What Is a Scroll Saw Used For? Intricate Cuts Made Easy

what is a scroll saw used for

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With various types of saws out there on the market, we will look at one type in particular, and that is the scroll saw.

This saw will be used to cut, but there’s a lot more to it than simply grabbing a piece of wood and allowing the scroll saw to work its magic. So, what is a scroll saw used for? Also, who is most likely to use scroll saws in the first place?

The Basics of a Scroll Saw

First, scroll saws are generally small in size, which is something to consider when looking at how to use a scroll saw.

This saw will primarily be powered by electricity, so it does fall under the title of power tools. It is used mostly when you want to cut some rather intricate marks into various materials. However, the saw is mainly used for cutting metal, while it’s also widely used in woodworking.

But, of course, there is a lot more to a scroll saw than this very basic interpretation. So, what else should you know?

The Name

In addition, it is known as a scroll saw because that is the major reason it was invented in the first place. It was initially made to create scrollwork or even ornaments that had more of a sculptural design. The intricacies of this work required a new form of saw to be created, which led to the scroll saw appearing on the market.

The Initial Use of the Saw

Scroll saws are going to be an excellent tool when it comes to dealing with more intricate cuts. The precision they offer means it’s the perfect solution for frameworks, lattices, and more.

Previously, a scroll saw was used to create musical instruments, items with inlays, and even dovetail joints for furniture.

It can be used in various projects, and it’s all thanks to the control and blade options that are available to you.

Getting the Right Saw Equipment

Aside from the material, it’s easy to get the various equipment for scroll saws. Blades for a scroll saw can be found in any DIY store, and they are also relatively inexpensive.

In fact, we recommend getting different sizes of blades to allow you to change the size of the scroll or intricate cut you wish to make. It is easier to do with a scroll saw than a band saw, and it’s why it’s such a popular tool for woodworkers.

Using Scroll Saws at Home

Scroll saws can be easily used at home, thanks to the overall size of these saws. They do not require a significant amount of space, and they can be set up anywhere where there’s a power source.

The saw is also easy to maintain and keep clean, with the blades being removed in an instant if you wish to change what you want to do with the saw.

Also, even though it does take some work to get used to using these saws, it won’t take long for you to learn what the saws are capable of quickly.

Examples of Projects

It’s best to show some examples of projects that are perfect for a scroll saw table.

Lattice Work

Making fine latticework becomes a whole lot easier with a scroll saw. You will be able to follow the pattern and control the cut, allowing you to stop and start whenever required. It is one of the best things about these saws.

Scroll Work

As the name suggests, a scroll saw will be very useful if you want to saw a scroll. The fine blade allows for absolute perfection, and if you use spiral blades, you won’t even have to keep on stopping and starting to move the wood into position.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Believe it or not, but a scroll saw can be used to create jigsaw puzzles, which alone shows how easy it is to make different shapes using this particular tool. The toothed blade is going to be perfect for this sort of job, as it simply involves you replicating many scroll shapes over the entire piece of wood.

All that’s required here is to use the correct saw blade, and you will be able to produce a pretty cool puzzle in next to no time.


We already mentioned inlays, but let’s delve into it a bit more. An inlay can involve you inserting one colour of wood into another, and it’s all thanks to creating a depression in one piece of wood. It is pretty intricate to do, but the finished piece can be astonishing.

With this, you need to have complete control over the saw and have a clear understanding of the type of blade that is most compatible with this sort of project. It’s certainly not something suitable for the beginner.


Intarsia is pretty cool, and the scroll saw is the perfect tool for it. It is where you use different types of wood, along with various colours, to produce an overall design. Thanks to the different materials, you can easily create a sense of depth, and that is where the art side comes into play.

Once again, when making intricate patterns such as this, you must understand how to use the scroll saw and the way in which each blade can have an impact on the material. However, it is also easier to do thanks to the speed aspect that comes with these tools.


Marquetry is something similar to Intarsia but on a smaller and more intricate scale.

With marquetry, you will be cutting out various patterns that are then put together, and it’s yet another prime example of the advantages of a scroll saw cut.

