How Does a Scroll Saw Work?

As long as you intend to do some woodwork, it is paramount for you to know what a scroll saw is and how it works and  be conversant with its mechanism. Orienting yourself with it will definitely increase your production in making complex cuts and shapes of various work pieces.

Scroll saws are common tool among artisans and wood craftsmen. It is a small machine with a fine blade which is most suitable for working with thin wood. There have been mechanical scroll saws all the way from the 1860’s while there are more than 50 scroll saw models currently which vary in speed and throat capacity. There are mainly C-arm and parallel arm types of scroll saws which can be used to design clocks, name tags, curved edges and many other designs.

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The scroll saw works in such a way that it uses a compact machine with a fine saw blade that moves up and down in a quick motion. The up and down movement lets you cut through the wood rapidly while the small blade width allows you to make more complex cuts.  It is a machine made mainly for delicate pieces.

It is important to note that modern scroll saws do not just cut wood but metal and plastics as well. Due to the small blade on the scroll saw however means that it is delicate enough to easily break or bend. It is therefore recommended that proper safety measures are taken at all times when using the scroll saw.

In as much as the saw comes with all the equipment needed to start making cuts, there are some important materials that you will need to ensure that you will get it right the first time and that you are also assured of your safety. These materials besides the scroll saw include a template, piece of wood, finger protectors, eye protection and sandpaper. A template in this case is something that is placed on the wood so as to act as your guide when cutting. This is ideal when it comes to ensuring that you cut your material accurately.

In addition to that, finger protectors are also paramount when operating a scroll saw. These could be gloves which will ensure that the saw will not accidentally get into contact with your fingers and causing them any injuries. The eye protector will keep your eyes away from any particles from the wood or material you will be cutting. Take note of the fact that you shouldn’t place the wood against before you have switched it on. Push the wood in a gentle motion as the saw cuts it. You shouldn’t push it towards the blade because the blade will do so.

So, How does a scroll saw work?

There are different ways in which the scroll saw works. The parallel arm happens to be the most common mode of operation. In this design, the motor is connected on the back part of the arms of the saw while the arms are in parallel to each other. The C-arm on the other hand just like its name has a C-shaped arm where the blade is fixed in the middle of the C-arms.

  • Place Your Wood on the table

The first step on how to operate a scroll saw is placing it on the table next to the saw. Ensure that it is in a position some inches away from the blade. Besides that, it is of great importance to ensure that both of your hands are on the wood during the whole process. A foot pedal comes with most scroll saws whose use is to turn it on or off thus do not forget to make use of it.

  • Turn the saw on and adjust its speed

Secondly, after you have firmly placed the wood on the table near the blade, turn the scroll saw on. Take note of the fact that you should change the speed settings depending on the recommended speed before you start cutting your wood so as to avoid damaging the machine. Ensure that you have set slow speed for hard woods and high speed for soft woods.

  • Start cutting your material.

The design you are cutting will be a great determinant on whether you will cut the wood using a single pass or you will need to pull out the blade and set it in a different angle. If the project you are working on requires straight lines and corners only, you will be in a position to cut it at once. On the other hand, curves and circular shapes will take more time and careful movements.

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  • Rotate the wood when need be.

The forth step to take note of when using the scroll saw is the fact that you will need to pull the wood to where the line you intend you cut if you are cutting a 90degree corner. So as to acquire a clean cut, you will need to go beyond the line. Round edges will require more cuts so as to form circular shapes.

You will need to remove the blade and set it at a different angle. It may take you more time to master how to cut round shapes thus it is recommended that you start with squares and right angles for practise purposes.

  • Finish cutting the outside lines

 There are some projects that require outside cuts only. As soon as you are done, this piece is supposed to come out with ease from the centre part of the wood. ensure that you have pulled the blade out before carrying out any other task.

  • Smoothen your wood with sandpaper.

Finally, as soon as you have finished cutting all the material in project, you will need to smoothen it using sandpaper. Ensure that you use sandpaper that is ideal for the type of wood you are using in your project. For best results, smoothen out the corners of the wood first after which you can work on the sides.


In conclusion, there are several aspects to consider when working with a scroll saw and there are also procedures to follow so as to ensure that the saw does not wear out quickly or get mechanical issues as seen above.