A scroll saw is a small machine either operated by pedaling or using electricity to cut intricate curves for wood, metal, and other materials. The intricate curves are usually for design, and many different things can be done, such as having curved edges.
The machine’s name was derived from traditional use when people made scrollwork, sculptural ornaments, and other scroll head designs.
There are many things to keep in mind when you use a scroll saw, and we’ll get into those now.
What You'll Learn...
- No Time to Read? Here are Our Best Scroll Saw Picks!
- What is a Scroll Saw Used For?
- Different Sizes of Scroll Saws
- Scroll Saw for Beginners- Terms to Know
- Choosing the Best Scroll Saw Blades
- How to Use a Scroll Saw
- Top 5 Tips for Working with a Scroll Saw
- So What is the Best Scroll Saw?
- DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw
- What We Like…
- What We Don’t Like…
- WEN 3921 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw
- What We Like…
- What We Don’t Like…
- 18″ Porter Cable Variable Speed Scroll Saw
- What We Like…
- What We Don’t Like…
- Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw
- What We Like
- What We Don’t Like
- Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw
- What We Like
- What We Don’t Like
- Wrapping it Up
No Time to Read? Here are Our Best Scroll Saw Picks!
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|Top||DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw with Scroll-Saw Stand||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|WEN 3921 16-inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|18" Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|Dremel MS20-01 Moto-Saw Variable Speed Compact Scroll Saw Kit||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|Jet 727200K Scroll Saw With Stand||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|HEGNER 22" Variable Speed Scroll Saw||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
What is a Scroll Saw Used For?
Scroll saws are used for freehand cutting. In other words, they’re used to carve intricate patterns in the wood that you are working with.
You can also create smaller things such as name tags, mini furniture, clock bases and other designs with the use of a scroll saw.
The scroll saw uses a reciprocating blade instead of a continuous loop. This means that you can actually remove the blade and place it through a hole that you have already drilled when you use a scroll saw. This will make it easier for you to cut out and make intricate designs with an entry slot that you have already made.
There are a lot of things that you can do with this. The much-needed finesse with the movement gives you an advantage when compared to using other narrow blades.
Many people use the scroll saw to make their lives easier when working with a flexible arm. This ensures that the entire work area is lit up.
There is almost always a dust blower nozzle to ensure that the workspace is clean and clear, even while working with a piece of material.
The variety of speeds that you can run the scroll saw blade on is also one of the significant advantages that it has over many different saws out there.
You will be able to work slower for hardwood and faster for softer wood to ensure that the intricate details you are planning do not go to waste because of a misguided blade.
Different Sizes of Scroll Saws
There are a lot of different sizes of scroll saws. All of them have been classified according to the size of the actual throat. This is the blade’s distance when measured to the rear of the frame of the saw itself.
There is a depth to the throat that will let you measure how big a piece of wood can be cut by it. The smaller saws have room for 12 inches or 300 mm. Commercial saws give you an upwards of 30 inches or 760 mm.
Before computer automation made it easy to use saws in general, industrial saws were commonplace in manufacturing suites since large objects can be hung on top of the mechanical link without any issues.
So what does that mean to you, exactly? It means a deep throat is to be taken advantage of with the linkage right up above the ceiling.
Depending on the size of the scroll saw, the prices may vary from about $50 to a high-end industrial-grade $2,500. The high-end scroll saws, like the Hegner scroll saw, present a better accuracy rating for the ultimate precision needed since they have minimal vibration- or “recoil,” as many folks like to call it these days.
Scroll Saw for Beginners- Terms to Know
Some terminologies may seem daunting at first, but they are straightforward to remember once you get used to it.
The throat size is the distance from the blade back to the saw throat. The most common throat sizes are 16”, 20”, 21” and 30”.
- The 16” scroll saw is a scroll saw for beginners and small jobs. It’s an entry-level machine and easy to handle.
- The 20” and 21” scroll saw is for general purpose cutting.
- The 30” scroll saw is an advanced level saw to be used by experts.
There are two basic types of mount blades;
Tooled: For this type of blade mounting, you’ll require a tool to mount and dismount the blade. They have a more rigid and stable blade mounting but are also more challenging and time-consuming to change.
