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Unlike other power saws, most of which have round rotating blades designed for making straight cuts across lumber, scroll saws are typically the go-to machine for making puzzle pieces, wooden figurines, intarsia, and beveled edges.
Scroll saws have thin, bandlike blades that slice in an up-and-down motion, making it easy to follow curves or complex patterns. While it's not an essential tool for most DIYers, if you love to create intricate designs, make toys, or enjoy other detailed woodworking projects, this is a worthwhile saw to add to your tool collection.
Here are our favorite scroll saws in several categories.
Best Overall: DEWALT DW788 20-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw
The DEWALT DW788 is the whole package when it comes to scroll saws—this model is relatively quiet, easy to operate, and versatile enough to meet the needs of beginner and more discerning woodworkers alike.
One of the top overall scroll saws, the DEWALT DW788 has a throat depth of 20 inches that allows cuts up to 2 inches deep or as shallow as ¾ of an inch. It accepts only pinless (straight) blades, which may be a bit of a learning curve, but allows for easy, tool-free blade changes with less frustration.
The power switch, speed control, and tension lever are all conveniently located on the front of the upper arm and within easy reach as you work. The oversized cast iron table provides ample workspace for your projects, and the machine has a double parallel-link arm that helps reduce vibrations.
While the DEWALT DW788 isn’t the most robust scroll saw on the market, it’s an excellent option for woodworkers of any skill level and provides a wide array of options at a mid-range price point. Its simple operation and straight-forward design ensure that you’ll spend less time fiddling with the machine’s operation and more time creating the unique shapes and intricate cuts that a scroll saw is known for.
Best Budget: Ryobi SC165VS 16-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw
Make intricate woodworking cuts without gouging your budget by choosing a basic scroll saw like the Ryobi Corded Scroll Saw. This model features a 16-inch throat and tool-free blade changes to make life easier.
For less than $200, this budget scroll saw still offers plenty of useful features and versatility. A cast aluminum tilting table can be set between 0 and -45 degrees, which is useful for beveled projects like inlays and bowls. The machine also accepts either pinned or pinless blades, depending on your preference. A cast iron base supports the saw and minimizes machine movement, although you'll still have to deal with some vibration.
While this budget scroll saw may not be able to handle intense scrolling projects, it's a fine choice for basic woodworking crafts. Since it’s lightweight, it’s easy to move on and off the workbench. Choose the Ryobi 16-Inch Corded Scroll Saw if you’re looking for an affordable way to complete basic scrolling projects or want a scroll saw with a tilting table that won’t throw your budget off balance.
Best for Lightweight Tasks: Dremel Moto-Saw Variable-Speed Compact Scroll Saw
If you’re getting started with scrolling projects, shop around for a basic scroll saw that will give you all the essential features while skipping the pricier add-ons you aren’t likely to use. The Dremel Moto-Saw is a compact scroll saw that is perfect for woodwork hobbyists and more light-duty scroll saw users thanks to its versatility and easy operation.
This Dremel has variable speed settings that let you easily control the saw’s cutting motion, and it offers surprisingly quiet operation—which many people appreciate when using it for home crafts.
The Dremel Moto-Saw only uses pinned blades, which are easier and quicker to change than pinless blades. However, they limit the types of cuts you can do and are better for simpler projects. One other thing to know about this entry-level scroll saw is that it lacks a miter gauge or rip fence, but these can be purchased as add-ons through the manufacturer if desired.
A bonus of the Dremel Moto-Saw is that can be used in handheld mode, making it a go-anywhere coping saw.
Best for Larger Projects: Delta 40-694 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw
Tackle larger woodworking projects with a scroll saw that offers plenty of power and a greater throat depth. This 20-inch scroll saw from Delta Power Tools has more than enough room and oomph to handle projects of all shapes and sizes.
Model 40-694 from Delta is a scroll saw with a 20-inch throat, which allows for cutting wider pieces of wood than a 16-inch or 18-inch throat. The table tilts between 0 and 45 degrees to allow for beveling. Plus, for added convenience, the upper arm can be lifted and locked into position when making blade changes or adjusting blade angle. You'll appreciate speeds up to 1,750 strokes-per-minute to cut through even tough woods like walnut, and the dust hose efficiently keeps up with sawdust as you work, keeping pattern lines or the work surface free of dust and debris.
Out of the box, this scroll saw from Delta Power Tools will only accept pinless blades. If you want to use pinned blades, you’ll need to shop for an adapter.
