best scroll saw for fretwork

Best Scroll Saw for Fretwork of 2020: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

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Fretwork is detailed, complex, and comes in a variety of reliefs.

Thus, you need the right tools to create the type of wood designs that fretwork calls for.

Scroll saws are the best tools for the job, but not every manufacturer has the best scroll saw for fretwork.

So, we searched the market and found five of the best models for you to consider.

We'll also provide a short buying guide and answers to some of the most common questions about scroll saws.

Comparison Chart

DEWALT Scroll Saw

Delta Power Tools 40-694 20″ Scroll Saw

Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Scroll Saw

Dremel MS20-01 Moto-Saw Scroll Saw Kit

SKIL 3335-07 16″ Scroll Saw

Best Scroll Saw for Fretwork: A Review

1. DEWALT DW788 Scroll Saw

This DeWalt scroll saw is an electric-powered tool that is great for those who don’t have the best control of the machine yet.

The DeWalt brand is well-known for their tools, and this model of a scroll saw is no exception.

From the two-inch cutting depth to the varying speed options, you get a lot for your money with this model.

Plus, with the affordable price, you can’t go wrong with getting this model for all your fretwork needs.

That is because of the different speed levels, which is very useful when you need to slow down to make a detailed section.

Product Highlights

Some of the features the DEWALT DW788 Scroll Saw offers include:

  • Adjustable Arm 

The DEWALT DW788 Scroll Saw's arm can move positions easily even when it's still running.

When doing fretwork that can require many adjustments for the perfect design, this will come in handy.

  • Reduced Vibration 

Vibrations can be an annoying thing to deal with when you have a lot of work to do.

Plus, your hands and arms can get tired quickly because of the movement produced.

Having less vibrations, the DEWALT DW788 Scroll Saw is more comfortable to use for long hours of work.

  • Tool-Free Blade Clamps 

This model of saw also comes with tool-free blade clamps that make switching out the blade quick and easy.

When you need to change the blade for a new project, these blade clamps won’t cause you to fumble around with them to get the job done. Just do the work with your hand.

What To Like About This Saw

It's great that this model seems to focus on the comfort of the user.

From the reduction of vibration to the quieter noise level, this scroll saw is a great choice for those who don’t like the noise and shaking that happens when you work with these types of tools.

Another good thing is that the arm can pivot and adjust easily.

It makes it easy to change the position when you need to, and keep you from stopping the machine just to make certain adjustments.

What Not To Like About This Saw

The DEWALT DW788 Scroll Saw tends to have lots of trouble when putting the machine's blade.

It seems to be something that happens often and can be a difficult thing for newer users to do.

Once the blade is in, there tend to be no more issues, though.

Still, no one wants to deal with this when putting together a new machine.


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    Blade pivots for extra movement
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    Controls all within easy reach
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    Reduced vibration
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    Low noise level
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    Two-inch cut depth


  • Difficult to put the blade initially
  • Comes with a higher price
  • A bit on the heavy side

2. Delta Power Tools 40-694 Scroll Saw

The Delta name is synonymous with tools, and this machine will not disappoint their fans.

This brand is made with users in mind and comes with many features that allow you to have the best experience when doing fretwork.

Product Highlights

Some of the things you'd expect from this scroll saw are:

  • Speed Levels 

This scroll saw comes with a varying speed level that ranges from just 400 SPM to as much as 1,750.

This feature allows you to have the flexibility to use this particular machine for many cutting applications.

Just pick the speed you need for each job, and you can get started on the project in no time.

  • Lifts and Locks 

This saw comes with upper arm lifts and locks that can raise during a blade change or while you adjust the blade to keep your hands and arms safe.

This added feature makes this option a great choice for those who want the highest safety level for themselves and other workshop users.

Additionally, its arm is a dual-parallel link that reduces the machine's noise and keeps the vibration to a minimum.

  • 1.3-Amp Motor 

Every tool that has a motor should come with a powerful one that can get the job done, which is the case for the Delta 40-694.

Its 1.3-amp motor is powerful for its size and allows the blade to run at faster speeds.

This makes it ideal for fretwork, which needs fast speeds to create the smoothest cuts in the detailed patterns.

  • Other Features

The machine comes with a 20-inch cutting surface that allows you to place larger materials to cut and carve.

This machine also comes with a dust blower that will keep your workspace clean.

It also has a blade tension lever located on the front of the machine's arm.

It's a feature that makes it easy to access and use whenever you need it.

What To Like About It

The best thing about this machine is that it comes with a good motor that makes the blade run smoothly without any user help.

No one wants to consume all their strength when using a power tool, so having a motor that does the hard work for you is the best way to go.

Also, this tool's varying speed levels make it one of the fastest options that money can buy, especially when doing fretwork.

What Not To Like About This Saw

The machine is supposed to reduce vibration a bit, but it seems like it doesn’t work that well.

