Do you keep breaking scroll saw blades? Why are you breaking so many? Is it operator error, or is there a way to use your saw without constantly breaking the scroll saw blade?
There are ways that you can extend the life of your scroll saw blades.
So, just how do you keep scroll saw blades from breaking? The first thing you should check is the tension, as using too much tension is a leading cause for scroll saw blades breaking. You will also want to make sure you’re not applying too much pressure when you are sawing. Don’t overlook the quality of your blade. Make sure your blade is capable of performing, and also ensure you are using the right blade for the job at hand.
Breaking scroll saw blades not only can cost you a lot of money but more importantly, it takes you away from completing the job at hand.
That’s why you want to do everything you can do make sure you don’t break very many scroll saw blades.
Unfortunately, no matter what you do, scroll saw blades do have a short life, and you will need to replace them eventually.
Read on for tips on how to keep your scroll saw blades from breaking no matter what wood you are working with!
Steps to Take to Keep your Scroll Saw Blade from Breaking
There are a few things you will want to look when trying to determine why your scroll saw blades are breaking, and how you can prevent it from happening.
While scroll saw blades will all end up breaking eventually, we should take a look at what you can do to extend the life of your blades as long as possible.
Step 1: Check the Tension
Using too much tension or too little tension while you are sawing is a leading cause of scroll saw blades breaking.
Whether you are applying too much tension or too little tension, using improper tension is a surefire way to break your scroll saw blades.
Not only does improper tension affect the scroll saw blades, but having the tension wrong can also cut the wood incorrectly and affect the outcome of your project.
In order to make sure that your scroll saw blades do not break, and to make sure you are cutting the wood in the manner it needs to be cut, let’s look at how to check the tension on your scroll saw blades.
Take a minute to adjust the tension on your scroll saw. Here are some steps on how you can check the tension and make sure it is as efficient as possible:
- Read the owner manual for your saw. What does it say? We will give you some pointers on adjusting the tension, but it’s always advisable to check in the owner’s manual of your saw to see if your specific manufacturer has any pointers.
- Go ahead and tighten the tension rod. This will apply tension to your scroll saw blade, and you might break a blade right now if the tension is wrong. That’s ok. That’s a sign that your tension is what is causing the blades to break.
- Your saw might have a lever, or it might have a screw. Different saws have different ways to adjust the tension rod. Take a look at your exact model so that you know whether to adjust a lever or a screw. In either case, adjust what’s applicable.
- Feel the tension. At this point, you might be ok. You’ve adjusted the tension rod, and now you need to test it. What does it feel like? Take note of how much resistance you feel, too much or too little can give you an idea if you’ve adjusted the tension correctly.
The Fix: How do you know if the tension is the problem?
This is where your ears come in handy. If you usually have earplugs in or music on while you are sawing, you will want to remove those now, as you need to listen to the sounds your machine is making in order to know if the tension is the problem.
Apply some light pressure. By this, I mean, start your blade and just use it lightly. You might immediately be able to tell if the tension is off.
If the machine is making any kind of high-pitched noise, your tension is likely too high and should be lowered.
On the other hand, if you hear a low-pitched noise, you need to raise your tension.
Check out this video for more tips on adjusting the tension on your scroll saw: Scroll Saw Blade Tension and Pre-Stretching:
This video elaborates on the stretching of new blades, and how sometimes the age of your blade can affect the amount of tension that is needed.
Step 2: Assess How Much Pressure You’re Putting on the Blade
Above, I had said to apply light pressure. You do not want to put too much pressure on the saw blade, or that could be what is causing your scroll saw blades to break.
With light pressure, is your scroll saw blade vibrating and bucking or is it moving smoothly?
The Fix: How much pressure should I use?
I’m glad you asked. As the tension, it’s a bit of a balancing act. Too much, and you will break the blade.
Too little and your wood won’t cut correctly. The good news is, if the tension on your saw is correct, you should be able to compensate if you use too much pressure.
