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what does a scroll saw look like

What Does a Scroll Saw Look Like?

Scroll saws can look intimidating. It’s huge and bulky. And when you operate it, the up-and-down reciprocating action can awe you.

But you would be surprised to know that this benchtop machine is considered a very safe tool. It also doesn’t make a sound noise unlike other power tools. These qualities belie the very intimidating look of a scroll saw.

Scroll saws are able to cut through various materials from wood, metal, and plastic. It can create intricate designs and curves.

Scroll saw size may be classified according to the size of the throat, or the distance from the blade to the end of the saw. Smaller saws have a throat of around 12 inches while commercial saws can have up to 30 inches of throat size.

Scroll saw sizes may vary but it’s bulky, to say the least. A typical scroll saw has a weight of more than 50 pounds.

You may find a scroll saw intimidating but the truth is that it’s relatively easy to use. It can be easily controlled by an ordinary Joe.


A scroll saw is mainly used for freehand cutting intricate shapes. It has very thin blades that let it cut very small radius curves. For most people, it can be compared to an upside down bayonet saw but with finer blade.

Due to its thin blade, it’s the only solution that woodworker and DIYers have when making very delicate cuts like for inlays.

what does a scroll saw look like


In order to better appreciate how a scroll saw operates, let’s look at the various parts of this popular workshop tool:

Blade — this is arguably the heart and soul of a scroll saw. Without it, a scroll saw won’t be able to cut any material.

The blades used in scroll saws are similar to those used in coping saws. Scroll saw blades operate through a quick, up and down motion.

Speed control knob -- the speed control knob sets the pace by which the blade goes up and down in cutting through a workpiece.

Speed control can either be single speed or variable speed. Many woodworkers suggest a variable speed control as it would let scroll saw users have better control over their designs.

Drop Foot — this is the part of the scroll saw that holds the workpiece down. Aside from ensuring that you can get an accurate cut by lessening vibrations, the drop foot also helps make sure you can finish your project quickly.

Sawdust blower -- aside from keeping the dust away from your face, the sawdust blower prevents dust from accumulating in the workpiece. It can thus help you finish your job on time because you can clearly see the marked lines.

Table lock knob -- this is the part of the scroll saw that secures it well against the table or the bench. It also lets users tilt the table and lock it up at a desired angle.

Throat plate — the throat plate is designed to accommodate blade changes and dados. It can also significantly reduce the chances of a kickback.

Blade storage case

Blade holder

Work lights -- provide enough illumination for you to see the marked lines.

what does a scroll saw look like

Choosing a Scroll Saw

Now that you have an idea how a scroll saw looks like as well as how its parts work, you may wonder—how do you choose a scroll saw?

With the many brands and models available in the market, it can really be challenging to find the right scroll saw. But you can be guide by the following considerations when shopping for one:

Variable speed or not -- you could be intrigued at the prospect of getting a scroll saw with a variable speed setting. After all, it can give you a lot of options as far as the cutting speed of the machine is concerned. However, if you are a beginner or foresee yourself to be a casual user, you don’t really need a unit with variable speed setting.

Simply get a unit with a two speed-setting (slow and fast). It would be enough to give you some flexibility without shelling out a lot of money.

Throat capacity -- this pertains to the amount of space between the edge of the blade and the mounting point. It determines the size of the workpiece that the saw can handle. You can settle with a saw that has a throat capacity of around 18 inches. Unless you plan to be a true professional, you won’t need a scroll saw with a throat capacity greater than 18 inches.

Table mounted or standalone -- both models will have the same features and throat capacity. Standalone models, though, can reduce the vibration thanks to their design. Table mounted scroll saws may vibrate more, which can affect your cuts.

Blade release/quick clamps — back in the day, scroll saws had a hex key or special wrench needed to operate their blade clamps. But toolmakers these days have models equipped with blade clamps allowing you to release or tighten the blades with your fingers. There are also lots of aftermarket parts that you can fit in your saw that don’t have this feature.

Blowers -- this is the part of the scroll saw that blow away the sawdust building up on the workpiece, particularly on the marked lines. It may seem unnecessary, but it can help you see the line well aside from sparing your lungs from a ‘workout’. At the very least, make sure that you wear a mask to prevent yourself from inhaling sawdust.

Work lights -- this is another accessory that can magnify the pattern lines so you will have an easier time following them and cutting. As any expert scroll saw user would tell you, good lighting is essential. Thus it is highly recommended that you get a scroll saw with work lights.


In conclusion, scroll saws is a relatively big and bulky power tool. It may look intimidating to most people but when you get to know it well particularly how it works, you’ll say that it isn’t as difficult to use as other power tools.

What can i make with a scroll saw

What can i make with a scroll saw

When it comes to some real fancy items of wood work (sometimes even in metal and other material), there’s very little that a scroll saw can’t do. The range and variety of attractive products—from playthings to decorative stuff—that you can churn out with a scroll saw, is absolutely amazing.

So whether it’s a toy you want to make for your kid or a decorative name plate to hang outside the entrance to your lovely home, or even a nice bit of jewelry to wear on those special occasions that you wish to make memorable, the secret to all of it lies in a small tool called the scroll saw.

Simple to operate, with a high degree of accuracy and precision, backed by quality safety features, a scroll saw can be a useful thing to have around if you love playing with wood etc., and enjoy witnessing the transformation that can be brought to a piece of raw material with total ease.

