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how does a scroll saw work

How Does a Scroll Saw Work?

how does a scroll saw work

how does a scroll saw work

A scroll saw, which comes in a large variety with a multitude of speeds and throat capacities, is a compact but effective machine which works excellently with thin wood. Depending on their construction, scroll saws may be the C-arm or parallel arm types, and can be used to make name tags, clocks, small furniture etc., in a wide range of designs by working on thin wood. From decorative to utility items, a scroll saw can help create all kinds of woodcraft, using freehand cutting. Modern scroll saws, interestingly, don’t just help cut wood but also metal and some other materials.

Easy process

The process of using a scroll saw is quite easy, as long as you go step by step, following the sequence correctly. The is a good resource guide for this purpose. It takes you through the process of cutting intricate joints and curves with the fine blade of a scroll saw in a simple, easy-to-follow directions.

If you correctly follow the instructions, without deviating from them, there’s no reason for you to go wrong. Depending on whether you’re using an electric or a pedal-operated saw, you may find the pressure levels and strength required in doing the job varying. Either way, the end result will be to your satisfaction if you follow the steps provided.

Blade sharpness

As you can guess, the sharpness of the blade is a key factor in ensuring ease of cutting. Generally, the blade used is not a continuous loop type but is a reciprocating one. So you can actually remove the blade and put it through a pre-drilled starting hole.

This way, you can easily make interior cutouts without the need for an entry slot. Furthermore, the finer the blade, in terms of its teeth and width, the more intricate the curves it can create. In fact, a real fine blade will help create curves that are more intricate than the narrowest of band-saw blade gauge.

Scroll saw classification

As mentioned earlier, there’s large variety of scroll saws you can choose from. Classification generally relates to the size of the saw throat, or the distance between the blade and the rear frame.

The deeper the throat, the larger the wood piece you can cut with the saw. Generally speaking, a 12” throat is considered small while you can have throat size of 30” or so in commercial saws. Then there are some manually built industrial saws which can be used to make objects that are even larger—it’s done by hanging the top mechanical part of it from the ceiling. However, that’s not so common these days in this age of computer automation.

Cost is another factor that determines the type of saw—the more expensive ones are designed for higher accuracy and more ease of use, mainly because of the minimal vibration they trigger.

How the curves are made

Moving on the pivot table is what gives the scroll saw the ability to make intricate curves in wood and metal craft. Nowadays, tables are equipped with a tilting feature which allows you to cut at angles, as required, with minimum effort. Then of course there’s the variable speed attribute, which you can use to ensure greater control while accurately and quickly cutting intricate patterns and designs. Scroll saws are now commonly used with modern intarsia, along with jigsaws and band saws.

Safety first

Like all devices of its kind, a scroll saw is also high on safety, with its design features carrying built-in protection for the user. You’ll find most of these saws having sufficient light on its flexible arm to illuminate the work station. Also, a dust blower nozzle usually helps keep the work space clean.

However, caution is urged in the use of a scroll saw, which means you need to be really careful while cutting with one. If you end up getting your finger in contact with the blade, even inadvertently, it may result in serious injury. Hence, be sure to follow all the guidelines for the use of a scroll saw with total care, and don’t allow it to fall into the hands of kids.


It’s evident that, if used correctly and sequentially, a scroll saw can do wonders in terms of creating intricate wood, and even metal, designs. While the process of its use is simple and clear enough, it’s really all about practice and more practice, and you can make your creations more innovative with a few easy tips and tricks; check out

To better illuminate the work area, you can use additional lighting with your saw. Then, since the blade is what makes all the difference to the cutting quality, you need to ensure it has the right amount of tension so that it doesn’t break—you should ideally set the tension at a point where plucking the blade triggers a ping sound.

Retrieval of the blades in order to minimize wastage is another useful thing to learn while using a scroll saw. If you’re using plywood, you may want to ensure that it doesn’t get warped, for which you should store it on a dry and flat surface, with a heavy wood piece on top of it.

These simple tips will go a long way towards enhancing your experience with a scroll saw, and the resultant creations will reflect the improved excellence.