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Tell me about scroll saws

Mighty Melvin

Senior Member
Messages
2,712
Hello.

I've always thought that scroll saws were kind of stupid -- the kind of thing like exercise machines that people buy with big hopes, and never use. Any big flea market you've ever gone to had at least one there, neglected and abandoned.

But I'm taking on the pursuit of nutmaking, and it seems like a scroll saw would be ideal as a low-maintenance, appropriately-sized tool for getting blanks to the right size. But they still seem kind of silly in that only a few of the teeth on the blade ever get used (compared with something like a band saw) and how long can that last?

But if you have experience, tell me. Is this a worthwhile tool for nut-making?

M
 

John Coloccia

Cold Supporting Member
Messages
9,579
IMHO, the only thing a scroll saw is marginally useful for on a guitar is some inlay work, and emphasis on the word marginally. The best do all power tool for nut making (assuming you're going to use a power tool) is a combo disc/belt sander. The disc part will square things up and trim things down right quick. The belt part will allow you to cut the fender radius on the bottom. Personally, I use a dedicated disc sander and dedicated oscillating spindle sander to do the same things, and that's the best combo in my opinion, but if you want to get just one tool cheaply that can do it, that's the tool to have.

Sometimes I use my bandsaw to make a rough cut on the end of a long nut blank, but that's just a matter of keeping the bone dust down in my shop. The sander will chew through a bone nut in just a couple of seconds, and I still use the disc sander to precisely trim to all my lines.

Incidentally, to use the sanders without chucking the nut all over the place I use a block of wood under the nut that rides right up against the abrasive. It's basically a zero clearance support. When I'm angling the ends to fit the slot, I free hand it of course, but when I have the nut laying flat on the table to get things square, I put it on the block, and the block lightly rides against the abrasive.

You would have to do the same thing on a scroll saw or it will grab and toss things all over the place. Ditto on a bandsaw if you don't have a zero clearance insert.
 

Mighty Melvin

Senior Member
Messages
2,712
When I was selling industrial production equipment, one of the machine makers told me to go get a cheap one-inch belt sander. I thought that was kind of questionable but I got one and I use the stinkin' thing all the time.
 

Astronaut FX

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,867
IMHO, the only thing a scroll saw is marginally useful for on a guitar is some inlay work, and emphasis on the word marginally. The best do all power tool for nut making (assuming you're going to use a power tool) is a combo disc/belt sander. The disc part will square things up and trim things down right quick. The belt part will allow you to cut the fender radius on the bottom. Personally, I use a dedicated disc sander and dedicated oscillating spindle sander to do the same things, and that's the best combo in my opinion, but if you want to get just one tool cheaply that can do it, that's the tool to have.

Sometimes I use my bandsaw to make a rough cut on the end of a long nut blank, but that's just a matter of keeping the bone dust down in my shop. The sander will chew through a bone nut in just a couple of seconds, and I still use the disc sander to precisely trim to all my lines.

Incidentally, to use the sanders without chucking the nut all over the place I use a block of wood under the nut that rides right up against the abrasive. It's basically a zero clearance support. When I'm angling the ends to fit the slot, I free hand it of course, but when I have the nut laying flat on the table to get things square, I put it on the block, and the block lightly rides against the abrasive.

You would have to do the same thing on a scroll saw or it will grab and toss things all over the place. Ditto on a bandsaw if you don't have a zero clearance insert.
Good advice on the combo sander.

 

old goat

Member
Messages
1,987
I have nicer ones now, but the old version of this was my first and it still runs well.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ryobi-Bench-Sander-Green-BD4601G/205509608

I find it more useful for nuts than the 1" sander because you can use the exposed curved end of the belt to shape a radius on the bottom.
I may be remembering incorrectly, but I believe Ryobi used to be generally available. I have an old Ryobi plunge router that works great. I'm not so thrilled with the Ryobi stuff I've gotten from Home Depot and wonder if HD dropped the quality. The same company also makes Rigid, a higher quality and more expensive line, for HD.
 

John Coloccia

Cold Supporting Member
Messages
9,579
I don't think I bought mine from HD....it just happened to pop up when I did a search for it. It's since been replaced with a larger Rikon.
 

Mighty Melvin

Senior Member
Messages
2,712
I may be remembering incorrectly, but I believe Ryobi used to be generally available. I have an old Ryobi plunge router that works great. I'm not so thrilled with the Ryobi stuff I've gotten from Home Depot and wonder if HD dropped the quality. The same company also makes Rigid, a higher quality and more expensive line, for HD.
My Ryobi router is a finger pinch-and-stab machine. It's like they never tested the design on humans before releasing it.
Straight from the Autocad.

When I was at Home Depot shopping for a palm disc sander, I saw all the brand names together, and apart from the top cover where the switch was, they were perfectly identical. I got the Rigid, and it had issues. The bag attachment is useless -- you have to ductape the bag on -- and the cam that operates the power switch was so steep it was impossible for it to work. I ended up shallowing the ramp and lubing it up. Probably a normal person would have just returned it.
 

buddyboy69

Member
Messages
5,030
a friend gave me a scroll saw, i tried to find a use for it besides making funny shapes with balsa wood. it does not work well with hard wood or metal. to the curb it went. i have one of the ryobi sanders that john Coloccia put up. i use it all the time. band saw, belt/disc sander, spindle sander are my mostly used tools.
 

poolshark

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,210
I don't own one, but I've used one to rough out some custom routing templates for pickup/control/smuggler's cavities. I'm blanking on another tool that could've done it better. I thought it did pretty well roughing out pickguards and cavity covers as well.
 

Quarter

Member
Messages
1,594
Scroll saws are very good for their intended purpose, intricate cutting in thin material. As was mentioned, not very useful in general guitar building to include nut making / shaping. That said, they are not totally worthless or without a place in a shop, just not one of your everyday workhorse go to machines.

In the saw department, I was given an older 3 wheel Craftsman bandsaw that I've found to be quite handy. I set it up with a 15 TPI blade and use it for cutting thin wood, sheet aluminum, brass, nickel silver, plastic, bone, Corian, and other assorted thin / smaller jobs. For a quick and easy zero clearance throat, I just run a larger piece of sacrificial MDF into position and clamp the MDF in place which effectively just makes a new top / work surface.
 




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