Anyone use a scroll saw?


I bought a scroll saw (16" RBI Hawk) last year, and well…I don’t know if
it was the best investment for my studio.

My intention was to use it to cut out many pieces at once, but, I’m
finding it difficult cutting even one sheet of 16g. sterling sheet!
Breaking blades, loud noises…all very scary and hard to get used to. ugh

Any advice? (Or - anyone in Seattle wanna buy it? It kills me to see it
just sitting there doing nothing. yeesh.)

Marlo M.

Dear Marlo, There are different kinds of scroll saws and sawblades. Maybe
you bought a scroll saw for use on wood only. Maybe you can try a different
type of sawblades. Also be sure the sawblade is mounted in the correct
direction. Overhere we only use a scroll saw to cut in wax or wood.
Greetings from sunny Belgium Karel

marlo - i have been preaching the virtues of my ryobi 9" bandsaw for ages &
everyone is sick of hearing i, but it beats being a tired jeweler’s saw
’purist’ (definition of purist: someone who can’t operate machinery). what
about trying to trade your scroll saw for a small bandsaw or at least part
payment? try the middle & high schools in your area. if all else fails on a
good priced bandsaw, try the pawn shops. ive

Hi, I bought what I was told was a nice quality variable speed scroll saw
last year. I wanted to use it to cut single sheets of 18 ga. copper. I have
never been able to get it to work for this purpose. I searched out the
"proper" blades and continue to break them so frequently it is not worth
it. I lubricate the blade adjust the tension different ways and still the
same results, snap! I am still sawing large shapes by hand. I would love
some advice too.

Northern Illinois

I would think blade lubrication would be critical for a scroll saw
working heavy ga. silver - what are you using? Is your blade speed
adjustable? Is your stroke length adjustable? Too many of the less
expensive scroll saws are designed to work on wood rather than on metal.
What kind/size blade are you working with? How many TPI ? And holding the
metal being cut firmly against the saw table is another major challenge -
a lot of the noise you’re getting probably comes from your workpiece
vibrating - see if you can find a friendly local sheet metal shop or
machine shop and ask how they deal with these problems. Good Luck

I am new at this, I am not sure how to converse back and forth to the
whole group, but to respond to your scroll saw ? I bought a very expensive,
smooth, quite, variable speed jig saew last year to do the same job as
you, but primarily in 14ga, I have used all kinds of blades, and just this
morning I find myself at my work bench cutting by hand. My daughter has
good success though. She uses cutting oil to help. I not only break blades
but have trouble staying on the line. I have tried differant blades and
differant speeds. I know it can be done as my daughter seems to not have
the trouble. This is not much help but to know there are other folks
trying the same thing. Ever thought about looking for someone with a cnc
lathe ( computer assit) to cut out from patterns?

    I bought a scroll saw (16" RBI Hawk) last year, I'm finding it
difficult cutting even one sheet of 16g. sterling sheet! Breaking blades,
loud noises... 

G’day; yeah - me again! I confess to having two powered scroll saws; One
I made about 15 years ago using bits of wood and junk plus an old sewing
machine machine motor and foot control - even has wooden pulleys. But it
still works well, though it looks incredibly crude and rough. I use it
often for cutting (piercing) sterling from 0.5mm up to 3mm thick, and even
annealed steel the same thickness. I use blades from 3/0 down to 8/0,
depending on what I want to do, remembering that at least two (preferably
three) teeth must be in contact with the work at any time. The other saw
is a bought one from the local DIY store. It’s OK, and I use it often, but
I wish it was usable with a foot speed control (motor is the wrong sort) I
use that mainly for wood (kindergarten toys, etc)- up to 25mm thick, but
more usual, about 12mm. It only takes the coarse (coping saw) blades which
have a tiny rod at right angles at each end. Wish it would take the finer
blades too (better for jigsaw puzzles) but it works. Never got around to
making adapters for jeweller’s blades. Thing is with any kind of saw you
like to mention, TAKE IT EASY! the more you push and shove, the worse is
the cut, and with jeweller’s frames and scroll saws the more certain it is
to break blades, and the accuracy is all to blazes too. Ok I do use bees
wax or a bit of handy candle as lubricant, but I still break blades - lots.
But, honestly; they are cheap enough. I did take a great pride once in
piercing a 5cm dolphin in 3mm steel breaking only three blades! So don’t
let it worry you - and don’t let a gentle feed get to a damn shove! Oh -
and finally, if you want to do say 4 or five pieces at once, stick the
little pieces of sheet metal together with double sided cellotape, and
tighten it in a bench vice to make sure they are all in contact. A
lubricant is a great help here. The tape washes off quickly with light
petrol. Cheers,

