Cutting with a Scroll Saw – What Materials are Best?

Cutting with a Scroll Saw

Working with a scroll saw is a rewarding and engaging experience, thanks to the intricacy of your designs and the capability of the saw itself. However, if you want to get more out of your machine, then you want to find out what materials can be cut with a scroll saw.

Knowing the range of materials you can use will help you make the most out of your skills and techniques. Why settle for one kind of wood if you can broaden your horizons? Today we’re going to discuss all of the different options you have when working with this dynamic machine.

Let your creativity fly and discover new options that you may not have known existed. Let’s explore the world of scroll sawing and see what we find.

Cutting with a Scroll Saw - Step by Step Guide

One of the best things about the scroll saw is that it’s relatively easy to change blades. Not only that, but you can buy a variety of edges that can cut through all kinds of material. Overall, the most crucial element of cutting with a scroll saw is the blade you use, so it’s imperative that you know which ones to look for to get the job done. 

Step One: Pick Your Material

Thankfully, you shouldn’t have any issues when cutting any kind of stock with your scroll saw. These machines can make short work of almost any wood (soft or hard), plastic, and even metal.

Thus, your first step should be figuring out which kind of material you want to be cutting. Since scroll saws are made to create fine and intricate details, you want to be sure that your piece is ready for that kind of work.

The other thing to remember is that scroll saws are usually meant for thinner stock. If you’re looking to cut plywood into smaller pieces, then you won’t want to use this machine for that kind of cutting. For the most part, you can cut up to two inches thick, although that will vary based on the model you have. We suggest checking your owner’s manual to see if there are any additional restrictions.

Here are a few of the materials you can use with a scroll saw.

 Plywood or Veneers

This material can come in a variety of hard and soft woods, and the thicknesses can range from 1/16th of an inch all the way to two inches. However, unless there is a reason to go to the maximum width, we suggest stopping at 1.5 inches just to be safe. 

Plastic and Corian

Since plastic works differently than wood, and because the scroll saw is built for the latter material, you shouldn’t go too thick with it. We recommend using plastic stock between 1/16th and 3/4 inches thick. This will not only make it easier to cut, but it will ensure that your saw doesn’t get jammed in the process.

 Metals - Aluminum, Brass, Copper, Steel, and Coins

Overall, metal will put the most wear and tear on your scroll saw, so you want to keep it as thin as possible. Sheet metal will work best, as long as it’s not much thicker than 1/16 inches. Most coins fit within those parameters if you are going to use them for your project.

If you are going to cut brass or copper, we recommend 20-24 gauge material. If it’s tougher than that, you will damage your blade, and it could break while cutting.

Other Materials

In some cases, you can find blades that can cut through other materials, like leather, fabric, or even bone. When picking out your blades in the next step, make sure to double check if it’s right for that kind of material. If it doesn’t explicitly say that it can handle it, then you may wind up damaging your machine. 

Step Two: Choose Your Blade

When picking out the right blade for your project, there are several components to consider. It’s imperative that you pay close attention to each piece of the material so that you don’t break anything or put yourself in danger while cutting. Let’s go over the various elements to look for in a scroll saw blade. 

Teeth Per Inch (TPI)

As a general rule, you will want more teeth if you’re cutting softer materials, and fewer teeth for harder ones. The reason for this is that more teeth can get worn down when you’re cutting things like metal or hardwood. Fewer teeth can maintain their bite and keep the blade from getting dull too fast.

The other thing about the TPI is that it will affect how quickly the blade will cut. More teeth are faster overall.

Direction

Usually, scroll saw blades will have the teeth facing downward. This is to ensure that you get a smoother cut while working. If the blades faced up, then it would catch on the material, causing it to bounce. This movement could cause a rougher cut and even damage everything in its path.

In some cases, the blade may have teeth facing in both directions. These models will create a smoother cut overall, but they might not be good for some materials (i.e., metal or plastic). Usually, double-tooth blades will work faster because you can cut in both directions. 

Size and Width

When picking out a new blade, you can choose the length of the material and the thickness of the edge. As a rule, the longer it is, the slower it will cut, making it ideal for harder materials. The thicker it is, the less chance of it breaking, but it won’t be able to cut as intricately. Keep these considerations in mind when picking out the right version for your project.

Also, when in doubt, use a blade that’s one size bigger. This will work better than going a size smaller, and it will prevent damage to the machine.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our blog! When it comes to cutting materials with a scroll saw, it’s imperative that you pay attention to all of the details. For example, cutting metal with a wood saw blade will only ruin both the material and the edge, forcing you to toss both of them into the trash. Be smart and always practice safe cutting!

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Garry Harris
 

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