Here Are the Best Scroll Saws for Precise Woodworking Projects

The DEWALT DW788 is easy to use, versatile, and accurate

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The Spruce / Amelia Manley

Unlike other power saws, most of which have round rotating blades designed for making straight cuts across lumber, scroll saws have straight blades, and are typically the go-to machine for making puzzle pieces, wooden figurines, intarsia, and beveled edges. Johnny Pastos, founder of Pastos Co, a sustainable furniture company, remarks, "Scroll saws are great to create those detailed cuts, but avoid two big mistakes. 1. Do not use a scroll saw like a band saw. The blade is not big enough to cut thick pieces of wood. 2. Do not underestimated the small size of a scroll saw blade, as it will cause as much damage as any other sharp tool in your workshop. Treat it with respect!”

We evaluated scroll saws based on accuracy, ease of use, power, versatility, and extra features. Our top pick is the DEWALT DW788, which is a versatile scroll saw well-suited to the needs of beginners or more experienced woodworkers alike.

Here are our favorite scroll saws in several categories.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: DEWALT DW788 20-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

4.7
DEWALT DW788 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Very accurate cuts

  • Reduced vibration

  • Easy to adjust

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat expensive

Who else recommends it? Bob Vila and Family Handyman both picked the DEWALT 20-Inch Scroll Saw.


What do buyers say? 88% of 1,400+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

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. 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.

Throat: 20 inches | Max. Strokes-Per-Minute: 1,750 | Blade Type: Pinless | Variable Speed: Yes

Best for Beginners: Ryobi SC165VS 16-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw

ryobi-saw
Courtesy of Home Depot.
What We Like
  • Fairly light in weight

  • Tilting table

  • Good for beginners or basic DIY projects

What We Don't Like
  • Few complaints about blades not holding in place well

If you are new to scroll saws, you want a tool that is reasonably priced, fairly easy to use, and without too many bells and whistles that might be intimidating to a beginner. You'll find all of those features in the Ryobi 16-Inch Variable-Speed 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. This is a great entry-level 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.

Throat: 16 inches | Max. Strokes-Per-Minute: 1,600 | Blade Type: Pinless or pinned | Variable Speed: Yes

Best for Lightweight Tasks: Dremel Moto-Saw Variable-Speed Compact Scroll Saw

Moto-Saw

Dremel

What We Like
  • Can be used as handheld coping saw

  • Clamps onto most worktables or benches

What We Don't Like
  • Only for small or lightweight projects

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. 

Throat: 10 inches | Max. Strokes-Per-Minute: 2,250 | Blade Type: Pinned | Variable Speed: Yes

Best for Larger Projects: Delta 40-694 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw

20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw

Delta Power Tools

What We Like
  • Powerful performance

  • Handles large projects

  • Tilting table

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

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.

Throat: 20 inches | Max. Strokes-Per-Minute: 1,750 | Blade Type: Pinless | Variable Speed: Yes

Best for Intarsia: Excalibur 16-Inch Tilting Head Scroll Saw

16-Inch Tilting Head Scroll Saw

Excalibur

What We Like
  • Tilting head

  • Easy to adjust tension and blade depth

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Most scroll saws have a blade that remains in a vertical position and a table that tilts to allow the user to create angled cuts. Not so the Excalibur 16-Inch Tilting Head Scroll Saw; this scroll saw has a tilting head, which means that you can angle the blade just how you want it for creating angled or intricate cuts. The blade head can be angled up to 30 degrees to the left and 45 degrees to the right. That's a huge plus if you enjoy making intarsia—mosaic-like pictures made from cut pieces of wood—or other delicate wood crafts.

Of course, the Excalibur has other great features as well, including variable speeds from 400 to 1,400 spm, The saw has a 16-inch throat and can cut to a maximum thickness of 2 inches. Changing the pinless blades is a snap, as is adjusting the blade's mounting position. The 1.3-amp motor keeps the saw humming at a steady, smooth pace, allowing you the freedom to focus on your craft, not your tool.

Throat: 16 inches | Max. Strokes-Per-Minute: 1,400 | Blade Type: Pinless | Variable Speed: Yes

Best Budget: WEN 3921 16-inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw

16-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw

WEN

What We Like
  • Blades can be positioned in two positions

  • Tilting table

  • Reasonable price

What We Don't Like
  • Some complaints about vibration

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 not only very reasonably priced, it's also a great choice if you enjoy cutting out detailed 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 settings, and suitability as a basic pattern scroll saw.

Throat: 16 inches | Max. Strokes-Per-Minute: 1,600 | Blade Type: Pinless or pinned | Variable Speed: Yes

Best with Worklight: Shop Fox W1872 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

W1872 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Shop Fox

What We Like
  • Includes flex-shaft rotary tool

  • Hold-down shoe to keep material steady while it's cut

What We Don't Like
  • Some complaints of vibration

Creating careful, detailed cuts requires excellent lighting. If your workshop doesn't provide that, or if you simply prefer to have better illumination while you work, then the Shop Fox W1872 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw is the tool for you. Of course, it's built-in, adjustable LED work light isn't it's only great feature; this scroll saw also has a foot pedal that allows you to start and stop the saw without having to lift your hands to work a control. That's helpful when cutting very delicate designs. Plus, the 1/6-horsepower motor provides variable speeds of 550 to 1,600 spm.

The 16-inch throat is accompanied by a maximum 2-1/4-inch cutting depth, a cast-aluminum table that can tilt from -5 to 45 degrees, and a dust port that can attach to your shop vac. The saw accepts pinned or pinless blades, and has an X/Y axis miter gauge for accurate angled cuts. It even includes a flexible rotary tool attachment for extra versatility. All in all, this is a handy tool for any crafter, woodworker, or DIYer's workshop.

Throat: 16 inches | Max. Strokes-Per-Minute: 1,600 | Blade Type: Pinless or pinned | Variable Speed: Yes

Best for Making Toys: Bucktool 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Bucktool

What We Like
  • Large worktable

  • Smooth performance with little vibration

  • Foot pedal

What We Don't Like
  • Few complaints that it's difficult to change blades

If you mostly use a scroll saw to make wooden toys, puzzles, blocks, or similar items, you'll appreciate the Bucktool 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw, which has a foot pedal that allows you to start and stop the saw without having to lift your hands away from the wood piece. Plus, the tool has a large steel 18.2 by 11.5-inch worktable which can tilt up to 45 degrees to the left, giving you plenty of room for work while making beveled cuts.

But what you'll like most about the Bucktool scroll saw if you're a toymaker is its smooth, quiet, and very-low-vibration performance, which makes it ideal for small, detailed projects that require concentration. This scroll saw has a 16-inch throat and can cut to a maximum thickness of 2 inches. Its variable speed control ranges from 550 to 1,600 spm. The tool has a work light and onboard blower to keep debris away from your cut line. You can use either pinned or pinless blades, and no tools are required to change them.

Throat: 16 inches | Max. Strokes-Per-Minute: 1,600 | Blade Type: Pinless or pinned | Variable Speed: Yes

Final Verdict

The Dewalt DW788 Scroll Saw 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, 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

Throat Size

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.

Blade Type

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 they are better suited to making delicate or complex cuts.

Speed

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.

Table Tilt

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.

FAQ
  • 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 is edited and updated 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. For this roundup, she considered dozens of scroll saws, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer feedback. Further input came from Johnny Pastos, founder of Pastos Co, a sustainable furniture company.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The Best Scroll Saws of 2022. Bob Vila. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-scroll-saw/

  2. Best Scroll Saws for 2022. Family Handyman. https://www.familyhandyman.com/list/best-scroll-saws/