What is a scroll saw?

If you are a crafter, DIYer or woodworker, you will need a scroll saw in your workshop. This is the best tool to cut exquisite designs out of many different materials from wood to metals. Originally designed for scrollwork on wood, you can use it to make magic on your work from parquetry to fretwork.

scroll saw

It can cut complex cuts such as curved lines, plunge cuts, and intricate patterns. This quintessential cutting tool for crafting is a stationary machine that smooths smoothly as you move materials around it.

A scroll saw blade is typically characterized by a fine tip that facilitates the necessary precision required in crafting extremely intricate designs. Scroll saw blades are generally narrow with an average length of 5 inches and an average width of ⅛ inches.

Much of the scroll saw’s precision facility is a direct result of its extra fine teeth and high Teeth Per Inch (TPI) measurement–more teeth per inch basically translates to higher levels of precision; higher TPI measurement make for faster and more accurate blade turns that are important in crafting intricate patterns out of wood and other materials.

If you need finesse in your creative tasks, get a scroll saw.


Types of Scroll Saws

Scroll saws primarily vary in power supply and type of speed. The scroll saw that you will choose depends on your work routine and the materials you will work with.

Scroll Saws by Power Supply


Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

These powerful scroll saws get their power from being plugged into an electrical outlet. Most corded scroll saws feature long cords for optimum maneuverability. They also pack a lot more power than their cordless counterparts because they can work longer at consistent performance.


DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw

Cordless scroll saws run on batteries, which makes them portable and easily used anywhere. Innovations in these type of scroll saws include long-lasting batteries and fast chargers to help you work more efficiently.

You can find scroll saw batteries with voltags that range from 12V to 18V. 


Some latest scroll saws in the market are designed for flexible work management. You can easily switch from corded to cordless scroll saw with a few steps. 

Manual Scroll Saws

Last but not the least is the traditional scroll saw which is run manually by pedaling it akin to a sewing machine.

Types of Scroll Saws by Speed

Fixed-speed Scroll Saws

Scroll saws with fixed speed cut materials with a particular speed that you cannot change. This type of scroll saw can only cut the material it is designed to cut.

Variable Speed Scroll Saws

On the other hand, variable speed scroll saws offers the worker full control of speed just by the flick of a speed trigger button. This type of scroll saw can help you work faster from one material to the next – since you can adjust the speed of the saw with the hardness of the material.

Traditional Scroll Saws vs Modern Scroll Saws

Traditional mechanical scroll saws have been around since the 1860s. Traditionally, the mechanical scroll saw has been mainly used to craft of traditional scrollwork–which is how it got its name. Scroll work in this era are complicated sculptural ornaments that sport scroll head designs.

Today, to accommodate for an even wider range of scrolls saw projects, there are over 50 different models of modern scroll saws available in the consumer market–each offering different spec variations such as throat capacity and variable-speed setting, among others.

Scroll saws are very flexible in terms of price range; chances are you can find affordable models for as cheap as $100 and more expensive models that are somewhere around the $2000 price category.

Scroll Saw vs Jigsaw vs Band Saw

Scroll saws, jigsaws, and brand saws are often confused with each other mainly because these three workshop types instruments serve closely related functions such cutting and crafting patterns out of materials. Nevertheless, scroll saws, jigsaws, and band saws are three very different cutting implements–and each offers its own compelling reasons as to why it deserves a own place in your workshop.

A scroll saw, as previously discussed is typically a small stationary machine that is specifically engineered to cut and craft, in clean-precise fashion, ornate, elaborate, and intricate designs out of relatively thin materials–usually under 2 inches in thickness.

A jigsaw or saber saw , on the other hand, is generally a less specialized more versatile, jack of all trades kind of cutting instrument. As opposed to the scroll saw being a stationary machine, a jigsaw is a handheld power tool that is equipped with a narrow straight blade. Jigsaws are typically used for making plunged cuts and crude freehand cuts out materials such as wood and light metal.

Lastly, a band saw, much like a scroll saw, is a stationary machine that allows its user to cut and carved cured pieces out of materials like wood. Vertically adjustable, a band saw is more of an all around workhorse when compared to the scroll saw. A band saw is built to cut through generally thicker materials. And although there are very limited situations where the band saw can compete with the scroll saw’s ability to craft complicated and elaborate cuts, the band saw more than makes up for this in terms of its ability to generate raw power and speed.

What do you use a scroll saw for?

So what do you use a scroll saw for? Scroll saws are very popular among intarsia, fretwork artisans, and woodworkers because of its ability to make very precise cuts even in extremely tight corners–such precision is simply unachievable with any other woodworking implement.

Additionally, for enterprising woodworkers, scroll saws make for a convenient way to mechanize primary cutting procedures without putting out a huge investment both in terms of money and workspace.

Among the most popular modern applications of scroll saws include

  • Crafting curves
  • Crafting dovetail joints
  • Crafting intricate designs
  • Cutting in tight spots
  • Cutting at an angle
  • Pierce cuttings

How to Use a Scroll Saw

  1. Take the necessary safety precautions.

Before you turn the scroll saw on, make sure that you are properly wearing your protective glasses and dust mask. If necessary, you might want to consider tying your hair or wearing a hat to hold your hair back. If you are wearing sleeved clothing, make sure that you pull it back so your sleeve are nowhere near the blade.

  1. Prepare the materials that you will be working with.

Roughly cut the wood or whatever material you will be working with into the proper size. Sand the wood clear of any rough edges. Draw guidelines of the pattern want to craft out of your material. Make sure that the guidelines are visible enough.

  1. Prepare the scroll saw for cutting.

Clamp your scroll saw on your workbench. Choose the proper blade according to the pattern you wish to cut. If you’re working with thinner materials, you would likely need a blade with smaller teeth; thicker materials would require a blade with bigger teeth.

Install the blade onto the scroll saw–making sure it fits properly and securely.

A good number of scroll saw models have a light and dust blower mechanism–make sure these too are turned on to. Before cutting your material, you might want to test the saw on an extra piece of wood to make sure that you have chosen the correct blade and that the scroll saw is working correctly.

  1. Start cutting away.

Set the speed of your scroll saw if you’re using one with a variable speed setting. A good rule of thumb to remember is that that thick woods and hardwoods generally require higher speeds while softer woods such as maple and poplar and other thinner-softer materials require much slower speeds.

Use both of your hands to control and guide the material along the blade of the scroll saw. Take as much time as you feel you need in completing the cutting process. Rush cutting makes you prone to making mistakes. This is dangerous as much as it is wasteful as you could easily hurt your hands and cut out a crooked pattern out of your material.

  1. Finish up the pattern.

After successfully crafting your desired pattern out of your material, make sure that you turn off your scroll saw. While the scroll saw typically provide smooth cuts, you might still want to sand down any rough edges by hand using fine-grit sandpaper.


A scroll saw is a wonderful handy tool to help you create masterpieces from your workshop. It can cut exquisite designs into many different materials. What’s more impressive is its smooth, precise cuts that help you get the best outputs from your sketched works.

When it comes to scroll saws, you can buy low-cost models for general hobbyist projects or invest in higher-end saws for pro-grade works. Get a scroll saw and soon you’ll create magic in any woodworking, metal, plastic and glass projects.

To know more about scroll saws, visit Saws Expert. Saws Expert guides you through the scroll sawing process with everything from product reviews to how-to guides. Here we can help you find the best saw for your needs. So you can create fine and attractive work pieces of high standards.

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