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Tools

Best Scroll Saw

Scroll saws are ideally adapted for cutting curves in wood. These saws can make the tightest cuts, even cutting 90 degree angles or five degree internal angles. The thin cutting blade is held firmly and stretched between two arms, ensuring it stays rigid and at the right angle to the wood.

If you’ve ever tried cutting anything complex with a hand-held jigsaw, you probably got as frustrated as I did. I used one of those for years, before finally breaking down to buy a scroll saw. What a difference! The quality of cuts that I’m able to make it much better, following the pattern line on the workpiece, and producing cuts exactly perpendicular to the face of the workpiece. That’s extremely hard to do with a handheld jigsaw.

Some may think that all scrolls saws are essentially created equal but in fact they’re not. The biggest difference is the drive system used which affects the accuracy of the cut, as well as the possibility of splitting the wood. Take a look at our buyer's guide below to learn the difference as well as other key pieces of information.

Shop Fox W1713 16" Variable Speed Scroll Saw

I had to include this saw, even though it’s a touch higher in price than what I originally had set as a limit. For the price, this saw gives you a lot of value such as having a cast iron table and base, which is the first thing that impressed me about it. It also accepts either pinned or plain blades, which is a bit unusual for a low cost saw. There’s even a cast-in-place gauge on the upper arm for setting up plain blades.

The stroke is 3/4”, which is very respectable for a scroll saw and the dust blower on this one is a small, fixed position tube, right at the blade. It also has a nice gooseneck lamp, which not all of these have while the pin clamps and foot seem fairly typical.

Craftsman 16" 21602 Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Craftsman's scroll saw matches the Shop Fox for blade stroke, but actually beats it out for motor power. This one has a 1.6 amp motor, whereas the Shop Fox has 1.2 amp. That may not seem like much, but if you're cutting some dense hardwood, I'm sure you'd notice it.

The saw is variable speed, with a working range of 400-1600 SPM. It will accept both plain and pin ended blades. The max cutting capacity is two inches at 90 degrees, and one inch at 45 degrees.

A multi-directional dust blower, like on the Shop Fox helps keep your cutting line clean and a dust extractor port makes it easy to connect your shop vac or dust extractor to the saw. A blade wrench is included and is required for blade changes, perhaps the units only drawback. Lastly, convenient onboard blade storage is provided.

Genesis GSS160, 16 Inch Scroll Saw

The Genesis scroll saw is set up very nicely and easy to work with. I really like the foot they’ve put on this one as the way it’s designed seems to hold level better than many of them. They also have a really nice beaded flexible air hose for the blower, making it easier to set it right where you want it.

The table is cast aluminum and while that’s not as good as cast iron, I wouldn’t complain. This saw’s tilt mechanism is much cleaner than most, with a really easy-to-read miter gauge. That’s important when your eyes aren’t all that good; especially in a dark corner of your shop. Onboard blade storage is provided.

Ryobi ZRSC164VS 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Ryobi’s unit comes with a cast-iron base, which helps reduce vibration, producing vibration-free cuts for the best quality finish on your next project. The dust blower on this unit is directly under the arm, which helps it blow directly into the cut, keeping the cut line cleaner. It will work with both plain and pinned blades while the variable speed dial goes from 400-1600 strokes per minute, pretty typical for all these units.

Central Machinery 16 Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Central Machinery 16 Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

This is the absolute cheapest scroll saw on the market but it’s an amazingly good saw which has helped me through a wide variety of projects. When I first got mine, it had a tendency to do speed surges, but that problem cleared up with time. The table is only stamped steel while all the others we’ve looked at were either cast aluminum or cast iron. However, it does have a cast iron base for stability and vibration reduction. This saw will work with both blade types, using add-on clamps like most manufacturers use. Neither the blower nor the shoe are fantastic, but they function similar to the other saws we’ve been looking at.

General International, Excalibur EX-30 Tilting Head Scroll Saw

General International, Excalibur EX-30 Tilting Head Scroll Saw

The Excalibur series of scroll saws are some of the most unique designs on the market. This 30-inch model, of theirs is also one of the largest, allowing work on huge pieces that other saws can’t handle. It can also handle working on projects which are up to 2-inches thick, whereas most other saws have to stop far short of that mark.

The most unique thing about this saw is the arms and blade tilt, rather than the table. This is controlled by a rack and pinion, rather than simply being free floating. The tilt feature allows you to do angled cuts, while still having the ease of holding the workpiece on a flat surface. The upper arm also swings up for easier blade changes and easier inserting of the blade through holes for inside cuts.

This saw now comes with a dust-collector hook-up kit, where older versions didn’t. The power switch and speed control are conveniently mounted on the upper arm, where you can see and reach them easily, as well as there being a quick release for the blade.

Henger Polycut 3 Scroll Saw

Henger Polycut 3 Scroll Saw

Coming to us from England, Polycut 3 is Henger’s largest scroll saw, where it’s actually referred to as a fretsaw. There are quick release cam locks for both top and bottom blade clamps while the throat depth is 2-5/8” which is more than the Excalibur.

