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Scroll Saws Again

Scroll Saws Again

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David Cambridge09/04/2017 07:50:16
252 forum posts
68 photos

Apologies to reawaken an old subject, which in the past does seem to have been thoroughly covered, but I’m still puzzled to the answer. I’d like to be able to cut out complicated shapes from brass, maybe 3mm to 4mm thick sheet, and I’ve been considered getting a scroll saw. Looking at the threads on this forum, and indeed other forums, it seems that that the consensus of opinion is that scoll saws aren’t the tool for the job. However, and that being said, whenever I watch ClickSprings videos he seems to use a scroll saw to great effect. For example, take a look at his first video:

I’m puzzled


IanT09/04/2017 08:16:52
1579 forum posts
145 photos

Hi David,

I think you've answered your own question.

A (good) scroll saw can do this work but will not necessarily be the quickest way to do some cuts - and (in my case) I would assume the odd broken blade and a good deal of patience being required. So to a large extent the nature of the cut will decide what cutting tool is best to use. For straight cuts, a fine saw in the lathe or horizontal mill will be my go to. For some 'curving' cuts I have several jigsaws I use - a large one and much smaller Proxxon (which is very handy).

But for "intricate" cuts then the scroll gets used - there is no real substitute (except perhaps milling) sometimes.

You said "complicated" and that probably means that the scroll saw is the tool you need. A good quality one will help when doing this kind of work however - not your average cheap wood chopping machine. It might do it but your patience will get frayed...



Bob Stevenson09/04/2017 08:43:14
424 forum posts
7 photos

After a lot of experimentation I have gone back to the humble piercing saw for intricate cuts......interestingly the scroll saw is no quicker than the piercing saw, takes the same blades and is less accurate. Not all scroll saws are up to the job of accurate brass sheet cutting and only a couple of makes are capable including the very expensive Hegner have to be either a pro artisan or VERY serious about your work anyway!


............I have noticed that few artisan jewellers and silversmiths seem to use powered scroll saws,..they also seem to use the piercing saw It is interesting that this ancient tool is not only still around but has continued to be updated...see here;


As an aside; we have a new(ish) Hegner machine at Epping Forest Horology Club but it is not popular with members, indeed many dislike it and treat it with disdain!    However, I have noticed that few tke the time to learn how to really set it up and learn how to get the best out of it before pronouncing it's inefficiency.    Certainly, scroll saws like the Hegner are very blade sensitive and NOT straightforward for getting high quality results.

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 09/04/2017 08:51:03

roy entwistle09/04/2017 09:27:43
1223 forum posts

Piercing saw every time for me

Roy ( I find it very therapeutic )

Bazyle09/04/2017 09:49:55
5386 forum posts
206 photos

The problems with scroll saws are:
Too fast causing overheating of blade
Very short stroke using only a small part of blade and mostly no facility to move the table to use the other parts of the blade
Not a straight parallel stroke.

Seems like a MEW design is needed, perhaps using the lathe (oh dear not yet another Myford only design) as the power source in order to get its range of speed control.

A starting point might be a standard common cheapo Chinese machine and a series of article to rebuild it. Mine has been under the bench for decades waiting for attention to make it useable.

Bob Stevenson09/04/2017 09:50:26
424 forum posts
7 photos

EDIT;.....just remembered this item with the great Ron Rose giving details of piercing saw expertise;

Cornish Jack09/04/2017 11:16:39
1158 forum posts
163 photos

Scroll saw versus piercing saw ?? Same as filing versus milling machine - 'you pays your money and takes your choice' The MAJOR item in the equation, however, is the blade. Well worth lashing out on the more expensive types. I think the last lot I bought were 'Flying Dutchman' or something similar - well regarded in the scroll saw brotherhood, I understand.



Bob Stevenson09/04/2017 12:47:24
424 forum posts
7 photos are right about careful blade selection.....Ron Rose mentions in his article that he uses blades with a rounded back edge......

As regards filing/milling it's not the same consideration at all in my view..........a milling machine removes large amounts of metal but a £500 scroll saw takes just as long to cut brass sheet and does so less accurately than a piercing saw.

