Power Tool

What You Need to Know About the Scroll Saw

The scroll saw is different from the other power tools because it is operated by pedaling – just like working with a sewing machine. If you are an artisan carpenter or just an enthusiastic hobbyist who likes to do artful and fun projects, the scroll saw is the perfect tool as it can make intricate cuts on wood, plastic, metal, tiles or any other materials.

It is somewhat similar to a band saw (as both feature a blade guard and a table, for one). But instead of the continuous looping action of a strip of blade, the scroll saw cuts with a thin reciprocating blade which allows for a more freehand cutting. The thin blade is designed for making delicate, intricate cuts (such as for inlays) and for this reason the scroll saw is seen as more of a crafting tool rather than as a tool used for building and assembling.

Like many power tools designed for cutting, the scroll saw can be fitted with a variety of blades. Each blade is designed to cut certain materials including wood, metal, plastic, acrylic and tiles with ease. You should choose the right blade that will perfectly serve to a particular purpose.

  • Standard scroll saw blade – it has the most rudimentary tooth design. It comes in two types – wood and metal. Metal blades have much smaller teeth and the space between them is smaller compared to those of wood blades.
  • Skip-tooth blade – It has lesser teeth compared to other blades, so this type of blade is often the choice for beginners and/or amateur crafters. The distance – or "skip" -- between the teeth is much wider, hence the name.
  • Double skip-tooth blade – It is named as such because it has a gap between sets of two teeth. It is known for its slow cutting, but it produces quite a smooth finish.
  • Reverse-tooth blade – This is similar to the skip-tooth blade, only with the last set of teeth being inverted or in the opposite direction. This configuration is designed to minimize splintering.
  • Precision ground tooth blade – This is a spin-off to the double blade. Its teeth have been ground to produce a high degree of sharpness, making it perfect for creating fast and smooth finish in both straight and curved cuts. But because of its ultra-sharpness and aggressive cutting angle, this blade is not usually recommended for beginners.
  • Spiral blade – As the name suggests, the spiral blade has the regular set of teeth, only twisted together. It is designed in a way so that it can cut a material from all sides. A lot of users prefer this type of blade for the flexibility that it offers.
  • Crown tooth blade – The crown tooth blade resembles the reverse-tooth blade as both of them can cut in both directions. However, the former is specialized for cutting certain materials like plastics and other man-made items, or for use in more detailed work.

Depending on your budget as well as speed and cutting needs, you can choose any of the three common types of scroll saws:

  • Low-end – They are typically priced at $200 or lower, and are usually single-speed models. They can make cuts through inch-thick pieces of softwood or thinner hardwood with relative ease, but may struggle with cutting through anything that's thicker or harder. Plus, low-end models are noisy and tend to vibrate.
  • Mid-range – Mid-range models fall in the price range between $400 to $600. Compared to low-end types, these mid-range models create less noise and vibration when in use. Unlike the cheapest models, mid-range scroll saws typically feature at least two speeds – or even better, offer variable speeds that range from 300 to 3,000 strokes per minute, making them a better choice when you need to cut through much thicker pieces of material.
  • Professional –This is obviously the most expensive and high-scale of the bunch, with a price tag of $1000 and up. These professional models create the least noise and vibration. They often feature blowers that remove dusts away from the workpiece, giving you a clearer view of your work. Professional models also come with lights and magnifying glasses, but these features are also seen in mid-range models as well.