In other words, too much pressure by itself shouldn’t break the saw blade.
Step 3: Make Sure You Have a High-Quality Blade
It could be that your blades were designed poorly. It’s possible you bought the cheapest blades, and the old saying “you get what you pay for” comes into play.
More expensive blades most likely had higher manufacturing requirements.
In other words, paying for a better blade means you are paying for more quality assurance checks and a higher quality of the material itself.
With a higher quality blade, your blade is less likely to break as long as you are using it correctly.
The Fix: Are you using the right size blade?
This is related to blade quality. You could have a perfect blade, but not for your project.
If you are using the wrong sized blade, that’s just like using a poor quality blade.
If you are cutting through a thick wood, make sure you are using a scroll saw blade designed to cut through thick wood – size matters.
Step 4: Check for Rust and Corrosion
Rust and corrosion will ruin just about anything, including saw blades.
How old is your saw? How old are the blades? If they are old, that’s ok. But, have they been maintained?
Using any tool that is rusted and corroded usually isn’t going to end well. Right off the bat, a defective tool is going to be more likely to break.
While you are investigating the blade, also look at the tools around the blade.
The blade holder – what condition is that in? If the clamp is rusted away, that will affect the performance of the blade.
If your blades are already and rusted and corroded, it might be too late to save them.
But, for the future, you can apply WD-40 to any new blade, and it will help extend the life of the blade.
Step 5: Watch Your Scroll Saw Speed
If your machine is going too fast and you can’t get control of it, this is going to lead your scroll saw blades to breaking.
Find a way to slow things down. You always want to feel in control, like you are moving at a good pressure and a good speed for both you and your tools.
If you saw too fast, the wood might get pushed into the blade too quickly.
When this happens, it probably is happening so fast that the sawdust can’t even be removed, which is going to cause a clog, which will cause your blade to break.
Step 6: “Hogging the Wood”
“Hogging the wood” is a leading cause of scroll blades breaking. What does that mean?
This is kind of a combination of all of the above factors. You’re most likely going too fast, applying too much pressure, and the tension might be off. If you’re going too fast, the blade is going to bend and eventually break.
You might be using the wrong sized blade, which again goes back to blade quality.
If you hog the wood and go too fast if you’re using a large blade, it might only bow, but might not break. In other words, you can recover.
But, if you’re blade is too small when you hog the wood, it’s going to snap and break.
The easiest way to make sure you’re not hogging the wood is to make sure you take your time, go the right speed, with the right pressure, with the right sized blade.
How Long Does a Scroll Saw Blade Last?
You’ve done everything right. Tension, check. Pressure, check. Speed, check. Quality, check. Everything is perfect, but parts just break and wear out, right?
No matter how well you treat your blades, you will still need to replace them from time to time.
Do not feel bad if you need to replace your blades regularly. You should be able to eventually predict exactly when you need to replace your blades based on how often you are using them and what type of wood you are cutting.
If all else is perfect, you can expect your blade to last between 10-50 minutes of using it consecutively.
That’s it. So, budget for some more saw blades. They get dull and wear out, and will not cut wood effectively after a period of time.
Recommended Reading: How tight scroll saw blades should be, judging the correct tension!
How to Choose a Scroll Saw Blade to Prevent Breaking
When you’re choosing what scroll saw blades to purchase, there are two main things to consider.
You want to look at the quality of the blade, and also what type of wood you are going to be cutting.
Quality of the Scroll Saw Blade
If you buy the cheapest blades on the market, they are going to break quicker than if you buy a more expensive blade that is made of higher quality material.
Here are some different options of scroll saw blades you can buy based on price and quality:
Scroll Saw Blades (Pack of 36)
Tap to view on Amazon
This is a 36 pack of a basic, cheap scroll saw blade. It’s designed to saw softwood and plastic and is a good starter pack available at a low price.
