If you’re at least a little bit experienced with woodwork, you must have used plenty of different saws for a variety of tasks. Still, there might be some things you struggle with despite the abundance of tools you have, and most people we know encounter lots of trouble with doing smaller, detailed woodwork. Plenty of saws are not made for such finesse and even trying to use them for such a task might completely mess-up what you’re working on, requiring you to start over from scratch.
Scroll saws are made specifically for addressing such problems, being machines that can perform such detailed tasks with ease, offering you plenty of control. However, that’s not their singular use, and they can still be applied to plenty of heavier work that other saws can perform. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that scroll saws can offer you and a couple of our scroll saw reviews.
Why Buying a Scroll Saw?
Scroll saws are an underappreciated saw type that doesn’t see much use, but it honestly should be more popular as it can do a lot for anyone that’s into woodworking, whether as a hobby or a job.
Of course, scroll saws are best used for smaller detail work that can’t be done by larger or less precise saws. They work by using an electric motor, or a pedal-powered mechanism, to move a blade positioned between the two ends of a C-shaped arm. There’s also a variant which uses two parallel arms with metal rods in them that get pushed by the motor and thus move the shorter arms which hold the blade.
This gives the blade unparalleled finesse, allowing it to easily make curved, delicate cuts that other saws can’t. It’s even more precise than something like a jigsaw, offering far more control and precision, akin to one you would get with a hand saw while cutting much smoother and easier than one.
Some might think to use a band saw for this instead, as the two are rather similar. What makes a scroll saw better for precise, small cuts like this is the fact that it can make interior cuts without the need for entry slots, something the band saw cannot do. More intricate, finer cuts are also possible with a scroll saw, and the blade can also be more easily replaced, shortening your work time.
Scroll saws allow for a great amount of creativity, they take up next to no space, are easy to use once you get the hang of it and require little maintenance. This makes them ideal for people who do woodwork as a hobby or a smaller job on the side. They are also safer than most power saws making them a good choice for beginners. Besides making small, delicate cuts, scroll saws can also be used for some more serious cutting, easily replacing some other saws you might own. In short, they are a great tool that can perform functions no other tools can while replacing some tools you might use on a regular basis. Getting a scroll saw is usually worth the price since it provides a lot of benefits.
While we do tout the benefits of scroll saws a lot, they’re like any other product, and they can be bad and ineffectual – and most manufacturers will try to hide that. It’s not uncommon to find yourself unable to distinguish the good from the bad, but we’re willing and able to help you with that. During our testing, we went through a lot of disappointing products, but we managed to pick out the three we think are the best for the comparison stage. We’ll go over our reviews and opinions on them, as well as the opinions of other customers, to help you get a grasp of what makes a good scroll saw. So, let’s take a look at the best scroll saws we could get a hold of!
Meet the Best Scroll Saws
The Good: It’s a great scroll saw in almost every regard, powerful, comfortable, durable and adjustable.
The Bad: It lacks some of the standard extra features and those it does have work poorly.
The Bottom Line: You get a lot of bang for your buck with this saw, even though it’s rather expensive. It does lack some features you would expect, but it’s still worth the price.
The Good: For the price, this is a decent scroll saw with some good power, speed and cutting capacity.
The Bad: The real sore spot here is the lacking extra features as well as the difficulty of use.
The Bottom Line: It’s not a top-end scroll saw, but it does well for something with a price this low. Still, the shoddy extra features are something to consider when purchasing.
The Good: It’s a cheap tool that can be used as either a scroll saw or a motorized coping saw.
The Bad: It can’t handle anything more than light-duty tasks and is difficult to use.
The Bottom Line: For lighter tasks that require a portable tool, this saw is great, but it’s just not able to do anything more than that, and it’s difficult to use. It’s a hard sell even at the low price.
This is just the short version – please continue reading to learn much more.
All of the Factors Considered
Scroll saws are used for a lot of detailed work and have plenty of moving parts and different features – some of which are integral to their operation while others are not. Even veterans can find it hard to determine what the essentials are when looking for a new scroll saw and newcomers can simply be overwhelmed with choice. It’s difficult to pick out the good from the bad which is why we decided to make this article. Here we will detail the most important aspects you should look at when purchasing a scroll saw.
Durability and Comfort
Scroll saws, even the smaller ones, can be rather expensive tools and you don’t want them to break down in a matter of months. More importantly, you don’t want them to malfunction and destroy a piece you’ve sunk hours and hours of work into. To that end, it’s important that you pick a durable and reliable tool that will not fail you when you need it the most.
The easy way to look at this is to search for a scroll saw made mostly of metal with little to no plastic parts, as metal parts are more durable on average. You should also look for a product produces in North America or Europe, as they are usually more reliable than Asian-made products. These are not ironclad rules, but this is true more often than not.
