Are you wondering what's the best wood for scroll saw?
If you are a woodworker looking to create curves with intricate art designs or patterns that require fine details, then you probably have invested in a scroll saw. This saw is perfect for these kinds of projects, and it gives you the versatility of creative options that knows no limits.
Though you may already have this tool, you may be wondering, what is the best wood for scroll saw? That is an excellent question and one we will be looking at in this guide. We will also be answering some very vital questions about the tool itself. So, let's get to it, shall we?
What Is A Scroll Saw?
A scroll saw is an electrically powered saw that uses a foot pedal for its operation. It is similar to the band saw, but it doesn't cut using a consistent blade loop.
This means a scroll saw gives you more mobility and flexibility. The scroll saw uses a reciprocating blade that moves vertically to allow for more intricate cuts. It is primarily used for a variety of lumber projects.
Best Wood For Scroll Saw Projects
Now that you know what a scroll saw is and understand its design - let's talk wood. There are a few options, and each scroll saw has its advantages and disadvantages. Before we get into the actual types of woods, let's talk about building your skills.
Softwood is perfect for beginners. Using softwood will give you a better chance to get comfortable with your saw while making straight cuts.
Then, once you have somewhat learned the art of using your scroll saw, you will want to begin considering what wood will work best with your project. Softwoods will bend more, and it will be more challenging to maintain a detailed pattern, as they will flake easily.
Hardwoods are more durable, offering sufficient width, and allow you to carve with great detail. However, they do chip and smoke more if you are not using the right speed. Now, we will look at individual categories for some suggestions on the best wood choices for your scroll saw.
Best Softwood For Scroll Saws
Because they are delicate, you may think that softwoods are a bust when it comes to woodcutting with a scroll saw. Remember, this is an art that takes a lot of practice.
However, the only wood that is in this category that absolutely should be shunned is pine. Other than that, there are quite a few softwoods that work well with a scroll saw - especially for beginners.
As we mentioned, using plywood, birch, or cedar, is a great idea when starting out. They're a great way to master your scroll saw. Poplar is a good choice because it has a lot of grain. This allows you for speed without frequent blade changes.
If you do decide to use softwoods, here are a few things to note:
- Plywood has solid strength and offers better stability than other softwood. However, it will cause you to have to change the blades of your scroll saw quite frequently. Some of the best corbel brackets are cut from Baltic birch plywood using a scroll saw.
- Interestingly, the best Baltic birch Plywood (aka Russian Birch) is wood grown in Finland and Russia in the Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania regions.
- The great news about Baltic Birch Plywood's is its strength with multiple plies of Birch veneer for superior strength and stability.
- Typically, when doing woodwork, you want to shine a spotlight on the unique natural beauty of the wood.
- If you are not concerned with that and are working on a large and thick project, plywood may be a good choice.
In the end, hardwoods are usually more preferred for intricate woodworking projects, so let's look at them now.
Best Hardwood for Scroll Saws
Hardwoods are the best when it comes to maintaining patterns without chipping or flaking.
There are, of course, woods that are better to control than the others, but here are a few options we think would be great to consider for your cutting projects:
Cherry is softer than other hardwoods and can be a little gentler when cutting with your scroll saw blades.
However, cherry wood does not hold up well to excessive weight after completion of the project. Cherry wood also does have a nice rich color and an even grain that is easy to cut. Cherry does darken and may warp if it dries out.
Maple is by far one of the most favorite woods used by woodworkers in North America. Because maple is so easy to find and work with, it's a budget-friendly option.
Maple has a nice even grain, and it offers a pattern in this grain that could be hard to finish.
There are 2 types of maple: The 1st is soft maple, and the 2nd is hard maple.
The softer maple is easier for your scroll saw to cut and saves you on blades.
Whereas hardwood typically is harder on your blades and requires frequent changing. Harwood maple is perfect for projects that call for thicker, durable wood.
Walnut wood comes from the only dark wood on the North American continent, and it offers a rich brown to purple-tinted lumber that has a grain with swirling patterns.
This wood gives a slightly more complicated woodworking piece than cherry and definitely not as durable as maple, but it can be used for cutting pieces that won't hold much weight.
For hardwood, ash is relatively lightweight for cutting. It's just as hard as oak or birch and can be merciless against saw blades. Many woodworkers working with intricate pieces often stay clear of ash because of the unique grain.
This wood is lighter and offers a curly grain. It is quite a hardwood which is on par with maple. The curly grain sometimes leads to irregular finish absorption, which may result in uneven staining.
One of the more common budget-friendly hardwoods, hickory, is easy to find and has many great qualities that many woodworkers find desirable.
When your project is built, you will find hickory is a durable and strong wood, which means it has a great weight capacity. It is difficult to cut, and, therefore, it may be best to steer clear of it if you are a beginner. This also means it is hard on blades.
Hickory stains well and has a consistent grain, which makes it perfect for large-scale projects.
Red oaks tend to be softer, and a scroll saw can cut it like butter compared to the White Oaks. White oaks with bark produce a thin layer of dirt on them from decay.
Making White Oak less desirable than other lumber sources.