We’ve listed here a few things you’re likely to enjoy making with a scroll saw. It’s all about how creatively you’re able to use your imagination and how effectively you’re able to operate a scroll saw. Some of these are inspired by, while others are sourced from different links.

What Can I Make With a Scroll Saw?

Wooden toys

We all, as children, have had our share of favorite toys, which, more often than not, included a small toy horse, complete with its four legs, tail, and the rest. While it’s difficult to say who could have made these little playthings all those years ago, one thing we can surely tell you—a scroll saw can do the job, and a great one at that.

Designer mirrors

A designer mirror, such as a scalloped mirror, can be a great addition to your dressing room, or alternatively, you can use it as a centerpiece on your dining table, where your guests will simply enjoy its looks. Here again, it’s a scroll saw that you need to create such a mirror.

Name plates

Fancy name plates, both in metal and wood, are becoming increasing popular the world over on account of their attractive and intricate designs. All you need to make your own special designer name plate is a scroll saw, and nothing more.

Maps and topography

Whether it’s geographical topography you want to show through a map or the various states in your country, a wooden map is a great way of going about it. The 3-dimensional effect of such a map, made of finely cut wood, is much more impactful than a map drawn in two dimensions on a piece of paper.

What can i make with a scroll saw


Like name plates, plaques also now come in an exciting variety, with great designs and patterns. They are an excellent gifting option too, apart, of course, from being a valuable decorative asset for your home or other property. So, pick up your scroll saw right away and make a nicely shaped plaque to stand out on the outside of your property.

And talking of plaques, you can make some beautiful customized ones too—as a special memento for some special person on a special occasion. It will always remain with them as a memento from the past, and they will never forget that you gave them such a special gift.

Sign boards

There are many kinds of sign boards, and not all of them need to be or are fancy. Most sign boards are, in fact, pretty straightforward, with no designing to augment their appeal. But sometimes, when you do come across a fancy sign board you’d be left wondering about the creativity that went into its making. Actually, it’s no secret that the creativity has probably come from a scroll saw, which means you can recreate it too, with total ease.


Somehow, a monogram, even the most prosaic, carries with it the image of royalty and class. So what lends it that classiness? Is it the wood? Yes, that’s definitely part of what goes into making a superb monogram. But an equally important, if not more so, part of it is the intricate fancy design that’s inlaid in the monogram. Need you even ask how that design was made? Of course not. We all know that only a scroll saw is capable to giving such a design.


Whether it’s ivory or bone or shell, or some nice piece of metal, these materials have the flexibility and capability of being easily transformed into glorious jewelry pieces that will adorn yourself or a loved one for any occasion. Exceptional as they are, not all these jewelry designs are really complex to create. Most of them can, in fact, be easily made with a little bit of effort and practice. All you need, apart from these attributes, is that small tool called the scroll saw.


​Clearly, there’s a lot you can make with a scroll saw. What you need is the tool itself, with the right set of blades to match your requirements. With a scroll saw in hand you can create some of the most imaginatively exotic patterns to enhance the appeal of your personal self or your home. A little bit of vision and a lot of imagination will help you do the rest.

scroll saw techniques

Scroll Saw Techniques

You may have learned the basics of using a scroll saw, from turning on the unit to using it in cutting various patterns. But there are still a lot of scroll saw techniques that you need to learn if you want to make projects easier and of course, more successful.

The following are some of the scroll saw techniques that you should keep in mind the next time you use this powerful working tool:

There should be enough lighting in your workplace

There’s really no reason why you would want to work in a low lighting area. Not only does lack of light put you at risk of getting into an accident, but it can also make it a lot more difficult to use a scroll saw.

Simply put, there should be enough light in your workplace when you are using a scroll saw. This would let you see the pattern line properly, so you can get a clean cut.

Poor lighting can also make it difficult for you to see the black blade and black lines visually merging. You may find it hard to tell the exact position of the saw blade along the line. It is thus recommended that you get lights which you can mount onto the scroll saw. An alternative would be to work in an area where there’s a lamp next to the saw.

Cut dry wood

Cut dry wood only. Cutting wet wood with a scroll saw can have an effect on the blade of your scroll saw. It can specifically wear down the blade and shorten its lift.

How to quickly change blades

One of the things you will have to learn if you want to make successful scroll saw projects in the shortest time possible is efficient blade changes. You should know that blades either become dull or broken after 30 minutes or so of use. Thus you will need a good supply of blades.

The best way to quickly retrieve blades is to place one on a magnetic strip which is then attached to the scroll saw stand.

How to prevent warping

Warping pertains to the deviation from flatness in wood due to stress and uneven shrinkage. It is very common in thin plywood.

The best way to prevent warping when using scroll saw is to store the wood in a dry and flat surface. Then put a heavier piece of wood on top of it.

Warped plywood, however, should not be thrown away. You can remedy it by dampening its surface and then putting it on a flat surface. Then place another heavy wood on it before leaving it for a week or more.

Scroll Saw Techniques

How to achieve a successful drill pressing

One of the more common sources of frustration among novice scroll saw users is splitting, especially when drilling a hole through a thin piece of wood. You can avoid this by putting a scrap piece below the work piece.

If you are drilling through a thicker piece of wood, the key is to drill down until you are about to break through the bottom surface. Then stop drilling the wood and turn it over. Finish the job, so to speak, by drilling from the other side of the wood.

