Choosing and Using a Scroll Saw
Midrange models offer a wide range of capabilities
Synopsis: Scroll saws are not just for hobbyists who make fretwork, bookends, and knickknacks. Professional furniture maker Paul Schürch uses his to rough out dovetails, cut mortise-and-tenon templates, make furniture mock-ups, and for specialized inlay and marquetry cuts. In this product overview, he explains how to set up and use a scroll saw. He also reviews five midrange saws: The Delta 40-680, DeWalt DW788, Dremel 1800 Scroll Station, Grizzly G0537, and PS Wood Machines 21-in. saw.
The scroll saw holds extremely fine blades under tension, allowing it to do jobs that no other motorized saw can do. Unfortunately, many woodworkers think that a scroll saw is only for hobbyists who make fretwork, bookends, whirligigs, and knickknacks. As a professional furniture maker, I’ve found the machine much more useful than that, and I believe it makes a valuable addition to any woodworking shop.
I use a scroll saw to rough out dovetails, to cut mortise-andtenon templates, to make small mock-ups of furniture I am designing, and to make cuts particular to marquetry, such as cutting “packets” of multiple layers of veneer. I’ve also cut material such as shell, bone, sheet brass, pewter, and copper for decorative hardware and inlay. It is even possible to cut 1⁄8-in.-thick glass for a curvy door panel using a barbed diamond-wire blade, or to perform detail sanding and polishing using small belts attached to the scroll saw like a blade.
It is true that most scroll-saw users don’t focus on furniture making. But decorative fretwork and intarsia (a picture made of various woods, of various thicknesses) certainly qualify as woodworking. Some professionals also make a living gluing pictures onto seven-ply, 1⁄4-in. aircraft-grade plywood and scrolling beautiful puzzle patterns. If these areas interest you, there are clubs devoted to scroll-sawing, and scores of books…