What is a Scroll Saw: The Ultimate Answer

We hope that you'll agree with me when we say:

Woodworking is not as relaxing without a good scroll saw...

Or is it?

Well, there's only ONE problem. What is a scroll saw, especially if you're new to woodworking?

No worries, we've all been there.

That's where we come in.

To give you a clearer picture, not only will we tell you what it is, we'll also showcase this tool's different features and uses.

What is a Scroll Saw? The Ultimate Answer!

So what is a scroll saw exactly?

Here's the deal...

A scroll saw is a narrow saw mounted vertically in a frame and operated with an up-and-down motion, used for cutting curved ornamental designs.

Online Dictionary                 

Sounds pretty basic, right?

Once you know the type, blade and features you want, it is easy to begin.

There are a number of tools and methods of woodworking for beginners.

Yet no tool offers more ease and flexibility than the scroll saw.

Compared to most tools of the trade, the scroll saw is relatively safe.

We have found that it offers unparalleled satisfaction to anyone searching for a hands-on hobby.

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

Here's the bottom line...

  • A scroll saw can either be operated with a pedal or an electric model.
  • It's known for creating fine details by turning the table.
  • Because your hands will have little to no contact with the blade itself, there is less risk of injury.
  • Even a child could safely use this tool, though we recommend adult supervision.
what is a scroll saw good for

​Below we have listed the key deciding factors you will want to consider.


Blades can vary in size from hair-thin to the size of a band saw.

Average size for a scroll saw blade is approximately five inches.

Some designs will only allow for a certain type of blade.

For more visual information, you can reference THIS ARTICLE from Woodcraft.com.


The following designs each produce high quality and are chosen as a matter of preference...

  1. Parallel Arm Design:  Where the two pendulum arms are parallel to each other and the motor is attached to the back.
  2. C-Arm:  Where the blade is placed between the two c-shaped ends.
  3. Parallel Link:  Where rods placed in both upper and lower arms hold the blade in place and are pushed by the motor.


Consider the following features before purchase.

Price can vary from $100 – $2,000. Since you are a hobbyist, you will want a saw that is not too high on the price. Keep in mind, the lower the price, the more vibration.

Throat size, or the distance between the blade and base frame, will allow you to cut different sizes of wood. For smaller projects you can use a small throat and vice versa.

Dust Blower – This is a great feature that will keep your lines easy to see. Also, a dust blower allows you better focus on your project.

What is a Scroll Saw Good For?

Maybe you have a fair idea of what a scroll saw is, but what is a scroll saw good for?

The answer is as varied as this flexible tool allows.

Some carpenters use the scroll saw for scroll work on otherwise plain pieces of furniture, like kitchen cabinets.

Other hobbyists find enjoyment simply working a design from a piece of wood.

Back in the day, the scroll saw was hand operated and traditionally used for ornamental work like "intarsia."


According to Wikipedia, intarsia, which is derived from Latin for "to insert," is a form of wood laying.

This ancient art form dates back to before the seventh century and is still popular today. The process is fun and can be as simple or layered as you like.

  • To begin, you choose various wood grains, then cut the pieces you wish to layer in your image. Or if you need to, you can outline the image you want on the base sheet.
  • Modern kits come with ready-made patterns, if you aren't interested in hunting down individual wood pieces. Visit Midlothian Wood Works for a few examples.
  • If you prefer to free-hand it, you can cut each piece with your scroll saw and layer them to create the desired three-dimensional shape.
  • For further reading, Clair Boussum of the Northwest Carvers Association offers a detailed how-to on intarsia.
what can you do with a scroll saw

OTHER PROJECTS – If art isn't your thing, have no fear. Woodworking is a hobby everyone can enjoy and allows for limitless projects.

  • Bird houses are a fun project you can rope the kids into. With your scroll saw, you can make them as simple or detailed as you like. Visit this print catalogue from Scroller Online for more ideas.
  • Jigsaw puzzles can be a slightly more challenging design. Read this New York Times article on how John S. Stokes III from San Diego fell into his particular hobby.
  • For further ideas, you can bundle purchase this Scroll Saw Magazine, which offers a variety of patterns and projects.

Woodworking is a fantastic hobby for relaxing and creating beautiful hand crafted projects in a garage or basement of your home.

It really depends on the individual, which is arguably the best feature of this tool.

Now that you know what is a scroll saw, it's perfect for beginners and master craftsmen alike.

It offers greater creativity, safety and flexibility.

Because of its size, it can be easily portable and is an ideal addition to your workshop.

Now that you know what is a scroll saw and the benefits, we highly recommend you decide to try this enjoyable tool for yourself.

With your new knowledge of blades and designs, you are ready to begin your search and begin your new craft. Good luck!

This quick scroll saw video  project shows you what a scroll saw is and what you can with it.

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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