Designed for intricate cuts, a scroll saw is a must-have if you’re into woodwork or you’re a fan of DIY projects that imply cutting wood. With a different construction compared to that of a regular saw, a scroll saw can be a very useful carpenter’s tool, especially if you love woodwork details.
Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at what scroll saws can do and help you pick the very best one for your needs.
Top 3 Picks
Best overall: DEWALT Scroll Saw
Easy to assemble, offering amazing speed versatility, and having a solid cast-iron construction, the DEWALT scroll saw is a product that delivers more than buyers would expect.
Best for beginners: WEN 3921 Variable Speed Scroll Saw
“Perfect scroll saw to learn on with very approachable speed and control. The saw directions are clear on how to get started.” (Customer review)
Best Value: BUCKTOOL Variable Speed Scroll Saw
The Bucktool scroll saw delivers great performance considering the cost, offering features such as quick-change blade, LED work light, and even a 45-degree tilt cast iron table.
How to Choose a Scroll Saw
Since the price of a scroll saw varies from $200 to $1,000, you need to make sure you understand what you’re buying to avoid post-shopping frustrations. With scroll saws, the main shopping considerations include:
The throat capacity of a scroll saw is the distance from the back frame of the saw to the saw blade. If you have a saw with a deep throat capacity, it means you can cut wider pieces of material. These capacities range from 12 to 30 inches (mostly found on commercial saws). The majority of woodworking tasks will require a throat capacity of 16 to 18 inches.
This is a setting that allows you to increase or decrease the tension while actually using the saw. If there is not enough tension, thin blades might snap. If the tension is too loose, you could end up with a twisted blade. Different saws will have different ways of regulating tension. Some of them have tension control knobs, while others require you to move a lever to adjust the tension. Whatever the case, make sure this setting is located on the front of the saw, as it’s easier to reach.
The scroll saw blades are usually a plain or a pin-end blade. A plain-end blade is the most common, and most of them are readily available to cut through different types of material. These blades are secured by the jaws at the top and bottom of the blade. Pin-end blades are simpler to change because you won’t require any tools to do so. They have cross pins at the end to help fit them in place.
You will find plenty of scroll saws that come with tilting tables for cutting materials at an angle. If you ever need to make a beveled edge, this feature is important. If you find a saw that can tilt both ways, it might make it easier for you to cut through the material.
The speed of the saw is measured in the number of vertical strokes that can be completed within a minute. The lower figure is usually 400, but high-end saws can reach speeds of 1,800 strokes per minute. Note that some models come with adjustable speed options.
Across the US, you are going to find saws that come with a hold-down foot. This safety measure is designed to keep the material in place as you’re cutting it. Some people don’t like this feature because it’s visually obtrusive as they’re cutting (it can be removed if you want).
This handy feature will blow away dust that accumulates as you’re cutting different types of material. There are certain models that even come with dust collection, making woodworking a lot cleaner.
How to Use a Scroll Saw
Knowing how to safely use a scroll saw is just as important as knowing what safety precautions to take when you’re using any tool with a blade or a power tool that could end up injuring you when not handled properly. In order to use a scroll saw safely, make sure you:
- Clamp the scroll saw to the workbench. If you opt for a model that comes with its own stand, make sure you place it on even ground to prevent it from wobbling.
- Don’t perform any maintenance work or attempt changing the blade without turning off and unplugging the saw first. Do both these things for 100 percent safety.
- Install a blade that’s suitable for the type of material you want to cut.
- Install the blade with the teeth pointing forward.
- Adjust the tension after you’ve installed the blade.
- Make sure the handles are in place before turning on the machine.
- There is nothing on the table when you start using the saw except for the materials you’re attempting to cut.
- Never let the machine’s power on if you’re moving farther from it or if you have to grab something that’s underneath the worktable.
Types of Scroll Saws
Scroll saws are usually divided into several categories, depending on the arm type in question. That means you have your:
- Parallel arm saws, which are very commonly found on the market. They are characterized by two parallel arms attached to the motor, with a small blade connected to the ends, in a vertical position. This is one of the most commonly manufactured models because it doesn’t require fabricating that many parts.
- C-arm saws have arm shapes that are curved to resemble the letter C. They are usually smaller compared to parallel arm scroll saws, but they can cut faster and have stronger cutting abilities. The problem is that they may underperform when you have to make intricate or curved cuts.
- Rigid arm scroll saws are pretty rare, but still worth mentioning. They are usually made from a single metal piece and have the blade clamped to an arm to make downward movement easier. They also have a spring that pulls the blade back up. These are vintage models that you could probably find somewhere online, but manufacturers don’t make them anymore.
- Double parallel-link scroll saws are very complex. They have motors located at the back of the saw, which are attached to the main rocker. They are known for having a lower vibration output compared to the regular parallel arm scroll saw, but they are more difficult to find.