Avoid throwing away cutouts

Many novice woodworkers throw away their cutouts prematurely. But you shouldn’t do this especially if you are working on a detailed fretwork project with large cutout areas.

There’s still use for pieces of wood that have been cut out. For one, you can save the pieces you have cut out and then put them back in the work area. Just don’t glue them down. This way, you can provide extra support to the fragile pieces as you work on the rest of the piece.

How to prevent burning

Even the most experienced scroll saw users say that there are wood types such as cherry that are impossible to cut without burning the edges. The problem worsens when the blade of the saw starts to get dull.

So how do you prevent this typical problem? Simply put a clear packaging tape on top of the pattern. This will prevent the sawdust from gathering beneath the scroll saw. It also helps in lubricating the blade.

You can also set the scroll saw at a higher speed when you are working on a thicker and harder piece of wood. When you are dealing with soft and thin woods, then set the speed to low setting.

Taking care of the blades

The blades of scroll saws are very likely to rust if you don’t use the tool for a long time. You can prevent this by oiling them.

You must also check on the blade first before using the saw. It must be properly secured as well. Dull or bent blades can lead to uneven cuts which can ruin your project.

Ideal position when operating a scroll saw

You can stand or sit while operating a scroll saw. But since you’re an amateur, it is recommended that you stand in front of the tool so you can easily feed the work into the blade. It would also let you operate the saw without much effort.

Whether you stand or sit when operating a scroll saw, you should make yourself comfortable. Keep in mind that working on a project could go on for hours so there’s always the possibility of fatigue and stiff neck creeping in.

If you want to keep seated when operating a scroll saw, you may want to use a swivel chair. This would let you adjust the piece of wood comfortably without leaning over, or straining your muscles.

Let the scroll saw work for you

This means less pushing on your part, as it can lead to easier cutting. Pushing the wood too much into the blade can lead to broken blades.


Now that you know 10 techniques in using a scroll saw, you should be on your way to getting your projects done accurately and quickly.

Scroll Saw Safety Rules

Scroll Saw Safety Rules

It is hard to argue the contention that the scroll saw is the safest tool in a typical shop. In fact, the worst injury that you could get into when using a scroll saw can be dealt with a Band-Aid. This, however, doesn’t mean that you should get careless when using a scroll saw.

After all, getting a cut in your finger is still painful. It can also cause a temporary delay in your project, something you obviously don’t want to happen.

There are many safety rules that you should remember when operating a scroll saw. This article will enumerate some of these rules.

Wear proper clothing

As with operating other power tools, you should be mindful of the clothes you wear. Many experts suggest wearing tight fitting clothes.

Long sleeve shirts should also be avoided. Loose cuff on this type of shirt, for example can be easily caught on the moving arm of a scroll saw.

If you can’t avoid wearing long sleeve shirts, then you should roll it up first before using the scroll saw.

You must also be conscious of your hair. If you have long hair, tie it back with a ponytail to prevent it from getting entangled with the power tool.

Avoid wearing jewelry too as these can easily become caught in the scroll saw and cause an injury.

Scroll Saw Safety Rules

Wear safety glasses and dust mask

You should also make it a habit to wear safety glasses when operating a scroll saw. You may also wear a face shield. Both would protect your eyes against sharp blades, which can be very dangerous if they break off.

You’d also want to wear a dust mask especially if you are prone to asthma attacks. The very fine dust generated by the scroll saw can affect your health. While your scroll saw may have a dust blower, but it only blows the dust into the air and doesn’t really prevent you from inhaling those microscopic elements.

Ensure good lighting

Good lighting lets you see the marked lines well, resulting to accurate cuts. You should always work in a well-lit area. It also doesn’t hurt if you purchase lights separately that you can mount on the scroll saw. Or better yet, buy a scroll saw that has work lights.

Choose a spacious work area

The work area should be kept clean and uncluttered. You should also choose an area that is spacious enough to give you a two foot perimeter around the scroll saw. You must also place the scroll saw in a fixed and stable surface.

The work area should also have enough lighting. And the area should have no objects that can make you distracted or lose your focus, such as TV.

How to make blade changes

You should always make sure that the scroll saw is unplugged before you try to change the blade.

You should also replace the blade with the teeth facing down. You must also install the right blade for the job. Putting one with too few teeth in relation to the thickness of the wood will offer poor control, aside from the risk of it jumping around.

Turn off machine when making changes

Whether you are changing blades or making adjustments to the tool itself, you should always turn off the machine first. For example, you want to remove scraps. Before you do so, you should turn off the scroll saw first. The same goes for making adjustments to the scroll saw such as changing its speed settings.

Inspect the workpiece first

Before cutting the workpiece, you should inspect it first. For one, there should be no nails or foreign object in the part where you want to cut it. This could cause a small projectile to launch and hurt you or other people.

You must also make sure that it isn’t too small for you to cut it through the scroll saw.

Follow the three inch rule

The three inch rule is simple—your fingers should be at least three inches away from the path of the blade. Since you are cutting intricate cuts with turns and angles unavoidable, there is always a chance that the wood will ‘jump’ if you are not careful.

This is one of the most important scroll safety rules you should remember as it can prevent you from getting nasty cuts.If the work piece is so small that you can’t follow the three inch rule, then you should use a push stick instead. This would help you cut the work piece without putting your fingers in harm’s way.

