Last updated on:
The scroll saw is an essential tool for making precise, decorative cuts in wood. You may be familiar with scroll saws from shop class in high school, but when it comes to picking the right one to purchase for yourself, there are many things to consider. What is throat length? How much throat length do you need? You’ll also want to consider power, blade speed, tabletop tilt, and more. It’s not as complicated as it sounds though, and we’ve made it even simpler.
After testing and comparing many scroll saws, we found these eight to be the best. The following short reviews highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each model. After that, we’ve put together a short buyer’s guide to help you determine which features will inform an educated purchase.
|Delta 40-694||400-1750 SPM||4.45/5|
|Shop Fox W1713||550-1700 SPM||4.30/5|
|ShopSeries RK7315||500 - 1700 SPM||4.20/5|
The DeWalt DW788 makes masterfully intricate cuts while producing very little vibration. Thanks to the double parallel-link arm design and the solid cast iron construction, this heavy saw is stable and low-noise. Blades are easily swapped out in seconds with no tools, and the depth of cut can be varied from 0.75 to 2 inches. With a throat length of 20 inches, you should have plenty of room for cutting a wide variety of different sized materials. Since the arm lifts, the blade can be threaded through the material to make it easy to reach inside cuts. If you need a bevel, the table tilts 45 degrees each way. With a 1.3-amp motor, this saw is capable of blade speeds between 400-1,750 SPM.
The high price on this stout saw should come as no surprise after reading about its features. Fortunately, a three-year warranty protects your long-term investment. However, we don’t like the fact that the blade wasn’t quite centered in its cutout. If the blade were bent even slightly, it would start removing material from the tabletop.
The high-end features of this WEN saw deliver clean and precise cuts, but that’s not why it’s earned our pick for best scroll saw for the money. Although the throat length is only 16 inches, the blade can be turned sideways, giving you infinite ripping capacity. This is a very handy feature, especially at this price. Although its tool-free thumb screw blade adapter is supposed to accommodate pinned and pinless blades, in reality, it’s not very usable with the pinless blades. You’ll spend more time fiddling around with the blade holder than making cuts.
Thanks to its ease of use, affordable entry-level price, and two-year warranty, this is also one of the best scroll saws for beginners. The variable speed from 400-1,600 SPM means you have great control of your cuts. The two-inch cut depth should be plenty for most detailed woodcutting. The table tilts 45 degrees left for beveled cuts.
On the downside, the work light and blower are both nearly useless. The blower doen’t move any sawdust and the light is too flexible, causing it to move out of position whenever you use the saw.
The dual parallel-link arm design of the 40-694 scroll saw from Delta Power Tools helps it achieve surprisingly quiet and smooth operation. However, it wasn’t that way when it arrived! Initially, it was making more noise than we had anticipated, and vibrating as well. After looking inside, we determined it wasn’t properly lubricated. A bit of synthetic grease helped to solve the problem, but this shouldn’t be necessary for a brand-new unit. And this is not a budget unit; it is priced at a premium, though not at the top of the price range. This drawback holds the Delta saw in third place.
The 1.3-amp motor provides variable speed from 400-1750 SPM at a cut depth of 2⅛ inches. You can cut lengths of up to 20 inches with this saw. For bevels, the table tilts 45 degrees each direction. One useful feature is the adjustable dust hose that helps keep your cutting area clear and visible. The arm also lifts and locks for easy tool-free blade changes, and the five-year warranty is noteworthy as well.
The Shop Fox 16-inch scroll saw is affordably priced, but it’s still notably more expensive than our best value pick in second place. At 1.2 amps, it’s got plenty of power and sufficent variable speed from 550-1,700 SPM. It features some nice additions like a gooseneck work light, dust blower, and dust port. For the price, that’s a pretty decent feature set. The two-year warranty is another nice addition to sweeten the deal.
Depth of cut is a standard 2 inches. Although it’s advertised as being able to use pinless or pinned blades, we don’t recommend purchasing this saw for use with pinless blades. They do not seem to work properly with this machine, despite the claim that they do. Also, this saw tended to vibrate and bounce at higher speeds, making clean cuts more difficult. Although it does operate well, this tool is missing one important feature for many woodworkers; there is no tilt function for making beveled cuts.
