Last Updated on 2022-02-10 by Harry Masterton
If you are starting or want to start in the wood scrolling hobby then you might be asking what is a scroll saw used for and what is a scroll saw used for in woodwork?
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As the name suggests, it traditionally was used for cutting scrollwork. What is a scroll saw used for besides scrolling? It is ideal for interior cutting since the saw blade can start cuts away from the board's edges.
What is a scroll saw used for in woodwork projects that beginners can do? The small reciprocating saw blade can cut tighter curves than a jigsaw, making it the go-to tool for decorations and wooden ornaments. Its stable platform and small saw blade are a great introduction to power tools for young woodworkers.
The best scroll saw for beginners offers safe and easy operations and allows you to create projects other saws would struggle to cut.
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- 1 What Is The Best Scroll Saw For Beginners?
- 1.1 What Is The Best Scroll Saw For The Money?
- 1.2 Best Professional Scroll Saw
- 1.3 Best Scroll Saw Book For Beginners
- 1.4 Best Budget Scroll Saw
- 1.5 Best Scroll Saw Under $150
- 1.6 BILT HARD 16-inch Variable Speed Two-Direction Cut Scroll Saw with LED Worklight
- 1.7 Rockwell RK7323 BladeRunner X2 Portable Tabletop Scroll Saw
- 1.8 Best Scroll Saw Under $200
- 1.9 WEN 3921 Two Direction 16 inch Scroll Saw With Variable Speed
- 1.10 ShopSeries RK7315 1 inch Scroll Saw with Variable Speed Control
- 1.11 BUCKTOOL SSA16LVF 16 inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Pedal Switch and Cast Iron Work Table
- 1.12 Shop Fox W1713 16 Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw With Work Light
- 1.13 Ryobi SC165VS in. Variable Speed Scroll Saw With Toolless Blade Change
- 1.14 What are the different types of scroll saw blades?
- 1.15 What is the difference between pinned blade and pinless blades?
- 1.16 Best Scroll Saw On A Budget
- 1.17 The Best Scroll Saw For Beginners – Our Picks and Recommendations
What Is The Best Scroll Saw For Beginners?
Things to consider when shopping for the best scroll saw for beginners:
- Budget constraints
- Your skill level
- Shop size
Finding a scroll saw for beginners is often based on budget constraints. New woodworkers have many things they need to stock up on and cuts into the money available to purchase a new power tool. That includes the blanks and lumber used when learning how to use a scroll saw for beginners.
Any budget for a scroll saw should include extra money for saw blades. Scroll blades are brittle, and they will snap during use. You need to have extra ready and keep various sizes to increase the versatility of your cutting.
Your skill level
The best scroll saw for beginners doesn't need to have all of the features found on top-tier power tools. A scroll saw for beginners should be easy to adjust and control during the cut. At this stage of your scrolling, micro-adjustments and presets on speed controls are not as important as a flat table and basic variable speed control in some fashion.
The projects that teach how to use a scroll saw for beginners can be made on a cheaper power tool with minimal throat clearance. Table adjustments are fine, but support is more critical than bevel adjustments on a scroll saw for beginners, especially with younger woodworkers.
When learning how to use a scroll saw for beginners, you need to keep in mind your workspace before selecting a particular model. A dedicated woodshop will have room for a full-sized power tool, including a floor stand, dust collection, and lighting. The garage or basement that shares space may need a portable benchtop design that can be moved and stored easily.
What Is The Best Scroll Saw For The Money?
What is the best scroll saw for the money – under $150
Many of the best scroll saw for beginners can be purchased for $150 or less. These will be small designs intended to secure onto a bench or floor stand.
Electric motors will draw just over an amp and have a speed range nearing 1,600 Strokes Per Minute (SPM). Support tables will adjust but offer minimal surface support. Throat depth will reach 16 inches maximum.
What is the best scroll saw for the money – under $200
For a little more money, you can upgrade the power and speed controls of the power tool. Electric motors will draw well over an amp and better variable speed controls.
The noticeable improvements tend to be with the quality of materials. Heavier designs will be larger, but you get extra table support with far less vibration. Throat clearance can go up to 20 inches, but 16 inches is still standard at this price.
