What Is a Scroll Saw?

A scroll saw is a small power tool that is used to cut intricate curves mostly in wood, but also in metal and other materials. The scroll saw has a fine, short reciprocating blade against which you can move your workpiece to make the cut. To move the piece and make the cut you have to pivot the table of the tool. The blade can be removed and then placed through a pre-drilled hole to cut internal profiles when you do not have an entry slot. The scroll saw can be either electrical or pedal-operated, with adjustable speed control for more precision.

What is a scroll saw used for?

The scroll saw is a specialty tool because it makes intricate profiles, patterns, and joints in small, delicate pieces. Scroll Saws are mainly used for wood but can also cut metal, plastic, and other materials.

Experienced woodworkers use the scroll saw to create musical instruments, make inlay work, and cut dovetail joints. DIYers might not find much use for this tool, but they can still put all their creativity to use and experiment a bit to make wooden toys and decorative pieces such as cut-out words.

Scroll Saw

When not to use a scroll saw?

The scroll saw is one of the safest tools you can use. However, all saws can be dangerous if they are not handled properly, especially for your hands and fingers. You should not use a scroll saw if you:

  • Do not have protective gear. Hearing protection, a dust mask, and safety goggles are always necessary to protect you against any loud noises, sawdust, and debris that the tool could produce.
  • Are wearing gloves. Wearing them is not recommended because they could get caught in the saw blade.
  • Are wearing loose-fitting clothes or jewelry that could get in the way or even get caught in the blade and cause an injury.
  • have a dull or rusted blade. A sharp blade will cut through wood easily and safely, but a dull or rusted one can tear through your workpiece, which could send debris in your direction, or make uneven cuts.
  • Are going to cut wet wood because it will wear down your blade faster.

How much money does a scroll saw cost?

The bigger and more accurate the scroll saw, the more expensive it will be. A 16-inch saw with variable speed will cost a little over $100, whereas a 20-inch one will be about $500. The more professional models offer more precision, are easier to use, and include features such as table-tilt and pedal-controlled speed, but they will be over $1000.

Where can I buy a scroll saw?

You can buy a scroll saw on Amazon if you are looking for a wide range of options to choose from. Your local home improvement or hardware store will surely have some of these saws to offer you as well. Lowe’s has around 8 models and their prices cater to all budgets. Home Depot offers a few more models, but they are either around $100 or over $500. Walmart, surprisingly, offers a wider variety of designs, so you might want to check them out the next time you go shopping for groceries.

Scroll Saw

Which scroll saw should I buy?

When shopping for a scroll saw, there are a few things that you should consider.

First is the throat size. How scroll saws are classified depends on how big the throat is. Larger throats allow for larger pieces to be cut. Throat size is determined by measuring the distance from the back of the blade to the back of the saw, where it joins the table. To know how big of a piece you can cut, you should double the throat size.

Next is the speed. Most scroll saws come with a variable speed feature nowadays, but keep in mind that you should use a higher speed for soft materials, and a lower speed for harder materials.

The third is the arm style.  There are three types of arm styles you can choose from: C-arm, parallel type, and parallel-linked arm. The C-arm has one pivot point that allows the blade to move in a reciprocating way, making a slight arch or “C” shape. They are the fastest style, and they’re meant for professional use because they require a lot of skill to achieve accurate cuts. The parallel type is the most common style, and it consists of two separate arms that run parallel to each other, with the blade attached to the ends of each of them. The last style is the parallel-linked arm, the most modern design. The reciprocating motion is achieved with a pulley system, and since it produces minimal vibration, it takes accuracy to a new level.

Finally, you should consider certain features that could be useful for you, such as a blade-changing feature or a table-tilt, which allows you to cut on an angle.

Which scroll saw blade should I buy?

Scroll saw blades come in many sizes, tooth patterns, and materials that are specific for cutting different materials.

When it comes to blade size, there are two major types you should know about: pinned or pin-end, and pinless or flat blades. Pinned blades use pins to hold the blade into place and because of their size, they can cut through thick and rough pieces of wood. Pinless blades are thinner and can cut intricate and delicate designs.

There are three main types of tooth patterns. The first one is the skip tooth, which has a gap between each tooth. The double skip tooth is the same, only it has a gap every two teeth. Last is the crown tooth pattern, which has teeth facing both up and down so that the blade cuts both on the downstroke and the upstroke.

If you need to cut metal, you will need a blade that’s made of hardened steel, and if you want to cut glass, you’ll have to buy a very expensive diamond blade.

Keep in mind that scroll saw blades have to be replaced frequently because they wear out rather quickly. Depending on the complexity of the task that you are performing and the material that you’re using, the blade can stay sharp for up to 2 hours.


The scroll saw is intended for jobs that require finesse, so they are not meant to perform heavy-duty tasks. If you need to cut intricate designs with a perfect finish, this is the tool for you. When you go shopping for your saw, look at the different throat sizes, at the speed, the arm style, and the features it includes. To decide which blade you’ll get for the saw, consider the blade size, the tooth patterns, and the material the blade is made of if you want to cut something other than wood.

Liam Weissman

Hello and welcome to PowerToolGenius! My name is Liam and for the last 9 years, I have worked extensively with various power tools and accessories. I have tested hundreds of different brands and models and understand the industry extensively and have been working with tools my entire life!

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