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Thread: Scroll saw blade for metal

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Highland, Maryland
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    139

    Scroll saw blade for metal

    I have made a few hand planes and I want to make some more. I've used my scroll saw with skip tooth blades to cut 1/8" brass. That method is very slow and blades break every 2 -5 inches. I'm switching to 3/16 material and dread trying to cut with the scroll saw. Does anyone make a metal blade for scroll work on a metal cutting band saw? Better blades for a scroll saw? Suck it up and keep at it? Any suggestions welcome. TIA

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    southeast Michigan
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    Bill, I assume you are using your scroll saw because you are cutting curves. There are blades out there called "rod blades" which are mostly made for use in a hacksaw and are used for cutting ceramic tile and cement backer board. I have one I bought many years ago and the first time I used it I couldn't believe how quickly and easily it cut tile. The blades are round with carbide bits embedded on the surface. They are around an 1/8 inch in diameter so if you can clamp a piece of one up in your scroll saw I would think 3/16 brass should be no problem to cut. Only downside might be a larger kerf if you can live with that. Blades can be found in big box stores and local hardwares.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Webber View Post
    I have made a few hand planes and I want to make some more. I've used my scroll saw with skip tooth blades to cut 1/8" brass. That method is very slow and blades break every 2 -5 inches. I'm switching to 3/16 material and dread trying to cut with the scroll saw. Does anyone make a metal blade for scroll work on a metal cutting band saw? Better blades for a scroll saw? Suck it up and keep at it? Any suggestions welcome. TIA
    Bill, have you seen the Clickspring videos? (They are incredible if you work with metal!)

    In the first video, Chris uses a scroll saw to cut through 3/8" brass, two layers of 3/16" brass at the same time. It's worth watching the entire video but the scroll sawing starts around 4:50:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8Y146v8HxE
    (WARNING: if you like metal working these videos are like the potato chips where you can't eat just one!)

    He makes it look easy. I don't see where he says what blades he uses but maybe he does on his web site. You can also send a note and ask a question.

    Another thing is the type of brass. Some types are softer than others. For example, I like to use 360 "free machining" brass when turning brass on the wood lathe.

    IMPORTANT: If brass is hardened, perhaps work hardened, it can be a problem. For example I had a terrible time drilling a 5/8" hole in this piece of work hardened brass rod, even chipping the drill bit. I had to resharpen the bit several times.

    Handle_roughing_IMG_5964.jpg

    I later learned that like steel, hardened brass needs to be annealed before machining. Duh! (You can ask Sir Google about annealing brass - it's different than annealing steel.)

    When cutting sheet brass, I usually use a band saw with a fine-toothed woodworking blade.

    From one metalworking forum where someone said they broke even good blades every few inches of cut (excerpts):
    "the trick here is to put a LIGHT tension on the blade...with those light blades it takes a slow to medium speed, a lighter tension on the blade than normal and a very light touch... Practice will make you find your sweet spot on speed, pressure and tension for cutting brass. One other thing will be that the metal will wear the heck out of your blades, especially on a faster speed. ...like you broke a ton of blades until I learned how to cut it successfully." Reply: "Thanks, I started with slow and kept my blade going slow. It was hard for me not to push to much on it. They are lasting a lot longer now."

    One guy posted a list of tips:
    Always wear eye protection when drilling, cutting, or sanding brass.
    The clear packing tape lubricates the blade, but make sure to tape over the entire cutting surface for greater stability.
    The edges of brass are sharp and will cut your hands; wrap all edges in tape.
    You can double the life of your blade by creating a higher working surface to take advantage of the blade's unused portion.
    Turn corners slowly to avoid catching the brass and lifting it off the table.
    Be aware of the heat that is generated quickly when cutting and sanding brass.
    Don't try to cut brass without the backer board. As you cut, the blade is creating burrs on the backside.
    This not only impedes the movement of the piece as you work, but will also scratch up your table.

    The Clickspring video is sped up so it's hard to guess at Chris's cutting speed. BTW, check out his filing machine at 7:18. I want one!

    I can't vouch for them, but I see a number of scroll saw blades advertised for cutting metal, for example:
    https://www.amazon.com/JEWELRY-JEWEL.../dp/B00YYT2GCI

    JKJ

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Highland, Maryland
    Posts
    139
    Hi John,
    Lots of good info in your post. The video is pretty amazing, especially the speeded up scroll cutting of the frames. Call me skeptical! He lists a 4/0 blade in the parts list, which, with my limited experience, seems pretty unbelievable.
    I sent Chris an email asking for more details on the blade and the elapsed time.

    I'm leaning towards trying an Olson All-Pro Band Saw Blade in a 1/4 inch size or smaller. They are advertised to cut mild steel, among other things like wood and plastic. I've used a 1/2-inch carbide tipped band saw blade in the past to cut out the side plates. They do the job but cannot cut the radii I need and don't leave usable jig plates.

    And yes, I'd like one of those filing machines. I'm relying on an oscillating sander.

    Here's the kind of planes I've been making http://billwebber.galootcentral.com/1802-034.JPG

    Anyway, thanks for your info, things to ponder. Sometimes there is simply no alternative to just doing the work...

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