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.
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.
In order to better appreciate how a scroll saw operates, let’s look at the various parts of this popular workshop tool:
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
Work lights -- provide enough illumination for you to see the marked lines.
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.
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