What Is A Scroll Saw – Why you should get one

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So what is a scroll saw? I didn’t understand the usefulness of one when I first got introduced to it. Was it just a weak band saw? Well, definitely not. A scroll saw has many unique uses that the band saw doesn’t have. After learning more about the scroll saw I figured I had to have one for doing my more detailed woodworking and that it would be a great addition to my toolset.

A scroll saw is an electrically powered saw used to cut detailed and intricate cuts in wood. Due to the small size of the saw blades, a scroll saw can cut curves and turns better than most saws. Scroll saws are mainly used as a hobby saw for woodworkers.

The fact is, a scroll saw has many unique uses as a result of how it is designed. So let’s get into what a scroll saw is, what you can use it for and why I think you should get one.

What is a scroll saw? 

The main unique feature of a scroll saw is the ability to do such fine and detailed cuts. You can cut 90-degree angles and make unique patterns throughout the wood. The fine blades and cuts make sanding after sawing almost unnecessary. The scroll saw opens up a whole new category of woodworking, where we can make unique objects that would be a lot harder to make if we did not have one.

A scroll saw uses small saw blades that go in an up and down movement to cut the wood. This means that it is designed to cut fairly thin pieces of wood. The thinner the piece of wood, the easier it is to saw. A scroll saw can be compared to a handheld coping saw, which also makes tiny detailed cuts into the wood.

What Is A Scroll Saw Used For?

A scroll saw is used for woodworking, woodcraft, fretwork, pendant making, puzzle making, wood art, intarsia woodwork, inlay woodwork, marquetry, toys, games, and generally any detailed work with wood.

Pros Of A Scroll Saw

  • Pros of a Scroll Saw
  • Can cut tight corners
  • Make detailed cuts
  • Fairly cheap for entry-level saws
  • Simple and fun to use
  • One of the safest electrical saws
  • Make beautiful patterns
  • Small compared to other saws
  • Adjustable speed Easy to control with a foot pedal
  • Can make pierce cuts

Cons Of A Scroll Saw

  • Hard to master
  • Cuts slowly
  • Less powerful than most saws
  • Limited to small pieces of wood
  • Can produce a lot of vibration
  • Needs to be mounted

How Much Does a Scroll Saw Cost?

The cheapest scroll saws start at a price of 120$, a mid-range scroll saw costs about 500$, and an expensive high-end scroll saw can be bought at anywhere from 1000$ to 2,500$.

Cheap Scroll Saw

The image above will take you to a good and cheap entry-level scroll saw. This is a perfectly good scroll saw, it is set up for a pin-end blade but you can get an adaptor to make it hold plane end saw blades.

Check out this entry-level WEN 3921 16″ Scroll Saw

The cheap scrolls saws are great as entry-level saws. I started out with a scroll saw that cost about 150$ and it did me well for a long time. But of course, if you are buying a cheap scroll saw you are sacrificing something. Cheap scroll saws usually vibrate more, are less convenient, uses a pin-end blade, and are just less efficient and durable. If you have never owned a scroll saw and you just want to get started with sawing some cool patterns and detailed woodwork, I would recommend going for a cheap one like the one above.

Mid-range Scroll Saw

Check out this mid-range DEWALT Scroll Saw, Variable-Speed, 1.3 Amp, 20-Inch (DW788)

Most people and woodworkers should go for a mid-range scroll saw. If you are going to use your scroll saw frequently and want to have a smooth experience while doing it, it could be a good idea to just go for the mid-range saw instead of the inexpensive ones. A mid-range scroll saw is a saw that will do you good for many years. The quality, ease of use, and pure enjoyment of using a mid-range scroll saw compared to a cheap one make the investment worth it. The pros of going with a mid-range saw are that it will have most of the things you can ask for like, adjustable speeds, low vibration,  powerful motor, and longer durability. It is just all in all a more thought-out and finished product.

High-end Scroll Saw

Check out this high-end Hegner Scroll Saw

When talking about high-end scroll saw, one brand comes to mind, and that is a Hegner Scroll Saw. Hegner is a  Germany Produced high-end quality scroll saw.  You can do almost anything with a Hegner Scroll saw, you can do metal work, easily cut beautiful and detailed patterns in wood, and even cut 3″ pieces of dense wood. Hegner has it all and that also reflects in the price

A Hegner Scroll Saw might cost anywhere from 1000$ to 2500$ depending on what model you choose.