Tool-less: As you may already have guessed, you don’t require a tool to remove and replace your scroll saw blade with this type. They are usually the easiest to use and the most common blade mounting on modern scroll saws.
Smooth and Flat Work Table
To work with the scroll saw more efficiently, it needs to be completely flat and smooth. A rough blade will prevent you from cutting your material accurately.
Using a scroll saw, you bring the material to the saw, and since you don’t want any resistance, make sure to use a relatively broad table and one that sits perfectly horizontally.
For more versatility, a variable speed scroll saw is much better for both beginners and professionals. It will be of great assistance when working with different materials.
Hold Down Foot
The hold-down foot needs to be as sturdy as possible since it holds down your material. Check to ensure that it’s made from a solid metal material; otherwise, it’s not something you want to buy. The blade’s manufacturer should also have provided an easy way to make adjustments to the blade.
See if the blade has a table tilt for angular cuts. Bear in mind that the “table” itself does not tilt – only the motor, housing, and blade do. It also needs to have a lock to position it permanently.
Choosing the Best Scroll Saw Blades
By default, most scroll saws come with a standard factory blade. However, this isn’t always the best blade to use. You should swap it out with a better performing one.
The best way to get the perfect feel of a blade is to start cutting your material of choice with it. Switch out to different blades until you find one that best fits your need. Get a blade that will deliver both a comfortable cutting experience as well as allow you to make clean cuts.
The bottom line is, you need to perform some experimentation before you finally find the right blade. Make sure you purchase additional blades just to be sure.
The size of the blade is arguably the most crucial aspect to consider before selecting a blade. For a clean, professional cut, you need a blade size that’s best suited to the main material you’ll be cutting. A blade size that’s either too small or too big won’t work efficiently.
Scroll Saw Blade Chart
Blade sizes range widely, right from 3/0 to 12. 3/0 is the smallest (naught blades), and 12 is the largest.
The smallest scroll saw is often called a naught blade. It’s also the most preferred blade because it delivers a very fine cut. The only caveat is that since they are so small, they can easily bend and break. It would help if you had a really steady hand and quite a bit of experience before using them.
The final factor to consider is the material thickness. The thicker the material, the bigger the blade you pick needs to be. Note that this general rule of thumb also holds for almost any other type of woodcutting.
Once again, the blade should neither be too small or too big – perfectly suited for the material thickness.
Here’s a quick rundown of the different type of scroll saw blades, as well as what they’re used for…
Type 2/0: Used mostly for softwood, this size has the cleanest and most detailed cut.
Type 1: This type delivers excellent detail and clean cuts a little faster than 2/0. It’s ideal for scroll saw beginners looking to make fine details.
Type 5: This is a general-purpose blade perfect for any wood cutting – from tapered wood to raw lumber.
Type 12: Used to cut material of at least 1” and above in thickness.
How to Use a Scroll Saw
1. Turn the scroll saw on
Of course, it should go without saying that you have to turn on the machine before you use it right? You have to cut around the pattern that we assume you have already drawn or laid out on your wood beforehand.
There are a lot of different types of woods so make sure that the blade that you are going to use to put in your intricate design fits well. The varying differences when it comes to the teeth of the scroll saw are incredibly important when you want to be able to be as detailed as possible with your designs.
2. Configure the speed of the saw’s blade
If you are using a variable speed model for a scroll saw, then you will have the ability to adjust the speed of its blade. This means that you can change the speeds for the different types of wood.
We suggest using faster speeds on woods such as maple while maintaining a slower speed when you are working with much harder ones.
This will guarantee that you are not wasting too much effort by repeating a lot of motions while still maintaining the precision that is most likely required when working with woods.
3. Guide the blade with your forefingers
Using the forefingers of both of your hands, you will be able to guide the blade through the wood that you are working with. Making sure that you use both hands means that you are not going to have a piece that jumps around and nothing will be lifted by accident.
You have to make sure that you are keeping a safe distance from your fingers with the saw blade itself since your own safety is the top priority in these situations.
Depending on your skill level, you can do precision cutting relatively easy or it might take you some time to fully learn the process, so we highly suggest that you keep an open mind to mistakes.
4. Use fine-grit sandpaper to soften rough edges
Assuming that you are already finished with your sample work, you can use a fine-grit sandpaper to soften any of the rough edges that might have been created by the scroll saw blade.
