Best scroll saw reviews 2018
DEWALT DW788 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll SawVariable speed operation
Industrial-grade scroll saw provides smooth, accurate cuts thanks to its unique arm design.
DEWALT DW788 Review
From unique trim pieces to custom jigsaw puzzles, the DEWALT DW788 brings all the versatility expected from the best scroll saw on the market.
This dependable tool boasts a unique arm design that pivots from the back to the front of the saw, shortening its movement for quieter and smoother operation. Furthermore, the dual parallel-link arm also reduces vibrations and noise, improving both accuracy and comfort.
Easy to operate thanks to an ergonomic positioning of all controls, the scroll saw comes with an oversized cast-iron table that bevels to both sides and provides great material support.
A tool-free blade clamp also makes it easy to change the blades whenever needed. Powerful and easy to operate by amateurs and experts, the DEWALT DW788 is unlikely to disappoint.
Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll SawDependable 1/8-horsepower motor
Great no-load speed up to 1,700 SPM appeals to amateur and professionals alike.
Shop Fox W1713 Review
The Shop Fox W1713 comes at an attractive price point and boasts best-in-class qualities, two characteristics that make it a great choice if you’re looking for both convenience and power.
Driven by a 1/8-horsepower motor that delivers a variable speed from 550 to 1,700 SPM at no load, the scroll saw is capable of handling all DIY and commercial demands in a breeze.
Compatible with plain and pin blades and tilting at 45°, the scroll blade is also equipped with a dust blower, dust port, and gooseneck work light.
Powerful and durable thanks to its cast iron construction, the Shop Fox W1713 is the best scroll saw to buy.
Porter-Cable PCB375SS Variable Speed Scroll Saw with StandPatented bevel scale
Tool-less blade holder and upfront knob-controlled variable speeds ensure a quick and smooth operation.
Porter-Cable PCB375SS Review
Running at speeds up to 1,500 SPM and easy to operate thanks to its upfront knob control, the Porter-Cable PCB375SS is perfect for the hobbyist and can easily handle heavier duty demands.
Compatible with pin or plain 5-inch blades and coming with a tool-less blade holder, the scroll saw is easy to adjust to the needs of each project while the built-in LED work lamp allows for precision cutting on detailed workpieces.
Perhaps the best feature of this tool is the patented bevel scale and dual tilting aluminum table that allow for precise bevel cuts up to 45°.
Perfect for mid-duty work but withstanding occasional heavier demands, this scroll saw is perfect for a DIYer’s workshop.
WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll SawVersatile ripping capacity
Budget-friendly scroll saw handles wood up to 2 inches thick and accepts blades in standard and 90-degree directions.
WEN 3920 Review
The WEN 3920 is one of the most affordable scroll saws, but the manufacturer didn’t compromise on quality.
Cutting at speeds from 400 to 1,600 SPM and tilting to 45° for angled cuts, the unit comes with a sturdy cast iron base, flex light, and dust port, plus three blades.
Its 16×11-inch table is spacious enough to accommodate larger workpieces, and despite tilting only to the left, it makes the machine suitable for a host of applications.
Affordable and powerful, the WEN 3920 appeals to the hobbyist and is no doubt one of the best budget scroll saws for the amateur.
2. Why invest in a scroll saw?
A scroll saw is traditionally used for craft wood cutting, such as cutting curves or intricate shapes, angles, and dovetail joints. But besides its traditional use, this machine serves other purposes too.
With the right blades, you can use it to cut:
- Mother pearl
3. Scroll saw speed
Scroll saws may come with one, two, or fully adjustable speeds from around 400 to 1,800 strokes per minute (SPM). At first glance, it would seem that fully adjustable speeds make the machine more versatile, but the truth is that most DIYers could work well with a single-speed or dual (low and high) speed scroll saw depending on the materials you intend to cut.
If you’re working mostly with one type of material, a single-speed scroll saw can serve you well and is the cheapest. Dual-speed scroll saws still come at attractive price points and offer sufficient flexibility to the amateurs who want to cut various types of materials including soft wood, hard wood and metals.
- Slower speeds around 400 to 800 SPM are employed when cutting soft wood, but also to achieve more accurate cuts.
- Higher speeds between 1,200 and 1,800 SPM are typically used to cut hard wood or metal.
