Scroll Saws: Basics
Basic Description & Use
Scroll Saws are a relatively small machine that are usually
mounted on the corner of your workbench, or in the corner of your
shop on an independent stand. They are used predominantly for freehand
cutting of intricate patterns, usually in relatively thin wood.
The blades are very narrow, approximately 5" long by 1/8" wide,
and allow for cutting very small radius curves. The blade's mounting
method allows the woodworker to make inside cuts, such as that used
in inlay work or fretwork.
Scroll Saw Designs
There are two types of scroll saws, Parallel Arm and C-Arm.
Parallel Arm Saw
On a Parallel arm saw, there are in fact two arms with a pivot point
in the middle of each. They travel in tandem with each other, to
form a parallelogram. The lower arm is linked to the motor under
the worktable. The upper arm runs parallel with the first, but runs
over top of the table, with a holder at the front end, for the blade.
The two arms are linked together at the back of the machine. This
arrangement allows the blade to move in an almost straight up and
down path, producing a near-perfect vertical cut.
A C-arm saw has only one bearing, or pivot point. This causes the
blade to move in a slight arc as it travels up and down. This can
cause the saw to undercut the edges, especially in thicker material.
If you are cutting only thin material, you will rarely notice this
affect. C-arm saws are more aggressive and faster to cut with, but
require greater skill to get the accuracy you may want. Mostly,
we find it is a choice of personal preference. Try both if you are
able to, with the same blade and the same type and thickness of
wood. Then draw your own conclusions. We have customers that swear
It is used extensively by intarsia and fretwork artists, because
it allow you to cut extremely tight corners and inside cuts that
are not feasible via any other type of woodworking machinery. For
woodworkers cutting small projects for boxes, minature furniture
folk art painting or wood turning it provides mechanization of the
primary cutting without a huge investment in either space or money.
You can make fancy clocks, christmas tree cutouts and scrolled shelves
all with a scroll saw.