Best Scroll Saws For Intricate Wood Designs
The DEWALT scroll saw is a power tool that’s amazing for people of all tool-handling expertise levels. Known for making some of the best power tools on the market, DEWALT doesn’t disappoint in this case either, offering a scroll saw with a solid body that’s made from cast-iron, so you know durability won’t be an issue with this product.
It is powered by a 1.3 amp motor, capable of delivering speeds of up to 1,750 SPM. This parallel arm saw is designed to move back and forth, meaning you can operate it smoothly even if you don’t have that much experience working with a scroll saw. It has a 45-degree tilt, making it easy to cut angles on different types of materials. The saw is also pretty easy to assemble, as it doesn’t require any additional tools to install it.
Offering accessories designed for clean woodworking and capable of withstanding the test of time thanks to its cast-iron design, the WEN variable speed scroll saw is a product designed for beginners and master woodworkers alike. The motor has an adjustable speed setting, allowing it to reach up to 1,600 strokes per minute. Speed can go as low as 400 SPM, so it’s definitely usable if you’re just getting the hang of this type of power tool.
Compatible with pinned and pinless blades, the versatility of the WEN 3921 is amazing. It can cut through thick and thin pieces of material, and comes with a bunch of accessories to make your life easier, such as an integrated LED lamp for working in low light conditions, and even a saw dust port for dust collection.
With an ergonomic design and fairly easy to get adjusted to even if you’ve never really dealt with scroll saws before, the Shop Fox W1872 is a model that comes with a solid construction and features that are easy to use. It comes with a dust blower that keeps the area clean while you’re working, so sawdust won’t ever get in the way of your precise cuts.
It is comparable with plain and pin-end cutting blades, and it allows you to tilt the table to a 45-degree angle. The scale underneath it will allow you to operate at greeted accuracy when you’re looking to adjust the angles. The blade operates at speeds between 550 and 1,600 SPM, thanks to the ⅙ HP motor. It also comes with a hold-down foot to prevent the wood or plastic piece you’re cutting from shifting positions.
Another scroll saw that you can rely on is the Ryobi. It might not be as famous as some of the other models we’ve looked at today, but it surely manages to deliver quality results once you get the gist of it. It comes with a cast aluminum table that features a 45-degree tilt. You can cut through wider pieces of wood thanks to the 16-inch throat depth.
You can adjust the speed between 550 to 1,650 strokes per minute, which allows you to perform accurate wood cuts every time. The induction motor is pretty reliable, and we love the fact that you notice less vibrations compared to other models thanks to the cast iron base. It comes with a dust port and dust blower, although the air coming from it feels pretty weak.
The last product we wanted to talk about today is the Buckrool scroll saw, a model that’s pretty affordable and seems to deliver accurate results for people who aren’t overly pretentious with the intricacy of the projects chosen. It features a quick-blade changing system that opens a side panel so that you can choose and replace the currently-mounted blade.
It comes with a cast iron table that bevels to a 45-degree angle, making bevel cuts a whole lot easier. The 16-inch throat depth allows you to make cuts that are up to two inches deep. It comes with a variable speed motor that seems to be rather quiet (at least compared to low-cost scroll saws). The pedal switch design allows hands free operation, so you can start and stop the saw with just a tap of the foot.
What is the best scroll saw for beginners?
Choosing the best scroll saw for beginners can be a little complicated, especially since mastering this type of tool could take a little bit of practice. What you want is a model that allows you to reach for the control in a way that doesn’t interfere with your visual field of the cut. Also, don’t buy the most expensive model on the market, as it’s sometimes best to get acquainted with what the tool does first, in which case a mid-range-priced scroll saw might help you out.
What is the difference between a scroll saw and a jigsaw?
Jigsaws are manual tools that are handheld. Scroll saws, on the other hand, are electrical-powered saws that are big and stationary. They have delicate blades that run at high speeds, requiring you to move the material you have to cut around the blades rather than holding the saw while you’re cutting.
What kind of scroll saw do I need?
The details on what scroll saw is best suitable for your needs depend on what exactly it is that you’re looking to cut. The models we’ve shown you today are reliable for all sorts of cutting projects, especially for making intricate cuts on wood and plastic pieces.
A scroll saw is designed for making intricate and curved cuts on woods and other materials. Scroll saws are generally considered easier to use compared to conventional saws because they are not handheld devices. Instead, they are secured to a table and fixed in place, while you’re manipulating the piece of wood you’re looking to cut.
Models range from low-speed units designed to cut through thin pieces of wood to heavy-duty models that can cut even through metal. Designed for finesse cutting, a scroll saw is perfect for creating fine details and finishes on wood materials, so make sure that you learn as much as you can about these products first in order to determine if you might get good use out of them.