment’ to make things work. My partner recently got a lathe and it is amazing to both of us how many different parts and chucks and tools you ‘need’ to make things work.

With scroll sawing, all you really need is a saw and a drill press (and you can even get by if you have to using a regular drill or even a Dremel and some drill bits.) Aside from some sand paper and a few supplies – that is it! You can be well on your way to scroll sawing!

But for our purposes, I will give a general supply list of the most common items you will want to use. You probably have most of them in your shop already!

I am finding that the biggest discrepancy we are going to have is the many different kinds of saws people have. I started with a Delta saw in 1997 and then moved up to a DeWalt which I kept until a few months ago when I got my Excalibur. Even though I have been doing this for quite a long time, I haven’t had a lot of experience on many of the other saws and will need to go by what I have heard from others.

I am going to start out by saying that I encourage you to do some of your own research on the saw you own if you are having issues with it, as it will be impossible for me to help everybody with specifics on saws that I have never worked with. (This is actually homework in disguise – but I was hoping you wouldn’t notice because there is more to come!) You can always ask a general question on the class blogs too because chances are someone here may be able to help. If you want to know of a GREAT source for information on scroll saws of all type, you should go to Rick Hutchenson’s site at

Not only is Rick one of the smartest guys I know, but he has one of the most comprehensive sites that I have ever seen in regards to scroll saws. (Plus, he is a really nice and helpful guy!) On his site, there are tips on maintenance, trouble shooting and all kinds of information and videos about just about any saw you can imagine. Rick has a collection of literally hundreds of saws and has first-hand knowledge on many of them. He has lots of experience testing tools and consulting with big companies such as Delta and he will give you whatever information you may need to get your saw in tip tip shape. He also has some great patterns if you are in the shopping mood for lots of woodworking projects and videos.

So let’s get on with the supply list:

I use Olson Scroll saw blades almost exclusively. I know there are many brands on the market, but Olson blades are my favorite. I love the control you have with them and I have yet to find better blades anywhere. I know that there are some who swear by other blades, but this is my own personal preference and I stand by my decision. You need to work with what is good for you and what you are comfortable with, but these are my favorites.

Here is a link to a blade chart from Olson which will help you choose the right blade for whatever you are planning to cut. Remember – this is only a suggested guideline and you may choose something else depending on things like the type of wood you are cutting and the thickness and hardness. But it is a good starting point and reference:

Olson Blade Chart

You can download and print it out for future reference. You may want to even laminate it and keep it by your saw for a quick reference. (By the way – this is NOT homework! It is kind of a little treat to help you along! )

I like using reverse-tooth blades because when you use them there is less sanding involved. Reverse-tooth blades are blades where the lower inch or so of the blade has the teeth pointing up (traditionally, the teeth should point down on scroll saw blades!) this helps prevent tear out on the back side of your piece and as I said, minimizes the amount of sanding you need to do on the back side when you are finished. Some say that reverse tooth are a little harder to control – especially when you are beginning – but I find the difference is marginal if anything and the good still outweighs the bad on them. I would suggest you give them a try and I would bet that once you use them, you won’t want to go back.

Now I have a homework assignment for you. (Here it is – there is no hiding this one from you!)

My partner wrote an article called Scroll Saw Blade Selection that will help familiarize you with scroll saw blades. This is a great basic article for you to get a handle on the types of blades and their characteristics so that you make the best choice for your project.

As far as the blades you will be using for class, here is a list of the blades that I tend to use most of the time.

#2/0 Regular reverse-tooth #2 Regular reverse-tooth #3 Mach Speed reverse-tooth blades (Olson’s new blade) #5 Regular reverse-tooth #9 Regular reverse-tooth (I rarely use these, but for thicker projects they work nice)

I bet you were expecting a longer list than that! But honestly, those five pretty much cover most of the things that I cut – and they probably will handle most of what you do also.

The other supplies you will need is of course – wood. What kind of wood, you ask? I find that hard wood with even grain such as maple and birch do a fine job for delicate fretwork. Pine is OK to practice on, as it is cheap and usually plentiful, but the soft texture and sap usually doesn’t make the best choice for fretwork. If I were to tell you a certain type of wood that is a good overall wood for scrolling I would say maple. But any scraps you have around will do. Most of the projects we are going to do here will be smaller, so just about all the wood will be 1/2” or less in thickness. I will be more specific on suggestions prior to each project. For starters, let’s say that we will start with 1/2” maple. If you don’t have maple, don’t kill yourself trying to find some. Anything similar will do. I am going to have some practice sheets for you to learn some really basic things like casting on and off and basic maneuvering to start with and that should do fine.

