how a scroll saw works

How a Scroll Saw Works: Tips and Procedures

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Wondering how a scroll saw works? Compared to other power tools, what is a scroll saw used for?

Every invention, machinery, or tool has a particular set of functionalities and operational capabilities.

Although some tools are interchangeable, each one is uniquely designed to deliver specific results.

Scroll saws are mounted or handheld power tools that use a small, fine blade to make highly intricate and irregular cuts.

You can use them on different materials, such as wood, metals, and plastics.

A scroll saw looks very similar to a band saw, but not all cuts effortlessly and accurately done with a scroll saw can be made with a band saw.

With a scroll saw, you can make precise angles, zigzags, and curves.

How a Scroll Saw Works: Parts and Mechanics

Learning how to use a scroll saw involves understanding its very basic components and working mechanics.

Some scroll saws have more added features than others.

Below, we talk about the components you will have to look for when purchasing one.

The following section outlines the different essential parts of a scroll saw and how they work together to complete a crafting task.

Parts of a Scroll Saw

The large parts of scroll saws include the table, foot or base, top and bottom arms, motor, and foot pedal.

Handheld scroll saws do not have a table and base. However, some models are convertible between table and handheld applications.

For handheld scroll saws, the base is replaced by a handle with a trigger having the same function as the foot pedal.

Attached to the handle is the bottom arm, which is connected to the top arm.

Smaller essential components include the top and bottom blade clamps, guide assembly, tension sleeve, and the table insert.

Some scroll saws have auxiliary components that make their use a lot easier. These auxiliary components include a guide lamp and a vacuum tube.

Scroll Saw Mechanics

A scroll saw works by firmly holding a blade on both ends with the clamps on the top and bottom arms.

1. Set the blade through the table insert, and lay the material being cut on the table.

The tension sleeve sets the blade tension by adjusting how much the clamps grip and pull the blade ends apart.

2. A scroll saw uses a motor to then oscillate the blade at variable speeds while the foot pedal is engaged.

3. The guide assembly ensures the blade only moves in a uniform up and down motion whenever the motor is on.

Blade oscillation speeds can be varied by adjusting the foot pressure on the pedal.

4. A heavy base secures the device onto a workbench to dampen the vibrations.

Dampening the vibrations is equivalent to reducing the noise and ensuring that the blade does not move sideways while it oscillates.

5. To see drawing patterns on your material clearly, use auxiliary lamps.

6. Turn on any included vacuum tubes that can easily clean your workpiece, so the sawdust doesn’t block your view of the patterns.

What Is a Scroll Saw Used For?

You can use a scroll saw to cut thin pieces of material with dimensions that do not exceed its effective cutting length.

Some scroll saws have adjustable distances between the top and bottom arms and can be used with varying blade lengths.

However, since precise and intricate cuts require very thin blades, longer blades tend to break more often.

Use a scroll saw to turn ordinary wood, metal, and acrylic boards into eye-catching sculptures and crafts.

You can also use a scroll saw for animal bone, ivory, pearls, calcite shells, and cork, in addition to these materials.

For thicker blocks of material, a band saw or a jigsaw is the better tool.

Is It Hard to Use a Scroll Saw?

With the correct protective gear and usage procedures, scroll saws are safe and very easy to use.

Scroll saws are the ideal tool for beginners in mechanical crafting.

In fact, with proper guidance, kids can even learn to use them with ease.

How to Use a Scroll Saw Step by Step

Now that you understand how a scroll saw works and what materials you can work on, follow these steps to make your designs:

Step 1. Prepare Your Pattern.

Prepare the material you are going to cut by drawing your cutting pattern using a pencil.

A pencil works better than a pen since ink does not adhere to surfaces of some materials, such as acrylic and metal.

You can use a stencil if you have one to draw your pattern with ease. Additionally, a stencil transfer liquid can also come in handy.

With stencil or wax paper, transfer your drawing onto your choice of material using the liquid.

