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Scroll Saws
..Basic Description & Use
..Best Scroll Saw?
..Set Up & Care
..Blade Basics
..Scroll Saw Blade Guide
..Blade Tension & Misc.
..Basic Cutting Skills
..Pattern Transferring
..Cutting Multiples
..Cutting Plexiglass
..Scroll Saw Safety Rules

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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.

C-arm saw
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 by both.


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.


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theWoodbox.com Jan 2007