Plan your cuts

Plan your cuts well as making sudden twists can cause the blade to bind or brake. It is advisable that you saw curve gradually.

It is also recommended that you make a short cut first. You must also ensure that the blade is running at full speed before you start a cut. Moreover, you should avoid backing out of cuts with the scroll saw on as this can cause the blade to bind.

Use the hold down clamp

It is not uncommon for users of scroll saw to remove the hold down clamp. The usual reason is that it can get in the way especially when working on small pieces. But it should be left in place as it plays a very important role. The hold down clamp helps ensure that you won’t slip the fingers into the blade.

If you still find it a hindrance, simply lower it down as close to the wood as possible.


These are 10 of the basic scroll saw safety rules that you should keep in mind when you operate the said power tool. While scroll saw is generally considered a safe power tool, that doesn’t mean that you can be reckless in operating it. Be conscious of your safety as well as those of others around you so that you can finish your project without any hassles.

Scroll Saw Projects for Beginners

Scroll Saw Projects for Beginners

Investing in a scroll saw can be one of the best decisions you’ll make if you are interested in woodworking. The possibilities are endless as far as scroll saw projects for beginners are concerned.

From small puzzles that can amaze your kids to bird houses to home decors, there are lots of projects that you can complete with a scroll saw.

Plus there are lots of wood that you can use for scroll sawing such as plywood, red cedar, Spanish cedar, black walnut, American Holly, ebony, tulip wood, bird’s eye maple, mahogany, rosewood, cherry olive, and oak.

Learning on Your Own

Most people think that they need to enroll in a scroll saw class to be able to operate their tool. While that’s always welcome, the truth is that you don’t need to enroll in one. There are lots of people who were able to learn the craft on their own. Of course, you need lots of practice and patience if you want to learn scroll sawing on your own.

There are three types scroll saw work that you can learn on your own. These are:

  • Fretwork--- cutting small pieces of wood to produce a pattern
  • Marquetry--- wood inlays in which various shapes and varieties of wood are cut out and glued together to form a picture
  • Intarsia—wooden mosaic pattern wherein various pieces are glue together in a wooden support

Finding Scroll Saw Projects Online

The internet is the best venue to look for scroll saw projects for beginners. There are lots of websites that offer free scroll saw patterns. These patterns can be legally used by anyone for their scroll saw projects.

The patterns vary in design, from simple picture frames to plaques to clocks and handy items. These patterns also vary in cuts, from tight radius, sweeping curves, to long straight lines. Others have jagged edges and sharp corners.

If you’re a beginner, you should look for and use practice patterns first. Doing so will help you get acquainted with your scroll saw. It can also build your skills and confidence.

As mentioned earlier, you should be persistent in practicing your scroll sawing skills. This is the only way for you to improve your skills.

Patience is also important. Don’t get too frustrated if you are not able to follow the marked lines well. Correctly follow a pattern as best as you can. Once you have built up confidence, you can move on to a bigger project.

It’s up to you to choose a scroll saw pattern. You may simply choose a pattern depending on the design. Others choose a pattern that they feel is complicated enough to challenge them and consequently improve their skills.

You don’t even have to follow the pattern that you downloaded online. You can also add or remove elements. Like in any craft pattern, you can use your imagination to make a scroll saw pattern look like your own.

Regardless of the scroll saw pattern you find online, you can download the file onto your computer. Then print the file on a piece of paper.

scroll saw projects for beginners

Tips in Using Scroll Saw Patterns

Once you have it printed, apply the pattern to the wood piece. Spray adhesive or put glue to attach the pattern into the piece of wood that you will be cutting.

Rubber cement could also be an option as it can come off easily. It also doesn’t leave any marks on the surface of the wood. Others use a double sided masking tape to affix the pattern into the wood piece.

It is not recommended, though, that you hand-trace the pattern into the wood with a pencil or tracing paper. The reason is that the slightest movement of the pattern could be enough to weaken an area, or make it hard to cut. Even the act of tracing the pattern on the wood itself could move the line, which make it hard for you to get an accurate cut.

After attaching the pattern to the wood, you can then drill pilot holes at the start of each line as well as starting point for the shapes.

Sitting Down or Standing Up When Scrolling

Once you have started to cut the pattern, you may wonder if you are supposed to sit or remain standing throughout the entire scroll sawing process.

The rule of thumb is to stand directly in front of the scroll saw during the initial stages. Don’t avoid standing off at the sides as it would make it hard for you to feed the work piece into the blade.

If the project drags on for hours, you could get a high stool so you can work longer. This would enable you to sit down and continue working on your project.

Using the Right Blade

One of the most important tips when making scroll saw projects for beginners is to use the right blade for the design. The best blade can make or break the quality of design to be made.

Remember that when working with thin woods, you should use a number 3 double tooth blade. It can produce fewer chips on woods aside from lasting longer than other blade types.

And when you install the blade, make sure that the teeth are facing down. If the blade is installed with the teeth facing upward, it won’t be able cut the wood.

scroll saw projects for beginners

Finding Correct Blade Tension

Once you have inserted the blade, fasten the tension knob. It should be turned three quarters beyond the resistance point.

You don’t want the blade to be very tightly fastened as it would likely break and damage your scroll saw. A loose blade on the other hand won’t be able to cut a straight line.


The bottom line is that there are lots of scroll saw projects for beginners that you can find online. You can follow the patterns you find online to improve your skills, or get a better feel of your tool. You can then progress with scroll sawing after completing several projects or patterns.