At a price that’s affordable for the DIY hobbyist, the ShopSeries scroll saw offers worthy functionality. It uses pin-end blades, but it can use pinless with an adapter that must be purchased separately. It has an impressive 2.5-inch depth of cut, but the throat length is a somewhat shallow 16 inches deep. The 1.2-amp motor pushes variable speed from 500-1,700-SPM which should be sufficient for most projects. The platform tilts to 45 degrees for bevels, but only to the left. A two-year warranty is included.
The first issue with this saw is that the blade needs to be reset often since it constantly goes out of square. We failed to readjust the first time and snapped the bottom of the blade. Also, the insert that surrounds the blade is set too low for the table. It’s only a small difference, but it’s enough to snag your piece as you try to feed it through. You’ll have to lift your piece over the lip for continuous movement. This causes loads of extra vibration and makes it very difficult to achieve a clean looking cut.
The first obvious plus-side to this PORTER-CABLE scroll saw is the stand that keeps it stable and reduces vibrations. With a throat length of 18 inches, this saw is right in the middle of the pack. The variable speed of 500-1,500 SPM is less than extraordinary and doesn’t live up to the hefty 1.6-amp power rating. To allow bevel cuts, the tabletop rotates 45 degrees to the left, but only 15 degrees to the right. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem that the numbers lined up properly and we had to use a level instead. Afterward, it didn’t want to return back to zero properly.
Conveniently, this saw worked well both pin-end and pinless blades. It also featured a built-in LED work lamp and adjustable blower. On the downside, there is a lot of blade slippage, resulting in quite a few broken blades. While this is a bit of an annoyance, it’s the worst of the complaints about this PORTER-CABLE. On the bright side, there is a three-year warranty.
Standard features and sufficient performance define the General International BT8007 scroll saw, but its incredibly low price is the biggest draw. Capable of using pinless or pinned blades, you’ll need a hex key to change blades. The throat length of 16 inches isn’t great, but it’s acceptable. Speed variability from 400-1,600-SPM is also in the middle of the pack.
There is a flex-neck work light included which makes it easier to see, but this unit vibrates too much for it to be of any real help. On that note, the material arm is too loose and moves around during use as well. The tabletop tilts 45 degrees for bevels, but only to the left. Two-year warranty and 2-inch cut depth are both standard, like the rest of this saw. It’s not particularly special, but it’s got a solid and dependable build at a very affordable price, which earns it a spot on our list.
Although SKIL is a reputable name in saws, this one doesn’t quite match the company’s reputation. The 3335-07 is a capable saw with stout performance, it just doesn’t quite live up to the competitors ranked higher on this list. The throat cut of 16 inches is average. The 1.2-amp motor and variable speed of 500-1,700 SPM are both sufficiently respectable. It’s designed to use pin-end blades and achieves a cut depth of 2 inches.
The LED work light is a nice addition at this moderate price point. It’s not bargain-priced, but it’s also not expensive by any means. The tabletop tilts to 45 degrees, but only to the left. Extreme vibration is the biggest drawback of this saw. It’s bad enough to be able to break the upper blade holder, which is regrettably unavailable as a repair part. Naturally, the vibration also creates sound, making this a rather noisy choice for scroll saw, despite the clean accurate cuts it makes.
In this section, we’re going to talk about some of the most important things to look for when comparing scroll saws. These features will help you make higher-quality work faster and easier, so they’re all worth having. You’ll have to determine for yourself which traits are the most important to you.
Plain-end blades get clamped between two small clamps on the saw. Pin-end blades instead have a tiny pin on the top and bottom that rest in a holder that’s similar to a hook. Pin-end blades are faster and simpler to change, though they’re also wider and thicker, and not as good for intricate cutting. Pinless blades are very thin and can make very precise cuts. It is generally recommended that pinless blades are the better bet.