You will also need some temporary spray adhesive to apply your pattern. Two popular kinds are made by Elmer’s and 3M.

Others will do as well, but these are two brands that I have used successfully for years. A word of caution though – Elmer’s (and probably the other companies too) makes many different strengths of spray adhesives ranging from temporary to extra-strength, which could probably be used to glue the tiles on the space shuttle successfully. So be sure to avoid those at all cost! I am going to show you two ways to apply your pattern, as well as suggest others that have been used successfully, but it is important that you use temporary spray adhesive to be able to get your pattern off the wood once finished cutting.

The only other things you will need are blue painter’s tape (try to get it at least 2” wide) and some clear packaging tape, also 2” wide that you should be able to find at the dollar store. You don’t need the thicker and expensive kind – the cheap kind will do fine.

Other than those few things, you will only need your normal shop supplies, such as various sized drill bits and a drill press or drill and sandpaper in various grits. Then we will be ready to go!

I will probably have the next lesson up sometime early next week. That will give you all time to gather your basic supplies and do your homework! I hope I covered everything you need to know to get started. I will be checking here frequently to answer any questions you may have. Thanks again for reading and I look forward to getting to know all of you better and showing you how fun and versatile the scroll saw can be.

Have a great weekend everyone! I look forward to getting started and moving ahead with this. Let the adventure begin!! :D

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

46 comments so far

View Mickey Cassiba's profile

Mickey Cassiba

312 posts in 4041 days

#1 posted 07-09-2011 04:14 AM

-- One of these hammers oughta fix that...

View MrsN's profile


988 posts in 4535 days

#2 posted 07-09-2011 04:25 AM

Menards stores carry Olsen scroll saw blades and some Ace Hardware stores do as well.

View Carolynne's profile


33 posts in 4314 days

#3 posted 07-09-2011 04:41 AM

Run stuff!!

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3851 days

#4 posted 07-09-2011 04:52 AM

I don’t use Olson blades. Since it is your class though, I won’t get into the whole blade brand thing. I promise I do have a point to all this though.
Olson does make some great blades. However, I found out the hard way that the quality of Olson blades is not the same from all sources when ordering online. As a matter of fact, I know for a fact that there are even some crooked ebay sellers repackagind cheaper brand blades as Olson blades (which they aren’t in some cases) and selling them as such.
So my question is, where do you get your blades from Sheila?
Many stores sell Olson blades in most major U.S. cities. However, no matter what brand you use, it is usually cheaper to buy your blades by the gross online. That’s 12 dozen blades for one price. I don’t know about all stores, but many where I live will really get you. They have packs of blades that aren’t even a dozen. It’s written in very small print near the bottom of the package, “contains six blades”.
The reason I find this important is because if anybody participating in this class really gets into scrolling as much as me, you’ll be wasting your time buying by the dozen locally anyway. Buying by the gross is the way to go. Keep them dry and you’ll use them all eventually. I usually buy at least two gross at a time.
I hope you don’t mind me jumping in here on some things Sheila.


View CherieLee's profile


60 posts in 3528 days

#5 posted 07-09-2011 04:58 AM

I have all my supplies on hand and waiting! :)

-- Cherie Lee

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3929 days

#6 posted 07-09-2011 12:23 PM

Thanks for the apple Mickey! And I appreciate the info, MrsN. Since I am not longer in the US, I will need help like that so people will be able to find things easier.

William – I do get most of my blades online, as I live in a rural area. Seyco is a good place to get them. If you have any questions about things, Ray is the go to guy and usually has (or can find) the answer.

i have also ordered them from The Wooden Teddy. They are family owned and have fast and friendly service.

You can get them directly from Olson too. You can contact them if you are in a different country and who in their area sells their blades. I recently had a customers who lived in Europe and I was able to help them find them.

I do find that the blades you use makes a difference.

:) Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View huntter2022's profile


275 posts in 3625 days

#7 posted 07-09-2011 02:18 PM

Like William , I don’t use Olson Blades , I would suggest you try different blades . As blade is a personal preference and choose the blade that works best for you and your saw. The top blades I have heard of are

Flying Dutchman , in Germany ,


Olson ,

PS Don’t forget the homework he did a great job on it.

-- David ; "BE SAFE BE HAPPY" Brockport , NY

View huntter2022's profile


275 posts in 3625 days

#8 posted 07-09-2011 02:20 PM

Mickey , You trying to butter the teacher up already LOL

-- David ; "BE SAFE BE HAPPY" Brockport , NY

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 4105 days

#9 posted 07-09-2011 02:50 PM

I got notice from Grizzly that my new saw has been shipped, and I’m as excited as a school boy waiting for Christmas break. I’m off to Lowe’s with my school supplies shopping list.

BTW Sheila, thank you for doing this. As a former junior college instructor, I know this takes a lot of time and preparation on your part. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

-- John from Hampstead

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3851 days

#10 posted 07-09-2011 06:09 PM

Thank you Sheila. Next time I run low on blades I’m going to try some from Olson directly or Seyco. I used nothing but Olson for a long time. Then after getting two bad batches in a row, I turned away from them and started using a different brand.
When I say bad batches, I mean real bad. They came from two different companies. I ordered a gross from company one. and they would break before I even got the tension all the way on. I mean they didn’t even get to the cutting part. They were broke before I even turned the saw on. Then I ordered from another company, another gross. These lasted for all of thrity seconds before breaking.
I don’t know if Olson was going through a bad batch process, or if it was the companies I ordered from. However, I just had to eat the cost of two gross of blades. If they had been from the two companies you mentioned, I’m willing to bet they would have exchanged them.
Anyway. Thanks for giving us that info. It’s funny that until now I’d never really thought about asking where you get your blades. I knew you used Olson, but always just assumed you got them from the same sources that I knew of.
I do agree with Hunter above though. Olson are great blades. If you get the chance though, I do suggest anyone trying different blades. I won’t mention on Sheila’s class what I use. Anyone who reads my blogs probably already knows what I use. Different blades (different brand, styles, and tooth counts) act completely different depending on the type, thickness, and amount of detail you’re cutting. There is no one blade fits all. It takes experimentation to find the perfect blades, FOR YOU.
Sheila. I’m following your class. I seem to nit pick certain things when discussing scroll work though. I strong point that I like to make about scrolling is that there is no right or wrong while doing it. What works for one person doesn’t work for a another. I think this is important. You can learn from one person, but have to chart your own course eventually with it.
I know you are a very fair person. There may be some things that I think will be worth bringing up, like this blade thing. If that bothers you or you think it takes away from the class, then please by all means, at any time, tell me to shut the hell up. I won’t get offended. I fully understand that this is your class.
I do not want to in any way bother your teaching process. I just have a tendancy to jump in when I think I have something to add.


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3929 days

#11 posted 07-09-2011 06:46 PM

No problem, William In the first part (I think) I said the same thing. There is no one right way to do this. I appreciate all the opinions and as you said, what works for one may or may not work for everyone. It is good to present as many options as we can to help people make their own decision.

I am just the conductor here. You all are the instruments. Together we will make a symphony of nice projects!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View turtlepan's profile


44 posts in 3525 days

#12 posted 07-10-2011 05:17 AM

I never was very good in class, but as I WANT to learn something this time, I should pay attention! Maybe this time I can get honours! lol

-- John in GP

View Pabreu's profile


90 posts in 3567 days

#13 posted 07-10-2011 11:34 AM

I from Portugal (Europe) and I buy my blades from Olson, the blades are very good just one thing that don’t like in the PGT are the thickness of the blade ends. I do lots of intricate fretwork and just can´t use that blades.

-- Pabreu, Portugal, Sintra,

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3929 days

#14 posted 07-10-2011 12:34 PM

I haven’t tried the PGT blades yet, Pabreu. I do think I understand what you mean. Are the regular blades smaller on the ends? I haven’t compared them.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Pabreu's profile


90 posts in 3567 days

#15 posted 07-10-2011 06:58 PM

Yes Sheila much more thinner, but they are a very good blades

-- Pabreu, Portugal, Sintra,

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