Scroll Saw Blade Types

Scroll Saw Blade Types

If you’ve never used a scroll saw before, or you’ve used it occasionally, then it is likely that you have this conception that scroll saw blades are very much like one another.

However, the truth is that there are various types of scroll saw blades. These scroll saw blade types can have an impact on your next project.

With the numerous scroll saw blade types, you can’t really blame novice scroll saw users to buy the first blades they see on the shelves. Others also buy the cheapest blades.

Two Kinds

There are two major kinds of blades that work with scroll saws—plain end and pin end. The former is mostly used in modern saws, while pin-end blades are used in older saws.

Beginners are generally discouraged from using pin-end blades. While it is easier and faster to change pin-end blades, the main problem with this type of scroll saw blade is that it would require a 1/16” starter hole in the workpiece. On the other hand, a plain end blade can slip through a 1/64”inch hole. This can make a big difference especially when working on an intricate project.

Moreover, it is no longer that difficult to change plain-end blades. In the past, a special wrench was needed to set and adjust plain-end blades in scroll saws. But these days, quick release pads are now being integrated in newer saws. Thus, there’s minimal effort needed in changing and setting up blades.

Seven Major Types

scroll saw blade types

Then there are the seven major types of blades, to wit:


The major characteristic of this type of scroll saw blade is its simplistic design. The standard blade has teeth of the same size and same distance from each other.

Standard scroll saw blades are made of wood or metal. Wood blades have larger teeth that metal blades. These also have more space between the teeth. Wood blades are designed to clear the sawdust.

Skip Tooth

You may easily mistake skip tooth blades as standard too blades, until you notice that every other tooth is missing. This space between the teeth is designed to keep the blade cool even after long periods of use. This characteristic makes the skip tooth blade ideal for novice scrollers.

Double Tooth Blades

this can also be mistaken for a skip tooth blade. However, the difference is that it has a large space between sets of two teeth. Compared to the skip tooth blade, it can cut a bit slower. But it leaves a very smooth cut.

Reverse Tooth Blades

this type of blade has a skip-tooth configuration. However, the last inch of the teeth is pointing in the opposite direction. This is designed to cut on both the up and down stroke, and minimize tear out on the underside of the work piece.

Compared to a standard blade, reverse tooth blades cut slower. However, you can expect a smooth edge when you use this type of blade.

Precision ground tooth

this type is also very similar to the skip tooth blade. But it has tiny and sharp teeth made from fine carbon steel. If you are looking for a blade that can outlast and outperform other blade types, then this is the type you should get. It also has the ability to cut fast and smooth, in both straight and radius cuts. However, it isn’t recommended for beginners due to the sharpness of this type of blade.

Spiral blades

this is the type of blade that is best used for cutting very intricate portrait patterns. It has normal blades which have been together, resulting to all sides having teeth. With that teeth design, spiral blades are capable of cutting well in all directions. You don’t even have to spin the work piece to do so.

Crown tooth blades

as you would expect from its name, this blade has teeth shaped like a crown. Also, there’s a noticeable gap in between each crown. With its unique design, crown tooth blade can cut on both up and down strokes. In terms of speed it cuts slightly slower than regular blades.

Choosing the Right Scroll Saw Blade Type

With the various scroll saw blade types, a novice scroll saw user may get confused as to which type he should get for his project. Aside from knowing the characteristics of each blade type, the following factors can help him decide which type to purchase:

Kind of material to be cut

The kind of material that you intend to cut is one critical factor to consider in determining the kind of blade you would use. Standard blades, for instance, can be used in cutting most wood types. But for other materials like aluminum and plastic, special blades like spiral and crown tooth blades are more appropriate.

Blade measurements

Blades are available in sizes using numbers. The numbers range from as high to #12 to below #0, like #2/0 and #3/0. Generally speaking, the higher the number of the blade then the bigger it is. It also has a lower number of teeth per inch.So a #12 blade has fewer teeth than a #7 blade. It also has thicker and wider blades than the #7 blade.

Moreover, you would need thicker and wider blades when dealing with thicker and harder materials. Going back to our example, a #12 blade can achieve cleaner cuts than a #7 blade.

The intricacy of your patterns

Finally you should also look into the intricacy of the pattern that you are to work on. You should use a blade with small teeth when you are to do complex patterns. Keep in mind that bigger blades won’t be able to cut tight corners.


In closing, it is important for any novice scroll saw user to know the different types of scroll saw blades. This would help him or her find the right scroll saw blade for a particular type of project, and increase the likelihood of completing the project without any hassle.

Scroll Saw Basics

Scroll Saw Basics

Scroll saws are one of the more commonly used tools for woodworkers. It is very useful in cutting intricate joints and curves. It can also be relied upon in quickly and accurately cutting dovetail joints.

Scroll saws aren’t just used in making precise cuts in woods. It can also be used in cutting other materials like metal and plastics. While the tool may appear intimidating at first, the truth is that it is relatively easy to use.


Before you use a scroll saw, let’s look first at arguably the most important part of this tool— the blade.

Scroll saws have very thin blades. In fact, some blades appear like pieces of human hairs. Blades are measured in teeth per inch (TPI). The rule of thumb is that the more the TPI, the more capable the blade is in making smooth and accurate cuts. However, it also means that the more TPI the blade has, the slower and more fragile it is.

scroll saw basics

There are two types of blades--- Pin-End and Plain End.

