What Is a Scroll Saw Used for?

A saw simply is used to cut wood or other hard materials. However, there’s a lot of confusion about which type of saw will be instrumental for your desired job. This article will assist you to put an end to this confusion.

Primarily, there are two types of the saw: a band saw and a scroll saw. A band saw is used to cut thick material and is suitable for aggressive cutting works. It has a single continuous blade to slash a thick piece with limited area for creativity.

However, if you are looking for some fine details and intricacies, scroll saw can be the appropriate choice. Consisting of fine blades, this type of saw can assist fine cuts as well as inside detailing.

What is a Scroll Saw?

A scroll saw is all you need for creating delicate ornaments, marquetry, wooden toys and a lot more without creating excessive noise or dust. At first glance, the saw looks quite similar to a blade saw but once you get to examine it closely you will find the real differences.

A scroll saw consists of a reciprocating blade, unlike a band saw which has a continuous blade moving in a constant downward direction. The scroll saw’s blades can cut wood up to almost 2’’ thick. The blades are ideal for plywood, basswood, pinewood or others up to 3/4’’ thick.

Also, the scroll saw can be used with a variety of blades:

Standard Tooth

This type of tooth has blades of the same size which are evenly spaced. The standard tooth for wood has more space between teeth to remove the dust while creating lesser noise. Comparatively, the blade for metal makes more noise with teeth designed close to each other.

Skip Tooth

As the name indicates, a skip tooth blade has a wider space between the teeth. The space left prevents the heat build-up and makes the cutting easier for beginners.

A single skip tooth has a sequence of a tooth, a gap and then the next tooth. Whereas a double skip tooth has two teeth, a gap, and then the next two teeth.

Speciality Tooth

In case of a crown or a two-way tooth, it cuts on both the down-stroke and the up-stroke. Similarly, diamond blades are wires coated with diamond fragments for fine glass cuts etc. Other than that, A metal cutting blade can also be used for soft metal jobs.

The Speciality of a Scroll Saw

The thirst for creativity can rightly be quenched by a scroll saw. To fashion out a simple old-styled workpiece into a well-defined and aesthetic piece would be all an artisan want. The specifications which make Scroll Saw a definite choice are:


The speed of a scroll saw can be optimized per your feasibility. The speed knob provided can be utilized to get those fine cuts with a blade stroking at your desired pace.

A typical scroll saw can have a speed of 400-800 strokes/minute at slow speed and 1,200-1,800 strokes/minute at high speed.

Nevertheless, attaining the right speed is all about how much you know about maintaining a balance between material, tension and speed.

Pierce cutting

A pierce cut is when you cut out a certain design inside a workpiece without harming the outer edges.

This is done by drilling a hole in the project large enough for the blade to pass through. The saw blade is then unhooked from the motor giving it access to the job’s hole. The blade is then threaded through the hole and reattached with the motor. When the motor starts, the blade can be moved, tracing the desired shape.

Maintaining a proper tension can make you pierce cut a circle, a letter, a number or a pattern etc.


If handling your workpiece with a single hand is difficult then you can switch to the foot pedal for a better grip.  This makes the task easier as well as safer to carry out.


Another neat feature of a scroll saw is angle optimization. The angle of the scroll saw can be set from 45° to 90°.

If you want to cut your project at a particular angle, just set the angle at the bevel scale, optimize the saw’s pace at faster speed and start cutting.

This feature is desirable for marquetry where small pieces of woods or other materials are joined together to make a picture or to decorate furniture.

Sawdust and finishing

The scroll saw does not create bulks of dust unlike a band saw or a jigsaw. Moreover, the project designed under a scroll saw has a finished surface so there’s little or no need of sanding.

Although a scroll saw does not create a lot of mess but safety precautions should be followed as inhaling too much sawdust can cause serious injuries to your lungs.


Comparatively, the scroll saw makes less noise than the other types of saw. The reason is the fine blades and speed variation through which the cutting pace can be optimized and consequently the sound as well.

Exactly how much noise your scroll saw will make depends upon the type of material you are going to cut and the quality of scroll saw being used.

When the Scroll Saw should be Avoided?

If you are doing a job on thicker material (greater than 1 inch), choosing a scroll saw won’t be a fit match. While changing the blade type can gradually increase the saw’s power, the motor’s capacity for handling the job is not up to the par.

The scroll saw is ineffective when it comes to cutting material into halves or making short rip cuts. You can cut a few inches of an overall large job but to cut straight is not what a scroll saw is made for.

Pre-requisites of a Scroll Saw

If you have decided to buy a scroll saw, this is what we suggest you verify before buying:

  • A proper dust collection system is necessary when you are busy doing a critical job. A sawdust assisting dust collection can make your task easier.
  • The throat size indicates which size or thickness of the material you can cut. If you are planning to do jobs on thicker material, inquiring throat size can be of critical importance.
  • The vibrations made by scroll saw can be annoying at times. Buying a heavy saw with a strong bench is preferable to avoid irritating vibrations.
  • The blade speed optimizing option comes with most of the scroll saws. Ensuring this can make the tasks easier for you.
  • Availability of blade changing and tensioning features can make your scroll saw suitable for wood, plastic as well as metals.


Deciding whether you should buy a scroll saw or not depends directly upon the type of your job. If you are planning to cut thick heavy materials then buying a scroll saw would probably be a wild goose chase. However, if you are looking for a decent machine facilitating delicate and artistic work, a scroll saw would be the best to adorn your workpiece.

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