New scroll sawyers tend to run their saws way too fast and use too much force while feeding the wood, in a race to cut as fast as they can cut with other woodworking tools. The tiny teeth on scroll saw blades cannot ever cut as fast as these other tools and trying to do this will always end in blade breakage and frustration.
Experienced sawyers learn to be patient with their saws and strive for more accuracy and cleaner cuts. If the blade is burning the wood it is running too fast, or is too dull to use. Pushing the wood into the blade harder than necessary only warps the blade, makes it break sooner, and makes it difficult to follow your pattern. Scroll sawing is a journey, not a race to an obscure destination. Scroll sawing is not at all like other kinds of woodworking, except that you are usually sawing wood. You will need to experiment to find the best blade, brand, blade size, and blade type for each type of cutting that you do.
Blades wear out quickly too. If you cut 20 minutes with a scroll saw blade you are very likely cutting with a very dull blade. Learn what blades and blade speeds work best for what you are cutting and expect the blade to get dull quickly. If your blade is changing color and the wood is burning, you have overheated the blade metal and removed the temper in the metal. Throw it away, put another blade in, reduce your speed significantly, and try again. There is a "sweet spot" in the blade speed where you don't overheat the blade, yet can cut as fast as the blade teeth can accept the wood. Try cutting into an old broken candle or piece of paraffin wax frequently to lubricate the blade and it will run cooler, faster, and last longer. They are only worth about $0.25 each US on average, so don't hesitate to replace them when necessary.
When I do most types of scroll sawing, I can go sometimes a half a day without breaking a blade, but then I'm replacing quite a few blades during that time because they are dull. Sometimes blades have manufacturing defects, and will break before you hardly have used them. Just write it off and replace it. If you keep having the same problem, try another blade from a different bundle. If it works OK without breaking, put that other bundle aside to possibly send back or trash them. You might even want to try using them on a different kind of material before trashing them. Expect to need a blade change often and don't worry about the cost, like you do for the rest of your woodworking investment.
I never put a used scroll saw blade back into my saw if I have used it to cut more than about 15 minutes total run time. New blades cut so much better. Some cut well for a long time and some from the same bundle will dull quickly or break without reason. I now use only Pegus, Nigua, and Flying Dutchman (Nigua) blades. I have given up on Olson blades, but their newer precision ground blades do work pretty well. No matter which brand, if a new blade doesn't cut straight or has some other funny characteristic, don't fight it, replace it immediately. The quality of your project and your nerves are worth throwing that "funny" blade away.
Learn to scroll saw using just your fingers to feed and steer your project. Leave your palms resting on the saw table as much as possible, and don't use your elbows and upper arms for feeding and steering the work. With just a little practice, you will discover that you can stay on the project lines much better this way. Feeding the work with your elbows is a tough habit to break, but keep reminding yourself to feed with your fingers and you will see a significant quality improvement in a very short time.
I now use two LED lights, positioned on each side of the upper saw arm about at the saw upper saw arm level, with each pointing down at about a 45 degree angle toward the cut point of the saw blade. In this position almost all of the blade shadows are gone and I can see the pattern lines much better. The LED lights run cool too, so I no longer burn my head, face, or hands like I did before switching to them. The crappy light that came with my saw got relegated to my grinder and I had been using two halogen drafting table lights before going to the LED lights, but I was frequently burning my face and head as well as giving my hands a Sunburn from using them for long periods. The LED lights solved all of these problems. Great amounts of white light, no shadows, and no more burns.
I've been scroll sawing since about 1963. I now teach and demonstrate scroll sawing at trade shows and special events. I've lost count of how many scroll saws that I've worn out, but have learned that you need a very high quality scroll saw and good pinless blades to get high quality results. The better saws are much easier to use and the blades last longer than they do on the cheaper saws too. Good blade clamps are a "must have" as well as a saw design that pulls the blade up as well as down. The old saws with the spring to pull the blade back up that also use pinned blades are only good when used as door stops or put in museums. They are completely obsolete when compared to the modern quality scroll saws of today. I used one as a door stop some years back, before I sent it to the scrap yard.
Central North Carolina
Last edited by CharleyL; 02-02-2020 at 10:45 AM.