What is a Scroll Saw Used For: An Epic Guide

"What is a scroll saw used for?"

Or you're asking yourself...

"What can I make with a scroll saw?"

Good questions.

Here's the deal...

The scroll saw is a helpful tool in the area of woodworking.

Since the tip of the scroll saw is quite small, this tool can help you when you are working with extremely intricate designs, and it can help you introduce young people into woodworking.

It is important to know which type of saw to use in which situation.

For different projects you will need different types of saws.

And there are some instances in which the scroll saw is an absolutely essential solution for your woodworking shop.

What Is a Scroll Saw Used For?

A scroll saw can be used for the following woodworking jobs:

  • Creating curves
  • Creating dovetail joints
  • Cutting angles
  • Think cuts
  • Crafting intricate designs

What are some advantages of a scroll saw? Here they are:

  • It doesn't take up much space. Most projects using this saw don't require more than just the saw.
  • The foot pedal makes it easy to manipulate the material you are using because it allows both of your hands to be free.
  • You have a 5 inch blade to get tight spots.
  • Cost is flexible, ranging from $100 to $2,000.

How do you know how large you can cut a piece of wood with your particular scroll saw?

You can tell by how long the throat is.

The throat is the distance between the blade and the rear frame of the scroll saw.  The size of a scroll saw's throat can range from 12 inches to 30 inches.

What Can You Cut With a Scroll Saw?

​Okay, you know you can cut wood with a scroll saw.  But what can you cut with a scroll saw besides wood?

  • Some metals (NOTE: you will need an extremely fine blade- for example a jewelers blade. Ordinary scroll saw blades will not do)
  • Plastics
  • Bone
  • Ivory
  • Mother-of-Pearl
  • Cork

What can You Make With a Scroll Saw?

So now you're asking "what can you make with a scroll saw?"

Here's some projects that a scroll saw does an excellent job on:

  • Intarsia
  • Lettered signs
  • Wooden portraits
  • Dovetail joints
  • Marquetry

We'll give you a brief review of each of these woodworking styles.

1. Intarsia

What is intarsia?

The scroll saw is good for projects such as intarsia, which is when you create a design from a pattern using different species of wood, like a mosaic.

You can buy pre-made design patterns to do intarsia with.

How do you create an intarsia piece?

  1. Choose your wood based on grain pattern and color
  2. ​Trace the pattern onto the wood
  3. ​Cut the wood into individual pieces
  4. ​Sand the pieces individually or in groups
  5. ​Glue the pieces together
  6. Optional: apply a finish before or after gluing

2. Dovetails

Dovetail joints are made of trapezoidal shaped pieces of wood called tails and joints, and are used in cabinetry and home improvement projects

​Here's the steps on how to make dovetail joints with a scroll saw: 

  1. First, sketch the tails on your wood. You want the tails to be 5/8 inches and the space between the tails to be 7/8 inches
  2. ​After sketching the tails, cut them using the scroll saw
  3. ​Next you will do the pins, which are slightly longer
  4. ​The pins should be 3/4 of an inch long.
  5. ​Trace the tails you created onto the bass wood.
  6. ​Cut the bass wood pins
  7. Glue the pins and the tails together
  8. ​Trim your board about 1/8 inch
  9. ​Cut another set of pins and tails

3.  Marquetry

Marquetry is a style of intarsia in which you apply veneer, thin slices of wood, to a structure.

This style can be applied both to decorative designs and to cabinets, furniture, intricate designs and artwork.

What were the original uses of the scroll saw?

  • Baroque architecture
  • Mosaic floors and ceilings in churces
  • Pottery
  • Art in many cultures
  • Scrollwork
  • Creating designs on the back of musical instruments

What Are More Contemporary Uses of Scroll Saws?

1.  Lettering

Letting of signs for areas of your house (for example, your garage or man cave)

You can still create plenty of art using scroll saws.

You could also combine the work you do with the scroll saw with work from another medium of art (such as painting and ceramics).

It's the 21st century. Be bold!

2.  Portraits

What are some home projects I can do using the scroll saw?

If you are working on home projects, this is a good tool to use when building desks, cabinets, and other furniture because of the dovetail joint.

You can also create portraits using the scroll saw.

It's helpful for portraits in getting the detail.

What Can You Do With a Scroll Saw?

"What can you do with a scroll saw?” you ask.

Here's what you can do...

  • Teach beginners the basics of woodworking
  • Create a sanding station
  • Create dovetails
  • Craft maquery
  • Make intarsia
  • Create portaits
  • Craft 

What Are Advantages of Using A Scroll Saw For Beginners or Children?

The scroll saw is quiet, and the blade is very safe.

If a kid touches the blade by accident, there is no potential for serious injury.

As the kid gets more advanced he or she can move onto creative projects such as the ones this saw was designed for.

How can you create a sanding station using a scroll saw?

  1. Cut a piece of sandpaper 5 inches long and 1/2 inch wide
  2. ​As we discussed previously, 5 inches is the length of most scroll saw blades
  3. ​We then fold the cut sandpaper in half
  4. ​The next step is inserting it into the scroll saw. Make sure you secure it using the top and bottom clamp of the saw
  5. ​When activating the sandpaper, make sure the machine is not moving too fast otherwise the sandpaper will rip
  6. Voila! You have a sand station

​Want to know the best part?

Now you can firmly answer "what is a scroll saw used for?"

Adding this tool deserves some serious consideration.

You can read our detailed reviews to get some guidance.

The scroll saw is an incredibly functional and helpful tool to have in your studio.

It can be used as a sanding station, a tool for beginners, a tool for various home improvement projects, a tool for various creative projects, and a tool for getting into the finer spots of your work.

Did we forget something that a scroll saw can do?  Let us know in the comments below.​


About the Author

Founder of Woodworking Fuel, proud father of two, happily married to a wonderful wife, and passionate about woodworking for a fulfilling hobby!

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