Just Learning:                                                    

Now you have the saw home and it's sitting in the shop ready to go. What do I do first. This is where every new scroller gets confused.

The first thing of course is to read the manual. But none of us do that to well, so at least glance through it so you have somewhat of an idea of how the saw works and where the main parts of the saw are, and how they work.

Next you need to install a blade into the saw. Most saws have some sample blades that come with them. These will get you started anyway. Pick one of the medium sized blades of the assortment you have. The easiest wood to learn on is pine, it's cheap and easy to find. So pick up the wood and get ready to start. First off , most scrollers remove the hold down, but for now set the wood on the table and adjust the hold down so that it applies a little pressure to the wood. This will keep the blade from binding in the wood and pulling it from your grip. A little scary and intimidating for the beginning scroller to have the wood slapping on the table.

Set the speed of the saw in the slower range. It is best to start learning at the slower speed until you get familiar with how the saw works and handles. As your ability increases so will the blade speed. Starting out the slower speed, about 700, to allow you to learn the techniques of blade control. Trying to cut at slow speeds seems too increase the chances of the blade sticking in the wood. But for now it is a good speed to start. You will find that corners and general cutting become smoother and easier as the blade speed increases. I do have a chart that gives information of what each blade is used for and the top speed the blades can be run. But that will come as gain the experience.

Then turn the saw on and feed the wood into the blade. Right away you will notice that the blade wants to cut to the right. This is normal and due to the burr left on the right side of the blade in the manufacturing process. Pick an imaginary point about 3" to 4" to the left of the back center of the saw. Now move over to the right of the saw until your body lines up with the blade and the imaginary point. This is the ideal place to saw from. Now as you feed the wood straight in front of you at the blade the blade follows the line a lot better. If you are using the PGT type blades, there is no burr on them, they cut straight in line with the arm, so you can sit directly in front of the saw.

You have now cut your first piece of wood on the saw. So how do you now get the blade to follow the lines of the pattern. Get your wood and a pencil. Mark out some lines on it , some straight, curved, jagged, squares, and anything else you want to scribble. These don't need to be neat because you are going to cut them up anyway. Now start sawing those lines out on the saw. As you feed the wood at the blade only feed straight into the blade, there is a tendency to try to push the wood sideways to make the blade follow a line. This doesn't work ! If the blade is not following the line, turn the wood around until the line is in the path the blade is cutting. The easiest way I learned this was to pick another imaginary point about 1/16" in front of the blade, that is where the line you want to follow should be at while you are cutting.

As you are finding out by now the lines and curves are getting easier, but those corners, they just don't work. When you come to a corner try this. Keep the saw running and stop feeding the wood into the blade, apply slight side pressure to the blade and spin the wood as fast as you can to the new direction, as you spin keep slightly pulling the wood toward you. This mean the slight side pressure on the side of the blade is now rotating around to the back of the blade. What you are doing is using the non cutting part of the blade to stay in contact with the wood , to maintain position, but not cutting the wood. If you hesitate while doing this you will have a burned hole at the turn point. This means you are applying too much pressure or not spinning quick enough. Keep working at it and you will soon learn the technique. Whatever speed you are feeding the wood at, you will find that the spin can be done 3-4 times faster than cutting feed rate. I find that if you use the theory that the blade is going to go this new direction or break, it usually goes the new direction. The faster you spin, faster blade speeds burn quicker, the less chance of burning the corner.

This is the basics, keep practicing and it will get easier as you go along. Other parts of the web page here will refine more on tips and tricks to improve your cutting skills.