Breaking blades on a vintage Craftsman 24" scroll saw

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Forum topic by Landomakesstuff posted 04-25-2017 09:53 PM 2401 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 908 days

04-25-2017 09:53 PM

I’ve been building up a shop over the last year or so, and I decided that it would be fun and useful to get a scroll saw. I found an old Craftsman 24” that looks a whole lot like brianinpa’s saw in his blog post

All of the info I’ve found so far is for setting up modern saws, which seem to operate/tension differently than this older one. From what I’ve read, most everyone seems to say that breaking blades tends to happen when they are under too much tension, or if the material is being fed too quickly. Unfortunately, every blade I’ve tried so far has broken almost immediately… No matter what I do the blades seem to snap about an inch above the bottom blade holder almost immediately after turning on the saw. I’ve tried setting the blades with as little tension as I could (where the blade will actually bow a bit at the top of the blade travel), and I’ve also tried medium and higher tensions – all with the same results. Often a small bit of blade will go flying as well, which has been pretty scary (even with safety measures in place.) On the plus side, my face shield has really been paying off lately.

I’ve heard that these older scroll saws weren’t meant to handle delicate blades, and that’s primarily what I have on hand. I’ve been trying to use Olson blades (sizes #2/0 through #4.) Am I going to have to use something larger/stronger?

Is there something else I could be doing wrong? Anyone have any specific insight into tuning up this style of saw? I would really appreciate any help you can offer on this.

5 replies so far

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Bill White

5210 posts in 4380 days

#1 posted 04-25-2017 10:34 PM

Pics of your saw would help us diagnose.

-- [email protected]

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7405 posts in 2618 days

#2 posted 04-25-2017 11:11 PM

I’m guessing that what you have is either a 103.0403 or 103.0404 which was built back in the 40’s and made by King Seeley… The parts list/operating guide can be found here if you don’t already have it:

103.0403/0404 Craftsman 24 inch Jig Saw-Operating Instructions & Parts List


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

View dhazelton's profile


2838 posts in 2716 days

#3 posted 04-25-2017 11:28 PM

I’d snoop around over at the vintage machinery (OWWM) site for an answer.

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223 posts in 3784 days

#4 posted 05-08-2017 01:20 PM

The design of your saw will not work with blades that small. The blade grips require the use of pinned blades and they are not available in those blade sizes. Also, the saw design uses a spring to pull the blade up and power to pull it down. If the blade binds in the cut and the spring cannot pull it up the blade will buckle and break. To use pinless blade in the sizes that you have selected, you need a more modern design of scroll saw that mechanically pulls the blade both up and down. It will also have different blade grips that allow you to use pinless blades.


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181 posts in 806 days

#5 posted 05-08-2017 02:27 PM

I rebuilt a 24” Craftsman model # 103.0404 for my daughter. It uses pinless blades. There’s no provision in the jaws for pins. Put a blade in and turn the machine by hand. Is the blade breaking on the up (most likely) or down stroke? If it’s bending and breaking on the up stroke try taking the upper plunger apart and cleaning and lubing it. It’s probably binding inside.
It’s been a few years since I did the rebuild on my daughter’s machine. IIRC I had to put a piece of wood (anything stiff the right size will work) where the blade goes and run it in a bit before the upper plunger would travel freely after I rebuilt it. There’s a leather washer that pushes air down to blow the sawdust away inside. The new one I made had to work in a bit before it would move freely.

-- Rodney, Centralia, WA, USA

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