        /\      John Burgess
       / /
      / /    
     / /__|\
    (_______)   It's springtime in Mapua Nelson NZ

Hi Karen Call the Stained Glass People they are in the Yellow Pages, they
use scroll saws to cut the glass in the fancy shapes, I believe it is some
sort of Diamond coated industrial blade they use, anyway glass is harder
than copper so maybe this will work for you. Susan

I use a type of scroll saw to cut sterling. I mostly work in 20 - 22 ga.
and the saw does a good job and leaves the edges really smooth. The brand
is CutiPi, cost around $400, has a 6" square table, uses jewelers saw
blades, infinately variable speed and an oil reservoir with tube which
touches the blade and keeps it lubricated. It took a bit of practice
before I could cut faster than I do with the regular saw frame, but I do
save more time because I hardly ever need to file the edges. I can do
fairly intricate curves and piercing and the blades are easy to insert.
There is more blade breakage than with the hand held frame.

Donna in WY

I purchased a scroll saw a couple of years ago to saw steel for pressure
cutting dies and forming dies. A couple of things I found out about scroll
saws. I always use a #6 saw blade. It seems the heavy blades last a longer
for what I am doing. The most important thing is to keep the work piece
from rising off the table as you cut. A firm pressure down as you push the
material into the blad, and do not push too hard on the material let the
blade cut as you go. Hope this helps. Frank

I bought one for the same purpose- The one I have has a variable speed
motor. You want to slow the saw down. The pieces have to be fastened tight
together and it helps to have a piece of cardboard "cereal box on both
sides. I’m not good at this. The saws have only about 1 inch stroke and
blades break. But I wasn’t using the best blades. I wasn’t real happy
either but I think it was mostly my technique. The saw has to slow down for
metal and you need very good fine blades appropriate for the metal
thickness. Jesse

I use a little bandsaw too. The little 8" Delta for roughing out primarily
copper pieces for enameling which I true up with a die filer or hand file.
The blades are too coarse with a set for wood and the saw runs too fast for
fine detail, but it is quick. I haven’t tried to find finer blades or a
place to get them made up yet. The motor is the wrong type to slow down
simply although I have thought about a way to change it out for a vary
speed system. These saws are small and handy- I use a 14" one for big
work. Jesse

For cutting large pieces of copper sheet (to use as starting material for
raised bowls, platters, et cetera) I have a Makita jig saw. This saw has
variable speed and has an adjustment which changes the blade angle on the
backstroke the blade from full to partial engagement to complete
disengagement. I modified the sole, screwing on a 3/16 thick walnut
soleplate so that it won’t scratch the metal with its steel sole. (Lignum
Vitae is the best wood for such a sole plate, hickory or rock maple the
second best, but these were not available. Oak isn’t as good as walnut.)

Never used a jig saw on metal, but I suspect that it would chatter a whole
lot, leading me to wonder about the feasability of gluing thin wood or
cardboard to the metal for stability.

I’m using an RBI Hawk 16" scroll saw. From what I’ve heard and researched,
they seem to be one of the most expensive models out there, but, also more
stable and vibration-free than hardware store brands. If I worked with
wood, I’d be a happy camper.

The blade speed is adjustable from 1 to 10. I’ve been running it at 9 or
10, feeding the metal in as slowly as I can. Seems I can only cut about 6"
before the blade snaps in the middle. Lubricating with bur life helps a
little. The BANG of the arm snapping up when the blade breaks is enough to
make me want to quit. I guess I’m too jumpy…haha!

I’ve been using jewelers saw blades (size 2 to 4 on 16g.plain end) and
this machine is equpped to handle them. I bought it at a hobby convention,
and they assured me that cutting metal would be “easy”…yeah, right.

From what I’ve read so far from everyone, I’m starting to think that a
scrollsaw is not the right tool for this job. Maybe I should stick with my
hand saw or have blanks stamped out instead?

Thanks for your help and comments… Marlo M.

