Which scroll saw is best?
Whether you’re trying to develop a new skill or are seeking to invest in more tools to improve your creative business, scroll saws are an excellent addition to your home workshop. Their easy slicing of wood and other materials lets you create fascinating works of art. There are low-powered models for beginners and high-cost and efficient models for professionals.
The best scroll saw is the Jet JWSS-18B Scroll Saw. It has integrated blade storage and a dust port for easy dust management.
What to know before you buy a scroll saw
How it works
Scroll saws hold a short blade between a top and bottom arm that moves up and down at high speeds. The user then slowly pushes their material against the blade to cut out their chosen shape.
Scroll saws use one of three arm types: parallel, parallel link and C.
- Parallel arms are the most common. They hold blades nearly vertical and stop moving if the blade breaks.
- Parallel link arms are better but more expensive. They produce little vibration by converting horizontal motion into vertical motion.
- C arms are used in commercial scroll saws. They cut in a slight arc but are dangerous due to their tendency to continue running even if the blade breaks.
There are two elements of capacity: throat depth and cut thickness.
- Throat depth is the length between the blade and the back of the saw’s frame. Most have depths of 14-18 inches, but top-of-the-line saws can have depths as deep as 30 inches.
- Cut thickness is rarely different from roughly 2 inches.
What to look for in a quality scroll saw
Speed is measured in strokes per minute. Today’s scroll saws have variable speeds that let you cut at your own pace or make slicing through any given materials easier. The average range of speeds available is between 400 to 1,600 SPM, with the best saws letting you take advantage of the full range.
Being able to see what you’re sawing clearly is less about accuracy and more about safety. Better saws include working lights pointed directly at the saw. Others may include separate lights you can position freely.
If you spend long hours at the scroll saw, you can increase your efficiency by using a foot pedal. These allow you to turn the saw off and on and adjust the speed. Some saws include them, but most need to be purchased separately.
How much you can expect to spend on a scroll saw
Scroll saws can cost anywhere between $100 and thousands of dollars. Entry-level options typically cost $250 or less, while professional models start around $500-$1,000. You can find many excellent models for $250-$500.
Scroll saw FAQ
What is blade tension and why is it important?
A. Blade tension needs to be set just right to cut through wood effectively without damaging the blade, wood and anything else in the blade’s path. It’s set by adjusting the blade tension knob. A blade that’s too loose will bend as you try to cut, leading to a high risk of breaking. A blade that’s too tight can mostly cut as intended, but the high stress will also lead to a high risk of breaking. Blade tension needs to be adjusted the more you use a blade, as it will stretch out from use. With practice, you’ll be able to set blade tension properly, quickly and easily.
Can I cut more than wood with a scroll saw?
A. if you have the appropriate blade, you can cut many other materials. Softer metals such as bronze, aluminum and brass can be cut, but not harder metals like steel and iron. You can also cut plastic and rubber, and even bone.
Where can I find designs to cut out with my scroll saw?
A. In all manner of places, from books to the internet. Scroll saw-focused websites are a great option for finding patterns and connecting to and learning from experienced scroll saw users.
What’s the best scroll saw to buy?
Top scroll saw
What you need to know: This has enough power for a professional without being too much for a beginner to handle.
What you’ll love: The arm can tilt 45 degrees to the left and right, and it has a throat depth of 18 inches. It has a removable dust port and includes an onboard dust blower for simple dust management. It also has adjustable leveling feet and can be hooked up to an optional foot switch.
What you should consider: It’s among the pricier saws. A few consumers were unhappy with the amount of vibration the motor causes.
Top scroll saw for the money
What you need to know: This is a perfect starter saw. It has variable speed control that can be set between 400 and 1,600 strokes per minute and has a 16-inch throat depth.
What you’ll love: Thanks to the saw’s thumbscrew blade adapter, you can change the blades tool-free. It has a cast iron base, dust port, onboard storage and work light.
What you should consider: Professionals need more power and precision than this saw provides. A few consumers had issues with the work lights starting to strobe.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a good midrange saw for a more affordable price.
What you’ll love: The blade tension is easily adjustable, and the blades are simple to swap out. It operates smoothly and with little noise, plus consumers found the controls simple to understand. You can purchase it in packages with a stand, a light or both.
What you should consider: A few consumers had issues with the blade alignment becoming off-center. Others had issues with too much vibration at faster speeds.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.