Here, you can use the same material repeatedly if you want, but some marquetry projects involve various materials glued together to create the pattern. As with the other examples, the key is the saw and blade options, so understand what you will need in advance before you start cutting the pattern.

Toys and Games

A scroll saw is not only used to create patterns, but it can also create toys and games. If you have ever seen a wooden toy, let’s say a pull-along horse, then a scroll saw will be capable of cutting out those shapes in toys with ease.

As with any other project, you need to know the blades required to create the shapes. That is also why these saws are so popular, thanks to their versatility when it comes to the blades that can be applied.

There are several other examples that we could have included, but this does at least provide you with a sense of what is possible with this particular tool.

The Advantages of a Scroll Saw

Scroll saw uses do bring with it a number of clear advantages over the likes of a band saw or any other version you care to mention.

Variable Speed

Perhaps the first advantage is that scroll saw blades come with variable speeds. That means you can alter the speed at which the scroll saw blade would cut depending on your confidence level and the sorts of woodworking projects you are dealing with.

To change the speed, you simply move the dial on the saw table.

Various Blades

Scroll saw blades come in various sizes, and they all fit onto one machine. You need to change the blade depending on the pieces of wood you wish to cut.

If you are going to cut small, thin pieces of wood, then a blade that is either size two or three will be best. Anything thicker, which means up to just under an inch, is best served with either a size five or size seven blade.

Moving the Wood Is Easy

Thanks to the stability of both the saw blade as well as the table of the scroll saw, moving the wood around for those intricate scroll cuts is easy. You simply stop, reverse the piece of wood out of there, turn it around, and have the blade facing the direction in which you want to cut. It’s as easy as that.

Setting up the Tool

In order to produce this intricate work, you need to understand all about blades, tension, and how to set up the tool in the first place. Thankfully, it’s also easy to do.

First, get your scroll saw onto a secure surface. You want it to be flat and to have enough space for you to work on. Then, you need to get on with setting it up.

Setting up the Blades

using a scroll saw

These tools come with various blades. Use a size two or three-blade for wood less than half an inch in thickness, and use a size five or seven-blade for anything up to an inch.

Insert the blade into the tool, and make sure that the tooth of the saw blade is facing the direction in which you will be cutting. You will be pushing the wood onto the blade, so keep this in mind.

The Tension

The other main thing is the tension, as this will determine how clean the cut is when using a scroll saw. Ideally, you should be able to ping the blade, and it sounds like a guitar string. Also, it should not move too much when you put some pressure on the blade.

If it moves too much under slight pressure from you, it will make a mess of things when you go to use the saw. The blades will bounce too much, leading to a cut that is not as clean as it should be.

Learn About Speed and Control

You need to learn and understand all that there is to know about speed and control before getting too involved in creating various types of scroll cuts. Different DIY projects may mean more detailed cutting, and when you are not used to cutting out a pattern, then it’s easy to make a mistake if things are happening too quickly.

While you cannot reduce the power of the machine, you can reduce the speed. You also want to use a slower speed on thinner wood to make sure you have that control, and the only exception to that is softwood. With softwood, you need the speed to be faster, or you will damage your project.

Scroll Saws Also Apply to Metal

It is designed to act as a reminder, but each tooth on these blades will also be capable of cutting through metal. People tend to associate scroll saws with a project that only involves wood, but that’s not the case.

All of the examples that we detailed above can also be completed if using metal. You need to check on the blade and keep the metal thin as well in order to get the best results.

A scroll saw is a wonderful tool that can create intricate patterns, no matter what your project or plans may be. DIY has become a lot easier thanks to things such as a scroll saw, and by looking at its uses, you will surely be able to see where you too can use this fantastic tool.

Remember the Tips

Keep in mind the various tips we listed above, and perhaps watch other woodworkers see the DIY projects they have created with their scroll saw. Once you understand what is a scroll saw used for, you will be able to make the most of your tool.

There is so much to learn about; the scroll saw itself and even the best materials to use. By the end, you will be able to produce some amazing projects that you will rightfully be proud of. As a cutting machine goes, this is one of the best out there.

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