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Best scroll saw

best scroll saw

Nowadays, pretty much no workshop can consider itself fully operational without some type of saw or saw-resembling tool in its roster.

Since there are so many different types of cutting and shaping operations, these workshop appliances come in all shapes and sizes. They range from small hand saws all the way to the elaborately-constructed giants, typically fitted onto mobile mining machines.

One of the most interesting saw types is the scroll saw, which owes its name to the special kind of woodwork they create. It features various intricately organized scrolls, which are then applied and incorporated into a work of art, usually ornamental in nature.

What are the advantages of using a scroll saw?

Scroll saws are usually small in size, measuring between about 12 inches (for the home or workshop use of personal nature) and up to 30 inches for devices used in factories and within the heavy industry.

They are typically electrically powered and come with a special advantage – the finely shaped blades. These things are delicately constructed to handle tough angles and various edgy curves without a hassle.

More often than not, scroll saws are used to cut and make delicate shapes in wood and metal, although other materials can also be shaped and worked on using these appliances.

These saws use a reciprocating blade rather than a continuous one, and the thinness of their blades enables highly intricate and precise curves and elaborately organized shapes.

How do they operate and where are they used?

Other than the type of their blade and the degree of fineness of its quality, scroll saws can be further subdivided according to the type and construction of their arms.

For example, the parallel arm design, which is the most common, features a motor at the back of the arms, so that they are parallel to each other all the time.

With C-shaped arms, the blade is fitted between the two ends of the “C” shape. Through a parallel link design, specialized rods are pushed by the motor to move the arms in which the blades are positioned.

Despite its rather technically-sounding name and features, this tool is mostly used in fine woodworking, being the central part of an intricate and skill-demanding hobby.

Many woodworkers use this type of saw for its great maneuverability and relatively small size, which allows the user to mount it pretty much everywhere. Further on, working and operating this machine is relatively simple, which may appeal to the people new in this line of business.

Of course, creating top-notch wooden pieces of art using this machine requires great skill and highly-professional handling. Also, thanks to their great technical properties, especially when it comes to precision and blade quality, these saws are great for fine wooden constructions such as those in relation to intarsia projects, where great delicacy is necessary.

Best scroll saws

1. DEWALT DW788

DEWALT DW788 Scroll Saw

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This DEWALT DW788 is one of the models with the aforementioned parallel-link design, and it’s due to such construction that this particular model boasts great noiseless performance, with vibrations reduced to the very minimum. Specialized blade clamps enable an easy blade change, without any additional tools. Also, on the front upper arm, several other features are included in the mix, such as a compactly-designed dust-blower with enhanced flexibility, and a lever for fine adjustments of the blade tension. The arm can be further adjusted and lifted so as to accommodate to the optimal working position required to make a specific cut or complete a shape.  Inside cuts are also completed much easier.

The pivoting of the arm, thanks to its special design, enables quieter and smoother operation. One of the problems you might encounter with this model is the decreased build quality of this company, which means that if you buy one of their newer models, there’s a chance that some parts do not fit well, or are misaligned in some way. Luckily, if that happens, you will be refunded.

2. Dremel MS20-01

Dremel MS20-01 Scroll Saw

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This Dremel’s MS20-01 model is another model on this list that features an in-built dust port which enables keeping the line of sight clear and the working environment neat and clean. When it comes to different tension levels, a quick-changing tensioning option offers easy accessory change as well as fine adjustments of the tension level, for various tasks. Another thing worth mentioning is the coping function that is detachable and enables the tool to be carried with you wherever you want. As for different materials, there are various cutting speeds, which can be set using the variable-speed control button. For stable and solid attaching to various places, there are fast-clamp bases, which typically apply well to tables, benches, and other similar surfaces. One of the design flaws that can present a long-run problem is the somewhat questionable quality of the blades, which tend to go dull rather quickly, prompting you to make replacements quite often, which can prove costly.

3. Delta Power Tools 40-694

Delta Power Tools 40-694

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One of the best perks of this Delta model is its specific vibration reduction design which improves accuracy and quality. Further on, its in-built electronic speed managing system offers great variability of cutting speed, enabling the utilization of this tool in a relatively wide range of materials. Another interesting feature enabling good performance when it comes to working on various kinds of different materials is the easily changeable blade clamp, which can be set by hand, requiring no additional tools. Its upper arm is moveable and can be lifted and held in a certain position where you can change the blades or perform smaller adjustments to your working configuration. The downside of this product is that sometimes the blade and the surrounding system for operating can get stuck which can be a tricky problem to resolve on your own, so you’ll probably be forced to contact the customer service.

