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.

Scroll saws also come with a plethora of additional features. The most popular of these include:

  • Dust blower – Manufacturers have two ways to integrate this feature. The first option is to integrate a dust blower which requires the attachment of a dust collector that helps the saw accumulate the blown dust. The other is to integrate a fully-featured dust removal system. What you go with will come down to your preferences.
  • Stand –Some scroll saw kits also include a portable stand. This helps in instances where you’re missing a spot in your garage or backyard to place the saw on.
  • Lubrication – Some scroll saws are greaseless and don’t need any sort of lubrication. Others come with integrated lubrication and require the buyer to apply the grease.
  • Light – Having a light on a scroll saw can be quite useful. Due to the portability of the machine, DIYers can use the saw in a variety of places, including areas without great lighting. Therefore, having an on-board light can save you from the hassle of carrying a separate torch or turning on the light every time you work in your workshop or garage.

Best Scroll Saws to Buy

Product
Visual
Where to Buy

Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw

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

Dremel MS20-01 Moto-Saw Variable Speed Compact Scroll Saw Kit

WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Flexible LED Light

ShopSeries RK7315 16" Scroll Saw with Variable Speed Control

Delta Power Tools 40-694

This saw is the best of its kind in the beginner edition. The Delta 40-694 is a machine you will most commonly spot in wood training schools and all such institutions. The accompanying table with this tool can tilt both to the left and right, making it easy for a newcomer in the profession to learn scroll sawing. The main reason behind this is the sleek design and the fact that it is a 1.3 amp tool with a 20” capacity. When you buy a Delta 40-694, it comes with a warranty of 5 years. Its cutting capacity at 90 degrees is 2-1/8,” and the table size is 16”x24”.  

What makes it stand out?

This is one of the best scroll saws in terms of accuracy. Three main reasons contribute to the efficiency: the blades, the speed, and the handling. You can maneuver the blade quickly and push material to the blade which stays stationary.

DEWALT DW788

The Dewalt DW788 is a 20 inches scroll saw with variable speed customization. Blade change is also easy when working, because of the tool free clamp. It has a 1.3 amp motor which provides approx. 400-1,750 strokes per minute. The max depth of cuts is 2 inches, and the length of the strokes is ¾ inches. The tool weighs around 56 lbs, but you will get a few pounds heavier in shipping parcels. It has a three year warranty and one year free service. The tool comes with blades, saw and hex wrench.

What makes it stand out?

The best thing about Dewalt DW788 is that the front upper arm contains an on/off switch, blade-tensioning lever, and a dust blower. This arm design will keep the blade perpendicular to your working surface, reducing the chances of under cutting or over cutting.

Dremel MS20-01

Dremel’s Moto saw is a comprehensive solution to make cuts in a lot of surfaces and materials like wood, metal, plastic, and laminations. It has a 0.6 amp motor and has a cord length of 9 ft. Stroke length is 0.315, and the width is 8.5 inches. The tool comes with a warranty of 2 years. You can also use the detachable coping function for handheld usage. Just like any great scroll saw, there are variable speed options and a fast clamp base to attach to tables or working stations. It is a portable saw is easy to handle and secure.

What makes it stand out?

The auto tensioning quick change mechanism of this saw is optimal for blade tensioning and doing rapid changes when working. This feature keeps the edge tight and ready to cut without wasting time in waiting or adjusting.

WEN 3920

The Wen 3920 is a two direction scroll saw with adjustable speed ranging from 550 to 1600 strokes per minute. All you need to do is turn a knob to adjust! It is very easy to use, with minimal vibration, thanks to the cast iron base. The 16×11” table is ideal for making cuts up to 45 degrees. It can cut strokes upto 2 inches thick. The wen product comes with a two year warranty. There is an air pump, flex light, dusting port, and three blades in a wen 3920.

What makes it stand out?

The unique blade holder in Wen 3920 includes a hold-down foot clamp that secures your work with no fear of slipping, and the worklight can move and adjust to any direction you want to fix. This unique feature is not easy to find in most scroll saws. You can just pop the pins out of blade holder to turn the tool 90 degrees.

Rockwell ShopSeries RK7315

The 16 inch RK7315 scroll saw is lightweight and very easy to handle. It has an 1.2 amp inductive motor that provides a variable stroke speed of 500-1,700 strokes per minute. Please don’t underestimate the motor, as it can easily cut through materials like wood and metal. The depth of cuts is 2-1/2 “ with a throat depth of 16”. It is a little saw, compared to commercially used models, which makes it the best choice for household, gardening and DIY projects.

What makes it stand out?

The most remarkable feature of this saw is its accuracy. You can match the need of the material with variable speed control by tilting the table top from 0 to 45 degrees. This allows easy, accurate and fine cuts on any material. Combine the speed and material to achieve the best mix for any project.

Conclusion

Scroll saws are not a necessity for job sites but serve as a multi-purpose power tool for anyone with a persistent interest in DIY. When it comes to run-of-the-mill projects, they can help you to make accurate cuts with high precision. The above scroll saw reviews will help you analyze what’s available, so you don’t have to conduct the time-intensive research yourself.