Scroll Saw Guide

Scroll Saw Guide: Introduction

Used to cut intricate designs from pieces of wood, a scroll saw should take pride of place within the toolkits of professional tradesmen and DIY aficionados.

There are myriad scroll saws available on the power tool market, and it possible to find one to suit almost every budget and level of craftsmanship and ambition.

Without a doubt, those new to scroll saws ought to read up on them before buying one of these handy machines, and this scroll saw guide gives a detailed overview to any would-be scroll saw buyer.

Scroll saw used in scroll saw guide

What Is A Scroll Saw?

Static, as opposed to portable, and electrically powered from a mains supply, a scroll saw features a vertical blade which allows for the cutting of intricate patterns in various types of wood. Cutting is achieved by the user moving material into contact with the blade, which runs at high speed in an up-and-down motion.

Scroll saws have a wide range of applications. For instance, scroll saws can be used to produce dovetail joints, mitered edges, circular cuts, fretwork, and much more. Depending on the type of blade installed within a scroll saw, they are also capable of cutting other materials, including some metals and plastics

The scroll saw’s ability to make such intricate cuts makes it a formidable tool that can produce artistic pieces and designs.

What Is A Scroll Saw Used For?

Scroll saws are used to produce detailed and delicate designs that can not be produced by jigsaws, miter saws, or circular saws. For example, scroll saws are ideal for creating lettered signs and other forms of wood inlaying, such as intarsia and marquetry. This makes scroll saws indispensable to those who need to apply detail to their work.

scroll saw guide image

Another useful application of scroll saws is their ability to produce dovetail joints. Dovetail joints are trapezoidal in shape and are used to interlock materials in projects like cabinet construction. For those wishing to construct such pieces of furniture, a scroll saw is indeed very useful.

Features Of A Scroll Saw

Like other power tools, scroll saws vary between makes and models. However, most scroll saws will feature a blade tension mechanism, a table, and the ability to carry different types of blades.

A good scroll saw should have an easy-to-use blade tension mechanism. Such a device is critical for scroll saw users as the quality and accuracy of cuts is impacted by blade tension. Buyers should look for scroll saws that have a user-friendly blade tension system.

Similarly, a scroll saw user might wish to change the blade. Reasons for changing the blade include to cut different materials and to replace worn or tired blades. Some scroll saws facilitate easy changing of blades via tool-less mechanisms, and this may be preferable to those that require dismantling of parts of the saw to change the blade.

Before purchasing a scroll saw, check out the scroll saw’s table. Consideration should be given to its size in particular as having insufficient space for your project can be a significant source of frustration.

Other scroll saw features and specifications to think about are speed, dust collection, and the saw’s angle range. Many scroll saws offer variable speed functions that facilitate the cutting of a variety of materials. Some scroll saws provide a built-in dust collection system to keep your workspace free from debris, and some also allow for tilting of the blade to produce bevel cuts or other angled cuts.

How To Use A Scroll Saw

All power tools are potentially hazardous, and the scroll saw is no different. Thorough consideration of safety is a must, and it is strongly advised that scroll saw users adhere to the safety guidelines below.


  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a critical aspect of safety. Always wear goggles, ear defenders, and a dust mask when using a scroll saw.
  • Never operate a scroll saw in dimly lit places. Adequate lighting should be sought before operating a scroll saw.
  • Keep your workspace free from debris to avoid tripping and falling accidents.
  • Take measures to keep the electrical cord of the saw away from its blade to prevent electrocution.
  • Ensure regular maintenance of the device to achieve safe operational conditions.
  • Check the sharpness of blades and make sure they are correctly aligned.
  • Dull blades are not only inefficient but also a safety hazard.
  • Do not operate the saw on uneven ground or an unstable surface.
  • Those with long hair should tie it back before using the saw.
  • Always keep children and pets away from power tools.
  • Under no circumstances should one operate a scroll saw under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Being intoxicated while working any type of power tool could be catastrophic.
  • Always store scroll saws in a safe place where children can not access them.

Cutting A Design Into Wood With A Scroll Saw

Scroll saws ought to be one’s tool of choice when it comes to cutting patterns and fine detail into pieces of wood. The steps below outline how one might approach cutting a design from wood using a scroll saw.

These tools will also be required for the cutting of plexiglass with a scroll saw:

  • Measuring tape
  • Marker/pencil/pen
  • PPE (see Scroll saw Safety list above)
  • Wood
  • Clamp (if available)
  • Scrap wood (for testing)
  1. Before putting on PPE, draw your design on to your wood. You may wish to use a stencil if drawing is not your strong point.
  2. Put on any PPE and other safety equipment.
  3. Ensure the scroll saw is on a stable surface.
  4. Check the sharpness of the blade. You may wish to change the blade at this point, in which case you should consult the scroll saw’s manual.
  5. Adjust the blade tension per the manufacturer’s guidelines. Check the tension of the blade by applying pressure to the midpoint of the blade. A correctly tensioned blade will offer only around 3mm movement when pressed.
  6. Power on the blade.
  7. Check that the saw is functioning correctly but using a scrap piece of wood to test it.
  8. Once satisfied, the saw is operating correctly, take your design firmly in both hands and set it down on the scroll saw’s table.
  9. Using both hands, guide the wood to the blade. Be careful to keep your fingers away from the blade.
  10. Once complete, remove your project away from the blade and set it down safely.
  11. Power off the saw and unplug it at the mains.
  12. Clean the area thoroughly. Remove dust and debris from the workspace.
  13. Store the scroll saw away safely.

Scroll Saw Guide: Summary

When discerning DIYers and accomplished artisans need a tool that can produce sophisticated cuts and detailed designs, they look no further than the trusty scroll saw.

Able to deliver fine cuts for the artistry of intarsia and marquetry, scroll saws are a machine that can take projects to another level. However, mastering a scroll saw takes time, and to achieve artistic marvels, one should be prepared to practice.