The Pin-End blade has a small cross pin in each end. It is a lot easier to change Pin End blade. But the downside is that it isn’t as widely available as Plain End blades.

On the other hand, a Plain-End blade is flat and pinched in place between the jaws of small clamps. This is considered the standard for most users of scroll saw. Thus you’ll always be able to get a Plain-End blade from various sources.

Blades aren’t that pricey. Its price can range from 15 to 75 cents. It is also very easy to replace a blade—simply unlock the tension and then pull down the chuck. Pull out the blade, and then insert the replacement. Tighten the screws and then test out the new blade

scroll saw basics

Other Features

Whether you are shopping for a scroll saw or using one for the first time, you could get confused with the various features of this tool.

Let’s make a short rundown of the basic features of a scroll saw:

  • Throat size - this pertains to the distance from the back of the blade to the back throat of the saw. Throat sizes can be 16 inch or 30 inch. For beginners, a 16 inch scroll saw is recommended.
  • Blade tensioning — this pertains to the tightening and loosening of the blade of the scroll saw. Some scroll saws have levers; others have knobs located at the back. In setting the tension of the blades, you’ll have to find the right fit. If you set it too tight, the blade could easily snap. But if it is too loose, the blade won’t cave in on you.
  • Hold down foot — this is a feature that novice scroll saw users would need in a unit. You’d want a hold down foot that is adjustable, so that it can hold down a piece that you are working on.
  • Work light — good lighting is very important when operating a scroll saw. Look for a unit with work light.
  • Dust blower — like the work light, this is considered to be a ‘bonus’ feature in most scroll saws. Yet for beginners, it is an important feature as it can keep the dust away from the marked lines. Simply put, you can work faster when dust is blown away from the workpiece.

How to Use a Scroll Saw

Now that you have a basic understanding of scroll saw parts, let’s discuss how you should operate it.

While most experts agree that scroll saw is a safe cutting tool, it is still important that you observe basic safety procedures first before operating the tool. For one, you should wear safety goggles to avoid eye injuries. You must also wear a dust mask and hat to hold back your hair.

Prepare the workpiece by cutting it to the required size. Then draw your design into the workpiece, or transfer the patterns you want to cut onto it. You need to ensure, though, that the marked lines are very visible.

Prepare to use the scroll saw by bolting it firmly to the working surface. The put the blade and ensure that it fits firmly onto the saw. The tension of the blade should also be correct. You can refer to your scroll saw’s instruction manual to learn how to find the right blade tension.

Switch on the scroll saw. The on/off switch is usually located on the top of the unit. You should also turn on the light of the scroll saw, if there’s one.

Check if the scroll saw is working properly by taking a scrap wood and making a short cut on it.

You can then start cutting. But first, you will have to set the speed of the tool. The speed would depend on the material you want to cut. A general rule of thumb is that a slow speed is needed for cutting hard and thin materials like hardwoods and metals.

Once you have set the speed, direct the blade toward the first marked line that needs to be cut. Guide the workpiece into the blade by using both hands. Use your forefingers and one thumb in moving the workpiece through the blade. Your other fingers, meanwhile, must be away from the cut line.

Don’t remove your fingers or one of your hand as it could lead to the workpiece jumping or even a jagged cut. Don’t rush the piece through the blade as well because it may have your fingers slipping, and getting into contact with the blade.

Once you reach a turning point and you need to make a 90 degree turn, don’t fret. Simply move the bladeback through the cut, and then remove the workpiece from the saw. Then insert it from the beginning of the adjacent line, and continue cutting through it until you’ve seen the point where both lines converge at an angle. Then move to the next line.

Once you have completed cutting out the pattern, turn off the saw, remove the blade, and unclamp the tool from the working surface.

How to use a scroll saw

How to use a scroll saw

It’s easy and absolutely a breeze to use, once you get the hang of it. And getting the hang of using a scroll saw isn’t difficult at all, if you put your heart and mind into it. All you need to do is pick out a good web link providing detailed, step-by-step directions, which you then have to stringently follow at all times. So here’s what you should do to use a scroll saw properly and effectively

  • Switch on the scroll saw (use the type you need to cut through the material at hand) after checking it for the right scroll saw blade, and then cut a rough pattern as desired.
  • If the mode you’re using is of variable speed, then the next step is to adjust the speed according to the requirements. You need to keep the speed slow for hard wood or material, and fast for the softer varieties.
  • The actual cutting process begins now, and you have to keep the scroll scroll saw blade aligned to the first line that you need to cut through. Once that’s done, with both your hands, gently direct the wood into the scroll saw blade for cutting.
  • Keeping the forefingers of both your hands, as well as the thumb of one, firmly on the wood as you guide it through the scroll saw blade, push it gently along the first line to be cut, without raising more than one finger away from it at a time. Mind you, raising more than one finger will cause the wood to jump away, ruining all your efforts.
  • As you cut through the first line, keep adjusting the feed rate as per your requirements. It’s something you’ll be able to figure out by default after some practice, and you’ll begin to know, more from your sixth sense, when you need to slow down or hurry up.
  • Once you reach the turning point of the first line, remove the wood from the table and turn it around to align the next line along the scroll saw blade. Take the scroll saw blade slowly through to the first cut, and then gently withdraw it before turning the wood again for the next line cutting. Just keep making gradual turns of the wood as needed.
  • Repeat the process with all the edges till you have all the external lines neatly cut, using sandpaper to soften the edges where needed.
How to use a scroll saw

Other aspects of using a scroll saw

While the above is a step-by-step guide to the process of cutting wood, metal or even hard plastic with a scroll saw, there are other things you should keep in mind when actually taking on a cutting task

One of these important things is the need to wear protective gear, including glasses to shield your eyes from flying debris, and possibly even a dust mask to protect yourself from inhaling the dust generated in the process. If you have somewhat longish hair, remember to keep it tied so that it doesn’t get in the way while cutting with a scroll saw. The same holds for the sleeves of your shirt, which should be tucked in such a way as to keep them safely away from the work station.