Saw Blades: Pin-end vs Plain end

Pin-end scroll saw blades have a T-Shaped hook on both ends of the blade. The blade hooks into a metal grove on the top and bottom and is then tensioned. Because of the T-shape of the blade, you need to drill a bigger hole in the wood when making pierce cuts.

Plain-end scroll saw blades are just flat on both ends. The blades are attached to the saw by clamping each end and then tensioning them. I recommend using plain end blades if it is possible, but some cheap to mid-range scroll saws do not support plain end blades originally so you might have to get an adaptor.

Making Pierce Cuts with a Scroll Saw

A huge advantage with scroll saws is the ability to remove the blade and start the cut from the inside of a hole. This is called a pierce cut. A pierce cut is useful when making patterns that need voids in the middle of the wood.

When doing a pierce cut it is best to use a plain end blade since this can be inserted into smaller holes, and will therefore be more versatile than the pin end blades.  To make a pierce cut with a scroll saw, drill a hole in the wood, detach the saw blade, insert the blade through the hole, attach the blade and start cutting from the inside.

Scroll Saw VS Band Saw

A scroll saw is very different from a band saw. A scroll saw is designed to cut small pieces of wood, make delicate and detailed cuts, and saws in an up and down movement. A band saw is designed to saw anything from small patterns in the wood to milling huge logs, the band saw blade runs in a circular movement. Band saws are generally more heavy-duty and powerful than scroll saws. The band saw blades are thicker and wider, and runs on two wheels that form an oblong shape. The band saw only saws in one direction in this circular motion which means that the parts of the blade are only in contact with wood some of the time. If you are going to saw bigger pieces of wood ( 3″+), need to saw quick cuts, and don’t care too much about the fine detail, then I would recommend going for a band saw. A band saw can not do piercing cuts without an entry cut. Scroll saws are less powerful than band saws. The blades are smaller, they can be as little as 1/25-inch ( 1mm) thick. The scroll saw saws in an up and down pattern, approximately the same movement as when you are using a handsaw.

What Is The Thickest Piece of Wood You Can Cut With A Scroll Saw?

The thickest piece of wood you can cut with a scroll saw will be about 3″ ( 7-8 cm). Scroll saw’s are not designed to cut thick pieces of wood so it will be challenging. It also depends if you are sawing cross-grain and on how dense the wood is. 

When cutting thick wood with scroll saws the wood has a tendency to burn because of the heat caused by friction between the wood and the blade. Since the scroll saw blade travels up and down and not in a circular pattern, the blade will constantly be in contact with the wood and result in burn marks if you push too hard.

Is a Scroll Saw Safe?

A scroll saw is one of the safest saws on the market. You have to be really unlucky or reckless to properly cut yourselves with one. Because of the tiny saw blade, the tiny teeth of the blade and because the blade moves in such small movements it will be next to impossible to get a proper cut from it.

But even though it is a relatively safe saw to use, you have to take proper precautions. Saw blades can snap, and wood pieces can come flying at you. So use eye protection and the recommended safety gear.

Is a Scroll Saw Worth it?

A scroll saw is worth getting for people who have a need to do more fine and detailed woodworking. If you have a band saw and are constantly annoyed over the fact that it can not cut tight enough corners, the scroll saw is for you!

A scroll saw is definitely worth it if you want to do more artsy woodwork,  but if you are mainly doing construction woodwork and usually work with big pieces of wood then you probably have no need for a scroll saw. I have never regretted buying a scroll saw and it has always been put to good use.

Is It Hard To Use A Scroll Saw?

Scroll saws are simple to use but hard to master. You can easily start using the scroll saw when it comes out of the package without much research or practice. But if you want to create beautifully detailed patterns with high accuracy, you will need substantial practice.

The simplicity of use also comes down to the quality of the scroll saw. A cheap scroll saw with cheap blades will be harder and more “wonky” to use than a high-end scroll saw with good blades. But freight not, anyone can easily learn how to use a scroll saw. 

Use A Footswitch With Your Scroll Saw

Using a footswitch to control the scroll saw makes sawing so much simpler. It gives you the ability to keep both hands on the table sawing without having to use a hand to press the power button. Footswitches sometimes come with the saw. But usually, you have to buy them separately


Scroll saws are great little devices that open up a whole new category of woodworking. They are fairly cheap to get started and fairly easy to start using. I think that everyone that does detailed woodwork and woodworking art should have one in their tool repertoire.

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