The vibration tends to be loud and very noticeable.


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    Powerful motor
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    Varying speed levels
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    Great for larger materials
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    Adjustable blade
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    Comfortable and easy to use
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    Lower price than other options


  • Difficult-to-follow assembly instructions 
  • The soft power switch can easily be turned off while working

3. Shop Fox W1713 Scroll Saw

This Shop Fox scroll saw is a high-volt option that comes with a medium-sized cutting width and varying speeds.

Not only does this tool work great for detailed work, but it also comes with extra features to make it a high-end option.

Product Highlights 

The Shop Fox W1713 Scroll Saw has a lot to offer, including:

  • Ease of Use

The machine has a gooseneck light that allows you to see your work better, especially when creating intricate details.

It will also keep your cutting area tidy and get rid of small mistakes in your work.

With a built-in dust port and dust blower, you can also keep your workspace clean and tidy without purchasing any other cleaning supplies.

  • Speed Levels 

This machine also has high speeds that allow you to make the best cuts without any mess of extra pieces hanging over the side.

Ranging from 550 SPM to 1,700 SPM, you can handle whatever job you need at the correct speed.

  • Motor Power

This scroll saw has a 110-volt power that makes it a top choice for those who need a machine to get all of their fretwork done on time.

Plus, with the 60Hz motor, you will have your work done in no time.

  • Versatility

The cutting width surface allows you to cut materials that are up to 16 inches in length.

As such, you can work on a variety of items and materials.

You can do almost anything with this tool, from carving signs to making small wooden keychains, thanks to its varying reliefs.

What We Like About This Saw

You will love the power that comes with this fairly compact machine because you can do a lot of work with it without having to deal with a hefty machine.

What Not To Like About This Saw

Though it has a high-voltage and lots of power, this tool's price may still be too high for those who need to stick to a more affordable budget.


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    Multiple speed levels
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    High-voltage levels
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    High-speed motor
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    Convenient to use even in poor light conditions


  • Difficult to mount
  • Not ideal for newer users; complicated instructions

4. Dremel MS20-01 Moto-Saw Scroll Saw Kit

The Dremel MS20-01 is the best option for those who want to save space in their garage or workshop.

It's also perfect for those looking for a tool that they can carry to different work locations.

Product Highlights 

The Dremel MS20-01 Moto-Saw Scroll Saw has the following features:

  • Ease of Use

This little machine weighs just over five pounds, compared to the average scroll saw that weighs closer to 50.

The dust port adapter that comes with this machine allows you to keep a clear line of sight on your work area so that you can keep it clear and clean at all times.

  • Quick-Change Mechanism 

This machine has an auto-tensioning, quick-change mechanism that makes changing the machine's blade fast and easy.

The automatic tensioning also makes it simple to adjust the blade's tension so that it is at an optimal rate.

  • Handheld Capabilities 

This scroll saw also comes with a fast-clamp base so that you can attach it to different tables, workbenches, and flat surfaces.

The ability to take the secured machine and attach it somewhere new is a great feature that will make using the blade on the road even easier.

  • Blue Edge Guide 

With this kit, you have the option to add a blue edge guide that can make your job even easier.

You can use it to make even more detailed items to sell or keep in your workshop.

That said, if you opt not to purchase the guide light, the machine's operation won't be affected at all.

What To Like About This Saw

You will love how lightweight and compact the scroll saw is, making it travel-friendly.

That ensures that you can use the machine to accomplish different projects and jobs anytime, anywhere.

What Not To Like About This Saw

Though it is good to have a compact and lightweight machine, the level of work that you can do with becomes a bit limited.

That makes it a machine that not everyone will want to use.


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    Varying speed levels
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    Easy to mount
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    Quick and easy accessory changes


  • Not good for working on metal
  • Hard-to-reach switch when cutting

5. SKIL 3335-07 Scroll Saw

The SKIL 3335-07 is ideal for fretwork because it offers fast speeds even with thick pieces of wood.

With a LED light to allow you to see every detail of what you are creating, your fretwork will be more precise than ever before.

Product Highlights 

The most notable features of the SKIL 3335-07 Scroll Saw are:

  • 16-Inch Throat 

The cutting surface on this machine is 16 inches wide, so you can cut larger materials.

Other options don’t come with the same amount of space to work with, limiting what you can do.

  • Speed Level

This machine comes with varying speed levels that allow you to adjust your current speed for different materials each time you use it.

You can cut thinner pieces of wood at a faster pace and slow it down for larger pieces of wood.

That way, the machine doesn't get stuck or overworked from too much pressure.

  • Dust Port

This scroll saw also comes with a dust port that keeps all dust and dirt from getting in your way when you are working.

That makes it easier to keep working without stopping to take time to clean the workspace yourself.

  • Tilt Capabilities 

This unique machine also comes with the ability to tilt the cutting surface to cut at an angle with the straight blade.

