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Electric Scroll Saw For Inlay Cutting?

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All of the info I have seen on cutting inlays involves using a jewelers saw or similar. Has anybody had success using an electric scroll saw like a dewalt or delta? I would like to make a script type inlay out of pearl or other materials to put in a headstock.

I tried a spiral, No. 0, 46 tpi blade that allows sawing in any direction, but found it difficult to keep the cut from wandering. The blade was tensioned very tight, so I think the wandering was mainly a function of the spiral blade.

If it can be done, what type of blade do you recommend? Or, should I just go the hand sawn way?

Thanks for any advice.

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I'm not all that experienced with inlay, so take everything I say as being a totally amateur perspective:

- I have used a scroll saw for a lot of stuff, but I can't imagine ever using it for inlay

- If it's the "power tool give'er" that you're looking for, my recommendation is to use a dremel tool, actually. I had really good success clamping the MOP into a small vise, and then using the hole cutter bit (it's what I had on-hand, I'm sure you can get much better results with something else) to get'er done.

The warnings that I'm aware of-- there may be others from people who are more expert:

- Using a power tool on MOP will stink like hell... it's exactly that smell of a dentist drilling into your teeth. Yuk.

- there will be even more dust airborne than with a hand tool. I haven't actually researched, but I assume (and I believe correctly) that MOP dust is VERY BAD!!! VERY BAD for your lungs, your eyes, I'm sure your skin, and no doubt it can even somehow damage your soul. Proceed with extreme care. You may not notice it "today" or "tomorrow", but I can't for the life of me imagine that you'd want that crap in your lungs. At all.


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It's not about dust, or smell, or any of that, because it's easy enough to control that on either kinds of cutting (vacuum, panthose over the front to catch bits of flying inlay). You get that hand-cutting anyway.

I use a dremel for cutting holes, and small sanding drums are great for fine-tuning the shapes of thing without having to reach for a file, where appropriate, but the reason to go with the handsaw is feel and control; pearl in different thicknesses, different species, has different resistance, you can feel if the blade's cutting smoothly, you can adjust your stroke depth, angle, speed to match the curve you're cutting, how fragile the piece you're cutting is (how thin, how narrow, how well supported), etc. And it's cheap. It doesn't take too long to get a feel for the right tension, the right sawing action, etc.

As for health hazards, I wouldn't risk it; last medline/pubmed search I did revealed no studies showing association between silicosis/lung cancer/other problems and pearl working, but I really, really wouldn't risk it. It's very fine dust, it's got silicates in it, it can do mechanical damage to your lungs. ALL dust is bad, and the finer it is, the worse it is. Ergo the necessity for good respiratory protection when working with wood. I don't usually wear any when hand-cutting inlay, but I do run a vacuum.

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Bad idea, even if it's got variable speed it's far too heavy handed and chances are you'll end up shattering the shell, you won't be able to do any tight curves as such and unless you're working massively large peices chances are you'll lose a finger tip or two :D . Just as a comparison, the blade width on the #3 jewellers blades i use can't be much more than .25mm whereas a scroll saw blades must be 4>6 times the width - go figure.

Jem :D

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