Best Professional Scroll Saw
Paying over $200 upgrades your scroll saw with the latest features. Manufacturers use precision tables and powerful electric motors for serious woodworking coupled with material support and throat clearance. These scroll saws are designed for heavy-duty use all day long.
Best Scroll Saw Book For Beginners
You can have the best scroll saw for beginners and still not know what to do with it. There is plenty of scroll saw patterns for beginners available in books and online. That includes scroll saw projects for beginners that are easy to cut and assemble.
One consideration for the best scroll saw book for beginners is the “Scroll Saw Workbook.” Each chapter builds on skill and complexity, offering you a path for progress with several scroll saw patterns for beginners to use.
The best scroll saw books for beginners need to provide coverage of all facets of scrollwork. The “Big Book Of Scroll Saw Woodworking” includes over 60 scroll saw projects for beginners, ranging from fret-style work to intarsia. It provides you with a collection of articles published in Scroll Saw Woodworking and Crafts.
A popular theme for scroll saw patterns for beginners is wildlife. Creating silhouettes of animals is the theme of “North American Wildlife Patterns For the Scroll Saw.” These detailed scroll saw projects for beginners make add-on decorations for boxes, corner pieces, and stand-alone wall decorations.
The goal of most scroll saw books is to provide patterns that you can copy onto a piece of wood before cutting. There could be repeated scrollwork patterns in some publications, but you will find unique projects in most books. Serious scroll saw users often have an ever-growing collection of books, photocopy pages, and cut-out images that can transfer to the face of a piece of wood.
Best Budget Scroll Saw
We start our look at the best scroll saw for beginners in the budget range. The purpose of the best budget scroll saw is to get you to work while saving you cash.
These power tools will be from less expensive materials. That can leave textures or rough edges, and you will notice more vibration transfer.
Extra features will be minimal, with a small electric motor and a throat clearance of 16 inches. The power tools in this range will offer you variable speed control, but the speed range can be limited.
The best budget scroll saw designs are designed for occasional woodworking and should be fine for DIYers and beginning woodworkers. More experienced users will feel limited by these designs and will want to upgrade their current scroll saw. Budget products tend to underperform in serious wood shops and manufacturing settings that require continuous operation.
Best Scroll Saw Under $150
BILT HARD 16-inch Variable Speed Two-Direction Cut Scroll Saw with LED Worklight
Recommended for: Beginners wanting to try out scrolling will find this entry-level product a really viable alternative to other named brands.
BILT is a newer brand name in power tools and offers this scroll saw that measures 24.6 x 10.8 x 11.8 inches. It weighs about 24 pounds, which is lighter than some models. The tool's footprint is average for this size of scroll saw, so you will not need extra space to store or use it compared to other 16-inch designs.4.6 out of 5.0 stars
BILT HARD 16-inch Scroll Saw – Features
A 1.2-amp electric motor drives the reciprocating blades on this model. A variable speed controller allows you to adjust between 550 and 1,600 strokes per minute. That range is sufficient for reciprocating cuts without damaging the wood or wearing the blade too quickly through heat build-up.
BILT HARD 16-inch Scroll Saw – Things We Like
- It is equipped with a 1.2-amp induction style electric motor. That is plenty of power generation to scroll through thinner stock that beginner and intermediate projects use;
- Variable speed adjustments range from 550 to 1,600 strokes per minute. You will not experience bogging unless you cut near the two-inch maximum in dense woodgrain;
- Red lettering used on the table tilt guide. The color provides enough contrast against the metal to make the gauge easy to read.
BILT HARD 16-inch Scroll Saw – Not So Good
- You will experience a lot of vibration using this scroll saw. It is a common experience for entry-level tools designed to save money over performance considerations;
- The design uses stamped steel for the table surface, which can flex during use. It may not be an issue except for fine cuts where support is critical to prevent breakage.
Rockwell RK7323 BladeRunner X2 Portable Tabletop Scroll Saw
The best scroll saw for beginners can provide you with versatility, and the BladeRunner is no exception. It measures 16.1 x 17.5 x 8.3 inches and weighs only 15 pounds. That makes it a highly portable power tool that one person can move anywhere on the job and between job sites.
Rockwell RK7323 – Features4.2 out of 5.0 stars
One way that Rockwell reduced the scroll saw's weight was the material used for the housing and the tabletop. The design uses impact-resistant plastic. It will not provide the same strength as metal and may crack and scratch easily to other power tools.
