wood breaking while fret work

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Forum topic by Johnalan Thomas posted 12-29-2015 08:09 PM 1112 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Johnalan Thomas

57 posts in 1494 days

12-29-2015 08:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip trick question walnut maple teak padauk purpleheart wenge oak lathe planer scroll saw bandsaw carving tool biscuit joiner chisel drill press miter saw scrollworking refurbishing finishing shaping turning joining sharpening traditional shaker rustic arts and crafts greene and greene

Hello i got my scroll saw a few months ago (a portercable 18in scroll saw) as a birthday present for myself, and ive gotton pretty good, but one thing that kills nearly all my projects, wood breaking while fret work, im tired of giving empty promises, hopes up, wasteing money and just over all frustrating of being almost done or barley started and the wood break, any tips would be apreciated, thinking of selling my scroll saw

-- John Darlington Sc

7 replies so far

View jimr1cos's profile


31 posts in 2486 days

#1 posted 12-29-2015 08:26 PM

John you did not mention what size projects or the type of wood you are having problems with. 2 thoughts:
1. be certain your blade is not too big or overly aggressive. Olsen has a good blade chart on their site.
2. Let the blade do the work, don’t force the wood. Your hands should be guiding and pivoting the wood.

Be patient, it takes some time to find out what techniques work best for you. Steve Good has a number of very useful videos on his and these are readily available on youtube.

View CharleyL's profile


223 posts in 3964 days

#2 posted 12-30-2015 02:47 PM


On small delicate work I always cut the middle areas first and work out from there. The uncut areas around the outside will help hold it all together. It’s best not to remove the wood outside your pattern until the very last. Smaller blades will allow you to turn tighter corners. This too may be causing your problems.

Please tell us more – We need to know what make and model scroll saw you are using, the blade manufacturer and blade size you are using, the kind of wood that you are cutting and it’s thickness. Many things can cause your problem. This information will help us provide a better answer.


View MrUnix's profile


7571 posts in 2799 days

#3 posted 12-30-2015 02:51 PM

What they said ^^^

Let the blade do the work, and for delicate/thin areas, always try to do the intricate inside areas first while there is still wood support to help hold things in place. Also, what’s up with all those irrelevant keywords you used for this post?


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View tomsteve's profile


986 posts in 1819 days

#4 posted 12-30-2015 04:25 PM

i think all of us made some high price kindling when learning.

View sawdust703's profile


270 posts in 2020 days

#5 posted 12-31-2015 02:34 AM

Slow your blade speed down, use smaller blades, & as mentioned, always start from the very most center & work out. You’ll find that if you pick & choose what you cut, you’ll have nothing but headaches. Also, you didn’t mention material thickness. A friendly word of advice. If you’re trying to do anything extremely intricate in anything below 3/8” material, throw it away & start over in 3/8” to 1/2”. You’ll find your turns will not break as easy, nor will your pattern crumble as you cut it. And stay away from plywood, if possible. Find a place to buy good wood from, & get it planed right there, if you don’t have a planer. There is a difference between wood & plywood.

-- Sawdust703

View PaulDoug's profile (online now)


2293 posts in 2304 days

#6 posted 01-01-2016 11:29 PM

I wouldn’t know how to respond, not knowing what kind of fret work you are doing. Course, I may not know how to respond even if I had that info.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3114 days

#7 posted 01-01-2016 11:50 PM

Literally every guitar I make, since I use as a standard solid wood pickguards – these pickguards have the pickup cutouts done completely by a scroll saw. The pickguards are 4MM thick, so this is tedious work. Since they are all custom sized to the guitar specified by the commission, I am literally taking a few hours of work onto the scroll saw to cut out for pickups, not to mention that usually the most expensive wood is usually what I use for the pickguards.

What do I do? I use lighter blades, with more TPI. I tend to use a medium speed, and go SLOW. It may be that you are just pushing the wood a bit too hard and pop…a piece breaks off. Been there…

Patience is the virtue of the scrollers community. It takes hours and hours to do one of the really intricate layouts. But the results can be stunning and mind blowing. Have patience, and please, don’t sell your saw!!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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