Tractor man10/04/2017 07:31:55
426 forum posts
1 photos
Saw a cracking looking Meddings scroll saw at a tool dealers last week. Big old thing that looked very industrial. He initially asked 250 for it but would be open to.offers I guess.
Tractor man10/04/2017 07:42:02
426 forum posts
1 photos
This is a different dealer but looks the same model of saw.
john carruthers10/04/2017 09:16:40
606 forum posts
177 photos

For the Dark Lady clock wheels in 3mm brass I used a jigsaw held upside down in a workmate with a scroll blade.
Not a great cutting speed but it did save my arm a bit.

Gordon W10/04/2017 09:36:50
2011 forum posts

John C- are you saying you used a mains power jigsaw, clamped in the workmate, with a standard scroll saw blade ? If so I would like to know more, and I'm sure a lot of others would, sounds an ideal solution.

Russell Eberhardt10/04/2017 11:26:48
2599 forum posts
85 photos
Posted by Bazyle on 09/04/2017 09:49:55:

A starting point might be a standard common cheapo Chinese machine and a series of article to rebuild it. Mine has been under the bench for decades waiting for attention to make it useable.

I bought an Aldi one about five years ago, tried it once and it walked all over the bench. Tried it clamped down firmly and still couldn't see the cutting point for vibration. Like yours it's been under the bench ever since. attempts at Improvements having been on the to-do list ever since.

Found the best way to cut out complicated shapes in brass to be a cnc'd SX2 mill.


Edited By Russell Eberhardt on 10/04/2017 11:28:35

john carruthers11/04/2017 08:15:02
606 forum posts
177 photos

Exactly that, not the safest procedure but it did half a dozen wheels cut from old brass printing plates 3.2mm thick.
It is a cheapo jigsaw from a DIY kit of saw/drill/sander, only the saw has survived.
The saw sole plate clamps nicely in the aldi workmate, the blades are held with grub screws not a bayonet fitting.
A fine hacksaw blade will cut reasonably quickly but can't do tight radii. A wood scroll blade will do tighter radii but at a slower gentle feed.
The smallest wheel I've cut with it is 20mm diameter.

I did look at making it a permanent fixture, bolting down the saw sole plate. I also wondered about making it into a filer.
For one off's I use the saw in the conventional manner.

mechman4811/04/2017 08:50:33
2721 forum posts
422 photos

Interesting info guys, I used a piercing saw for a flywheel, 3mm x 150mm aluminium, for one of my models, thought of getting a scroll saw but couldn't justify the expense at the time, reading you comments... still debateable ?... oddly enough was looking at the Chinese models in MMart last week ... vat free day offer...?

​Cutting out flywheel with piercing saw, tedious, & a couple of broken blades along the way, told me... slowly, slowly catchee monkey..

ed.model flywheel cutting out (1).jpg


roy entwistle11/04/2017 09:07:07
1223 forum posts

George. If you used a piercing saw on the flywheel as shown in the above photo, can I suggest that you don't clamp it down whilst doing it


mechman4811/04/2017 09:23:29
2721 forum posts
422 photos
G.Posted by roy entwistle on 11/04/2017 09:07:07:

George. If you used a piercing saw on the flywheel as shown in the above photo, can I suggest that you don't clamp it down whilst doing it


Ta! noted for future ref.


Neil Wyatt12/04/2017 21:33:05
18099 forum posts
713 photos
77 articles

My dad's got a MM one and swears by it, rather than at it, although he only does wood he has chopped a LOT of thick plywood with it making hull frames etc.


Mogens Kilde12/04/2017 21:45:35
60 forum posts
25 photos

Hello Folks

Soon Neil will recieve my article on building a scroll saw attachment for a small lathe

Scroll Saw attachment



Edited By Mogens Kilde on 12/04/2017 21:46:22

richardandtracy13/04/2017 12:04:50
943 forum posts
10 photos
Posted by Tractor man on 10/04/2017 07:42:02:
This is a different dealer but looks the same model of saw.

I have one of them, converted it to single phase with a motor from JS. I have not used it as much as I wanted - it's a big old beast & bounces about a bit when running if not bolted down properly. To be honest, for precision, I'd never use it in preference to a piercing saw. However, they are good industrial machines & my one was used happily for at least 20 years at work before the woodwork shop had to be killed when pine sawdust became a Coshh 'toxin'. The profit on the woodwork shop was less than the cost of monitoring the air, so that was the end. And most of the machines, being quite elderly, were skipped.



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