While some customers have left less-than-stellar reviews online, it is fair to point out that the impression you get is that these reviews highlight their expectations versus reality. Rockwell does not advertise this as an alternative to a full-sized scroll or table saw. The BladeRunner is a cheap and mobile alternative for use on the job site to make small and intricate cuts.
Outside of portability, we liked the versatility of cuts that the BladeRunner offers users. You can use the scroll saw to make a guided cross, rip, and miter cut. A fence guard, miter gauge, and riving knife perform the same way they would on a full-sized table saw.
Rockwell RK7323 – Things We Like
- The Rockwell RK7323 is one of the most portable scroll saws available. The lightweight design is also compact, making it easy to store in your vehicle.
- You can cut metals with it. The manufacturer has designed it to be used to cut various metals along with woods.
- Rockwell's design functions like a miniature table saw. You can perform guided cross, rip, mitered, and scroll cuts on the BladeRunner model.
Rockwell RK7323 – Not So Good
- The housing and table are made from hard plastic. The material makes the saw easy to carry, but it is not as durable as metal.
- You are limited to only 1.5 inches of thickness. You will not be able to use lumber thicker than most framing materials.
Rockwell RK7323 BladeRunner Video
Best Scroll Saw Under $200
WEN 3921 Two Direction 16 inch Scroll Saw With Variable Speed
The best scroll saw for beginners might be the two-directional 3921 from WEN. It measures 26.4 x 13.0 x 14.75 inches and weighs 27.5 pounds.4.6 out of 5.0 stars
WEN 3921 – Features
The power tool is made from cast iron, giving strength and allowing it to absorb some of the vibrations generated during operations.
It has a teardrop-shaped table with maximum dimensions of 11.0 in width and 16.0 inches in depth. The table insert offers plenty of clearance when removed while staying flush with the tabletop when in place. Rough edges can be found on this budget-friendly design but should not damage your projects.
The throat size or throat depth on the WEN 3921 is 16 inches which is pretty standard for this class of saw
The standout feature of this scroll saw is the two-directional blade holding system. You can install your pinned saw blades in a normal position, which offers the best table support during cuts. The pinned saw blade can install at 90-degrees, allowing you to cut from the side and allowing rip cuts longer than the throat depth of 16 inches.
A container along the left side of the scroll saw housing where you can store saw blades. The flexible dust blower makes sure that your work piece and work surface remain saw dust free at all times. Reviewers quote this as a favorite feature allowing a precise cut particularly if you're following a pattern.
WEN 3921 – Things We Like
- Two-directional blade holding. The setup allows you to install the saw blade in the normal position and at 90-degrees, which allows you to make longer rip cuts beyond the 16-inch throat size.
- Can be equipped with either pinned or pinless saw blades. The pinless blade connectors use thumbscrews and hold the blade snuggly once tightened.
- It includes a saw blade storage compartment on the left side of the scroll saw. That allows you to keep blades handy and makes changeouts quick and easy.
- We also like the tool free blade changing feature which makes changing blades and achieving the correct blade tension quick and easy
WEN 3921 – Not So Good
- The foot lock clamp uses cheap materials. It can become misaligned or bent easily, which can mar your project when it makes contact.
- Its pinless saw blade holder takes longer to use. You need to attach the holder on each end of the saw blade and then attach those to the scroll saw.
ShopSeries RK7315 1 inch Scroll Saw with Variable Speed Control
Spending a little extra money on the best scroll saw for beginners will provide you with subtle changes for more results. The RK7315 measures 26.0 x 16.0 x 26.0 inches and weighs about 27 pounds. It represents a mid-sized power tool that compares favorably to the budget-friendly models in several ways.
4.4 out of 5.0 stars
ShopSeries RK7315 – Features
Cast aluminum makes up the housing and table. It provides durability and reduces weight. That also increases the vibrations you will feel, notably when you cut at higher Strokes Per Minute.
The table is similar in shape and size to most budget scroll saws. We were surprised to note that this model only provides tilt to the left, however. You will find the other controls and knobs on this machine easy to read and operate.
Two carbide blades get you started, and the saw blades have a stroke of 4/5 inches. A clearance of 2.5 inches lets you work on most materials a beginner will use, and the 16-inch throat clearance is adequate.
