How to Use a Scroll Saw: The Ultimate Guide

So you want to create some amazing intricate woodwork?

You can create them yourself with a scroll saw.

But you now want to know how to use a scroll saw. And more questions come to mind like...

  • Is it really hard to learn?
  • Is it dangerous to use?
  • What safety steps should I use?

Let's take some time and talk about it, with lots of detail too!

Most people have learned scroll sawing through trial and error.

If you understand what that means it's quite a crazy thing to do.

If you talk to some of them, they would say they would have loved to find a place like this when they began scroll sawing.

When they started it, they did not have the slightest idea of what they were doing, but as time went by, it got more fun.

Come let’s learn how to scroll saw step by step.

How to Use a Scroll Saw: 12 Simple Steps

Step 1

Turn on the scroll saw and roughly cut around the outline.

This depends on the type of wood that is being used.

Therefore you may desire to use a different saw or a blade with few teeth.

Step 2

Regulate the rate of the blades if using an adjustable-speed scroll saw model.

When scroll sawing a hardwood, a slower rate is recommendable.

On the other hand, for soft woods like maple or any other popular soft wood they can bear faster speeds.

Step 3

The scroll saw blade should be aimed towards the first line that is to be cut.

Step 4

For a good outcome, you should use both hands to lead the wood gradually into the blade.

Step 5

To move the work smoothly through the blade, you use the forefingers of your hands and the thumb of one hand.

The piece being scroll sawed is held down while pushing it frontward laterally through the cut line.

While pushing the wood piece forward, lift one finger at each time out of the way.

No finger should be lifted or the hand.

This may cause the piece to jump and produce a jugged cut.

Step 6

Change the feed rate of the scroll saw to whatever feels comfortable to you.

While doing this, you should be watchful of the blade.

Also, pay attention to the scroll saw to determine whether it needs to be slowed down.

Step 7

Go back through the cut line and eliminate the wood from the saw when you get to the turning point.

Step 8

Ensure the next line that is to be cut is in front of the saw blade by turning the wood to be in a comfortable position.

Step 9

Make continuous regular turns with the scroll saw by slowly turning the piece of wood being sawn as it seems appropriate.

Step 10

Continuously cut all the edges, work around the piece till all the outer lines have been cut.

Step 11

Now you need to smoothen all the edges of any rough edges that you created. This is achieved by using fine-grit sandpaper.

Step 12

The scroll sawing exercise is complete.

And that's how to scroll saw.

You might be wondering...

You mean using such a power tool is as easy as that?

Emphatically yes. However...

Some safety measures must be observed when using the scroll saw.

Well, here's safely.

How to Use a Scroll Saw Safely: Rule of 9

Rule 1 Wear a protective gear

The protective gear includes your protective glasses, a hat, and a dust mask as well. Before starting any scroll sawing if you don’t want to have bad experiences with the scroll saw, you have to protect yourself from dust and wood chips.

Rule 2 Prepare the wood

You now want to make patterns on the wood using a scroll saw.

To obtain excellent results, the wood should be cut into the desired size required to make the predetermined patterns.

Also, the wood should be smoothened using sandpaper on the rough edges then transfer the pattern you want to make on the wood using a pencil.

Rule 3 Prepare the saw

You need to prepare the scroll saw by clamping it on the working plane.

The appropriate blade should be installed to get the desired size and delicacy of the pattern that is to be cut. The blade should be firmly fit in the scroll saw.

Thinner materials usually get better with blades that have small teeth. Sometimes it may get crazy when the scroll saw is not working properly.

Therefore, a test can be carried on a separate piece of wood rather than the one you are going to be working on.

Rule 4 take care of your fingers

After you begin cutting, you are required to direct the blades to the first line. Always use both of your hands to control scroll saw through the marked lines.

When guiding the wood, avoid putting your fingers close to the blades. There should be no hurry when directing the wood around the blade.

Warning! Rushing is dangerous to your fingers. Scroll sawing while in a rush could also result in a crooked pattern.

Rule 5 Turn off the machine to make adjustments

While making adjustments of the blade tension, the scroll saw should always be turned off and unplugged from power. It is also vital to adjust the blade tension before starting to use the scroll saw.

Rule 6 Proper blade use

​Select the blade that is needed for the project.  Using the wrong one can cause a poor outcome.

The blade should all the time be installed according to the manufacturers recommendations.

Rule 7 Clean the work area

The working area should always be kept clean and uncluttered.  This will ensure no other hazards are present.

Rule 8 Ensure the material is free of defects

Before cutting any wood pieces, ensure that they are free from nails, staples and any other foreign materials that materials.

The wood also should never be in contact with the wood while starting the scroll saw.

