Scroll saws are commonly considered essential tools for serious woodworkers – and scroll sawing is a popular hobby for many. This power tool allows you to add tremendous creativity to any project, requires little space and is often extremely user-friendly to learn, to operate and to maintain. Scroll saws are tremendously useful for cutting intricate joints and curves, including dovetail joints. Because the machine is stationary and uses a fine saw blade, it allows you to cut through wood quickly and easily, and the minimal blade width allows you to make more intricate cuts.
If you’re looking to up your woodworking game, but are still a little unsure or intimidated about choosing an appropriate scroll saw, we’re here to help. Below we’ve compiled scroll saw reviews to help you on your way to determining which is the best scroll saw for you and your project needs. Keep reading to learn more.
Scroll Saw Comparison Chart
|Brand/Model (Click Item Text to Scroll to Review)||Rating|
|1. DeWalt DW788 1.3 Amp 20" Variable Speed Scroll Saw|
Our Top Pick for 2019
|2. Delta Power Tools 40-694 20" Variable Speed Scroll Saw||9.5/10||CHECK PRICE|
|3. Shop Fox W1713 16" Variable Speed Scroll Saw||9.4/10||CHECK PRICE|
|4. WEN 3921 16" Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw||9.4/10||CHECK PRICE|
|5. PORTER-CABLE 18" Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand||9.3/10||CHECK PRICE|
|6. ShopSeries RK7315 16" Scroll Saw with Variable Speed Control||9.2/10||CHECK PRICE|
|7. Rockwell BladeRunner X2 Portable Tabletop Saw with Steel Rip Fence||9.1/10||CHECK PRICE|
Best Scroll Saw Reviews
1. DeWalt DW788 1.3 Amp 20″ Variable Speed Scroll SawCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
With its double, parallel-link arm design, this scroll saw is our top pick, and it comes from a brand you know you can trust. The unique design allows it to reduce vibration, plus noise, and deliver extremely accurate cuts. In addition, its exclusive, tool-free blade clamps translate into quick blade-changes, as fast as in seconds, and this saw offers a two-inch depth of cut.
This saw is extremely easy to use, with its electronic variable speed, blade-tensioning lever, flexible dust blower and on/off switch located conveniently on its front upper arm. In addition, its pivoting arm design shortens arm movements for quieter and smoother cutting, moving from the back of the saw to the front. This saw provides easier and more accurate inside cuts due the arm having the ability to lift up, as the blade can be effortlessly threaded through material. As with many other DeWalt products, this one is made to be durable and long-lasting.
Reviewers say that this is an especially good saw for beginners – with all the various features of this saw, even the most inexperienced of DIYers can create intricate and detailed projects. They also love its quiet sound and its variable-speed control. The only cons reviewers report tie back to price – this model costs more than several others on our list, but most reviewers agree that it’s worth every penny. In fact, many users consider this the best saw on the market today. However, some users have reported unexpected issues with saw speed, along with non-responsive customer service.
2. Delta Power Tools 40-694 20″ Variable Speed Scroll SawCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This is a solid workhorse of a saw from a name that’s well-known and -trusted within the woodworking tools industry. With a 1.3-amp motor, this saw’s variable speed can be adjusted from 400-1750 SPM to handle a wide variety of projects. And with a tool-free blade clamp, you can change the blade quickly. The upper arm also locks in the raised position while you change your blade or during blade adjustment. And its dual parallel link arm design reduces over- and under-cutting by minimizing vibrations. Overall, this saw supports your highest accuracy and quality.
This saw also features a tilt table that lets you tilt the saw to ensure that every single cut is completed at the proper angle.
Reviewers say that this saw has one of the easiest blade changes on the market – it requires no tools, so blade changes can happen within seconds. And with its included storage unit, you can store up to two blades, keeping them from getting lost or damaged, helping them retain sharpness and preventing them from causing inadvertent injury.
This saw weighs in at around 60 pounds, so it’s on the heavier end of the spectrum – which means you can count on it to last.
Reviewers love this saw’s dual parallel arms and variable speeds, plus its tool-free clamp. However, they also point out that the heaviness of this model can be troublesome and that the saw doesn’t come with a stand, which presents an extra challenge.
3. Shop Fox W1713 16″ Variable Speed Scroll SawCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
With cast-iron construction, extra cutting capacity and variable speed control, this version features some of the most commonly sought features of a scroll saw. In addition, it comes with a gooseneck work light, a dust blower and port, easy blade changes and a large, 45-degree tilt table. It can use both plain and pin-end saw blades.
With its variable-speed control, this saw will range from 550 to 1650 SPM, allowing you ultimate control over the types of intricate cuts you choose to make.
In particular, the gooseneck work light is a feature reviewers are drawn to – it helps you see exactly what you’re doing to be able to make the most detailed of cuts, even if you’re working in the deepest, darkest garage or basement. Plus the dust blower and port help keep dust to a minimum within your workspace, and the variable speeds let you tailor to the individual project you’re working on. This model also comes with a two-year warranty.
Reviewers also commented on the fact that, although the saw is built from cast iron, it manages to feel light, compact and durable all at the same time. It’s reported as easy to use and a very good value for the money. But users also report that the changing of blades requires tools and can sometimes be a challenge. In addition, there’s some dissatisfaction with the non-adjustable dust blower and the two-year warranty, which some users believe should last longer.
4. WEN 3921 16″ Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll SawCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This model can saw through hard woods up to two inches thick and allows you to adjust the speed from 550 to 1600 SPM with the simple turn of a knob. And with its unique design, it accepts blades at both standard and 90-degrees, which allows for increased ripping capacity. Its cast-iron base cuts down on vibration, and the spacious, 16-by-11-inch table can bevel up to 45 degrees if you need to make angled cuts.
To ensure a clean line of sight as you cut, the adjustable air pump cleans sawdust from the work area, while the 1 1/2 -inch dust port also contributes to keeping your work area clean so you can better concentrate on your work. And you can secure your woodworking project in place by using the hold-down foot clamp.
As with most WEN products, this saw comes with a two-year warranty, a nationwide network of service technicians and a customer service help line.
Reviewers say that this saw is a solid, budget-friendly buy; in fact, many users consider it a best value. With its flexible light, you can properly see your project at all times, and it offers two different blade positions, plus controllable speed for precise work. Its imitations stem from the fact that it may be difficult to switch out blades, and the workmanship on the saw itself may not be as high-quality as some of the other saws we’ve reviewed. But overall, this scrolling saw is a solid choice and a good addition to your power tool collection.
5. PORTER-CABLE 18″ Variable Speed Scroll Saw with StandCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
With its patented tabletop bevel scale, this saw provides readings that are both accurate and convenient. Its variable speeds range from 500 to 1500 SFM and are controlled via an upfront control knob. The saw’s large aluminum 20-inch by 12 5/8-inch dual tilting table also allows you to make bevel cuts up to 45 degrees. This model also includes a built-in, adjustable LED work lamp that provides outstanding illumination of your entire work area. In addition, its upfront controls, work light, on/off switch and speed control are oversized and user-friendly.
Plus, its tool-less blade holder makes it easy to complete quick five-inch pin or plain-end blade changes. This scroll saw comes with a three-year limited warranty, one year of free service and a 90-day, money-back guarantee. In addition, its accompanying stand is sturdy and reliable, allowing for as vibration-free operation as possible.
Reviewers love the fact that this saw comes with a three-year warranty and that it vibrates much less than you’d expect from the average scroll saw – but they also point out that this saw might not be the best on the market for the true serious woodworker, particularly because its light aluminum frame can’t offer a reliably stable cutting platform and it has a hard time with making regular precision cuts. Users overall cite a lack of power and cutting ability, along with a lack of value for the price – some also report difficulty in changing out the blades.
6. ShopSeries RK7315 16″ Scroll Saw with Variable Speed ControlCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This saw is powerful and lightweight, which makes it ideal for many different types of woodworking projects – and it’s built for both performance and value. Equipped with a 1.2-amp motor, it offers a die-cast aluminum table that can bevel from 0 to 45 degrees, plus two five-inch, durable tungsten carbide blades that feature a throat depth of 16 inches and a cutting depth of two and a half inches. Its variable speed control and a 4/5-inch stroke both help ensure that you achieve accurate, clean cuts, including curves, joints and other intricate cuts.
On-board storage protects blades from getting damaged or lost, while the saw’s built-in blower prevents dust from obstructing your view of the work space. In addition, a dust-collection port helps keep your work area free of debris, and the standard blade guard helps protect operator safety.
This saw comes with a two-year, limited warranty against defects in both workmanship and materials. Shopseries will replace or repair this saw, at its discretion, throughout the warranty period, as long as the defective saw is sent postage prepaid to an approved service center. All original equipment and a dated proof of purchase must be included.
Reviewers love this saw’s innovative features, reliability and ease of use – this is a solid, dependable power tool for helping the DIYer complete projects with both quality and speed. Some reviewers report dissatisfaction with overall manufacturer quality, but also cite that customer service can be helpful in answering questions and addressing concerns.
7. Rockwell BladeRunner X2 Portable Tabletop Saw with Steel Rip FenceCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
With more capacity and control than the original Bladerunner, this saw sets up in seconds to cut metal, wood, tile, plastic and aluminum, performing scroll, rip, miter and inside cuts. This is a convenient and versatile saw that uses standard, t-shank jigsaw blades, offering tool-free, near-instant blade changes that allow you to move from cutting one material to another, seamlessly. This saw is both portable and compact, featuring a built-in tabletop handle that allows you to carry it anywhere, which is especially easy since it weighs in at less than 15 pounds.
Depending on the type of blade you choose, the BladeRunner can cut through a variety of materials, so it’s especially versatile. With instant, tool-free blade changes, you can change the blades in less than three seconds, and this saw is compatible with any four-inch t-shank jigsaw blade.
Reviewers love the versatility of this saw – whereas they might previously have needed several different saws to perform scroll, miter, rip and inside cuts, this saw allows for all of these simply by easily changing out the blades. It’s cited as highly adaptable. Because this saw will cut through everything from ceramic tile and metal to aluminum and wood, it’s an especially good addition to your power tool collection. And users love how easy the blade is to switch out – some say it takes as few as three seconds. However, some users are quick to point out that this saw is better for lighter, less intense home improvement projects.
How a Scroll Saw Works
A scroll saw is a small electric – or sometimes pedal-powered – saw used to make detailed cuts and curves in metal, wood or other materials. Because it features an especially fine blade, it can cut more delicately than other power tools like jigsaws, band saws or fretsaws. Overall, the scroll saw is designed to make minute, fine and intricate woodworking cuts, and investing in one can make a big difference in how you complete your projects. These saws basically combine the power of an electric saw with the exactness of a tool like an X-ACTO knife.
Rather than employing a continuous loop like a band saw, a scroll saw uses a reciprocating blade. Scroll saws come in several types, but the most common is the parallel arm, which features a motor attached near the back of the arms. As their name describes, the arms of parallel arm scroll saws always stay parallel to one another. In contrast, the C-arm version uses a solid C-shaped arm, and the blade is mounted between the two ends of the “C.”
One of the most important components of using a scroll saw is providing a pattern; you’ll need something to follow as you guide the wood through the saw in the shape/cut you want. Your pattern can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like; many users choose to simply draw a pattern on the wood and then follow it with the blade. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to keep any designs or patterns as simple as possible – and if you don’t want to come up with your own, you can find hundreds of scroll saw patterns available online.
When the wood is in place and the machine is turned on, you can “steer” the wood through just like you would a car – making real-time adjustments as you continue to guide the wood forward. Just follow the pattern you’ve chosen, moving the wood through the saw until all cuts are complete.
Scroll saws work by cutting with short, up-and-down motions, very similar to a coping saw. Most machines will allow you to adjust the speed of the blade depending on the material you’re cutting, which allows you maximum flexibility. While the blade typically moves up and down in the center of a saw table, some versions are adjustable to allow you to move in two different directions in order to empower angled cuts.
And when it comes to choosing your blades, a good rule of thumb to consider is that the more teeth per inch a blade can boast, the cleaner your cuts are likely to be. Luckily, most saw blades are available in variety packs, so you can purchase a range of blades to test out on various types of projects.
Setting Up and Maintaining a Scroll Saw
No matter your level of experience and comfort, a scroll saw is relatively easy to set up and use. It should come with everything you need to get started. You may also want to make sure that you have finger protection, eye protection and sandpaper before you begin.
Before you get started, make sure to tension your blade – many experts recommend tensioning until you hear a high-pitched note that sounds “right” to you. Some say it hits a high C note. This is something you may have to experiment with a bit – if you get the blade either too tight or too loose, you can break blades, but with experience, you can find the tension that’s just right for you.
When you want to produce a standard cut, first draw the path of your cut on your material of choice, then place the material on the table. After checking that you have the blade in place with good tension, simply turn on the saw and bring the wood into contact with the blade. You can rotate the wood to create a number of different designs, such as wavy lines and zigzag patterns. It’s a good idea to gently guide the wood, rather than forcing it, as you cut.
When it comes to maintaining your scroll saw, keep in mind that each saw is different, and you should look to manufacturer guidelines to learn how best to care for your particular model. In general, it’s a good move to regularly wax your table with a furniture-grade paste wax in order to maintain it. Some experts recommend doing so twice a year. It’s a good idea as well, whenever you get new blades, to clean them with mineral spirits to make sure they’re nice and free of any residue; this also helps keep the blade from sliding out of the clamp.
One of the great things about scroll saws is that their maintenance is pretty low-key. Most users simply oil the top and bottom arm bearings and regularly vacuum the overall saw to keep it in top working condition. About once a month, you may also want to sand the inside of the blade clamps in order to keep them free from oil buildup. In addition, you can check the belt, adjustment screws and spring on the saw’s back side at regular intervals. If you’re feeling high levels of vibration, it’s a great idea to check on all the screws and bolts, especially those supporting the upper arm. You may be able to reduce overall vibration by tightening those.
As a side note, each of our tool guides consists of a section regarding setup and maintenance. If you have any interest in learning about the setup and maintenance of other types of power tools, check out our best electric chainsaw or best circular saw articles.
Best Scroll Saw Buyer’s Guide
Some people are intimidated by the thought of investing in a scroll saw – they think they can get by just fine with a band saw for their projects – but most people who make the leap to a scroll saw say they don’t know how they ever lived without it for their more detailed projects. But if you’re ready to buy your first scroll saw, you should consider several key factors as you decide which is best for you, including the following:
What kind of blades can your selected saw accommodate? You can choose from two basic types: pinned or unpinned. Pinned blades are designed to work with larger and less intricate pieces of wood, while an unpinned blade is better suited for more detailed work. Before you make your purchase, make sure you understand what kind of blade(s) your saw can accommodate so you can ensure you have the right tools for the projects you want to complete.
Also consider whether you will need tools to change the blade on your saw. Especially with many of the newer saw models reviewed here, you can get easy-switch blades that can be changed in seconds with no tools required.
This is simply a measure of the distance from the front of the blade to the back. When you see terms like, “16-inch scroll saw” or “22-inch scroll saw,” in a saw’s description, it’s the throat size that’s being described. You need to know this, because the throat size ultimately determines what size projects you can complete with your saw. Smaller saws may have a throat size of around 12 inches, while large commercial versions can run as large as 30 inches.
Make sure to look carefully at the saw’s accompanying work table. You need a large enough work space to accommodate the largest project(s) you think you might undertake. Also check on how sturdy that platform is; on your more detailed work, the vibrations from your saw can throw off your cuts. The more stable your platform, the less likely your saw is to vibrate dramatically.
Variable Control Speed
Especially the more novice you are, it’s important to be able to slow down your saw when you need to in order to make more complicated cuts without rushing through. If you can adjust your speed for specific cuts, you allow yourself to slow down and concentrate on more intricate details. Some saws adjust electronically, while others offer a simple knob that allows you to adjust the speed of the saw, but regardless of the mechanism, consider this feature a must-have. And a companion consideration to speed is power – choosing a saw that combines speed control with considerable power gives you more options in the future.
Some models also include features like a dust blower or port, which help you keep your workspace clean and allow you to more effectively focus on the task in front of you. This is a very helpful feature, especially if the dust blower is adjustable – this will allow you to aim the dust flow away from both you and your work area, while a fixed dust blower is going to send dust straight into your lap.
You can also find models that include LED lights – usually these lights are fully adjustable so that you can position them to shine exactly where you need them. When you consider that many users store and use their saws in dark garages and basements, this becomes a valuable feature to consider. It’s almost impossible to hold a flashlight and make a decent cut at the same time.
Summing It Up
Ultimately, owning and using a scroll saw can be a lot of fun, especially if you like to be a little more adventurous in your home DIY projects. Learning to scroll saw is a fantastic way to spend your time, and can allow you to make art and keepsakes that can last a lifetime.
Because of its small, fine blade, a scroll saw can afford you a level of creativity unavailable with other power tools. By following the tips and tricks here, plus reading through our scroll saw reviews, you’re well on your way to picking out the best scroll saw for your home power tool collection.
And with a little practice, you’ll be able to use your saw to create delicate, intricate and creative woodworking projects with your own unique stamp. As you become more and more comfortable with the saw, you’ll identify the kinds of projects that you’re best at, and your confidence at scroll sawing for a hobby will only continue to grow.