Best Scroll Saws: Complete Basic Detailing Projects with Ease
Create intricate shapes on tough material with these scroll saws
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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON September 2, 2021
A scroll saw is a handy tool for your garage or workspace that helps you add a creative touch to the materials you cut. Scroll saws can be used by beginners and professionals alike. They are perfect for curving out basic patterns on wood and metals. Our scroll saw review will guide you through everything you need to know about some of the best options on the market.
A 1.3-amp parallel link scroll saw that’s extremely energy-efficient.
- Solid and durable construction.
- Flexible cast iron table.
- Makes little vibration when working.
- Maintains the utmost accuracy for high precision cuts.
- Eliminates the need for sanding afterward.
- Can be used on a wide range of material.
- Safe and comfortable.
- Expensive. Can get noisy at high speeds.
- May have blade alignment problems.
A unique and user-friendly scroll saw that accepts blades from two mounting angles.
- Reasonably priced. Includes a movable LED work light.
- Features an onboard storage for blades.
- Adjustable speed.
- Can take both pinned and pinless blades.
- Designed to promote dirt-free cutting.
- Includes a foot-lock pump to limit movement.
- Too small for large cuts. Not designed for making internal cuts.
- Not designed for heavy-duty cutting jobs.
A variable speed power tool with a strong and adjustable cast iron table.
- Includes a tool storage compartment.
- Features a work light and a convenient stand.
- Fairly noise free.
- Easily accessible tensioning mechanism.
- Adjustable speed.
- Lets you work with a wide range of materials.
- Equipped with a dust blower.
- Easy assembly.
- Stand and work light sold separately.
- The centering blade may be a bit wobbly.
- Inefficient customer service from Delta.
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Benefits of Scroll Saws
- Intricate details. One of the primary reasons to use a scroll saw is for the finer detail points of your work. With its versatility, lighter weight, and precision, you can get the exact look you want with very little after work.
- Better finish. The scroll leaves very fine, and typically smooth, edges to your work. This reduces the need for a lot of sanding after you are done.
- Enhanced control. You are able to control the motion of the scroll saw using a foot pedal, so both of your hands are free to more accurately move the workpiece to cut along your desired path. By using both hands and feet in tandem, you can craft truly intricate pieces.
- Space saver. Due to the typically smaller size and lighter weight of scroll saws, it will not take up much space.
Types of Scroll Saws
The parallel arm is the most common type of scroll saw you are likely to come across. They consist of a motor attached near the back of the arms, and the two arms will always remain parallel to each other. The C-arm variant uses a solid “C” shaped arm, so the blade is mounted between the two ends of the “C.” Well-known brands Hawk, Excalibur, and DeWalt use a parallel link type, which has rods in the upper and lower arms that are “pushed” by the motor to achieve short articulated arms which hold the blade.
The rigid arm scroll saw was really popular up until about the 1970s, but now it has next to no production. You may still find it in used shops or refurbished at pawn shops. It has a single-piece cast iron frame where the blade is attached to a pitman arm on the bottom. That pulls the blade down while a spring on the upper arm pulls the blade back up again. The problem with the design is that the blade tension changes with every stroke, making it harder to cut fine detail.
SKIL became well known for their scroll saws with the Model E. It was the first handheld, portable circular saw and was a trailblazer in the industry. The SKIL product line has expanded since then to include various other power tools and their accessories. One good product is the SKIL 3335-07 16” Scroll Saw.
Having been around since 1951, WEN is known for innovating new ways to make tools electric. The top quality of their tools is balanced by a fair price. WEN drill presses, sanders, generators, hydraulic cylinders, and scroll saws are known to be of excellent workmanship. We recommend the WEN 3921 16-inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw.
Jet also makes a great scroll saw. Established in 1958, Jet didn’t actually dive into the woodworking sector until the 1980s. They are also a company well-known for their customer-friendly warranty. Check out the Jet 18" Bench Top Scroll Saw.
Scroll Saw Pricing
- $100-$300: You will find most scroll saws falling within this price range. Quality, innovation, and brand name will all factor into how expensive it is.
- $300 and up: This price range will get into the extremely high-powered cutting end of scroll saws, typically best for those that use them as a profession.
Variable Speed Motor
This is best for scroll saws you intend to use on a wide range of materials. If you are willing to pay a higher price, one with adjustable cutting speeds will help you optimize your job.
Multiple scroll saws are equipped with a dust blower to blow the debris off of your workpiece. This improves visibility and therefore accuracy. It also keeps harmful particles from the saw’s motor.
Some scroll saws come with a light. While this is especially great if you are working in dim or dark conditions, it always helps improve accuracy to have a bright light centered exactly on the area you are working.
Tilting Work Surface
If you buy a scroll saw that can tilt, then you can work on your project across multiple angles. This really is a must for those interested in highly complex designs.
The rip fence is a guide to help you cut more evenly and precisely. Most scroll saws come with their own rip fence, but they are also sold separately if needed. They all protect your hands from the saw’s blade, so they truly are a must-have.
Tool-Free Blade Release
If you choose a scroll saw with a quick-release blade, it will make it much easier to swap out blades. This is useful because different blades are specially designed for different materials and goals.
- Many Blades to Choose From. Unlike other types of saws, there really aren’t any other types of scroll saw to choose from. So instead, there is a huge variety of scroll saw blades. These include standard, skip tooth, double tooth, precision ground, reverse skip tooth, ultra reverse, spiral, pin end, and crown tooth. Your material and type of job will affect which blade you need.
Best Scroll Saw Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Perform regular maintenance to prolong the life of the scroll saw. Lubricate the internal components, clean off dust and debris from the moving parts, and change the blade if it seems blunt.
- Always wear protective gear when working with power tools. Wear a dust mask, safety goggles, gloves, and ear protectors. Also, keep your fingers out of the blade’s line of work.
- Remember to secure the scroll saw to a workbench or tabletop. Also, lock all handles before powering on the device to limit vibrations when operating at high speeds.
- Do not forget to switch off and unplug the scroll saw when it’s not in use. Remove the blades from tension, and store it in a cool and dry place away from children’s reach.
Q: Can I start detailing with a spiral blade?
A: You shouldn't start with a spiral blade since it's hard to control when penetrating a surface, and it may leave a wide gap. Use a straight blade to cut through the material, and change to a spiral blade when you want to add a little artistic detail to the piece. However, it requires more skill to control a spiral blade on softwood. Consider using your free hand to cut with the spiral blade.
Q: What happens if I don't adjust the blade tension?
A: If you operate the tool with loose tension, you may break the blade since you'd have to apply more pressure to cut through the material. It also makes the blade overheat, and that may dull the blade. The blade might also push sideways and not make a precise cut. It's better to have too much tension than to work with a loose blade.
Q: How do I prevent the blade from slipping from the blade clamp?
A: The upper clamp often gets slippery when there's oil in the clamp or when the insides get smooth from continued use. New blades typically come lubricated to prevent corrosion, and that can cause slipping of the blades. You can use alcohol to clean the oil from the clamp and sandpaper to increase the grip of the clamp.
Our top pick is the DEWALT Scroll Saw. It’s relatively quiet, a great tool for beginners, and allows for a hassle-free blade change.
If you are looking for a product that fits within your tight budget, then consider the WEN Scroll Saw.