Blade Choices:                                                      

What blade do I use for cutting each type of wood? That is the big question that everyone is faced with when starting out on the saw. My choice has been to use the Olson blades, in the skip tooth design. I also go against the normal rule in that I use the smaller blades for each thing. The books tell you to use a 7 or 9 for cutting 3/4" pine. The blades are a lot tougher than we really give them credit for being. I prefer to use a 5 or 5R. The R after the number means that the blade has reverse teeth at the  This makes the bottom cut just like the top, smooth and no feathering on the bottom. The 5 is an aggressive cutting blade but you need to sand the back of the piece after cutting to remove the feathering of the wood. If you use the 5R there is no feathering on the back. But you are going to loose some cutting speed by going to the 5R blade, about 20% slower. The way I determine which to use is if the finished project is fairly simple I use the 5 and then run the pieces over the stationary belt sander or the Performax surface sander. For the time gained in cutting verses the sanding time you still come out ahead. If the pattern is intricate then I'll opt for the 5R as the feed rate for cutting is slower anyway because of the intricacy of the pattern, so not as much time is lost, and I don't worry about breaking small delicate parts off while sanding. When cutting 1/4" to 1/2" woods I use the 2 or 2R blades. And cutting the 1/8" woods the 2/0 is a good choice. I have been successful at cutting 3 layers of 1/8" Baltic Plywood with the 2/0 running a speed of 1700 and still getting good blade life. For cutting 1 1/2" pine I go to the 12R, and a speed of 2000 on the C-Arm, as this cuts fast but leaves the front and back finished. Just to show how tough these blades are I do cut 1 1/2" pine with a 2/0 blade at the Demos I do.

The speeds that I run are right on the top end of what the blades will take. I have found that the #12 will take 2000, the #5 will take 1800, and the 2 or 2/0 will take 1700. This is the speed that I run the saw at when cutting. Trying to get more than that out of them and they turn blue and break. Too much heat is generated and the blades seem to loose their temper and break. I have tried using the blade lube that is suppose to cool them , but it didn't seem to work for me. In my opinion the lubes are not doing what they claim they will, when cutting wood. The lubes do seem to help when cutting metal on the scrollsaw.

Hollow ground blades do have some uses like cutting cherry. But my general rule is that they are overpriced for what they do cutting most of the projects that you will make.

The spiral blades may have a use but I haven't found anything to do with them except cut firewood. Any cutting I have done with them leaves a rough cut that will need edge sanding to finish the project. That just defeats the whole reason for using the scroll saw instead of a bandsaw which also leaves the rough edge. Everyone wants to try them anyway, too bad they don't come in packs of 1, so ask a scrolling buddy if they have an extra you could try. There have been some improvements in spiral blade design over the past few years. I am told they are better than the old style spirals, though I have not tried them very much. I still use the straight blades for 99.9% of my scrolling.

And now Olson makes the CROWN TOOTH blade. They say it will cut either direction, which it will. But one way it cuts to the right like a normal blade and the other way it cuts to the left. A little hard to get used to. I found that it burned in most hardwoods and even chipped out top and bottom on some. The feed rate is real slow compared to the reverse tooth blades that are normally used. I find that I needed to go a few sizes larger to get the same performance as the standard reverse tooth blades and even then the reverse tooth did a better job. In conclusion I was not impressed with them and will not be using them for any of my cutting.

The newest blade we are all hearing about is the Flying Dutchman blade. They are claimed to be sharper and last longer than anything ever on the market. I agree they are a good blade, but they are a blade style like the Olson PGT blades. Therefore they are more expensive than the regular blades. I have tried them on my Q3 , which is a c-arm saw and was not too impressed with them. But then my feelings have always been that the PGT blades were an attempt to make the parallel arm saws cut more aggressive. With the c-arm you don't need to increase that. I plan to try them again on the P20 which is a parallel arm saw. This may change my ideas about the PGT type blades. There are also comments that the Flying Dutchman blades are the same blade as sold by Steelbar now. I do not know if that is true or not. In all many people are using the Flying  Dutchman blades and are happy with them. So try them and see what you think. Olson has now started marketing a blade called the  "Mach Series" that is suppose to be the same type of blade as the Flying Dutchman blade.


Re: New Olson PGT Blades - novice view Date:  Tue, 30 Jan 2001 08:19:40 -0500 From:  Ken Gerdes <Ken@GUARDIANMFG.COM>

How about a novice view of the 3 blades. In my opinion The Olson blades are thicker and the ones I was using were the Skip tooth Olson PGT blades, a #5, ...... it was very aggressive cutting but I didn't have the turn radius I could do with the standard Olson #5R blades. Didn't try rounding the back edges of the blade ..... assume it would improve the turning radius.

The Flying Dutchman blades are much thinner and really cut quickly ..... had trouble controlling the cut with these blades. They react so quickly to any pressure .... side to side or feed pressure, that I had a tough time controlling the cutting path. However, they do a great job in those small turn radius and inside 'V' cuts. The blades also tend to deflect easier ...... what I mean is during a cut run ..... now I spend most of my time using #2 pine ..... when cutting 1/2 oak this wasn't a problem so it is related to the softer woods ...... each time I cut thorough a darker grain area .... the blade would deflect ...... creating a wavy 'straight' cut ....... have used #3R, #5R, #7R PGT blades.

Well this is an opinion ...... I like all 3 blades but for different reasons. I prefer the Olson #5R blade for high-speed cutting of my 3/4 pine and 3-ply wood. I prefer the Dutchman for stack cutting 5-ply wood and hard woods. The Olson PGT does the best, for me, in outline cutting where the curves are longer and smooth. Aggressive and stays online.

OK ..... enough of my rambling, Ken G


Front to back blade movement

Let's get the right info posted.  All scrollsaw, except the Elcipse
have front to back movement and I have measured with a dial indicator
this movement right at the point where the blade enter the table.

Hegner is 0.006"
Delta Q3 is 0.024"
RBI and Excalibur is 0.026"
DeWalt is 0.030"
RBI in the aggressive setting is 0.047
Delta P20  Yet to be tested.

Warren Kafitz