Then there’s the preparation part too, which you need to work on before starting the actual cutting process. Depending on what you wish to create, you should first cut the wood to the required size and clearly mark the design pattern with a pencil.

The preparation extends not just to the material to be cut but also to the saw itself. You need to be sure of fitting the right scroll saw blade firmly and properly on to the saw, checking it by switching the saw on and then trying it out on a waste piece of wood or other material that you need to cut.

As far as precautions go, just be careful how you guide the wood with your hands/fingers—after all you don’t want to end up with chopped fingers. Also, remember that you don’t need to switch the saw off every time you want to make a 90° turn; all you have to do is to slide the saw back through the cut line and then gently remove the wood from it.

Finally, good finishing is as important as good cutting. Once you’re done with cutting the pattern, do what you can to smoothen the rough edges and let your creativity shine through the wood or whatever you’re working on.

Hot to use a scrollsaw


No need to reiterate, of course, that using a scroll saw is quite a simple affair, as long as you don’t try to experiment with the process. Caution is an essential part of cutting with a scroll saw, which can otherwise cause injury, especially if you’re a beginner.

But then, when all is said and done, this saw is ideal for beginners, given the ease of its use. So just check out the step-by-step instructions on the links shared above, or any other resource you find convenient, and then follow them stringently.

Take your time grasping the intricacies of the process, and practice as much as you can. Practice will make you perfect, just as it does in any other task you’re beginning to learn. Remember, once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll find the end result worth every bit of your effort, and you’ll also find others reveling in your successes.

How to Set Up a Scroll Saw

How to Set Up a Scroll Saw

You just got yourself a scroll saw after months of contemplating which model to purchase. It’s understandable how excited you are for your new benchtop machine. A scroll saw is one of those tools that you can benefit from, especially when it comes to cutting wood and other materials in fine detail. It’s something perfect for concentrated woodwork projects.

But the moment that you have the scroll saw on your shop, the next question you would obviously ask yourself is—how do I set up this tool?

This article will teach you how to set up a scroll saw.

Read the manual

Reading the manual of the scroll saw will tell you everything you need to know about the tool, from its parts and accessories to how you set it up, to how you can maintain its good working condition.

Suffice to say, read the entire manual first before you try to set up the scroll saw. You should also refer to it before you make any changes like adjusting the tension.

Familiarize yourself with the parts of the scroll saw

The typical scroll saw has the following parts—blade, on/off switch, speed control knob, upper arm, air hose, blade tension lever blade clamp thumbscrew, bevel scale, material hold down, bevel knob lock, and table. You obviously should know these parts well so you have a better understanding of how they work together in making your saw effective.

Mounting the scroll saw

Most scroll saws today are ready for use the moment you take them out of the box. Thus the next important step in setting up the machine, right after you read the manual, is to mount the scroll saw to a bench.

It is generally recommended that a scroll saw is mounted to a solid bench instead of a plywood bench, as the latter can cause noticeable noise and vibration. If you can’t get a solid bench and what you have is just a plywood bench, you can put a soft foam pad between the bench and the saw.

Expect a scroll saw to come with mounting holes and appropriate hardware like bolts, jam nuts and hex nuts. Refer to the instruction manual on how to mount the scroll saw to the benchtop.

Getting the correct tension on the blade.

For most owners, getting the correct tension on the scroll saw blade is the toughest part of setting up a scroll saw.

Getting the right tension of the scroll saw blade is important as blades will break if the blade tension is too much, or too little.

The general guideline in finding the correct blade tension is to pluck the scroll saw blade like a guitar. You should hear a sharp ping when you do so.

Of course, not everyone has the “ear”, so to speak, to determine if the scroll saw blade has been correctly tensioned. The fact is that the scroll saw blade would make a sound when you pluck or strum it.

One way to find the right tension of the scroll saw blade is to feel some resistance when you strum the back of the scroll saw blade. When there’s resistance when you pluck the scroll saw blade, you are almost near the right tension of the scroll saw blade.

Moreover, if the scroll saw blade breaks right after you started using it, you can be sure that the tension is too much. If the scroll saw blade wanders, then the tension is too little.

Thus it can be said that finding the right blade tension is really a trial-and-error thing. You should not really expect to get it on your first try.

How to setup a scroll saw

Squaring the blade to the table.

Squaring the scroll saw blade to the table is important if you are working on a project where the pieces must fit together. The same goes if you are into stacking cutting or cutting thicker stock.

Most scroll saws these days would only require you to move the table to adapt to 90 degrees. You’ll also have to look into the inserts, and make sure that these fit nicely and not chewed up. The insert must also let you easily square up the workpieces on the table.