Making sure that the wood that you have finished working with does not have accidental sharp edges will prevent you and other folks who might be holding your work from getting cut.
This is also a great way to check out your work if you want to add in a little bit more detail or if you are satisfied with what came out.
Top 5 Tips for Working with a Scroll Saw
1. Turn Up the Lights
This may seem a little obvious, but good lighting is very important when using your scroll saw. Poor lighting will negatively impact the quality of your work. You will not be able to see the pattern you need to trace.
Another problem you may encounter is perception. If the light is poor, you may not be able to see exactly where the blade is positioned along the line. A great solution to this problem is mountable lights that you can mount directly on the saw for ideal light positioning.
2. Blade Specifics
Once you have the correct blade for your project, you need to check the blade’s tension. Too much or too little, and your blade will more than likely break.
The tension is expected to be correct when you pluck it, and you hear a ping sound.
If there is too much tension, the blade will break when you begin to saw, and if there is too little tension, the blade will wander when you cut.
After about half an hour of working, your blades are going to become dull and possibly break.
To save time and effort, ensure you have a supply of extra blades near to your work area. A quick and simple idea for storing your blades is to attach a magnetic strip to the scroll saw’s stand and let them hang onto the magnetic strip until needed.
Before you begin working, always check the teeth of the blade to ensure they are facing forward and pointing down. If the blade is pointing in the wrong direction, you will experience several problems.
3. Minimize Warping
Prevent the warping of your plywood, thin varieties in particular, by storing them on a flat surface and placing a heavy piece of wood on top.
If your plywood has already warped, you can fix it by dampening the surface slightly and placing it on a flat surface and once again placing a heavy piece of wood on top.
It may take about a week to straighten out again.
4. Prevent Splitting
When drilling holes through a piece of wood, you can prevent the wood from splitting as the drill passes through using two methods.
The first method is to place a piece of scrap wood underneath your workpiece before drilling.
This works well with thinner pieces of wood. The second method works best when you are working with thicker pieces.
Start by drilling through the wood to the point where the drill just breaks through the bottom surface. Turn the wood over and finish drilling the hole from the other side.
5. Keep Stacked Pieces Together
When you need a number of identical pieces, it is recommended to stack them together when sawing to ensure the sizes are indeed identical.
This can be done by using clear packing tape to secure the pieces together before sawing.
Another option to use is cyanoacrylate glue to hole pieces firmly in place while you work. Just be sure to use the glue in moderation to avoid any sticky situations.
Working with a scroll saw will take both practice and patience to perfect. Use the above tips to help you enhance your sawing skills and better the outcome of your woodworking projects.
So What is the Best Scroll Saw?
There are a lot of scroll saws on the market right now and it is important for you to find one that is of the highest quality.
Efficiency, precision, and stability are at the top of the list when it comes to deciding what the best scroll saw is. We have compiled some of the best scroll saw models on the market today to make sure you get a healthy comparison of the best scroll saws.
DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw
If you are looking for a unique armed scroll saw then you are not going to find one that is as accurate as this one. It features an easily handled variable speed control that you can adjust to have full control on how your blades cut through the materials that you are working with.
The DW788 by Dewalt is one of the best scroll saws that you can get on the market right now. It has a tool-free blade change experience which means that you are not going to have to go through too much effort to replace the blade that you are using.
- Double parallel-link arm design dramatically reduces vibration and noise for extremely accurate cuts
- Exclusive tool-free blade clamps allow blade changes in seconds
- On-off switch, electronic variable speed, flexible dust blower, and blade-tensioning lever all located on front upper arm
- Arm design pivots from back of the saw to front, shortening the arm movement for smoother, quieter operation
- Arm lifts so blade can be easily threaded through the material for inside cuts
What We Like…
You are definitely going to love the double parallel-link arm design since it gives you a reduced sense of vibration and noise while you are working with your intricate designs.
This gives you an accurate overall experience and it means that you are going to increase the quality of what you are designing. The tool-free blade clamp lets you change the blades in seconds while maintaining the safety that you require.
The on and off switch can easily be toggled and there are add-on features such as the electronic variable speed, flexible dust blower to keep your workspace clean and a blade tensioning lever. All of these are located on the front upper arm for easy control.
