Scroll Saw Working: How It’s Done

It is crucial for you to understand what a scroll saw working is and how it operates, as well as be familiar with its mechanism if you want to do any woodworking. Using it will undoubtedly enhance your productivity in producing complex cuts and forms of various workpieces.

Among artisans and woodworkers, scroll saws are a regular tool. It’s a little machine with a sharp blade that’s ideal for working with delicate wood. Mechanical scroll saws have been available since the 1860s, although there are more than 50 current models, ranging in speed and throat capacity. There are many types of scroll saws available, including C-arm and parallel arm models that may be utilized to create clocks, name tags, curved edges, and other items.

How A Scroll Saw Works

man in black sweatpants using DEWALT circular saw and cutting a wood plank

When you see a scroll saw for the first time, you will notice it has a distinct appearance to other scroll saws. This is due to the fact that it’s used to make shapes and complex designs, therefore the construction of the saw must be consistent with this.

The motor, which is measured in amps, provides the power for a scroll saw. The motor of a typical scroll saw can range anywhere from 0.6 to 1.5 amps. However, beyond 1.5 amps are extremely unusual.

A scroll saw is a woodworking tool that has a reciprocating, fine blade threaded through the piece you’re working on. The blade runs from the upper part of the arm (whether it’s pinless or pinned, they both are attached to the same location), down to the table surface. Here are some of the characteristics of a scroll saw that you’ll come to appreciate over time:

Features Of A Scroll Saw


The scroll saw has its own work surface, which is usually constructed of aluminum or iron. The ‘throat size’ of the table is typically emphasized.

The throat width is a measurement that denotes the distance between the blade and the rear of the table’s surface, giving a suggestion of how big your material can be.

Usually, throat sizes on scroll saws are labeled as 18” and 22’’, although there are models that exceed this range.

The bevel, which is the degree to which the table can turn to the left or right, is another interesting feature. The bevel, which is usually set at a 45° angle, offers you more creativity in your cutting activities by adding another dimension.

You will be setting your materials on the table when you make cuts. This is a crucial component to maintain in good working order since any debris or flaws would have an impact on the quality of your work and, as a result, its longevity.


Scroll saws have a tiny, fine blade that is fastened to the arm and extends from the table to the bottom. Scroll saws can use pinned and pinless blades, with pinless being more prevalent on the older scroll saw types. Modern-day scroll saws accept both kinds of blades.

The configuration (which also concerns the TPI), and blade size is included in the pinned and pinless categories. Unfortunately, there is no standard blade size system, although there is a sort of numbering scheme in place that ranges from less than 0 to 9, with increments of 2.


The arm is the miniature excavator-inspired aesthetic that hangs over the table and links the blade from top to bottom. I’m not going to explain why it’s called an arm; you may figure it out for yourself! Arms are available in three basic varieties, including a C Arm, Parallel Type, and Parallel-Linked arm.

The arm is the latest development in the scroll saw technology. The motor is linked to the arm, which keeps the blade in place.

On the top side of its design, in many situations, the arm also has various extra features, such as variable speed triggers for giving you total control over your blade tensioning knobs and pace of work to obtain the ideal tension for your blade, and an on/off switch.

Of course, this is only a sampling of what you may discover on the arm, with additional attachments including adjustable dust blowers and adjustable gooseneck lights for clearer vision when chopping.

How To Use A Scroll Saw

orange and white snow blower on brown wood log

Let’s take a look at how to use the scroll saw now that we’ve gone over all of the components involved with a scroll saw and know what they do. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know. You will be an expert in no time if you follow the instructions below, and with that knowledge, we’ll go through some essential information.

Using The Correct Blade

Sure, you can figure out the many aspects of the scroll saw – but it is pointless if you utilize the incorrect blade. Because there are up to eight distinct types of blades available, it might be easy to become perplexed and even overwhelmed by the variety of choices.

Adjusting Blade Tension

When you mount the scroll saw from top to bottom, the blade tension refers to how loose/tight the blade is. The blade tension isn’t difficult to change on most models of the scroll saw.

Exterior Cuts

Exterior cuts begin from the outside of the wood and continue until the blade comes into touch with the material. To follow your outline, you must guide the wood in the same direction as you would a vehicle when driving.

Interior Cuts

Interior cuts begin with a little incision in the wood’s center, whereas exterior cuts start at the outside of the material and work their way to the inside. However, you are free to make this initial hole in whatever manner you choose; there are numerous options.

Few Quick Tips

The use of a water pump as a makeshift blower is possible with an aquarium air pump that may be found at garage sales or a local pet store for little money. To increase the speed of the airflow exiting, insert a soft metal (copper) tube into the end of the hose (where it will blow from).

Depending on the type of wood you’re using and how thick it is, adjust the hold-down so that it applies enough pressure to keep the wood on the table while not being so strong as to prevent you from feeding stock through. When you’ve had some practice, many scroll sawyers remove the guard altogether. 

Before you start cutting, make sure the upper arm isn’t hitting anything on. Before beginning workpieces, conduct a test cut to ensure that it cuts properly. When working with hardwood or thick pieces, use a higher cutting speed. When working with thin or softwood, it is beneficial to employ a slower cutter speed. 

Keep in mind that the saw should not be run without moving the wood since you may get burnt. The feed rate is crucial. Never force or push the wood through too fast. Take your time when working and apply light pressure. If your blade bows under strain, you’re going too quickly! 

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