Advice for a beginner

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Forum topic by Curly5759 posted 01-15-2019 04:13 AM 807 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 595 days

01-15-2019 04:13 AM

Hi all, my first post on LJ. I am a beginner in all areas of woodworking, but right now I am trying to teach myself how to use my scrollsaw. I have small Ryobi that uses 5 inch pinned blades. I am having trouble making turns, anything from simple turns to 90*. I have been watching You-tube videos and have learned a few things. but I’m not getting the turning part. In the videos I watch, it seems the operator is effortlessly rotating the wood to make the turn.

What is happening is I can see the blade twist as I (slowly) rotate the wood. I find myself backing the blade up in the kerf and going forward and back several times trying to enlarge the kerf so I can make the turn. About half the time the blade snaps.

Tonight I was using an Olson 42401 blade on both 1/4 inch and 3/4 pine. I’ve tried varying the speed and the tension. Any advice?

8 replies so far

View Aj2's profile


3184 posts in 2605 days

#1 posted 01-15-2019 04:54 AM

I looked up that blade and it says it for making extremely thin cuts in plastic or wood 1/32 inch thick up to 1/2inch thick. Have you looked at Olsen’s blade chart.
I would try another blade find what works for you. Forget YouTube most of the time it pure garbage it will stir you wrong.

-- Aj

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8162 posts in 3006 days

#2 posted 01-15-2019 05:30 AM

I’m betting that it’s a combo of too small of a blade and lack of practice. According to the chart, that is the smallest/thinnest pinned skip tooth blade they make… for a beginner, a thicker general purpose blade is probably a better choice and more forgiving.

Like Aj says, try a different (larger) blade and practice, practice, practice. Also, depending on what machine you have, you should also be able to run pin-less (plain end) blades, which are more common these days and will give you a wider choice of sizes/styles. I’ve never really been able to get a good selection of blades from the local places, so mostly purchase on-line. I used to use Olsen almost exclusively until I tried the Flying Dutchman blades, which is now all I use and highly recommend.


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

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2055 posts in 2266 days

#3 posted 01-15-2019 05:32 AM

+aj & Mr Unix

-- Still trying to master kindling making

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240 posts in 2132 days

#4 posted 01-15-2019 12:38 PM

I would also recommend the following.
1. Sand the back of your project after drilling your entry holes.
2. Clean and wax your scroll saw table with Johnson’s paste wax.
3. Make sure your blades are not installed upside down. Sometimes it’s hard to see or feel the teeth on the tiny blades.
4. Until you get the hang of it, practice on 1/4 inch plywood. Preferably Baltic burch.

-- I'm like the farmer's duck. If it don't rain, I'll walk.

View Curly5759's profile


5 posts in 595 days

#5 posted 01-15-2019 08:57 PM

Thanks you for the replies. I do have the olsen chart, it recommends that blade for up to 3/4 inch, but it does seem awful thin for that thickness of wood.
I will try waxing the table, I should have thought of that since I just did that to the table saw and bandsaw. I do have some scrap 1/4 plywood, I’ll try practicing on that.

View wichman3's profile


98 posts in 1428 days

#6 posted 01-20-2019 05:48 PM

I would check your tension and the sharpness of the blade.
To check tension, pluck the blade like a guitar sting, you should get a nice sharp “ping” , not a dull “thunk”.
To check the sharpness, try another blade.
As for technique, cut to the turn point, pause for a second ( to allow the blade to “catch up”) then start your turn. With a blade as wide as yours (.07 !) the blade will have trouble turning. You may have to back the blade slightly in the kerf to allow room for the width of the blade (slightly is only enough that you can see that you backed up, not even the width of the blade).
One basic practice technique is to take a piece (about a 2×6 rectangle) of the material you want to cut, draw straight lines 1/2” apart 1” long on one side. Cut to the end of the line and rotate the piece 360 degrees and cut straight back out the original cut. Practice, practice, practice.
FYI I’m cuting a sliding dovetail in 1 1/2” Oak using a FD No 3 Corian blade (.031 x .013), it’s way past the parameters of what the blade is supposed to be able to do, but slowing the feed rate way down and allowing the blade to to the work makes it possible. :)

View Curly5759's profile


5 posts in 595 days

#7 posted 01-21-2019 12:16 AM

So, I’ve been practicing on 1/8 plywood and its going a bit better. I followed the advice above, new blade(s) wax the table top, tension,etc. I can now rotate the blade to make a 90* turn (haven’t practices curves yet) but it takes a looong time to make that turn. Haven’t broken any more blades.

I did try cutting some 3/4 pine using a 10 tooth blade (new). It didn’t really want to cut, acted like it was dull. I could see the blade push back as i tried feeding the wood in. I increased the tension, didn’t help. blade makes a ping sound when I pluck it, so the tension should be close. A 15 tooth blade cut better. Shouldn’t a 10 tooth work on 3/4 pine?

View Villagerich's profile


10 posts in 572 days

#8 posted 01-21-2019 01:13 AM

First, what are you trying to make? I found that if the blade is larger than the corner you are trying to cut, you may have to make a relief cut ( a few cuts into the corner) so the blade does not bind while making the cut.

-- Rich Meyer, Sparks, Nevada

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