Since scroll saws are primarily made for detailed work that can easily be ruined, comfort is a large concern. First of all, there’s the issue of stability – if the saw isn’t stable enough it’s easy for the piece you’re working on to get destroyed. Vibrations can also spoil your work, and every motor will produce them to some degree – a good vibration dampener can be essential to your work staying intact. A motor that isn’t noisy is also an important factor as you don’t want such annoyances while working on something so fiddly.
When looking at the cutting capacity of a scrolling saw, you’re more likely to encounter the measurement of “throat size.” This is the distance from the back side of the blade to the “throat” at the back of the machine. With a scroll saw you could cut a piece of wood that’s about double that length. Usually, you don’t need an incredibly large cutting capacity with a scroll saw, since you’ll usually be using it for smaller pieces, but it can still be useful.
Stroke length and depth are also things you should consider – the better and more adjustable this feature is, the larger the variety of work you can do with the saw.
Another thing to consider here is the size of the saw’s table that you’ll be using a working area. The larger it is, the larger the pieces you can cut with it and the better you can maneuver them.
The speed of a scroll saw is usually measured in strokes per minute, or SPM. It’s important to pick not only a saw that has a blade that runs at high speed, but also one that has a highly adjustable speed. Different materials and precise cuts require different speeds and if you have a saw that runs at only one or two different speeds that greatly limits the type of materials you can cut with it and the sort of cuts you can make. For most types of work, you won’t need speeds above 2000 SPM, so anything higher than that is probably an overkill.
Various things can be adjusted when it comes to a scroll saw – the depth of cut, the speed, the cutting direction, the cutting angle, and so on. When you’re doing smaller detail work, even the most minor of adjustments can make a world of difference, so it is important that the scroll saw you get is as adjustable as possible. Another important thing is that these adjustments are easy to perform on-the-fly and with no tools, as this will speed up your work significantly and make it more comfortable. Having easily replaceable blades is also an important aspect to consider as blades may break during work, or you might suddenly require a different blade for one specific cut.
Therefore, having an adjustable scroll saw is hugely important.
Scroll saws can come with a variety of additional features, some of which can be helpful while others are simply useless fluff.
Some of the most useful and standard extra features are, for example, an in-built light which can be used to light up your work area, allowing you to see tiny details better. Or a dust collector/vacuum, which will clean up all the debris, again letting you see the piece you’re working on properly. There are others, but you get the gist of it.
The best extra features are the ones that will visibly improve your working conditions and make your job easier and faster. Consider what you value the most and pick the machine with the extra features which will fit you the best.
Now that you’re aware of the most important aspects of a scroll saw let’s look at how the three products we picked performed:
In-Depth Reviews of 3 Scroll Saws
Supremely Durable and Comfortable
Made mostly from iron and steel, this saw is extremely sturdy. It’s also quite comfortable due to a large work table and a design that reduces noise as well as vibration to a minimum. All the controls are also easy to reach.
Amazing Cutting Capacity
The length of cut varies from 3/4 inch to 2 inches deep; the throat size is 20 inches, making this an above-average scroll saw that can take on huge and thick pieces of wood if necessary.
Accurate and Fast Blade
The blade has a variable speed of 400 to 1750 SPM, making it able to take on almost any task. In addition to that, it can handle hard wood that’s up to 2 inches thick with ease, while still delivering supreme accuracy and finesse.
The table can bevel 45 degrees to either side, the speed is adjustable as well as the blade tension. The stroke length is also adjustable, and everything is within arm’s reach. The blades can be changed easily with no tools required. All of this greatly improves workflow and save you time.
Missing Extra Features
It doesn’t have quite a large host of extra features, as most are relegated to separately bought add-ons instead. The ones it does have, like the dust blower, aren’t exactly up to snuff.
Who Should Buy This Product
If you’re looking for an exceedingly powerful scroll saw that is almost professional-grade, while still being easy to use for beginners, this is what you should be getting. It’s also got a great cutting capacity that is almost unrivaled in similar products. It’s also relatively noiseless and vibration-free.
What to Watch Out For
It’s a quality product, yes, but it is also rather expensive, and it will be difficult to afford for some. It also doesn’t come with a stand or light – you have to buy those things separately. The extra features that are there don’t work well either, and that’s a real black mark on this product.
This is quite a beast of a machine while still retaining the ability to do fine precision work that you would expect out of a scroll saw. It’s also easy to use and supremely comfortable and adjustable. The largest problem with it is the fact that it lacks most of the extra features you would expect and that those it has are of poor quality. It is also quite expensive, which might make you reconsider purchasing it, despite it being a great product.
Made to be Sturdy, but not Quite Comfortable
It has a durable cast iron base and a good-quality table. Most other pieces of it seem durable, despite some plastic and rubber in the construction – only the LED light seems flimsy. It’s not incredibly comfortable though, due to the significant vibrations.
Decent Cutting Capacity
It can cut up to two inches deep, while the throat depth is 16 inches. This is an about average cutting capacity for a saw like this. The table is 16 by 11 inches, also quite average, but good enough.
More than Fast Enough
The speed of this scroll saw ranges from 550 to 1600 SPM, making it more than fast enough to handle most materials. It’s not top-of-the-line, that’s for sure, but it still more than adequate.
The table can bevel around 45 degrees to the left or right, while both the speed and the cut depth are adjustable. It can use both pinned and pinless blades, but changing them is difficult.
Poor Additional Features
For starters, the dust blower on this unit is close to useless as it doesn’t have enough power to blow the dust away. The light is also badly placed so it can’t shine where it needs to and moves a lot while the saw operates. The onboard blade storage is nice
Who Should Buy This Product
If you’re on a budget but want a decent scroll saw, you should check this one out. It offers good specs for the price, especially when it comes to the cutting capacity and durability. It can also be used almost anywhere, so you don’t have to worry if you have a limited working space.
What to Watch Out For
There are more than a few issues with this saw, the worst of which is probably that it is difficult to use, some controls are hard to reach, and the blades are difficult to switch out. It’s not a good scroll saw for beginners, despite the price. The extra features like the sawdust blower and the in-built light also don’t work well.
If you’re looking to get a decent scroll saw on the cheap, this one will probably give you the best bang for your buck, as it offers decent specs on almost all areas. However, it does have its issues; especially in how difficult it is to use, and how lacking its extra features are. Still, for the price, this is more than an acceptable deal.
Decently Durable and Comfortable
For a lightweight tool like this, with a lot of plastic parts, it is quite a durable thing unless you try to force it to do more than it’s designed for.
Small Cutting Capacity
It is a tiny tool, so the cutting capacity is not great. The stroke length is only 0.315 and not adjustable it seems. The throat size is only around 9 inches at best, if not less.
Variable Speed Blade
The blade runs at variable speed, but the top speed is rather low as the motor is quite weak, having only 0.6 amps. For a light duty tool, it’s enough, but it pales in comparison to other scroll saws.
There are barely any options for adjusting this. The blades can be exchanged, but it is difficult to do. The speed is adjustable, but not by a lot. The arm cannot be moved and so on.
A Mixed Bag of Extra Features
The standout feature here is the fact that it can be converted into a motorized coping saw, which is incredibly useful. However, other features, like the blade guide (which is useless) or the dust port (also quite useless), are not that great.
Who Should Buy This Product
The best part about this tool is how versatile and portable it is, so if that’s something you’re looking for this saw is ideal for you. It can be used both as a scroll saw or a motorized hand saw, performing both functions adequately. It can also be carried and used anywhere.
What to Watch Out For
It is a light duty tool at best, not suitable for any tougher tasks that require more power or speed and the blade will most likely break if you try to force it. It might break anyway though, as it is difficult to use properly, especially when it is in the coping saw mode.
What this tool offers that others don’t is incredible versatility and portability at a price point that is more than affordable – it’s a bargain. Still, if you’re looking for something that handles some tougher work as well and has some real power behind it – this isn’t it. It’s a lightweight tool, and you should not force it. That might turn off some, but it might also be exactly what you want.
The Best Pick – DEWALT DW788
Since scrolls saws can be used for a variety of different, detailed work and no two people will use them for the same thing, it is difficult to pick one out as the best. We even had trouble picking the initial three models during our testing process as we came across plenty of scroll saws that weren’t exactly directly comparable. Still, we managed to pick these three out as the products that stand above all others, so we can also pick a single one that is better than the rest. In this case, it’s the DEWALT DW788.
This scroll saw is just top-of-the-line in almost every regard, offering specs superior not to just the other scroll saws here, but to most other on the market. It does lack extra features, but they can be bought as add-ons. It’s expensive, and not everyone can afford it, but we believe it is more than worth the price, and for that, it is our best pick.
Our best pick is truly the scroll saw we consider as the top product on the market right now, in almost every regard. That doesn’t mean you should just take our word for it or that it will be the best product for you. We made this article to help you choose for yourself, not just to follow our, or anyone’s recommendations blindly. So, take stock of everything you have and everything you need and pick the scroll saw which fits you the best.
If we managed to help you with that we would appreciate it if you shared this article with other people in need of similar help, it would be of great help to us. Until next time, have a great day.