It has two stroke lengths, making it easier to use the saw for those thicker projects. Speed adjustment is handled by pulleys, allowing four speeds for you to choose from. This saw comes with a seven-year warranty, which shows how much confidence the manufacturer has in the quality of their products.

PS Wood Machines 21" Scroll Saw

The PS Wood Machines scroll saw boasts the largest table on the market. If you’re working on large projects, that’s a big deal, and the 21-inch throat allows for some pretty big projects. The extra table size helps ensure that your workpiece remains exactly perpendicular to the blade at all times.

The frame and table of this saw is cast aluminum, making it lighter than some of its competitors. Blade changing is done with a quick release with everything involved in the blade changing the blade process being done from above the table, making it much faster and easier. This saw also comes with a five-year warranty.

Proxxon 37090 DSH/E Scroll Saw

Proxxon is a specialty tool manufacturer, focusing on miniature tools for model makers, jewelers and others who need precise work. That makes them a perfect fit as a scroll saw manufacturer. This saw is designed predominantly for use with pinned saw blades, but can also be sued with plain blades.

It has a quick release clamp for the blade, making it easier to do inside cuts. It’s a little smaller than some of our others, with only a 15-3/4” throat, but it will handle material up to 1-1/2” thick. The base is cast-iron and the tilting table cast aluminum. This saw is also known for being extremely quiet to work with which is a nice touch.

Delta Power Tools 40-694 20" Variable Speed Scroll Saw

This saw has a lot in common with the Excalibur, albeit at a much lower price. The thing that stands out the most is that the upper arm lifts, like the Excalibur, making blade changes or getting the blade through a drilled hole for an inside cut much easier. They’ve also put all the controls on the upper arm, where they are the easiest and most convenient to get to.

The blower is on a flexible hose, allowing you to keep it right where you need it at all times. Table tilt is controlled by a very nice miter gauge, allowing precision setup to any angle. A built-in flexible work light makes it easier to see your work.

Eclipse Scroll Saw

Eclipse Scroll Saw

I had to include this saw, even though it’s a touch higher in price than what I originally had set as a limit. For the price, this saw gives you a lot of value such as having a cast iron table and base, which is the first thing that impressed me about it. It also accepts either pinned or plain blades, which is a bit unusual for a low cost saw. There’s even a cast-in-place gauge on the upper arm for setting up plain blades.

The stroke is 3/4”, which is very respectable for a scroll saw and the dust blower on this one is a small, fixed position tube, right at the blade. It also has a nice gooseneck lamp, which not all of these have while the pin clamps and foot seem fairly typical.

King Tools 1741 Variable Speed Scroll Saw

King Tools 1741 Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Craftsman's scroll saw matches the Shop Fox for blade stroke, but actually beats it out for motor power. This one has a 1.6 amp motor, whereas the Shop Fox has 1.2 amp. That may not seem like much, but if you're cutting some dense hardwood, I'm sure you'd notice it.

The saw is variable speed, with a working range of 400-1600 SPM. It will accept both plain and pin ended blades. The max cutting capacity is two inches at 90 degrees, and one inch at 45 degrees.

A multi-directional dust blower, like on the Shop Fox helps keep your cutting line clean and a dust extractor port makes it easy to connect your shop vac or dust extractor to the saw. A blade wrench is included and is required for blade changes, perhaps the units only drawback. Lastly, convenient onboard blade storage is provided.

Shop Fox W1713 16" Variable Speed Scroll Saw

I had to include this saw, even though it’s a touch higher in price than what I originally had set as a limit. For the price, this saw gives you a lot of value such as having a cast iron table and base, which is the first thing that impressed me about it. It also accepts either pinned or plain blades, which is a bit unusual for a low cost saw. There’s even a cast-in-place gauge on the upper arm for setting up plain blades.

The stroke is 3/4”, which is very respectable for a scroll saw and the dust blower on this one is a small, fixed position tube, right at the blade. It also has a nice gooseneck lamp, which not all of these have while the pin clamps and foot seem fairly typical.

Genesis GSS160, 16 Inch Scroll Saw

The Genesis scroll saw is set up very nicely and easy to work with. I really like the foot they’ve put on this one as the way it’s designed seems to hold level better than many of them. They also have a really nice beaded flexible air hose for the blower, making it easier to set it right where you want it.

The table is cast aluminum and while that’s not as good as cast iron, I wouldn’t complain. This saw’s tilt mechanism is much cleaner than most, with a really easy-to-read miter gauge. That’s important when your eyes aren’t all that good; especially in a dark corner of your shop. Onboard blade storage is provided.

Craftsman 16" 21602 Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Craftsman's scroll saw matches the Shop Fox for blade stroke, but actually beats it out for motor power. This one has a 1.6 amp motor, whereas the Shop Fox has 1.2 amp. That may not seem like much, but if you're cutting some dense hardwood, I'm sure you'd notice it.