Scroll Saw - Polywood
Polywood is not traditional wood, but rather man-made materials. Still, it deserves some consideration. This material made its appearance in the '90s and is comprised of plastics of many varieties.
Polywood is cut into blocks and straight planks to mimic traditional lumber. This is a replacement option for wood. Its design makes it is easy to be cut by your scroll saw, as long as it is no thicker than 2 inches.
This is an excellent option if you are looking for an eco-friendlier option than wood.
Some Common Types of Non-Wood Scroll Saw Materials
Some of the materials you can cut with your scroll saw include:
- Plastic, mainly stiff plastics, will hold its shape well and offer good resistance. Some
- Suitable plastics include plexiglass and acrylic.
- Coria is made from dense plastic and heat-resistant. They look like rigid sheets of resin that provides more hardness for cutting on.
Things To Consider
It's time to think outside the box! When you are thinking about what pieces of wood to choose for your project, whether it is softwood or even red oak, there are a few things to think about that will help make the decision easier.
Here are the factors that we feel you should consider when choosing your project's material:
The thickness of Wood for Scroll Saws
Scroll saws can effectively cut wood up to 2" but it's better to work with thicknesses between 1⁄4" to 3⁄4". The thicker the wood, the harder it is to make details and curves.
If you are looking to cut wood pieces larger than an inch, a band saw could be a better choice. It can't perform the fine details as a scroll saw can, but cutting thicker wood is more effortless.
This is why most woodworkers use hardwood. The cuts and thickness tend to fall in the appropriate range since you want to see the patterns better. And, with hardwood, those intricate cuts last for more extended periods.
You will need to think about blades differently on a different level when it comes to considering the different types of woods. The first is you need to make sure you have chosen the right blade. Having a dull or wrong blade could cause some severe issues.
The other thing to think about is how the wood will affect the blade. Some wood uses up more blades than others.
The Saw Speed
Much like the blade consideration, you will need to think about this in two different frames of mind.
The first is the actual build of the machine and has variable speed. This allows you to adjust the scroll saw as you move through your piece.
Also, you can easily make adjustments to suits different types of wood.
Secondly, speed is essential to cut the wood you're working with. And, this includes the speed needed to execute those intricate designs you are wanting to do.
Scroll Saw FAQs
Now that you have a good idea about the best wood to use with a scroll saw let's look at a few often asked questions about the tool itself that may help you with your overall woodworking capabilities.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions:
Are Scroll Saws Easy To Use?
Just like any other power tool, there are some challenges to using the scroll saw. Once you have calibrated and selected the right blade, it's critical to practice so that you can master the scroll saw.
Before you do that, you need to make sure you have the proper safety equipment.
This should include goggles, a face mask or respirator, and a set of noise cancellation headphones to protect your hearing. Then, it becomes all about practicing as often as possible. Start slow and then build up speed. Now that you have this down, you will find the scroll saw very easy to use.
Is there a Step-by-step Guide On How To Use A Scroll Saw?
Each scroll saw will have different controls and instructions, but these steps are universal across the board:
Step1: Make sure you are wearing the proper safety gear, as we talked about above.
Step 2: You will want to make sure the wood is cut to the right size for the project you will be working on. You should also sand the wood to get rid of rough edges and then get the pattern transferred to the wood.
Step 3: Next, secure the saw to the workstation, and then insert the right side of the project's blade.
Step 4: Now, you will turn the saw on, as well as the light and the blower. Test the saw on a small piece of wood to make sure it is the right one.
Step 5: Now, you can begin to cut. If you are using thick hardwood, you will want more speed.
Step 6: Once the pattern is made, you will want to turn the saw off and then return to your sandpaper to get rid of any rough edges.
How To Change Scroll Saw Blades?
Knowing how to change the blades of a scroll saw is an essential part of the process that will be important in dealing with different woods. Here is how you do that:
Step 1: Start with safety procedures. Make sure that your saw is unplugged.
Step 2: Now, you will want to loosen the bolts that hold the blades in place. Make sure to use the user's manual to help you throughout the entirety of this process.
Step 3: Once the bolts are loose enough, you will want to carefully remove the old blade.
Step 4: You will want to make sure you choose the right blade and then place it in the open slot.
Step 5: Next, tighten the bolts a few inches until the blade is securely in place.
Step 6: Finally, you will want to test it, so you will want to plug it in and turn it on.
What Is The Best Wood Thickness For Scroll Saw?
Wood that's about a3/4 inch is acceptable and ideal for these tools.
What is the best scroll saw blades for thick wood?
For thick wood or hardwoods, use higher blade numbers. The blades with less TPI (teeth per inch) will cut more aggressively.
For example, a blade with 8 TPI cuts faster than a blade with 12 TPI. However, you'll have more control with a blade that has 12 TPI.
What Are Some Other Scroll Saw Uses
Additionally, scroll saws are effective tools that can also cut dovetail joints and are a well-known tool for thicker projects.
Now that you have a good understanding of both the scroll saw and the wood pieces that work best, it's easier to find the best wood for scroll saws. These help you take care of yourself, the wood, and your trusty power tool.