7 Reasons Your Scroll Saw Blade Keeps Breaking

Disclosure: Some of the links in the article below may be affiliate links. This means that I may earn a small commission if you click on them and make a purchase.

A scroll saw has a small, thin blade and it’s common for this blade to break during use. There are ways to avoid it but even the most experienced scroll saw users break blades occasionally. There are some common reasons for this that I’ll point out in this article. In addition, I’ll give some examples of the best types of blades to use for different types of materials.

I have been using a scroll saw for over 20 years on a regular basis and while I have broken my share of blades, it happens rarely these days. The main reason for that is the experience I have gained using the saw. There is a learning curve involved in scroll sawing and practice helps in overcoming typical problems like this.

Broken blade on a scroll saw

While I am far from an expert, I do have a lot of experience in this area. I know the frustration in learning the tool and dealing with blades breaking without knowing what I’m doing wrong.

I speak from experience in laying out the following reasons why the blades of a scroll saw might break. This is not an exhaustive list but includes some of the most common reasons that I have seen blades break in my own experience.

1. Technique

The technique you use when you use a scroll saw will go a long way in determining how long your blades last. It can take some practice to develop a good technique that can produce good results. If you just go at it and have no thought on how you are making sharp turns, how fast you are going, or the general technique you are using, you will likely go through a lot of blades.

Instead, you will need to develop a technique that allows you to use the saw without breaking so many blades. Making tight turns with the saw can take some practice to perfect and this is often where the blade breakage occurs.

The video below offers a great tip for making turns with a scroll saw. This is a tried and true technique that gives great results and helps you make perfect turns without stressing your blade.

This can only be achieved through lots of practice. Like anything in life, you will make plenty of mistakes that you will need to learn from and become better at. You will develop a technique as you go as you get a greater feel for using the saw.

Any beginner that is using a scroll saw can expect to break plenty of blades. This is part of the process and learning a proper technique will take time and patience.

2. Going Too Fast

It can be tempting at times to want to go as fast as possible when you are using a scroll saw. Sometimes a pattern that you are cutting can be very time-consuming and intricate. Rather than having the patience to go slow, it’s easy to get caught up in just getting it done so speed becomes an issue.

When you try to push the blade through your workpiece at a higher speed, you will find yourself bending the blade without even realizing it. As you push hard on the piece in an attempt to get the blade through it, your blade is likely to break.

It’s best to slow down and let the saw do the work. This may mean taking longer to cut something out but you’ll be able to do it cleanly without breaking any blades.

Once you have a better feel for the saw and how it works through different types of woods, you will develop a feel and know how fast or slow you need to go depending on what you are cutting. It’s just something that develops over time and you can feel it as you’re cutting and instinctually know whether you need to slow down or are going at a proper rate of speed.

Going too fast is a great way to ensure that you are breaking plenty of blades.

3. Too Little Tension

A scroll saw blade that has too little tension on it while in use is a blade that is likely to break. Too little tension on a blade makes it difficult to cut with and the blade can bend and lose its accuracy while using. This is something that will likely take some experience to understand whether or not you have the tension dialed in or not.

Blade tension comparison

If you are a beginning scroll saw user, the popular opinion says it’s best to have the blade tension set to where you can pluck it as you would a guitar string and the key should be a high C. You can test this by using a chromatic instrument tuner. This is just a guideline though and you should settle on a tension that is right for you. Your blade may sound a little different depending on the type and brand.

If the blade is too loose as you are using it, especially with thicker woods, it’s very common to have the blade break somewhere along the way.

4. Too Much Tension

While too little tension on the blade can cause it to break, too much tension is also not very helpful in reducing the number of blades you break. Too much tension on the blade can cause too much stress on the blade itself. This is especially true with cheaper blades that are not made from high-quality materials.

I prefer the tension of my blades to be on the tighter side than what is often suggested but this takes some experience to find out what works best for you.

Many scroll saws have a tension dial on them and you will become accustomed to the number yours should be on depending on what you are cutting. My DeWalt scroll saw is typically used on a number three setting as long as I have the blade installed the same way each time.

Tension dial on DeWalt Scroll Saw

I have learned over the years how I like my blade installed and the proper tension for my taste. This will take some time to dial in for yourself but once you have it perfected to your liking, you can expect less blade breakage.

5. Cheap Blades

The blades you use matter and some of the cheaper blades on the market may be inferior to those that are of higher quality. I’m not one who always buys the best in everything but if you are looking for better quality blades that will withstand more force and usage, purchasing higher quality blades will go a long way towards helping you decrease the number of times that you are breaking blades.