How thick of a wood piece is your saw able to cut? This is referred to as cut depth. Standard cut depth is about 2 inches, though some saws do come with larger capabilities than this. Since most woodwork on a scroll saw is finish work, it’s unlikely you’ll be needing a larger depth of cut.
Have you ever been feeding your piece through and run out of room? The distance from your blade to where the wood will hit the back of the saw is called throat length. Sixteen inches is an adequate throat length, but 20 inches is better. All of the models we reviewed on this list have a minimum throat length of 16 inches.
Speed is measured in strokes per minute (SPM). Good scroll saws will generally have variable speeds that can be adjusted to different levels for better control over your cuts in different mediums. While fast speeds may be suitable for hardwoods, slower speeds will work better with softer woods. For the cleanest cuts in the greatest variety of mediums, look for a saw with a wide range of speed from slowest to fastest.
In woodworking, it’s very common to create beveled edge cuts. With a scroll saw that features a tilting tabletop, it should be a very simple process. Not all scroll saws have tabletops that are capable of tilting for beveled cuts. The standard slope to tilt to is 45 degrees, though some models opt for a shallower 15 degrees. The best saws will tilt to 45 degrees on both sides, while some saws will only tilt to one side. If your saw only tilts to 45 degrees one direction, it’s still possible to make most of your cuts by flipping the board and cutting the backside. Of course, this requires extensive marking and planning and is much easier to make a mistake with. If you’d like to avoid this, look for a scroll saw that features a tilting tabletop that goes to 45 degrees on both sides.
An LED work light can make it much easier to see your work and make more precise and cleaner cuts. Of course, there’s a lot of difference even between LED lights, so don’t just jump at the first model that has one. Some of them have flimsy little lights that won’t hold in place. Once you turn the saw on, the vibration will quickly cause them to lose their positioning and you’ll no longer be able to see what you’re working on. Other models have more solidly attached lights that may be much more practical.
Another great feature you may want to look for is a blower or a dust collector. Blower hoses are thin and maneuverable. You can position it so that it is continuously clearing away your workspace below the blade, and you can have it send the dust in any direction you desire. This flexibility makes it great when you need to be able to see what you’re working on. Simply move the blower wand and let it do the rest.
Most quality tools include a warranty of some kind. While this may only be a few weeks or months, some companies are known specifically for their extended warranty coverage. A good warranty doesn’t necessarily mean that your product is high-quality and guaranteed to live a long productive life though. It means your investment will be repaired or replaced if something unforeseen happens.
Be aware that some companies are very particular about the specifics of honoring their warranties. Many won’t honor a warranty if the product was sold through a third-party retailer or even a major retailer online. Keep this in mind when looking at different company’s warranty information. A one-year warranty is a base level that should accompany most power tools. A three-year warranty or better is a good one to look out for if you want to make sure that your money is invested wisely.
There is quite a discrepancy between the lower-priced and the premium-priced scroll saw models, with the latter being several times more costly. The old saying does often ring true though, you get what you pay for. While that isn’t a hard and fast rule, it’s still one that generally does seem to apply.
Buying a higher-priced saw now may mean you don’t have to replace it for many years. A lower-priced saw may be replaced every few years, costing more in the long run. A lot depends on how much you put the tool to work. If it will only be used occasionally, then a less-expensive saw may hold up just fine. If you plan on using your scroll saw extensively, it may be worth the extra money to save yourself some headache by purchasing a premium option.
You’ve read our reviews and buyer’s guide, so at this point, you should be prepared to make a sound decision about which scroll saw to purchase. Let’s do a quick recap. The DeWalt DW788 is our pick for best overall scroll saw for obvious reasons. With low vibration and noise, its smooth operation is a pleasure to use. The table tilts 45 degrees both ways, no-tool blade changes can be done in seconds, and a three-year warranty tops it all off. For the price-conscious consumer, we think the WEN 3921 is the best scroll saw for the money. It creates clean and smooth cuts, has a large variable speed range, includes a two-year warranty for a price that’s affordable for most DIY hobbyists. Either of these two powerhouse scroll saws is sure to help you craft many fine wood projects in the years to come.