ShopSeries RK7315 – Things We Like
- A longer stroke length compared to similar products. The extra length provided by the 4/5 inch stroke means that more of your saw blade makes contact with the wood.
- It uses large knobs for adjustments. The knobs are easier to use than smaller levers or knobs without wings.
- Die cast aluminum housing compromises between weight and durability. You will get a scroll saw that holds up to use and is easier to move around than a cast-iron design.
ShopSeries RK7315 – Not So Good
- The support table only angles to one side. You might not be affected by this as much as others, but it is worth noting that you can only tilt to the left side of the power tool.
- You will experience vibration transfer, especially when cutting at higher Strokes Per Minute. That is due to the aluminum housing and the back foot design.
BUCKTOOL SSA16LVF 16 inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Pedal Switch and Cast Iron Work Table
Making tweaks to standard designs can make the best scroll saw for beginners, including those found on the BUCKTOOL scroll saw. It measures 24.6 x 11.0 x 13.4 inches and weighs nearly 34.4 pounds. The extra weight comes from the cast-iron support table and gives this saw a huge amount of stability whilst working.
BUCKTOOL SSA16LVF – Features4.4 out of 5.0 stars
BUCKTOOL uses cast aluminum for the housing and cast iron for the tabletop. That provides adequate strength and reduced overall weight while offering a support surface that stays flat. Its support table measures 16 inches in depth but is not very wide at 9 inches.
The manufacturer has created a vibration-free LED light housing. It sits snuggly against the top of the arm and will not wobble as many flexible work lights do. Our only issue is that it mounts to the right side and may cast shadows on thicker pieces of wood along the left side.
A foot pedal power switch lets you keep your hands on delicate parts while turning it on or off.
BUCKTOOL SSA16LVF – Things We Like
- Peddle controls that allow you to start and stop the electric motor. You can keep your hands on delicate projects so that they will not become damaged by small shifts from hand movement.
- An LED light housing that reduces movement from vibration. Less vibrating will prevent the awkward jiggling that produces eye fatigue when using some attached work lights.
- A cast-iron support table is great feature of this saw which provides more accurate support and reduces vibration transfer from the scroll saw to you or the bench or work surface supporting it.
BUCKTOOL SSA16LVF – Not So Good
- Its vibration-free design for the LED limits the light's mobility. You have a limited range of positions that the light moves, leaving potential shadows across thicker workpieces.
- The tabletop is only 9 inches in width. We find that the wider support surfaces are helpful, especially for someone starting with scrollwork and ornament making.
BUCKTOOL SSA16LVF Video
Shop Fox W1713 16 Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw With Work Light
The best scroll saw for beginners should be easy to use. Shop Fox's simple scroll saw measures 12.8 x 26.4 x 15.9 inches and weighs 37.5 pounds. It is another example of using aluminum housings to reduce weight and a cast-iron table for precision support.
Shop Fox W1713 – Features
4.3 out of 5.0 stars
As we mentioned previously, Shop Fox uses cast aluminum and iron in combination for this power tool. The support table measures 10.0 x 16.25 inches, which is an improvement compared to similar products. Extra support surface aids beginners, flat or when cutting at a table angle.
You can use pinned or pinless saw blades, and it is worth noting that they are easy to change out on this scroll saw.
Shop Fox W1713 – Things We Like
- The table insert is well-designed. It may seem simple, but the insert sits properly, and the gaps on it allow for sawdust to drop below for removal.
- Controls and gauges are easy to read. That can be handy with shadows or low-light conditions in your basement or garage.
- The dust port and blower work adequately for keeping debris away from the workpiece. The solid tubing on the dust blower seems to work better than the materials used for some flexible blowers.
Shop Fox W1713 – Not So Good
- The 1.2 amp electric motor is not the best in its class. It will bog down under workloads, and you might notice it heat a bit with extended run times.
- Its adjustment knobs feel like a weak point in the tool's design. The hard plastic can strip if too much pressure is applied, and the wings on some knobs feel like they might crack or break off.
Ryobi SC165VS in. Variable Speed Scroll Saw With Toolless Blade Change
The best scroll saw for beginners will provide you with security, and novices will appreciate the three-year warranty on this scroll saw. It measures 26.57 x 12.99 x 15.15 inches and weighs about 26.5 pounds.