Rule 9 Good lighting systems

how to scroll saw safely

You might be wondering why you need a good lighting system. Well, good lighting makes the line that is being cut clear.

When the lines are visible, you will have a clean cut. The light could even be mounted on the scroll saw.

What's the bottom line?

These safety measures is to protect you, preventing the damage of the scroll saw and also ensuring that the intended pattern becomes the result.

Please take our advice on how to use a scroll saw properly so that you reduce your chances of being injured.

Scroll Saw Use - Crafting Beautiful Designs

Creating beautiful designs and unique projects with a scroll saw is the real part of the deal when woodworking.

The scroll saw may be used to cut through small portions of the woodwork and create blend edges.

This can, therefore, help anyone who wants to create jigsaws puzzles or other patterns that require a very excellent detailing.

Saws have different designs that are distinguished in three categories.

We have Double parallel link arm, parallel arm and the c-arm.

These are the simple designs of scroll saws that you could pick from.

The double parallel link type has two arms parallel to each other that are attached with blades at the ends.

This kind of scroll saw has up and down blade movements and could be the safest since it stops the blades break immediately.

The parallel arm works more like the double parallel link type.

However, it works dependently on the parallel arms.

Lastly, the c-arm has only a single arm that is C-shaped. The c-arm type is commonly used to create arch designs.

It is essential to know the features of the scroll saw you are using.

These are the following:

  • Types of blades
  • Blade changing features
  • Thickness of the blades
  • The length of the throat

So now that you have got better in your saw scrolling skills, we can begin making some beautiful woodcraft.

To have a fine woodworking, you first need to have fabulous patterns.

In most cases when people think of scroll sawing, they first think of getting to the internet to source for free patterns.

Getting free scroll saw patterns is an excellent starting point from where beginners can build beautiful woodwork projects.

As you get more and more experienced, buying quality patterns should be considered.​

5 Tips on How to Use Scroll Saw Patterns

Tip 1 Position your pattern

You can choose to either make a copy of the pattern from your computer or have it copied.

The outline of the pattern can be reproduced on a paper which just works well unless there are cutouts in the middle.

If this is the case, it is recommendable to have a copy made.

Apply the pattern to the piece of wood you will be cutting using, spray adhesive, rubber cement or repositionable spray glue.

Rubber cement comes off easily, and it also does not leave glue on the surface of the wood.

Please note that glue is applied to the pattern and not on the wood.

On the other hand, if repositionable spray glue is used, if there are many cutouts they start to begin to come off.

Tip 2 Prepare the wood

The wood should be made for inside cuttings after having it on the wood.

A drill press can be used, but a regular drill would still work correctly.

The smallest drill bit that allows the blade to get through should be used.

You are required to drill through the wood at the center for every inside cuts.

At this point, you might want to sand the wood at the back after drilling to obtain a beautiful and smooth surface.

Tip 3 should you stand or sit down?

Now the issue arise, what is the best position when scroll sawing?

Should you sit or stand?

Here's the best tip...

When scroll sawing at the initial stages the best position is standing directly in front of the scroll saw.

At this position, it is easier to feed the work directly into the blade.

Therefore do not stand off at the sides.

A friend just bought a high stool to enable them to walk for longer hours.

Also, note that most scroll saws have their light.

Nonetheless, it is best to have a fluorescent at the side of the scroll saw.

This additional lighting prevents shadows from falling on your working area.

Tip 4 Use the right blade

This is the best scroll sawing pattern tip.

Finding the best blade determines the quality of the designs that will be made.

For most of our scroll sawing work we use 3/4 “.

When working with thin woods, a number 3 double-tooth blade does it all.

Double –tooth blades produce fewer chips on the wood and typically last longer than other types of blades.

Always ensure that when installing the blades that the teeth are facing and also point downwards.

Blades that are installed backward will not cut the wood, and a blade that is upside-down picks your wood off the table bed and slaps it down.

This might frighten the heck out of everybody around.

Tip 5 Have the proper blade tension

You should insert the blades and fasten the tension knob.

The tension knob should be turned three-quarters just beyond the resistance point. A loose blade does not cut a straight line.

On the other hand, a very tight blade is likely to break, and this may damage your saw.

The blade should be kept moving when cutting curves.

Many people stop and this causes the wood to be picked up and slapped down on the working table.

Therefore, you should just allow the wood pivot by keeping a finger close: Not less than an inch.

Okay, you know have a full understanding on how to use a scroll saw.

Alot of woodworkers find scrolling very enjoyable and relaxing. Almost a way to relieve stress.

Give it a try and let us know how it works out for you by leaving a comment 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!

Leave a Reply 2 comments