I can see now why Scoll Saw woodworkers refer to scroll saws as "arguably the most versatile woodworking tool". I have not done a lot of scroll saw work with the exception of some small rudimentary projects. Since we have received quite a number of requests and queries over the past couple of years on Scroll Sawing, I decided it needed at least a novice's look.
To start off with I went to the computer, opened Google and typed in Scroll Saw Patterns, then clicked on the link "images" as at Google menu option.
What I was greeted with was overwhelming. I had no idea there were so many different things that a woodworker could do with a scroll saw. The screen was filled with brilliant ideas with so many different kinds of woodworking projects from Intarsia (which is like a wooden puzzle), to small figurines like chess boad pieces, to pictures, signs, bird houses, quilt racks, boxes, accent pieces for doors and furniture, the list just went on and on.

The first thing to remember about a Sroll Saw, is that it is a saw! I saw that can cross cut and rip, just like any other saw, but that can also make very tight turns, and this sets the scroll saw apart.

Basically  the scroll saw is a small saw with often a very thin blade that makes it's cuts by moving up and down very quickly while the material it is cutting is moved through the blade on the saws table.

One of the key elements to the scroll saw is the vast ... and I mean VAST number of blades that are available. There are 2 kinds of blades, the pin type and the plain end or pinless type. There is a good variety of blades in each type but the pinless appears to have a better selection, and is more versatile. You need to check your own saw to see which type of blades it takes and some even take both types. Here are a few links to some of the scroll saw blades available .... Lee Valley, Olsen.

olsen scroll saw blades

This is just a small sample of what is available in blades

In terms of blades, the plain or pinless are often considered the best blades to use because they can fit through smaller holes than the pin type blades. Where this is important is when someone is doing what is called "fretwork", which is cutting up small chunks of wood in a larger piece. The way these pieces are done, is a pattern is often glued to a piece of wood, then all the areas that need to be cut out of this wood, a small hole is cut in these. In order to cut out these pieces that scroll saw blade is disconnected from the top of it's holder in the saw, while the bottom is left attached, then the blade is threaded through the hole then the blade is re-attached at the top of blade holder, the blade is re-tensioned and the machine turned on and the piece of wood is cut away, then it's time to move to the next part that is to be cut away and the process is repeated.
You can see from this, that scrolling takes a lot of time and patience.


The above is an example of "fretwork" by Woodworkweb Feature Member Kathy Lindsey

If you are looking for a Scroll Saw, it appears that the variety of saws has dwindled somewhat over the past few years and the selection is not as great as it once was. There are many used machines on the market, and like any used machine, you need to make sure it works AND that parts are readily available for it BEFORE you buy the machine. It's always best, new or used to make sure you know the features you want before making any purchases, and the best way to do that is to talk to or even email experienced scrollers. Here is sampling of some of the saws that are currently available  ... Delta, Dewalt, Grizzly, Hawk Woodworking, General Excalibur to name a few.



The above is an example of "Intarsia" by Woodworkweb Feature Member Kathy Lindsey

The benefits of Scoll Sawing are plenty. I think the thing I like most is you can actually sit down and do woodworking. There's not many woodworking process that you can actually sit down and work. Scroll Sawing typically uses smaller pieces of wood so it can be very cost effective to in that you don't have to buy truck loads of wood. It also teaches the woodworker how to use various species and colors effectively and how to watch more closely for grain structure as smaller pieces can be more susceptible to breakage or coming apart if they are not cut in specific ways sometimes. It is also the kind of woodworking that can be done by people with limited space, like apartments, condos and smaller living areas, because not only does scroll sawing take up little room, it also  does NOT create a lot of dust. I know one scroller who  does all their work in their kitchen, and after they clean up, you would never know the kitchen had been used as a full scale scroll saw shop for the past 3 hours.

Where does someone get started if they really want to try scroll sawing. If you don't have a scroll saw, the more simple saws can often be picked up in a variety of used on-line listings, often for a low as $40.  Now remember, they will often be basic machines, maybe a few years old, but often are in quite good shape and a good place to start to see if it is something you might want to persue.

If you have a scroll saw, or are getting a scoll saw, you probably already have in mind what kind of scrolling you are going to want to do, Intarsia, Fretwork, Pictures, Wooden Signs or whatever. The next thing you will want are PATTERNS, and in the world of scrolling, patterns are EVERYWHERE. You can often buy them in specialty woodworking stores (seldom in home reno type stores) and the list of scroll saw patterns available on-line is insane. There are thousands and thousands of them to choose from.

If you want to find patterns or get more information from books, Amazon has an excellent Scroll Saw section. If you are just interested in scroll saw patterns, go back to your computer and  start up your Internet Browser and look up Scroll Saw Patterns and feast your eye on pages and pages of possible patterns for you to buy, or type in free scroll saw patterns and see what come up. There are lots and lots of sites offering free patterns for you to get started. 

So go ahead ... have some fun by doing something different with your woodworking and try out scroll sawing. You may get bitten by the scrolling bug like so many other like minded woodworkers ....

CopYright - Colin Knecht


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