FAQ: best scroll saw

When it comes to the parallel arm or parallel link system, work with what you feel best complements the projects you’ll work on. A general rule of thumb for blades is that saws taking pinless blades are thinner, narrower and offer you much a much better feel for intricate work. They will fit through small holes with ease.

Numbers up to 12 indicate the size of the blade and an “R” after the number shows the blade has reverse teeth. Double teeth blades and skip tooth blades are the most common types of scroll saw blade.  Double teeth blades give you a bit more control while skip tooth variants cut a little more aggressively. Blades with reverse teeth tend to make the wood jump slightly. #5 blades with double teeth make a solid starting point. Overall, though, blade choice is very much a matter of personal preference.

Flick the blade when it’s in the saw. Make sure, of course, that the motor is not running. If it gives off a high-pitched sound, your saw is properly tensioned. As a rule of thumb, more tension is better than not enough. That said, if you go over the top, you’ll dull the blade quickly. Loose blades mean you’ll dip out on control. Take the time to get the tension right.

It’s possible that the blade will slip out of the clamp. The upper clamp in particular can be vulnerable. Oil on the clamping surfaces is the main reason for this happening. One solution is to use some glass paper and sand the inside of the clamp to roughen it slightly. Cleaning inside with alcohol is another effective approach.

Get yourself some clear, 2-inch tape to mitigate burning. It occurs most frequently with hard or oily woods. Packaging tape works especially well. The chemical in it eases friction and puts paid to burning.

Rotating the workpiece gives you a rounded corner. If you use this method, stop cutting but ensure the saw is still running. Apply pressure to the back of the workpiece as you are turning so no wood is removed. Another approach is to cut into the corner then back out a little, perhaps ¼ inch. Turn the blade making certain the teeth are in the waste portion. Then start cutting a curve going outwards and into the corner. When a small piece falls out, this gives you adequate leeway to turn the blade and begin cutting away again.

Often, you’ll want to work with more than piece of wood. Put them together in 1-inch stacks. Secure them using tape or a framing nailer. This is a great way to get more done with ruthless efficiency.

Yes, you can. Blades without reverse teeth work best with Plexiglas. Polar blades are a strong choice. Also, make sure you use some 2-inch package tape. Pop some on the top and bottom then glue the pattern down. Dial the blade speed back to 700-800SPM for more control. Cut slowly at about half-speed and do not push the blade too hard.

The table can quite easily tilt without you being aware of it. Keep an eye out for this. A small square or protractor is the best tool for checking. Grab a scrap of wood and make a cut about 1/16 inch deep. Turn the wood around so it’s against the back of the blade. If the blade fits neatly into the kerf, the blade is square to the table. If not, make small adjustments until everything is lined up perfectly.

Fortunately, the scroll saw is one of the safest power tools you could use. Nevertheless, it pays to take sensible precautions. Wear goggles and a mask. Use the workpiece guard. Always keep your fingers well clear of the blade. Pay attention to loose cords. Ensure there’s no sawdust in the air. Don’t work in long, unbroken stints to avoid repetitive strain injury.

best scroll saw: Looking for more information?

Interested to learn more in-depth details about selecting the right tool for your needs? Read our Informational Buyer Guide and Frequently Asked Questions sections on this topic for more details.