4. Porter-Cable Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Porter-Cable Variable Speed Scroll Saw

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This model features many interesting add-ons in its stock configuration, for example,  a specialized LED lamp for strong illumination. This lamp is also highly adjustable and can be set according to the user’s desire. The blade changes are, too, relatively easy to perform, as specialized tools aren’t necessary to perform a quick and efficient tool change. The working area on this product is definitely another of its strong points, as it is fairly large and made out of aluminum with convenient tilting property for fine adjustments of angles at which you wish to perform your cutting and shaping job. Its downside can be the stand which, although a rather handy additional feature, can be considered a bit too low for some people. Also, its motor isn’t that strong, which can be irritating if you’re working on more demanding projects, with bulkier and heavier materials.

5. WEN 3920 Variable Speed Scroll Saw

WEN 3920 Variable Speed Scroll Saw

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This saw’s most interesting feature is its special speed-variation property, which enables it to work at different preset speeds for optimal performance with specific materials. Its bulky body, made out of cast iron, provides a stable base with the unwanted vibrations reduced to a very low level, which provides best working conditions for the projects requiring great precision. Some of its convenient additional features include the simplified yet highly effective air pump, which provides for the neat working environment and easier management of the left-over parts. The table itself is spacious enough for comfortable operating and can be tilted to up to 45 degrees for working at trickier angles. Another useful feature is the compactly built dust port. A possible downside might be that, if used for a lengthier period of time, it can have problems with excessive vibrations, which can lead to cracks and even full-blown punctures.

However, if treated well, and according to the provided instructions, this scroll saw will probably answer to all your needs, and might present the perfect money to quality ratio of all the proposed models on this list.

Tips for using a scroll saw

A scroll saw can become a creative person’s best friend, especially if they are in love with crafting. Are you a passionate DIY-er or a person who is eager to make hand-made ornaments for the home? Then you should totally use a scroll saw that will bring your ideas to life.

Scroll saws are the best tools to have in your garage or workshop for so many reasons: they can cut all types of wood into various shapes and patterns; they can help you be more accurate and insist on tiny details. More than that, some saws can even cut into metal or hard plastic.

If you already own a saw, but it is a band saw or a table saw, yet you want something smaller, that can help you work on various patterns, you need a scroll saw. The best thing about modern such tools is that they have so many features and they can be used for so much more than simply cutting.

How to use a scroll saw?

When you have a scroll saw, it is very important to learn how to use it correctly in order to get the best of it. There are a few things that you should do while working with it in terms of safety and efficiency. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Always wear protective equipment – do not underestimate the ability of a pair of glasses or a mask to protect you when working with wood or metal. Tiny pieces of material can easily get into your eyes and airways. You must be very careful if you want to stay injury-free.
  2. Set the scroll saw properly – before starting to cut, it is recommended to choose the right settings on your tool. Think about the results you want to obtain and choose the right blade, cutting speed and pattern. Also, make sure that you have a work light around and that your work surface is clean.
  3. Work with small pieces of material – if your project will be much smaller than the wood or metal piece, you would better cut it into smaller patches from the beginning to make your work easier. It is easier to move around a smaller piece and pay attention to the details than it is when working with a larger piece.
  4. Draw on the material – unless you are a professional with years of experience and a formed eye, you will ruin your creative project if you work without using a scheme. Don’t be afraid to draw on your scheme, because there are plenty of ways to cover up the pencil marks afterward.
  5. Use both your hands – whatever you do while working, do not try to control the wooden or metal board with only one hand, because anything could happen. Use both your hands for better control, safety, and accuracy while cutting.
  6. Choose your blades wisely – the blades that the manufacturer of your scroll saw includes are not always enough. More than that, they might not have the quality you are looking for, although the machine itself works perfectly fine. It is recommended to have small sized blades, like 3/0, 2/0, as well as large blades.

Deciding what to make

If you love working with a scroll saw but you are not sure what to make, then you can consider buying some patterns. Also, you can simply draw on the wood board and start cutting around to get used to the tool.

If you are an experienced user, you can make door signs, such as a horseshoe welcome sign, word art that you can hang on your walls, animals for your children’s rooms or a birthday panel for your kitchen.

You are a true craftsman who enjoys working on complicated projects? In that case, you should start thinking big and including some light in your projects. With a little bit of experience, you should be able to build lighted scenes, luminaries, candle holders, light stands, hanging lamps, miniature Christmas trees or candle pyramids.

Also, you can try making wall decorations such as flower baskets that will make your kitchen nicer, pansy wreaths that you can hang on your front or back door or historic symbols that you can put in your living room.

Scroll saws are complex power tools that can help you transform your home and garden into welcoming places that all your family members and guests will love. More than that, handmade objects have a special, sentimental value and usually become a family inheritance. Do you want to contribute to the beauty of your home with a nice piece of art? Then start using your scroll saw today!

Interested in buying scrool saws in Germany? Read our german reviews of scroll saws: Dekupiersage test

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