I was looking for an entry-level scroll saw and was bouncing between the Ryobi and Craftsman 16" variable speed scroll saws, which were both $120. I watched many vids from Steve Good on Youtube, YouTube - sdgood's Channel
. He talked about what to expect with the Craftsman SS and I also watched his "Scroll Saw Basic" video series.
Knowing a little about what to expect from these scroll saws, I was going to get one of them until I ran into the Porter Cable SS at Lowes, which replaced the Hitachi SS they carried. The PC was $180 and included a stand and thought "what have I got to lose" (besides $180) and so I brought it home. 1:
The PC included 2 blades, thought the box says it only comes with one. It didn't matter because I stopped at the Rockler store and the guy recommended the #5 reverse tooth and #2 skip tooth blades. I asked him what about the spiral blades, and he didn't recommend those for beginners. I then asked him what about cutting 3/4" plywood and he recommended the #7 skip tooth bladed. 2:
I didn't have the right spray adhesive to put the pattern on, but I did have some 3M Drywall Corner Bead spray adhesive so I used it instead. I only put it on the pattern I printed and not on the wood also, otherwise it would be permanent. 3:
After putting the pattern on, I wrapped it with clear packing tape, both to help keep the pattern down, and to make the bottom slick so it slides easier. I was a little too hasty and it had too many bubbles I couldn't get out, but oh well. 4:
I remembered Steve Good said that scroll saws don't always cut straight (straight as far as parallel to the scroll saw arm), they cut at an angle and so once I found out what angle to put the piece on the table it was pretty easy to use. Notice the knob that holds the hold-down. It turned out that it was the same thread and size as the top thumbscrew that held the blade in, so I switched it and now changing blades is that much more easier. 5:
I've never used as scroll saw, so I didn't know how tight the blade should be. I put the original pinned blade back in and plucked it like a fiddle to hear what the "ting" sound was supposed to sound like. I then took it out and replaced it with the plain-end Olson ones I got. It was a bear trying to put the blade in the bottom because I couldn't see what I was doing, till I found out I could simply pop out the plastic insert on the table to feed the blade in. 6:
The blade would slip whenever I tried to tighten it, until I remembered a tip I read on the scrollsawer.com website. They recommended sanding the tips of the blades and it would tighten much easier. I did a quick swipe on a sandpaper block on each side until it was scratched and shiny, but don't do this too much because the blades are very thin. It was painless to tighten the blade after that. 7:
I used the same Harbor Freight heat gun that Steve Good used and it was on sale for $9. I started on the corner, then I worked left to right to get the whole side rolling up. Don't leave it on an area too long or the tape will melt and the paper will start to burn. When I was done, it was real sticky while it was hot, but once it cooled off it was barely tacky. He said mineral spirits will wipe it clean.
I learned a few things along the way. First, the line you are cutting on may be thicker than the saw blade, so you might want to pick a side to cut on. Use the right blade for the job. This project was 3/4" birch or oak plywood and I used two #5 blades for the entire project (none broken, one bent). Let the blade do the cutting, don't push too hard. I would bet that I would get better results from a thinner piece of plywood.
My 9 year old daughter loved this piece when she saw it and claimed it as hers! My older one (17) was jealous and wants me to make her one, but I have another plan for her. I saw Steve Good or someone else dip the cut piece into a tub of stain or finish, which makes sense since you can't get into all the nooks and crannies with a brush. I need to find out what kind of stain/finish he used to protect it. PORTER-CABLE 16" Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand Model #: PCB370SS
I would like to give credit to the one who designed it, but I forgot where I found it. I just searched the net for free patterns and found it.