Marlo, all the replies that I have read have been very good. Don’t jump
into more trouble until you really make an effort to come to grips with the
scroll saw. First get beeswax or something similiar to lube your saw blade
while you cut. Then go to a good supply house and get a toothed blade with
a lot of teeth. The more teeth the less chatter (working with wood you want
about two teeth or more on the wood for good cutting, same would apply to
metal). That’s why Jewelers saw blades are so fine. Then practice a lot,
ask questions of people who do a lot of piercing and practice more! If, and
only if, you are doing no piercing should you go to a band saw (it’s hard
to put a band saw blade into a small hole and cut a design, like you would
with a Scroll saw). It does work well for straight cuts (no piercing cuts)
because the teeth are moving down all the time and holding the piece being
cut to the table. If you don’t mind soldering up the entrancing cut to your
design all the time, maybe a band saw might work well! Just my thoughts,
hope that it helps. LOL

  Breaking blades, loud noises...all very scary and hard to get used to.

Many responses have mentioned the vibration and the need to hold the
workpiece down firmly. I have an old Delta industrial scroll saw with a
hold-down foot. A simple adjustment drops the foot to contact the work,
then tightens it. this minimizes vibration as long as the work is uniform
thickness. It’s for sale, by the way . I’ve never used it for metal, so
can’t actually recommend it.


Ive, what is the smallest blade that you can find for your small band saw?
An old student of mine is experimenting with putting jeweler’s saw jaws on
an old jig saw so that it can hold jeweler’s say blades ( I know they make
a saw for this, but is too expensive for most my students). He likes to do
some piercing and sawing projects, but I teach all my students that when
they have a jeweler’s saw in their hand, they are losing money! They can
always find something else to do that will make them more money. I do not
use it at all for regular construction work, only for artistic pierce and
saw projects. Our first attempt with the jig saw was with one of the spiral
blades. It worked great until the modified jaws came apart and scared us to
death. It was a good thing I was wearing eye sheilds! Oh, nothing flew off
the saw, but he jumped and threw his Pepsi all over me!

Has any one successfully adapted a jig saw (which they sometimes call a
sabre saw now) to use jeweler’s saw blades?

Don Norris
PO Box 2433 Estes Park, CO 80517

Never used a jig saw on metal, but I suspect that it would chatter a whole
lot, leading me to wonder about the feasability of gluing thin wood or
cardboard to the metal for stability.

G’day; I use a Makita JIG SAW (don’t confuse it with a SCROLL SAW!) the
blades are far thicker) I have used it (among a whole swag of other
things) for cutting out a circular 4 foot diameter table top 7/8" thick in
hard wood, made from glue-butted planks. Fast with few problems. I have
also used it for piercing similar wood with fancy designs. (not TOO fancy

But I also use the same jigsaw on 1cm thick steel and aluminium rod and
upon sheet 22 gauge galvanised steel and sheet 18 gauge aluminium. But I
use the special fine toothed blades sold for cutting metal. I set the jig
speed fairly low, You have to experiment here) and constantly spray CRC556
or WD40 in front of the blade, which keeps the blade cool and completely
stops aluminium and copper clogging the teeth. One has to hold the thin
metal down hard, but it isn’t at all difficult. Certainly beats using
shears which badly distort it out of flat. I have used that same saw to cut
the length of an 8 foot, 22 gauge aluminium sheet, with a straight plank
clamped on it to guide the saw. Makes a hell of a row though, unless you
wear ear muffs! What more can I say? Know your tools and their accessories
and use them in new situations carefully.

Incidentally, the bloke who built my old house 35 years ago used an
ordinary 8" hand held circular saw to cut corrugated galvanised iron
worked a treat, but he wore heavy gloves, a full face mask, ear muffs;
'cos, gor blimey; guv, it didn’t arf make a damn row, and fling the hot,
sharp swarf around. Cheers now,

        /\      John Burgess
       / /
      / /    
     / /__|\
    (_______)   It's springtime in Mapua Nelson NZ
Never used a jig saw on metal, but I suspect that it would chatter a
whole lot, leading me to wonder about the feasability of gluing thin wood
or cardboard to the metal for stability. 

Error: That should have read never used a SCROLL saw on metal. I have used
the jug saw for over 4 years. Obviously it will not work for fine cutting
or sharp turns like a scroll saw, but it really works on the size I need
for my bowls. With the jug saw chatter is little problem using the right
blade angle setting.

Hi Gang, FWIW,

Taylor MFG,
PO BOX 1826
Rialto CA 92377
phone 909-820-4860,

makes a small saw (CutiPi) for cutting thin metal & lapidary materials. It
can use jewelers saw blades or the diamond blades for lapidary work. It has
a blade lubricator built in for metal. It as a tilt table for cutting at an
angle. I don’t have one, but have seen it demo’d at the Tucson show. It
looks like a nice tool. I think it was priced around $300.00.

I’m not connected with Taylor Mfg, just lust after one of their saws.