Best with Stand: Porter-Cable PCB375SS 18-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw
Give your scroll saw a dedicated spot in your shop with a stand that elevates your work and gives the saw a sturdy place to sit. The Porter-Cable 18-inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw is our top pick for a scroll saw with included stand.
This saw features an 18-inch throat depth and variable speeds from 500 to 1,500 rpm. The cast-iron dual-tilt table has an easy-to-read bevel scale—a nice feature not found on many other scroll saws. The machine accepts both pinless and pinned blades and requires no tools for blade changes.
The scroll saw sits on a sturdy steel stand, saving you space on your workbench. While many scroll saws with a stand cost $500 or more, this model from Porter Cable comes in at under $300. It may not be as powerful or precise as the higher-end models of scroll saws, but it performs to most user’s expectations, and is notable for its lack of excessive vibration.
Best for Patterns: WEN 3921 16-inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw
If you enjoy pattern work, shop for a scroll saw with blades that can be inserted in two directions and variable speeds to allow for greater control. The WEN 3921 Scroll Saw is our top pick for a scroll saw for patterns.
This scroll saw accepts both pinned and pinless blades, allowing you the choice of blade type. Additionally, you can position the blades in a standard or 90-degree position, giving you more flexibility when following scrolling patterns. One thing to know is that pinless blade changes aren’t as easy on this scroll saw as some other models—the threading attachment is hard to reach and you’ll need an Allen wrench to complete the job.
Overall, the Wen 3921 has an impressive feel for its affordable price tag and it has the power and versatility needed to make basic cuts and shapes easily. It might not be the most high-powered or intricate scroll saw on the market, but the WEN 3921 wins for its versatile blade placement, variable speed sightings, and suitability as a basic pattern scroll saw.
Best for Intarsia: Jet 727200K 22-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw
To create the rich, detailed artwork of intarsia, you’ll need a scroll saw that combines power with intricate cutting abilities. The Jet 727200K Scroll Saw with Stand is a popular choice for intarsia enthusiasts and serious woodworkers.
Unlike many other scroll saws on the market, the Jet 727200K features a tilting arm instead of a tilting table. This makes it much easier to replace a worn blade with a fresh one that can keep up with the demands of intarsia woodworking. Blade changes are also simplified thanks to improved upper and lower blade holders—the upper mechanism will clamp and tension the blade simultaneously while the lower mechanism allows for tool-free blade changes.
A 5-year warranty protects your investment in this scroll saw. The 22-inch throat lets you easily cut larger pieces of wood, and the machine is robust enough to stand up to even hardwoods like mahogany. The included stand will make life easier as you tackle woodworking projects or your next intarsia creation. While this model costs more than your average scroll saw, it won’t disappoint intarsia fans or woodworkers looking to take their projects to the next level.
Best Splurge: Hegner M18-VM2ST 18-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw
If you’re looking for a scroll saw that will run circles around most other hobby saws on the market, check out the Hegner 18-inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw for the ultimate in quality and construction.
Widely regarded as one of the top scroll saws on the market, the industrial-looking Hegner model leaves no doubt that it’s capable of serious woodworking and crafts. An 18-inch throat provides plenty of clearance for most projects, and a dual-tilt saw table gives you easy cutting angles. The Hegner 18-V also is equipped with a Quicklock tension system that allows for a quick release when it’s time for a blade change.
The high price tag of more than $1,500 makes the machine more attractive to serious woodworkers than casual hobbyists, but either group can appreciate the smooth operation and precise cutting of the Hegner 18-V. It can even accept blades capable of fitting through a hole as small as 1/32 of an inch, giving you nearly limitless options for detailed work. The machine is backed by a 7-year warranty, which is one of the best warranty periods for any scroll saw on the market.
The Dewalt DW788 Scroll Saw (view at Amazon) is our top choice for several reasons. It’s easy to use, even for a beginner to this type of tool. It’s versatile, fairly quiet, and reliable. Perhaps that’s why it’s one of the bestselling scroll saws on the market today. But if cost is a major concern, you’ll find that the Ryobi Corded Scroll Saw (view at Amazon), while not as versatile or easy to use as our top choice, does meet the needs of most hobbyists and comes at a very reasonable price point.
What to Look for in a Scroll Saw
A scroll saw’s “throat” is the measurement from the blade to the back of the saw’s frame. The bigger a saw’s throat, the wider a piece of wood you’ll be able to cut without having to rotate the wood to reach the other side. The throat measurement is often part of a scroll saw’s product name.
