Improve an Inexpensive Scroll Saw - Add Knobs!




About: I'm an Engineer. I like hiking, flea markets, and electronics.

This instructable will show you how to improve an inexpensive scroll saw. This type of scroll saw typically accepts blades with pins, but comes with adapters for pinless blades, which are more commonly used. Specifically, I obtained this scroll saw from harbor freight tools, which I think is a great place for hobby tools.

Although you can purchase knobs, they are typically very expensive. For me, a #10-32 screw costs $0.09 versus a knob which costs $2.80 which I found at a local Ace Hardware store. I will show you how I made my own knobs for less.

Step 1: Original Adapter

For reference, this is the original adapter. To use pinless blades, the blade must be inserted between two adapters and tightened with a hex-wrench. When there is no tension on the blade, it does not stay on the scroll saw body and falls off, since tension holds the adapter to the scroll saw.

Step 2: Drill and Mark

Find and drill a piece of wood. The holes should be far enough apart, to prevent the knobs that will be created from interfering with one another. A drill press should be used to make a straight hole. A compass should be used to draw circles around the drilled holes for the knobs.

Step 3: Wax and Level

In this step, wax the wood. I used a candle and applied it quickly to create friction. Level it using a razor blade; this will fill in and even the surface. Most importantly, it will prevent the epoxy used to make the knobs from sticking.

Step 4: Measure, Clean, and Ready

The depth of the screws should be measured so that they extend out of the wood, and so that there is a small gap between the head and the wood. This will allow the epoxy to completely surround the head. Dept is indicated by how far the screw extends out of the wood. Lastly, the screws should be cleaned with acetone and pulled out somewhat to allow for the epoxy to be put underneath the head.

Step 5: Form Knobs

In this step, form the knobs using epoxy putty. You can use any type of epoxy putty you'd like. Although I purchased some J-B Weld brand epoxy, I actually ended up using some very old Oatley brand epoxy. The most important thing is to consider the mixing time and cure time. In my case, this was one minute and three minutes.

Once the epoxy is mixed, take two halves and shove it underneath the screw head. Next, screw the head in deeper and cover the head with epoxy. Using a razor blade, form a square and use the arcs of the circle that was drawn as guides for the square. Allow an appropriate amount of time for the epoxy to cure.

Note: Epoxy uses BPA so you may want to wear gloves and coat the finished knobs in paste wax when done.

Step 6: Sand Knobs

You'll need to sand the bottom of the knobs so that they form a level surface to accept the blade. To do so, twist out the knobs (once cured) barely exposing the ends of the encapsulated screws. Sand this by placing sand paper onto a level surface and moving back and forth. Once done, the knobs are ready for use.

Step 7: Repeat With Hex Screws

There isn't much point in putting a knob on either side, to reuse the screws that are provided. Sand the ends like before to create a level surface.

Step 8: Cut Rubber and Assemble

In this step, cut some rubber squares. This will prevent the adapter from falling off the scroll saw without any tension on the blade. Use a knob and hex screw for each adapter. Altogether, this will allow for easier blade removal and should make sawing inside wood or plastic much easier.

Step 9: Side Port

For some reason, the side port uses regular philips screws rather than knobs. For easier access to change the blade and to clean, the other two knobs are used. One of the holes was not completely taped, so I had to finish it.



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    13 Discussions


    22 days ago on Step 1

    I need this adapter in Pakistan this adapter not available in Pakistan can you deliver the adapter in Pakistan

    Alex in NZ

    5 months ago

    This is a really neat idea. Thank you for sharing it.
    You say that it's hard to buy "wing screws" (which of course it is). I came across this 'Ible which makes one, although I think yours look better :-)


    Question 7 months ago on Step 1

    please disregard my question. I should have read the first line more carefully that states, the adapters were standard on your scroll saw.


    Question 7 months ago on Step 1

    was the adapter included in your purchase or you purchased them afterword?
    I am having problem locating the adapters you have shown.


    2 years ago

    Anybody got a clue where I can buy this adapter for a decent price? Shipping inexpensive to EU (Belgium) not just UK. Thanks.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Um hey dude, you have those adapters entirely installed wrong on the saw. They are going to come flying off. They are supposed to be "Under" that top metal flexible lip. Look under there, you will see a small indent where the metal rod on the adapter is supposed to sit. They aren't supposed to go on the outside like you have in these pictures

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    As far as I can tell, they do sit in the indent, maybe your perspective is wrong? Otherwise, I've been very lucky because even with "wrong" installation, I haven't had any failures.

    Tex Arcana

    5 years ago

    why not just use wing nuts, instead of going thru the trouble to make the knobs? also, how are they holding up?

    1 reply

    5 years ago

    I replaced the center insert with a solid piece of wood. I was tired of the flimsy black plastic. Simply measured the diameter and what thickness I could fit. After making the piece fit flush with the table, I drilled a hole large enough to pass the blades through.

    I did that too. I originally planned to use two knobs per adapter, but it looked silly, so I used the other two for the side port.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I don't scroll like I used to. I have a couple saws now but my Delta is my best one. Recently at a yard sale I saw a Hawk for sale but being as I don't scroll so much anymore I passed on buying it. People really into scrolling swear by Hawk saws. I don't know, I guess my Delta is OK. The other thing folks who are really into scroll saws swear by is Flying Dutchman scroll saw blades. A Hawk saw might be out of your reach, but you can probably afford to buy some Flying Dutchman blades and give them a shot in your saw. I'm not saying it'll turn your saw into a Hawk, but it might be an improvement.

    Other than running decent blades the other thing you can do is bolt that saw down to something really heavy. By something really heavy I mean like a stand made out of thick steel. Attached to that kind of mass it might make the saw somewhat smoother. Mass dampens vibration. By really heavy I mean massive, a couple hundred pounds at least. Find an old straight engine block and bolt the saw to that, with the head removed of course. Naturally this makes the tool less portable, but sometimes you have to sacrifice some features in order to gain others.