If you’re just getting started, and you’re only sawing on a softer wood, this is a good starter pack.
Keep these scroll saw blades on hand, and you’ll have replacements ready for when a blade does break.
Flying Dutchman Scroll Saw Blade Variety Pack
This pack of scroll saw blades is a bit pricier, but the blades are of higher quality.
These blades are made with high-quality hardened steel and are designed to break less often than some lower quality options.
Just remember to consider finding a balance when you are shopping.
Look for blades that are decent quality at a reasonable price, and your scroll saw blades should work efficiently and not break often.
Thickness and Type of the Wood
When you’re buying your scroll saw blades, keep in mind what type of wood you will be cutting.
A piece of thin plywood is going to require a different blade than a hard, thick piece of oak.
Softwoods like cedar
Softer woods are going to be easier on your scroll saw blades than hardwoods.
A wood like cedar should be fairly easy to saw through.
Some experts recommend using softwoods to practice on, as they are the easiest to learn on, and the least likely to be responsible for breaking your scroll saw blades.
For sawing a softwood, you can use a scroll saw blade like this one:
Blade designed for cutting chipboard, plywood, and soft board.
This is a pack of 50 blades that are specifically made for sawing softer woods.
Do not use these on hardwoods, as they are almost surely going to break quickly.
You need to be careful with harder woods as if you do not have the right size blade, you are immediately exposing yourself to the risk of breaking your scroll saw blades.
However, woods like ash and maple can be favorable to work with; while they require some advanced skill, they are considered easier to shape into a pattern.
If you are going to be sawing through thick, heavy wood, consider buying a sturdier scroll saw blade like this one:
Scroll Saw Blades for Thick Wood. Having a saw blade that is specifically designed for harder wood means your scroll saw blades will be less likely to break when cutting on woods like ash and maple.
Do not overlook the thickness and texture of the wood when you are selecting a scroll saw blade.
It could be that you breaking the scroll saw blades because you are not using one designed for a harder wood.
When shopping for scroll blades, the quality of the blade and the type of wood you will be working with are the two most important factors to consider.
Why it’s Important to Prevent your Scroll Saw Blades from Breaking
There’s a lot of reasons why you want to avoid or minimize the number of times your scroll saw blades break.
Before you spend your entire savings account or give up on scroll sawing all together, let’s take a look at why it’s so discouraging to break scroll saw blades.
It can get expensive
While an actual replacement blade isn’t that expensive, if you have to buy them over and over and over again, the cost will start to add up.
You might start second-guessing your abilities and feeling like you aren’t capable of getting the job done.
It forces you to take breaks when maybe you didn’t want to take a break. If you were in a good rhythm, now you’ve got to stop and install a new blade.
That is if you have a blade in stock and don’t have to go out to the store and buy a replacement.
It can be dangerous
A broken scroll saw blade can be dangerous for many reasons.
If it breaks while you are the middle of using it, you risk cutting your hand on the blade itself, or even on a piece of jagged wood if the broken blade caused you to make an uneven cut.
You also have to worry about disposing of a broken blade, which, if not handled carefully, could also lead to hand wounds.
I have confidence after reading this article you will be well on your way to breaking way less scroll saw blades than you do today!
If you do break a blade or two, don’t get discouraged.
Can a Faulty Scroll Saw Blade Cause Your Wood to Burn?
Yes and no. You do need to be mindful of burning wood anytime you are using a scroll saw.
It probably will not be the fault specifically of your scroll saw blade, but burning is a risk, especially given all that can go wrong with scroll saws.
While burning is a natural effect from scroll sawing, there are some things you can do to prevent it from happening.
- Over the top of the pattern that you are sawing, you could put clear packaging tape. The tape is actually going to serve as a lubricant for the blade, which should keep the wood from burning.
- Cherry wood is more prone to burning than other woods are, so be extra careful if you’re scroll sawing with this wood. If you’re sawing with cherry wood, scroll slowly and softly. High speeds increase the amount of friction, which increases the likelihood the wood will burn.
Take your time and make sure you are sawing slowly and carefully. Some of the softer woods like cherry are prone to burning.
Not only for the sake of your scroll saw blades, but you also want to be careful and not risk a safety or fire hazard by sawing too quickly or fiercely.
Some Tips to Improve your Scroll Saw Technique and Extend the Life of your Scroll Saw Blades
There are a few other tips and tricks you can follow to use a scroll saw efficiently, and this will help you get additional life out of your scroll saw blades.
Check your lighting
Can you see it well? Don’t make things difficult on yourself by not being able to see what you’re doing, which will increase the risk of error.
This includes using a magnifying glass. If you need to, you can purchase a tool that will add a magnifying glass to your scroll saw, so you can see up close what you are doing.
Make sure you can see, hear, and smell effectively before you are sawing.
It might sound silly but listen to your senses. They will tell you if there is a problem with your equipment or with the wood you are working with.
You don’t want to ignore a safety hazard just because you had earplugs in, or you could not see right.
How are your blades?
Change your blades before they break. You know that blades are going to break after a lot of wear, so beat them to the punch.
Before you change them, check them. Are they rusted? Did you have a chance to maintain them and give them some WD-40 regularly?
When in doubt, replace your blades.
Cut on dry wood only
If for some reason you are trying to cut wet wood, don’t do it. Wait until the wood dries out.
If the wood is wet, your blades are only going to get damaged, bent, and break-even sooner.
Don’t push it
You’re on a roll. You’re pushing through your projects, and things are going great.
Do not overdo it. You need to let the saw do the work. If you push too hard, you might hurt yourself and your muscles, and you will definitely break some scroll saw blades.
Get to know your scroll saw, and your scroll saw blades. Learn the wood you are working with and your own personal strengths and weaknesses.
All of that will play into making you very productive at doing your job with the scroll saw.
Videos Showing How to Keep your Scroll Saw Blades from Breaking
YouTube can be a great resource, and watching YouTube videos can teach you exactly how other people fix the same problem you are dealing with, broken scroll saw blades.
If you’re a visual learner, watch these videos on how to prevent your scroll saw blades from breaking.
Why do Scroll Saw Blades Break? And how do I prevent it?
This video provides insight into why scroll saw blades break, and how you can prevent it from happening to you.
There are some measures you can take to prevent your blades from breaking.
Why Do My Scroll Saw Blades Break? Improper Tension
This video explains that improper tension is one of the leading causes of saw blades breaking.
Pay attention to your tension before you look to fix anything else, as it is the leading cause of scroll saw blades breaking.
Breaking Scroll Saw Blades Solved
This video explains why saw blades break, and how to prevent them from breaking.
This man realizes he is breaking blades very frequently, and he solved the problem and wants to help you prevent yourself from breaking blades often.
You can find almost anything you want on YouTube, and in this case, you can find videos explaining why scroll saw blades and how to prevent them from breaking.
If you’d like to watch more videos than what’s above, go ahead and do some more searching on YouTube!
Related Content: Scroll saw blade 101, everything you need to know!
Preventing your Scroll Saw Blades from Breaking
Replacing scroll saw blades can cost money and time, and take you away from the project at hand.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to decrease the amount of scroll saw blades that you break.
First, make sure you check the tension, as too much tension is a leading cause for scroll saw blades breaking. Also, check to be sure that you are applying the right amount of pressure as you are sawing.
Another important factor that is sometimes overlooked – make sure you’ve got the right tool for the job.
Check to make sure your saw blade is not defective, and also that you have the right size and the right tool for the job at hand.
Take your time, listen to your senses – sight, smell, and sound can all tell you that something is right or wrong.
Make sure all your tools are in the right condition for the job at hand, and you should see a reduction in the amount of scroll saw blades that you break.