There are scroll saws with throats as small as 12 inches and as large as 30 inches, but the majority are 16 to 20 inches. For most DIY and hobby projects, a throat of 16 or 18 inches is sufficient, but if you routinely work with very wide pieces of wood, you’ll want to go larger.
There are two basic types of scroll saw blades: pinned and pinless, also called plain. Some scroll saws only accept one or the other, while other saws accept both types.
Pinned blades are held in place by small pins at the end of the blade. The advantage of this type of blade is that it’s easy to switch out if you want to insert a different blade. The downsides are that there are fewer varieties of pinned blades and they tend to be thicker than pinless blades, so not as well suited to making very delicate cuts.
Pinless blades are held in place by small clamps. Some scroll saws require the use of a small tool to switch out these blades, making them a little less convenient than their pinned counterparts. However, there are many more types and sizes of pinless blades to choose from, and without the bulk of a pin, these blades are better suited to making delicate or complex cuts.
The speed of a scroll saw’s blade is measured in strokes per minutes. Some scroll saws, particularly lower-end or older models, have just one set speed, but it’s much better to have at least two speed settings, and best of all to have variable speeds so you can tailor the tool to your needs; generally, you’ll use a slower speed on softer woods and a higher speed for harder wood. A fairly common range for a variable-speed scroll saw is 400 spm to 1,800 spm.
Many scroll saws have tilting tables, which makes it much easier to cut wood or other materials at an angle, such as cutting bevels. The most common option is a 45-degree tilt to the left, but some saws tilt in both directions, which is very convenient if you do a lot of angled cuts.
What is a scroll saw used for?
Unlike most power saws, which typically have large round rotating blades, scroll saws have thin, ribbon-like blades that saw very rapidly in an up-and-down motion. This is definitely not the tool for making long cuts along thick materials, or even for performing basic cuts, such as crosscuts. Where the scroll saw shines is in performing cuts that are curved, intricate, or entirely contained within the material without extending out to the side. That makes scroll saws the tool of choice for cutting wood into toys, puzzles, jewelry boxes, and other detailed work. Scroll saws are also excellent for creating pieces for intarsia, which is an artform consisting of wooden pieces cut and fitted together like a mosaic.
But you aren’t limited to cutting wood with your scroll saw; this versatile tool also cuts through thin metal, plastic, plexiglass, and foam.
Can a scroll saw cut acrylic?
Scroll saws are very versatile tools that can cut through many materials, including wood, metal, and most types of plastics, including acrylic. To do so, you’ll want a blade that’s designed for cutting plastic. One such blade is a crown-tooth blade.
The trick to cutting acrylic successfully, however, is to prevent the buildup of heat. Because the saw blades generate a lot of friction, it’s very common for the acrylic to melt slightly and then reseal just a few seconds later, leaving you with uneven cut lines or even shattered acrylic. To avoid this, direct a fan towards your workbench while you cut, do not remove any protective backing paper from the acrylic until after it’s cut, set your saw to the lowest speed that still cuts effectively, and lubricate the saw blade before starting to make the cut.
How do you fix scroll saw vibration?
It’s normal for a scroll saw to vibrate, thanks to the rapid movements of the blade. Ideally, your scroll saw should feel something like a sewing machine in terms of vibration while in use on average materials. However, if your scroll saw is vibrating excessively, leaving you with tingling or numb hands, or is “walking” along your workbench due to the vibrations, there are some steps you can take to get things under control.
The first step you should take is to check that your saw blades are properly installed. Then make sure your scroll saw is firmly screwed down to your workbench; an unsecured scroll saw is prone to more vibration than normal, and might even move itself along your workbench, potentially leading to disaster.
If both of those steps check out, the next step is to check your tool’s counterweight. This will be near the base of the tool, and might be on the front or on the back, depending on the brand. If your saw doesn’t have a counterweight, you can add weight yourself with a small sandbag, dumbbell plate, or other heavy item that can be balanced at the base of the saw without interfering in any way with the blade action.
Another trick for dampening excessive vibration is placing a rubber mat, about the thickness of a mouse pad, underneath your scroll saw. You can even glue rubber “shock absorbers” under the legs of your workbench, which helps reduce vibration from all of your power tools.
If none of the above tips help, it is possible that your technique is causing the excessive vibrations. Running the saw too slowly, holding the material you are cutting too firmly on the saw, or pushing the material rather than letting the saw do the work for you all can add to the tool’s normal vibration level.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs.