A scroll saw is a small usually bench mounted saw for cutting intricate curves. Sometimes called a jig saw, it gets its name from the intricate small radius curves found on the interlocking pieces of a jig saw puzzle.
Anytime you're working with detailed crafts, fretwork, or simply need to make precise freehand cuts, the flexibility of the scroll saw makes it the best tool choice. They are often used for intricate crafts, sign making, puzzle making, and also for internal cuts in stock where band saw cannot reach. The are usually used on thin stock but are capable of cutting stock up to two inches thick.
The scroll saw is a popular choice of many hobby woodworkers. It is a fairly versatile tool and takes up relatively little space in the shop. They are also one of the safer machines in the shop.
Scroll saws have been manufactured by many companies for a number of years. Delta, Walker Turner, Boice Crane and others used to manufacture heavy cast iron version of 24" and sometimes larger scroll saws.
The recent trend had been toward a smaller lighter version of a bench mounted saw. They are typically available in 12 inch to 18 inch models and occasionally you'll find a 24 inch model. The size of the scroll saw indicates the distance between its blade and the rear frame or body of the saw. This is called the "throat." A 24 inch scroll saw, for example, could cut to the middle of a 48 inch diameter work piece.
Vintage scroll saws typically had a separate motor mounted behind or below the saw and a belt transferred power to the blade mechanism. Newer models have direct drive motors, many of which are variable speed.
Other features found on scroll saws include work lights that are mounted very near where the blade cuts the wood. This reduces eye strain and makes it easier to follow the line. A blower mounted near the blade is useful to blow off the saw dust and makes it easier to see the cut lines.
Variable speed controls or variable speed motors allow you to set the speed to match the material you're cutting. A tilting table allow you to make bevel or compound cuts in one pass.
Work hold downs also make the saw easier to use and hold the stock flat on the table.
Next to the motor, the most important part of the scroll saw in the blade. Blades are rated by the number of teeth per inch. The higher the number of teeth per inch the smoother the cut.
There are many different types of blades including those for cutting wood, metals, and plastic. Typical scroll saw blades are 5 inches long. The major types are:
Skip tool blade - has a tooth, a gap, then another tooth
Double skip tooth - has two teeth, a gap, then another two teeth
Crown - has teeth pointing both up and down so it cuts on both the up and down stroke of the saw.
Spiral blades - a twisted flat scroll saw blade forming teeth on all sides. This allows you to feed stock into the blade from any direction.
Craftsman 18" Scroll Saw
Delta 24" De-Luxe Scroll Saw No. 1200 (1937)
Walker Turner Direct Drive 24" Scroll Saw
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