When you are doing fretwork, some areas might need a bit of angling to finish the job.

What To Like About This Saw

This machine comes with a tilting ability that none of the other options on this list has.

The dust port is also one of the best things about this machine because you can work continuously and safely.

What Not To Like About This Saw

Unfortunately, this saw is not the most durable of the bunch.

A few different parts on this machine don’t last very long and require you to spend money to fix them.

That could be an issue for those on a tight budget.


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    Varying speed levels
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    Excellent user convenience
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    Large surface


  • Not the most durable
  • Can cost money to fix after a while

Buyers Guide

When thinking about purchasing a new scroll saw for fretwork, you need to make sure that you get all the features you need to make it worth the cost.

So, here are some things to consider when looking for a scroll saw:

Throat Size

Not all scroll saws have the same dimensions, and some are only made for smaller, thinner materials.

Looking for an option with a larger throat capacity will give you the space you need to get larger works done without getting another machine to do the job.

The throat length is the distance between the blade and the machine's rear frame.

It ranges from 12 to 30 inches, but some models have more than 30 inches of throat length.

For small jobs, it's best to go for 16 inches, while for professional or heavy-duty works, go for 30-inch scroll saws.

The throat depth is also one consideration since it signifies the wood's thickness that the machine can cut.

Mounted or Handheld

Do you like having a stable workspace, or do you want to have a flexible work option?

That is something to ask yourself when shopping because you will need to decide between a handheld option or a mounted one.

Mounted options have less flexibility but offer a stable cutting surface.

However, if you travel to client’s home or other workshops to do your woodworking, a handheld option is your best bet.

Speed Levels

The scroll saw's speed is measured in strokes per minute or SPM, and the best scroll saws should various speed settings.

That is because it ensures you'll have great control when cutting wood.

Slow speed settings range from 400 to 800 SPM, while fast speed settings are from 1200 to 2500 SPM.

Fast speed levels are best for hardwoods, while slow speed settings are perfect for softer materials.

Also, having a scroll saw for fretwork means that it will be handling very detailed work.

You may also want to have a saw that offers different speed levels while working for easy transitions.

That can make it smoother to cut deeper in some areas faster, but slow it down for a small extra-detailed area.

Smaller cuts and grooves almost always turn out better when you slow down and take your time.

Doing so without the need to turn off the machine means that you can get the job done faster.

Arm Type

The scroll saw arm is usually mounted over the blade so that you can cut the material properly.

The three general types include:

  • Parallel Type Arm

This scroll saw has two arms connected in the middle pivot points.

Since the arms move at the same time, the blade moves up and forward or has a reciprocating motion.

  • Parallel Linked Arm

This modern-type of arm design is great since it produces less vibrations. This arm type is common for high-end scroll saws.

  • C Type Arm

The blade of a scroll saw with a C type arm moves upwards and downwards with a slight arc.

Thus, it is the most aggressive arm type but cuts quicker than the rest.

This is perfect for experienced woodworkers or those who already have a high level of accuracy.

Tilting Capacity

Beveled edge cuts are common in woodworking projects, especially for fretwork. Hence, a scroll saw with a tilting tabletop is more convenient.

The best scroll saw for fretwork will be models with a tilting capacity of up to 45 degrees for both sides.

You can consider scroll saws that only tilt at one side, but expect that you'll work harder.

That's because you have to move the material from one side to the other when making angled cuts.

FAQs About Scroll Saws

1. What wood is best for scroll saw?

It depends on what you are working on, but for the most part, mahogany and walnut are two of the top choices for scroll saws.

Baltic Birch wood can also be a good option if you plan to make puzzles or plaques.

2. How thick of wood can you cut with a scroll saw?

The average scroll saws will be able to cut between 1 ½ inch and 2 ½ inches.

This is just an estimate, though, and you should look at your specific model to know what it can handle.

3. How much do scroll saws cost?

The average cost for many scroll saws is around $500 if they have a stand. You can find cheaper options for as low as a few hundred dollars.

Typically, compact choices will be around $200 to $300.

4. Is it hard to use a scroll saw?

Scroll saws are very easy to use and great for newer users and those without woodworking experience.

Since they are compact, they can even be good for teaching older children how to work with wood.

5. Are scroll saw blades universal?

Different types of blades can fit in many different scroll saws.

Since you can adjust them a bit, most can fit in with other models.

Still, there are different styles and widths, so be sure to choose the right one for the job you're doing.

Our Top Recommendations

Purchasing a new scroll saw for fretwork is not the easiest thing to do by yourself.

With the reviews of the best scroll saws for fretwork laid out, you can make your decision a lot faster than you would’ve thought.

That said, our top recommendation will be the DEWALT DW788 Scroll Saw.

Although pricey and heavy, its design makes it convenient and safe to use, whether you're experienced or not.

If you would rather have a compact option, the Dremel Scroll Saw Kit would be a perfect choice.

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