Inserts on new saws aren’t really a concern. But these can be a problem when you have an older saw. The easiest way to go about this is to make your own by using the original insert as a template. You may even use the scroll saw to cut its own inserts. You should make sure, however, that the material you are to use would be as thick as the original insert. This would ensure that the top is absolutely level with the table top.

Some of the materials for inserts that you may want to use are soft aluminum alloys, solid wood, hardboard, and clear polycabornate plastics.

Setting up the hold down and the blower

Since you want to have smooth cuts when using a scroll saw, it is important to set up and use the hold down and dust blower.

Both parts of the scroll saw play pivotal roles. The hold down barely touches the work surface. It helps keep a workpiece from catching a tooth on a quirky grain, and then jumping off line as you cut. On the other hand the dust blower keeps the marked lines free from sawdust so you can easily follow your pattern.

Most scroll saws today have sawdust blowers. But if the scroll saw you have doesn’t have one, you should consider adding this part. You may even want to improvise. One popular way to do so is to add an aquarium air pump to the scroll saw.


Save for finding the right blade tension, setting up a scroll saw isn’t that complicated. It helps that most scroll saws today can work right out of the box. And you can always refer to the user manual if you are having difficulties in setting up your saw.

Now that you have an idea how to get your scroll saw up and running, why don’t you start setting up the said machine so you can get productive as soon as possible?

Can a Scroll Saw Cut Metal?

Can a Scroll Saw Cut Metal?

Can a Scroll Saw Cut Metal?

Now that’s an interesting question. Not everyone, after all, wants to do intricate designs on wood. Metal is as popular, if not more, for such creations. In fact, there are certain things for which wood wouldn’t really do. A knife is one such example, and if you’ve seen all those awesome knife designs and wondered how you could do such designs yourself, a scroll saw is probably your best bet. So the answer to the question is a strong affirmative. Yes, it definitely can, as long as your scroll saw has the right kind of blades, because, eventually, it’s the blade that does the cutting job, as you’ve probably discovered by now

Finding the right blade

Your battle with cutting metal with a scroll saw is won virtually the moment you find the most suitable blade for the job. For metal cutting, you need a scroll saw with skip teeth that are also ideal for cutting through the insides and the panels.

With skip tooth blades, you can use your scroll saw to cut through virtually any kind of metal—from copper to brass, cold rolled steel, bronze, and aluminum sheet. It is, in fact, perfect for cutting soft metal up to 1/8th of an inch in thickness. And what’s more, you can cut through a single sheet or even a stack of them with such a scroll saw.

You can check out the link for more on finding the right kind of blade for your metal cutting requirements.

Broadly speaking, however, it’s not a good idea to use a woodcutting blade for a metal cutting job because it’s a sure way of ruining the teeth of the blade. For obvious reasons, metal cutting blades need to have hard teeth and are available in various sizes to suit your diverse metal cutting needs.

How to do it

Now that you’ve got the right kind of blade fitted in to your scroll sawright kind of blade fitted in to your scroll saw, the next step is to figure out the best possible way of going about the task of cutting metal. Depending on the type of metal you’re working on, you may or may not need to use oil or lubrication. Aluminum, for instance, is better cut with lubrication while gold, brass and even copper are quite fine when cut dry.

Soft vs. hard metal

Metal, as we all know, comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and more importantly, in a variety of hardness. Quite frankly, a scroll saw is just not the thing you need to cut through hard metal. But if you really have no option, and have decided to go for a scroll saw, then just take care of a few things to ensure that the blade doesn’t break apart during the cutting process. For one, use a slow speed setting. Secondly, the blade should be well lubricated, and finally, let the metal go through the blade slowly.

But even then, there are limits to the kind of hard metal you can use a scroll saw on. For a hard metal that’s more than ¼” thick, you will need to find another saw since a scroll saw is just not going to help you with this one. Of course you can always find a high-end scroll saw with a super high-end blade if it’s a somewhat hard metal that you want to cut through.

Keep an eye on safety

You also need to be aware of the fact that the risk of injury while cutting metal with a scroll saw is higher than while cutting wood, so you should put the metal between two pieces of plywood, which will protect the metal from forming a burr at the bottom while also preventing metal pieces from dangerously flying around.

Operational aspects

This relates to the operational functioning of the scroll saw, which can be electrical or battery operated, or even manual. The battery-powered scroll saw is generally found to be more convenient, even as compared to the electrical one, which has a cord trailing it as you cut. How to proceed with the metal cutting process is something you can easily find online.

How to proceed with the metal cutting process is something you can easily find online. Here’s one such link for you to check out. At the end of the day, your success will depend on how meticulously you follow the guidelines.


As you can see, metal cutting is possible with a scroll saw but you need to be careful about a few things before you start using this tool for such a purpose. The metal you propose to cut shouldn’t be too hard, and the blades you use should be ideally suited for metal cutting. If you try to cut metal with a wood scroll saw blade you’re going to end up ruining the metal piece instead of transforming it into an enviable creation.

Then there are the safety considerations which you need to pay attention to in order to minimize the risk of injury, which, unfortunately, is more the case with metal as compared to wood.

And finally, of course, it’s the way you do it that makes the big difference to whether you’re successful or not, and what kind of end product you come up with. You can’t possibly hope to do a great job if you don’t follow the rules of metal cutting, which are somewhat different from wood-cutting guidelines.