Of course, you will only want to be concerned with higher-quality blades once you have mastered the other intricacies of using a scroll saw, as presented throughout this list. Cheap blades are great when you are just getting started or still learning the craft. You can break plenty of them and learn along the way without spending a fortune.

However, once you have caught on to the technique that works for you and feel confident in your skills with using the saw, you may want to move on to better-quality blades. You’ll at least want to have some better blades on hand that can help you cut smoother, straighter, and last longer.

6. Wrong Blades for the Job

Sometimes the wrong blade for the job is the culprit of blade breakage. A scroll saw blade is not a one-size-fits-all type of product. There are numerous types of scroll saw blades that differ in size, teeth per square inch, style, and material. There are blades for cutting different types of materials such as wood and metal.

All of these considerations matter depending on what you are using your saw to cut with. A blade that works fine in thin quarter-inch wood will likely not be the best option for thicker 1.5-inch wood. You will need to switch out to a sturdier blade that has fewer teeth per square inch and can rip through thicker wood with ease.

When you try to press on through thick wood using a tiny blade, you will probably bend the blade as you are pushing to make it go faster and the blade will eventually snap on you. It’s best to start a project with the proper blade in mind for the type of material that you are using.

Blades can be purchased for wood or metal and you will want to use the proper one based on the type of material, and thickness of the material that you are cutting. Using the wrong blade on the wrong material is a sure-fire way to experience a lot of blades breaking.

Blades are easy to swap out so it should only take a few seconds to switch blades as you work between different materials.

Selecting the best blade doesn’t mean you have to purchase the most expensive option on the market. I usually don’t put a lot of thought into the more expensive option and lean more towards budget options.

7. Dull Blade

Scroll saw blades become dull over time just like any other type of saw blade. While they do last a long time if you are simply cutting through thin wood and making small crafts, they can wear down quickly if you are cutting through different types of materials or different types and thicknesses of wood.

Cutting through soft plywoods or solid woods such as pine or poplar may be easy on your blade but if you are cutting through oak, maple, walnut, or other harder woods, your blade could dull much quicker with time. You will likely notice this as you find your blade not cutting as fast through the material as it normally would.

Your first reaction will want to be to push the material harder so that it cuts faster. However, once you do this, your blade will become more prone to breaking with the added amount of pressure on it from you pushing harder. Blades wear out and once you begin to notice the dullness of a blade, it may be time to change it before breakage occurs.

Choosing The Best Scroll Saw Blades

Scroll saw blades are not very expensive if you stick to budget options. You can often get a variety pack of different sizes and types. You can also purchase more expensive blades that will be made from higher quality materials that may eliminate common issues, including burrs that cause the blade to not cut straight.

As someone who has been using a scroll saw for many years, I still rely mostly on budget-friendly blades that do the job just fine for me.

If you are new to the scroll saw and still learning your skillset, I recommend sticking with lower-cost blades so that breaking them doesn’t become a burden on your wallet. For higher quality blades, I have found that Flying Dutchman makes great blades.

Note: many scroll saws use a pinless blade but you may have one that uses pinned. You’ll need to determine this before ordering so you are sure to order the right product for your needs.

This Flying Dutchman 72-pack of pinless reverse tooth scroll saw blades will give you a great set of reverse tooth blades that can be used in a variety of settings.

This Flying Dutchman Five Dozen Scroll Saw Blade Variety Pack is a great option if you are looking for standard blades.

If you are looking for a lower-cost option or to purchase something local, I have found the Ryobi variety pack of blades at Home Depot to be more than sufficient for my needs. These are pinned blades but the pin can be removed with a good pair of pliers for use on pinless blade systems. This assortment gives you different options for cutting through a thin or thick piece of wood.

Bottom Line

Scroll saws use small blades when compared to other types of saws so it’s no secret that they are likely to break easier than other saw blades would. The work that a scroll saw blade has to do with tight turns and other types of cuts that other saws can’t do will put a lot of stress on the blade.

Thankfully, scroll saw blades are not very expensive and because of this, you can have a variety of different blade types on hand and immediately change the blade once a breakage happens. The goal is to make a blade last as long as possible but the blade itself often has other plans.

When a breakage happens, you may have done something that you could have avoided or it could just be a lack of craftsmanship in the blade itself or a weakened blade during the manufacturing process.

Whatever the cause, the only thing you can do is try to avoid it by using some of the tips in this article. In addition, you’ll pick up your own tips over time that will help you get more out of your blades.

Hopefully, these tips will help you spend less money on blades and allow you to enjoy scrolling more and having fun with your saw.