If you want to go crazy and make the pattern on your head as you go along, go ahead and skip this step.

Step 2. Wear Protective Gear.

As with all power tools, always wear protective gear.

Remember to wear goggles so that you can look closer and protect your eyes simultaneously.

Also, put on some gloves to protect your hands from the blade and any flying splinters.

Additional protective gear includes a dust mask and a hairnet.

tips on how a scroll saw works

Step 3. Set Up and Secure the Scroll Saw.

Once you’re properly geared up, check that the device is securely set onto a level worktop.

Any obstacles under the machine can cause it to malfunction and ruin your project.

Step 4. Choose the Correct Blade.

It’s very important that you pick the appropriate blade for the type of material you plan to craft.

Some blades can only be used for metal; others are only for softwood.

In addition to blade type, the size of your blade is also dependent on material thickness.

Check your device’s user instructions if it comes with several blade attachments.

Step 5. Apply Appropriate Tension on the Blade.

Insert the blade through the table insert and secure it onto the top and bottom arm clamps.

Then, use the tension sleeve to adjust the tension on your blade.

Keep in mind that too much tension on the blade can cause it to break.

On the other hand, less than enough tension can cause it to bend and damage your work.

Step 6. Plug It In.

The only appropriate time you plug the device in and switch it on is after carefully completing steps one through five.

Prematurely plugging your device in and accidentally turning it on while inserting the blade can result in accidents.

Step 7. Select Appropriate Cutting Speed.

Variable speed scroll saws cut anywhere between 400 and 1,800 strokes per minute.

Cutting speed is crucial if you want to do your scroll sawing right.

Slower cutting speeds mean you can work slower and more accurately.

If you use high-speed cutting without enough experience, you might accidentally cut over your mark and damage your work.

What Is the Proper Scroll Saw Speed?

Experienced users use between three quarters and full speed settings because they can practically use the device efficiently and confidently.

Only set your device to cut at speeds you are already comfortable with.

Step 8. Do a Test Run.

Test the device on scrap material to check that all the configurations are set to your preferences.

Make final adjustments before laying down your final work material.

Step 9. Use Both Hands to Cut.

Always use both hands when moving the material around the blade while cutting.

Doing this allows you to combine pushing and pulling actions on the material while driving it into the blade.

Pay attention to both hands while keeping a close watch on your pattern.

Step 10. Shut It Down and Detach the Blade.

Although it is mainly for safety reasons, always detach the blade and unplug the device after completing a task with a scroll saw.

How Do You Use a Hand Held Scroll Saw?

Learning how to use a scroll saw is different from learning how to use a handheld version.

A handheld scroll saw uses the same working concept as a fret saw. The only difference is the blade oscillates on its own.

Since a handheld scroll saw allows more flexible movement of the top and bottom arms, the object you will have to secure is the material being cut.

Use G-clamps and table clamps to secure the material onto a workbench, and adjust the clamps as you go along.

Moreover, instead of using both hands to hold the material, use them to make a tight grip onto the handle of your portable scroll saw.

Some handheld scroll saws come with a table to which it can be attached and converted to a fixed tabletop scroll saw.

Consider switching between its tabletop and handheld functionalities if it can help you complete a task effortlessly.

Is a Scroll Saw Worth It?

As soon as you learn how a scroll saw functions, you’ll realize that it is definitely worth having.

It does not only let you make crafts at home, but it also gives you an opportunity to make an income.

You can earn a profit from selling homemade sculptures and other decorative items.

Then again, if you already have a lot of crafting equipment, you’ll be glad to know that a scroll saw is uniquely important.


As you can see, you can do many things with a scroll saw you could not achieve with many other power tools.

Sure, you can play around with a jigsaw. The problem is, it chews off so much of the material when you try to follow a linear pattern.

This is where scroll saws come in, allowing you to make precise cuts needed for a whole lot of DIY projects.

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, Owner: (Registered business address: Germany), processes personal data only to the extent strictly necessary for the operation of this website. All details in the privacy policy.