The saw is variable speed, with a working range of 400-1600 SPM. It will accept both plain and pin ended blades. The max cutting capacity is two inches at 90 degrees, and one inch at 45 degrees.

A multi-directional dust blower, like on the Shop Fox helps keep your cutting line clean and a dust extractor port makes it easy to connect your shop vac or dust extractor to the saw. A blade wrench is included and is required for blade changes, perhaps the units only drawback. Lastly, convenient onboard blade storage is provided.

Buyer's Guide

Scroll Saw Buyer's Guide

Some may think of scroll saws and band saws as two different types of saws intended to do the same thing. They’re both stationary saws capable of cutting curves in material with a narrow kerf but that's about as far as their similarity goes. Besides that, the two tools are quite different, both in purpose and in function.

Band saws are able to be used for much heavier work than scroll saws are. One of their prime uses is for re-sawing boards which is something no other saw can do correctly. Some band saws are big enough that they are used as sawmill, something you could never think of doing with a scroll saw.

The scroll saw is designed for detail work and it excels at that. There is no other power saw that can make the fine cuts that a scroll saw can, especially for marquetry, inlay, and lacework in wood.

Some people use their scroll saw for general woodworking, such as making scrollwork or gingerbread trim for bookshelves. Others use them for making what are essentially wood pictures, whether these are done as cutouts (lacework) or marquetry (inlaid wood pictures). These two branches of woodworking are specialized enough that their practitioners typically focus on those areas to the exclusion of other types of woodworking.

The more detailed a work you are going to do on your scroll saw, the better a saw you need. If you’re only cutting scrolling shelf supports once in a while, you can get by with a discount scroll saw with no problem. However, if you’re planning on using your scroll saw for the more artistic scrolling, then you want to be sure to buy a high dollar one.

It is important to mount the scroll saw properly, whether to a workbench or on a stand. The saw tends to create a lot of vibration which will cause it to walk across the surface of a workbench. It’s very hard to control when that’s happening which could cause some serious errors.

The grain of some woods may cause the blade to turn and follow the grain line, rather than your intended cut line. Woodworkers who do marquetry have a lot of problem with this as they use jeweler's blades in their scroll saw. To eliminate this twisting, it helps to make a special hardened steel insert for the table, which has a slot in it only as wide as the blade.

Types of Scroll Saws

Just looking at them, one could easily think that all scroll saws are basically the same, but they aren’t. The main difference between them is the type of drive that they use.
Scroll saws vary widely in price and quality. While they all do the same job, they don’t all do it to the same degree of perfection.

How good a scroll saw you need depends a lot on the type of work you are planning on using it for:

Parallel Arm Saws
Ideal for delicate or intricate work, such as the profile picture cutting that is so prevalent amongst scrollers. The blade stays more perpendicular to the workpiece, with considerably less undercut. This is also the type of saw to use for marquetry (wood veneer inlays).

C-arm Saws
These are less expensive and have a slight front to back oscillation in their cut stroke. While this is not much of a problem when the saw is used for cutting scrolled shelf brackets, it can be a problem for fine detail work.

Eclipse Scroll Saws
While I included it in the C-arm saw list, it really isn't a C-arm saw; nor is it a parallel arm saw. The Eclipse uses a belt, rather than any sort of arm. This allows true vertical cutting, without any forward or backwards movement. That means that the Eclipse is the best saw for detailed cutting, as it virtually eliminate splintering of the wood, as well as blade breakage.

Blade breakage is a real problem with scroll saws. Between heating from the friction of cutting and binding in tight cuts, blades are easily broken. The longer the blade stroke, the less likely the blade is to break, simply because the friction will be spread over a larger area, reducing heat.

Features to Look For in a Scroll Saw

Blowers and Dust Collection Ports
Like with most power tools, dust is a real problem when cutting with a scroll saw. However, the problem is multiplied by the need to for extremely accurate cuts. For this reason, scroll saws come with built-in blowers to keep the cut line cleaned of sawdust. They also have dust collection ports so you can hook up a shop-vac or dust collection system to them. This is highly recommended, so your cuts aren’t messed up by sawdust.

Work Lights
Some scroll saws come with flexible work lights to help with visibility. This is a great help as most overhead lights get shadowed by the woodworker’s head or body. Some people mount a flexible arm magnifying glass by their scroll saw, to help them see their workpiece better which is especially useful for intricate detail work.

Ease of Blade Change
Besides cutting in such a way as to avoid any undercut or splintering, another important thing to look for on a scroll saw is the ability to change blades quickly and easily. Much scroll saw work is done on internal cuts where the blade has to be put through a hole in the workpiece in order to begin the cut. A saw without a quick release for the blade tension will drive you nuts if you do a lot of this particular work.

The Table
The table is also necessary to ensure the workpiece is held perpendicular to the blade. Low cost saws may have stamped steel tables which will have a bit of a bow in them which will affect the quality of the cut. The best tables are cast-iron which is then ground to make it flat across the entire table.

Bestcovery Staff
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
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