Hand vs. foot scroll saw speed adjustment
Operating the scroll saw requires you to use either a hand or your foot to adjust the speed.
- Foot pedal scroll saws: Are safer than the hand adjustment models and allow you to use both hands to hold the workpiece. Turning the saw on and off and adjusting the speed is easy without distracting you from work.
- Hand adjustment scroll saws: Is often employed by professionals who need finer adjustments, but it is unsafe and may cause injuries.
4. Scroll saw table tilt
A tilting table allows you to perform accurate bevel cuts, ensuring your workpieces match perfectly.
- Most entry-level and some mid-range machines come with tables that can tilt in just one direction, either to the left or to the right.
- Commercial scroll saws can typically tilt in both directions.
Most machines tilt to an angle of 45°, although there are exceptions.
5. Best scroll saw blades
The blades can make or break the deal when searching for the best scroll saw. There are two types of blades:
- Plain-head blades: Are used by most woodworkers due to their resistance and blade variety. They work great in tight spaces and are resistant, but they are harder to install.
- Pin-head blades: Are easier to change than plain-head, but they lack model variety and break easily. They also struggle to work in tight spaces, and most woodworkers avoid them.
Types of blade teeth
There are essentially seven types of scroll saw blades:
- Standard blades: Come with equally sized teeth positioned at even distances. These blades are constructed for either wood or metal; the former has larger teeth positioned at larger distances, whereas the latter has smaller teeth closer to one another.
- Skip-tooth blades: Are similar to the standard, but every other tooth is missing. The larger distance between the teeth promotes a better temperature management, keeping the blade cooler.
- Reverse skip-tooth blades: Very similar to the skip-tooth, this blade has some of the last bottom teeth pointing upwards instead of downwards. The design prevents premature tear out or splintering when cutting plywood.
- Double-tooth blades: Also similar to the skip-tooth, this blade has a larger space between every two teeth, providing smoother cuts.
- Spiral blades: Consist of multiple blades twisted in a spiral. This design ensures there are teeth on all sides of the blade, allowing you to cut in all directions without turning the workpiece. However, you won’t be able to use them to cut sharp corners and leave a very rough surface.
- Precision-ground blades: Another type of blade similar to the skip-tooth but equipped with small and very sharp teeth that leave a smooth finish when cutting in straight line. They are aggressive and less suitable for beginners.
- Crown-tooth blades: Among the latest scroll blade designs, the crown-tooth have teeth shaped like a crown with a space between each crown. Because of the innovative design of the teeth, you can position the blade either way in the saw, and although they cut slower, they provide great results on wood and other materials, including plastic.
Apart from the blades above which are more suitable for wood, there are many specialty scroll saw blades designed for cutting metal, plastics, and other materials.
6. Blade tensioning
Operating a scroll saw means making frequent blade tensioning adjustments to ensure the blade will cut smoothly. That’s why it is important to choose a scroll saw that allows for a quick blade tensioning.
Some machines come with tensioning levers, others with knobs, but regardless of the tensioning mechanism, you should check:
- The material it is made from and its sturdiness
- Ease of use
The best scroll saws come with blade tensioning knobs located at the head of the unit, but don’t take this for granted. Many models, especially in the 16-inch range, come with tensioning knobs or levers located at the back of the unit which are very hard to access.
7. Other features to consider
A series of other features can make using your scroll saw much more enjoyable.
- Dust collection: Almost all scroll saws come with a dust collection system that can be either blow tube or compressor. The blow tube units tend to be more versatile due to the tube’s flexibility.
- Blade storage: Unless you’re planning to cut the same material and type of workpiece over and over again, you’ll most likely use a variety of blades. The best scroll saws come with integrated blade storage.
- Lubrication: High-end scroll saws typically come with greaseless bearings and bushings, but it’s good to check before you buy.
- Work light: Cutting intricate details or making curves cuts require a lot of attention. Integrated work lights illuminate your workpiece, increasing the precision.
- Tool stand: Scroll saws come either as tabletop or standalone units with integrated stands. The stand could be useless if you have plenty of bench space; standalone models, however, typically come with adjustable legs that allow you to adjust them at the most comfortable height.
- Rising top arm: Is essential for fret work, making cutting more comfortable.
- Quick clamps: Different projects may require different blades, and being able to change them easily can make a difference. The best scroll saws come with quick clamps that allow for a quick release and tightening of the blade.