Ryobi SC165VS – Features4.3 out of 5.0 stars
Cast aluminum and iron are combined to create a balance between portability and support. The support table is precision machined and has clean edges.
An induction motor will last for a long time in your shop, and it should provide consistent output. That said, keep in mind that the highest Strokes Per Minute you will get out of this scroll saw is 1.650.
The layout on this scroll saw is aligned to prevent things from getting in the way of each other. It favors right-handed users, but even lefties will appreciate Ryobi's intent. Everyone should notice how smooth the metal is, as there are no rough edges or uneven surfaces on the power tool.
Ryobi SC165VS – Things We Like
- The scroll saw's electric motor is an induction design. That design increases motor longevity and should provide consistent output.
- All features align to favor right-seated operators. The tilt, hose attachment, controls, and blade holders are consistent in layout.
- Ryobi provides a three-year warranty on this scroll saw. That is longer than many of the other products that a beginner will be researching.
Ryobi SC165VS – Not So Good
- The aluminum housing does vibrate and move. You will need to bolt this power tool down, or it will creep around the table while you work.
- It only generates up to 1,650 Strokes Per Minute. That is under ideal conditions and will be lower when cutting thick lumber or hardwoods.
What are the different types of scroll saw blades?
We covered this subject in depth in our band saw vs scroll saw article but these are basically the 7 main types of blade which are
- The Standard Tooth Blade.
- The Skip tooth Blade.
- The Double-tooth Blades.
- The Reverse Skip-tooth Blades.
- The Precision-ground Blade
- And Finally The Spiral Blade or round blade type for rougher cutting.
The scroll saw blade is most important component of successful scroll sawing
What is the difference between pinned blade and pinless blades?
Scroll saws will normally accept one of two types of blades either pinned or pinless blades. The pinless or plain end blade are sometimes known as unpinned blades. The pin end blade will feature cross pin at each end of the blade. The pin fits into a corresponding slot or adaptor whilst an unpinned blades are held with a blade clamp and is the big difference between a plain end blade and the pin end blade.
Best Scroll Saw On A Budget
Those new to the hobby might wonder what is a scroll saw used for in woodwork. Intricate scrollwork used on DIY projects and fun decorations can be easy to make with the best scroll saw for beginners.
You will not have to spend a lot of money on a scroll saw so getting started in the scrolling hobby needn't be expensive but we would recommend as always to future proof any woodworking power tool purchase by always ‘buying up' from the model you may think will suit your needs now. That way as your skills grow then the capabilities of the saw will match them.
These power tools tend to be less expensive than table saws or fancy miter saw products.
The best scroll saw for beginners will provide you with material support and bevel cutting ability. Dust removal, lighting, variable speed controls, and fast blade changes to keep you working and having fun.
The most in demand features for hobbyist scrollers as the complexity and size of your scroll saw project grows are:
- Front end blade tensioning lever
- Tilting table for an angled cut or bevel cuts particularly for marquetery
- For finer scrolling an accurate cut is essential so for an intricate cut look for an over head work light and flexible dust blower to keep the saw table clear
- Electronic variable speed is also on the wish list of many hobbyists but that normally comes with expensive parallel arm machines like the DeWalt 788
Power tools improve our enjoyment of woodworking. Selecting the right product will help you create intricate work you never thought possible as a beginner. The next time someone asks you, “What is a scroll saw used for,” you can show them instead of talking about it!
The Best Scroll Saw For Beginners – Our Picks and Recommendations
There are of course much more expensive scroll saws on the market but this review is looking at the best scroll for beginners so we have purposely kept all the scroll saws we have reviewed under $200 because that is a great price point for a beginners scroll saw.
Overall for features and price the WEN 3921 comes out tops in this list of best budget scroll saw for beginners and is our Recommended Best Buy with by far the most positive user comments and feedback with the Bucktool 16 inch SSA16LVF a very close second. We also like the ShopSeries RK7315 and beginners have reported that it's a great entry level machine. If you don't like the light on the Bucktool then the ShopSeries RK7315 will be a great choice.
If you really want to splash out on the best scroll saw on the market or the best scroll saw under $500 then check out our full reviews here.