The versatility of a scroll saw – which has a lot in common with an electric fret saw, jig saw and traditional coping saw – is amazing and it can take on many different projects.
Whether you want to add scrolling the top of a large wardrobe, or to craft children’s jigsaw puzzles, a scroll saw is the ideal tool for the job and makes a great addition to any workshop, for the professional and amateur enthusiast alike.
There are many practical uses for the scroll saw for all you precision woodworking needs and this excellent tool has easily earns it place in any modern wood workshop.
Scroll saws use single straight blades attached to an upper and lower arm which is powered by an electric motor. It performs the cutting action by reciprocating in an up and down motion, akin to how a basic, hand-held coping saw functions.
The blade of the scroll saw is run through a flat work table usually at a perpendicular angle, although many tables have a tilt function for variable cuts.
Because of the cutting action, the work piece has a tendency to elevate off of the work table, therefore most models have hold downs in place near the blade.
Technology has come a long way since the scroll saw’s invention in the late 1800s, and motors are smaller, and quieter allowing small bench top models with a throat capacity of around 30 cm.
Conversely technology also allows for much larger industrial models with throat capacities to over 90 cm available, that use much less valuable floor space than older types.
When shopping for scroll saws, first you need to consider the scope and size of the projects you would like to use this tool for.
Small intricate hobby and craft work, such as doll house furniture, figurines, and even small model motor craft, is ideal for a smaller scale scroll saw.
Large puzzles and furniture scroll saw work will require much larger throat depths. Blade style and size is another important factor of note.
Depending on the manufacturers blade clasps, they will require a specific blade type. There are two major styles pinned, and straight – both can be quick release, or require a wrench, and tool of some sort.
Quick release is convenient, usually just the flip of a lever, and the blade loosens ready for replacing. However, some feel they cannot be secured as positively as the other type.
Using a wrench gives the user positive feedback on how well the blade is secured, but the downside is having to locate the tools when blade changing is required, fumbling to centre a blade, while tightening a wrench can certainly feel cumbersome.
It’s worth trying the two different styles of blade release if possible to determine which type fits your abilities. There are many other features that will vary from one brand of scroll saw to another.
Hold downs vary from spring-loaded, to simple hoop guides, with no positive pressure on the work piece for delicate stock.
If you have some basic skills you really can get some impressive results by using a powered scroll saw.
And if you want to be a real craftsmen when using one it is worth buying yourself a book which introduces you to the scroll saw and how to use one effectively.
There are many uses for scroll saw and they are particularly popular with people involved in craftwork or modelmaking, and there really is no better device for cutting out the intricate shapes on wooden jigsaw puzzles.
Scroll saws are masters at allowing the blade to twist and turn in all directions and you really can’t get the same result using other power tools with blades.
If you want to cut out an internal shape, a useful tip is to drill a pilot hole in the piece of wood you are working with. Then you simply position the blade inside the pilot hole and continue your intricate cutting work.
It’s important to attach your scroll saw firmly to your work bench or stand to ensure it does not vibrate and impact on the cleanness of the cut.
Scroll saws actually safer than many other electric tools which have blades, but nevertheless safety is still paramount.
You should always keep your fingers well away from the cutting line and never use the scroll saw when young children are in the vicinity.
It’s important to use the right type of blade for a specific job. Scroll saw blades are very fine and can break quite easily – but thankfully it is also very easy to replace one.
Scroll saws are normally powered by an induction motor, which makes for very quiet running. There are two basic types of blade available to buy for a scroll saw – pin ended and plain ended.
Pin ended blades have locating pins at each end, as is the case with hacksaw blades, and plain end blades are held in place with clamps. Plain ended blades are narrower than the pin ended type.
Thankfully scroll saws do not generate much dust or mess, but it can sometimes be difficult to keep the cutting line free of dust, although the built in bellows on most devices that blow air onto the cutting line reduce the problem considerably.
The simple fact is most, if not every wood shop can benefit from a scroll saw. If you require intricate rounded cuts, the detail and quality of work is almost unmatchable on any other type of user operated equipment.