What We Don’t Like…
For people who are thinking of purchasing this scroll saw by Dewalt, we suggest that you wait for a while since there are a lot of reports that some manufacturing issues have been rising.
This might be because some of their factories have moved resources around. There are a lot of factors that you have to keep in mind regarding this reason. However, we truly believe that this is the best that you can get within its price range.
The DW788 gets a well-earned spot at the top of our list, thanks to Dewalt’s attention to precision and detail. This scroll saw packs a lot of punch and you are definitely not going to be disappointed.
With so many features for you to take advantage of, there are many things that you can do and the functionalities already provided are maintained in a certain level of quality that you can depend on.
It does so many things right so we are not even going to point out that there are units that came out with manufacturing issues since those can easily be addressed in the near future.
WEN 3921 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw
You are not going to be able to find any other scroll saw like the WEN 3921. It has an intricate specific design that you can use to let your creative juices flow. There is a wide variable speed that you can change varying from 400 to 1600 strokes per minute.
This gives you a lot of range with how you want to work with different types of wood. You have to make sure that all of the designs that you put out are done with precision so you are not going to have any regrets as long as you take advantage of the features of this unit.
What We Like…
With the range of strokes per minute that this scroll saw comes with, you are going to be able to work with both harder kinds of wood and softer woods.
For those that may not know, it is best suited for softer woods to make sure that the blade strokes are faster while for harder woods, you have to take control of the pacing by making it much slower.
You will be able to cut different wood types at up to 1.9 inches in terms of thickness and 16 inches with the throat depth.
There are a lot of things that you can do with this measurement since you are going to be able to work with a lot of different intricate designs in the long run. With the high quality of the Wen 3921, you are not going to have to worry about durability since it definitely holds up.
What We Don’t Like…
Some people have reported that the neck easily broke even after light use. You are going to have to make sure that you take care of how you use the machine if you want to make it last if that is truly the case.
We do, however, want to note that we did not experience any breaking at the neck area of the machine itself, so it’s very possible this might have been an isolated issue that applies only for a few of units put out.
For something that you can get for under a hundred dollars, there is truly no beating the WEN 3921. There are so many things that you can do with it and a lot of those things were done with great precision. This means that you have to be as accurate as possible with the machine that you use.
18″ Porter Cable Variable Speed Scroll Saw
The PORTER-CABLE PCB375SS is one of the best scroll saws to come out in the past few years. It simply is not beatable with the price it lists itself since a lot of those that are listed at the same price range pack less punch than this particular unit.
You are given a lot of room to work with your wood since the table top bevel scale is a patented yet accurate and convenient way for you to read all of the measurements that you need. This is the best case scenario if you are trying to design something incredibly intricate.
- Large aluminum 20″ x 12 5/8″ dual tilting table allows for bevel cutting up to 45 degrees
- Patented table top bevel scale for accurate and convenient readings
- Tool-less blade holder makes quick and easy 5″ pin or plain end blade changes
- Built-in adjustable LED work lamp for better illumination of work area
- Variable speeds between 500 and 1500 SFM with upfront control knob
What We Like…
A scroll saw with a lot of balance in between the power and the speed, you are going to love this 18″ Variable Speed scroll saw.
The large aluminum has a dimension of 20” x 12 ⅝” dual tilting table and this gives you a lot of room, since it has a bevel cutting up to 45 degrees in range.
It also comes with a patented table top bevel scale for you to be able to read accurately and easily the measurements that you are trying to work with.
The tool-less blade holder is enough for you to be able to replace the blade that you are working with without having to deal with too many processes. It also comes with a built-in adjustable LED work lamp so you will be able to work with the woods under low light conditions in the room.
What We Don’t Like…
The smoothness might feel a little odd for this scroll saw for those not used to the rugged edges. You’re not going to have any issues overall but you are probably going to prefer other models.
We do understand that this might be the case but as long as you get used to the feeling of the machine itself, you are going to love it in the long run.
For a steal, you have the ultimate scroll saw. The PORTER-CABLE PCB375SS presents you with a lot of things to be able to be done. The features that you are given and the functionalities that come with the add-ons of the scroll saw are more than enough to be able to creatively carve out all of the edges.
For those that are still thinking whether they should buy this one, we would not list it if we did not think that it was one of the best scroll saws on the market.
Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw
With so many unreliable scroll saws on the market right now, the Shop Fox W1713 saves the day. In its price range, you are not going to find anything better or packed with more features than this one.
There are a lot of different things that you can do with an effective scroll saw but it all comes down to the precision that you require.
The precision that this unit gives you is unparalleled. You are going to make the most accurate cuts possible and you are not going to have any regrets in the end.
- 1/8 HP, 1.2 Amp, 120V, Single-phase, 60HZ
- No-load speed: 550-1650 SPM
- Maximum cutting thickness: 2 inches, Maximum cutting width: 16 inches
- Blade stroke: 3/4 inch
- Variable speed motor cast iron table and a gooseneck work light
- Dust blower and 1-1/4 inch dust port
What We Like
If you do not have the tenure then you are probably wondering what it feels like to work with an accurate scroll saw. You are going to get just that with this model. There are a lot of things that it can offer to you and the no-load speed of 550 to 1650 strokes per minute is one of those.
It features ⅛ HP, 1.2 Amp, 120V all in a single phase type of scroll saw. The entire machine runs at 60HZ and has a maximum cutting thickness of 2 inches.
It has a maximum cutting width of 16 inches, which is more than enough for the thick woods that you are thinking of chopping down as well.
What We Don’t Like
If you are not used to the unique design of the scroll saw setup by Shop Fox, then you might have a new experience with it. There were some complaints targeted with how consumers had set up the entire scroll saw piece by piece.
Though the materials were of high quality, a lot of people could not help but notice how different this particular scroll saw unit truly is when compared to other standard designs in the market.
This fourth placer gets a lot of props from a lot of craftsmen all over the country and it is without a doubt effective in being an accurate scroll saw.
However, you have to take into consideration that it was designed in a different manner compared to other scroll saws that you might have used in the past. As soon as you adjust to the changes, we can pretty much guarantee you’re going to have a smooth experience in the long run.
Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw
Without a doubt, Delta is one of the more well-known brands when it comes to power tools and the 40-694 is not going to surprise you when we say that it is one of the higher quality scroll saws that we have tested out in this review session.
You are going to get a lot of power and accuracy from it and you will be able to rely on it under intense situations where you have to have as much precision as possible to make sure that all of your cuts are as precise and accurate as you want them to be.
- Electronic variable speed can be adjusted from 400-1,750 SPM for a wide array of cutting applications
- Dual parallel-link arm design reduces vibration reducing over and under cutting improving accuracy and quality
- Upper arm lifts and locks in the raised position during blade changes or while adjusting blade position for fret work
- Tool-free blade clamp allows for quick, easy blade changes in seconds
What We Like
Delta did not disappoint with the electronic variable speed add-on that can easily be adjusted. You are not going to have any issues with trying to cut harder woods and softer woods since you have a wide range of stroke per minute that you can choose from.
You can choose a setting from anywhere between 400 strokes per minute up to 1,750 strokes per minute.
This is great for folks who want that all-in-one scroll saw that they’ll always be able to use, regardless of the type of wood or the nature of their project.
It is possible for you to do what you are attempting without having to worry about the vibration since this scroll saw gives you less vibration and more efficiency overall. It is truly one of the best experiences that you can get on the market right now in terms of the base price.
What We Don’t Like
You are not going to have any complaints other than the annoying knocking sound that you might hear. You can change the speed of the cutter but you are still going to hear the weird knocking sound.
We are not completely sure what causes it so you may want to call the customer service hotline to see what is up with your unit if that is the case with yours. Other than that, it was an overall smooth and fun experience for us to review this particular scroll saw.
The Delta 40-694 scroll saw packs a lot of punch and you are not going to have any issues with the reliability, accuracy, efficiency, stability and the durability of this product.
There are a lot of things that we can rave about, but you still have to get over the fact that it does come with its own negatives.
The major one, in this case, is that it is noisy with the knocking sound that you hear when you are trying to cut wood. We hope that gets fixed sometime in the near future.
Wrapping it Up
As you can see, there are a lot of things that you can do with a scroll saw. Having one in your tool kit when working with many kinds of wood, metals, and other materials will make it easier for you to cut them intricately. The much-needed precision will be made much easier with a scroll saw close by.