Scroll Saw Buying Guide
Here are some of the important features you should check when buying a scroll saw.
If you’ve ever checked eCommerce sites for scroll saws, chances are you’ve seen measurements (such as 16-inch, 18-inch, or 20-inch) on the product name or specifications. These measurements indicate the scroll saw’s throat length or depth.
The throat length indicates the distance between the back of the machine and the blade. The rule of thumb is the longer the scroll saw’s throat, the larger the material you can work on.
The most common throat lengths are 16-inch, 18-inch, or 20-inch. Anything less than 16-inch is ideal for hobbyists, while scroll saws that have more than 20-inch throat length are typically used in industrial and commercial applications.
There are two types of blades used in scroll saws: pin-end (also known as pinned) and plain (also known as flat-end, pin-less, or unpinned) blades.
Pin-end blades are made for thicker and tougher pieces of wood as the cut they produce is rougher. It is easier to attach and lock them to the clamp as the correct tension is already determined.
The downside is there’s not much variety to choose from when it comes to pin-end blades. Plus, you cannot attach it to smaller holes.
If you want more intricate cuts or if you’re working on a thin piece of wood, then the best blade type for you is plain blades. This type of blade needs a clamp on the top and bottom arms.
If you play any stringed instrument, you know how important it is to tune it before playing to ensure that it would produce the right sound. This principle is also the same for scroll saws. Before using a scroll saw or if you’re attaching a new blade, you need to make sure that the blade tension is just right.
After installing a new blade and applying the tension lever (this is usually located directly above the blade), carefully and lightly pluck the blade at the back (don’t pluck the sharp edge, though).
A blade with the right tension has a nice ring to it when plucked. A blade that is too loose doesn’t sound quite right. Meanwhile, a blade that is clamped too tight will not produce any sound at all.
Tooled or Tool-Free Blade Mount
When choosing a scroll saw, check if the machine allows you to mount the blade without a tool or if you need one to mount it. For the sake of convenience, the tool-free blade mount is the way to go. The downside is that the blades on this type of scroll saw can easily break with frequent use.
You can opt for the tooled changing system, but it can be a hassle as it requires an Allen or hex wrench to remove or attach the blade. The good news is the Allen wrench is usually included in the package, so you don’t have to scour your workshop or buy a compatible one for your machine.
Table Material and Tilt
Scroll saw tables are usually made of durable aluminum or cast-iron. I’d go for cast-iron but scroll saws with this kind of table are pricier compared to ones with aluminum tables.
If you want to cut at a certain angle, then check if the table tilts. Most saws can tilt up to 45 ° in both directions, but others can only tilt either to the left or right. Check this detail before buying a scroll saw.
You can determine the reciprocating speed of a scroll saw by checking its SPM (strokes per minute).
If you’re new to woodworking and you’re not sure if you’re going to stick to this hobby, then it’s probably safe to go for saws that can deliver anywhere between 400 and 800 SPM.
Scroll saws with a speed that could reach up to 1,800 SPM are ideal for commercial or industrial applications.
A LED lamp to illuminate your work surface. This is helpful for woodworkers who work on intricate patterns.
Check if the scroll saw has a foot pedal. You can easily control the speed of the scroll saw, as well as guide the wood with both of your hands, when you’re using a foot pedal.
How To Use A Scroll Saw Safely
- Always ensure that the scroll saw is set or clamped firmly on your tabletop or workbench. If you’re using a scroll saw with a stand, set it on flat and stable ground to prevent it from wobbling.
- Turn the machine off and unplug the cord before changing the blade or performing any maintenance work.
- Choose the right blade for the material you’ll be working on.
- Make sure that the blade teeth point forward when you install it. Ensure proper tension after installing the blade.
- During operation, make sure that the scroll saw table doesn’t have anything on it except your workpiece.
- Check if the handles are locked before you start the machine.
- Turn the machine off if you need to reach under your table.