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If you need a precise, intricate shape cut in a thin piece of stock, chances are you’re going to want a scroll saw.
Scroll saws place a very small, thin blade on a stationary table that you work your stock around. This allows you to get tight angles and sharp, sometimes abruptly changing curves. By their nature, they are also among the safest power saws available. You just don’t want to tax them beyond what they can do.
Here are some general things you can use a scroll saw to make. Note that there is a whole wealth of patterns on the internet, some of which are available for free download and printing. You can also buy excellent patterns. If you’re skilled, you can make your own.
Some of the first things people make when they get a scroll saw are toys. Making a simple puzzle is a great way to learn how the relationship between the blade and the user will create a finished product. What’s great is that if you mess up on a puzzle, it won’t matter because it’ll all still fit together.
Toys are also a great thing to get a young woodworker into making. There’s no substitute for the joy of making something you can turn around and enjoy playing with.
Getting the desired sound from a musical instrument requires precision construction. A cut just one-eighth of an inch off, and you might wind up with discordance rather than harmony. Fortunately for the music maker in you, a scroll saw is a perfect way to make precision cuts.
If you go this route, you’ll probably start with simple sound boxes. Eventually, you might even move up to simple stringed instruments.
Carpenters use scroll saws to make joints when building cabinets. The most common of these are dovetail joints, which allow a cabinet maker to slide two perpendicular pieces of wood together and glue them in place.
If you’re using a scroll saw to make joints, you can also use it to design inlay patterns to make your cabinets stand out.
One thing scroll saw masters can do is use their tool to make inlays and marquetry for furniture. If you build these things, a good scroll saw can make the difference between a flat, boring surface and one with an intricate design.
You can do great things for tabletops, but you can also make interesting braces for shelves.
There is a whole range of things for the home you can make that will help you build skills for more complex jobs. This includes coasters, bookends, baskets, bowls, and holiday decorations of all kinds.
Depending on what you want to make, you can find a ready source of patterns on the internet.
To this point, we’ve assumed that you’re cutting wood, or at least materials much softer than wood, like plastic or fiberglass. You can also cut soft metals with a scroll saw.
We wouldn’t recommend attempting to cut hard metals, but you can cut softer metals like copper and brass without any problem. If you try to cut aluminum, use a lubricant on it to make sure you don’t damage either the blade or what you’re cutting.
Scroll saws are pretty useful little tools if you need to make precise, intricate cuts. They’re great for both straight angles and curves, and work best if you follow either a pattern traced on what you’re cutting, or one that you’ve drawn on paper and have placed over the top of your workpiece.
They aren’t dangerous to use, and they rank among the safest of power tools. But you’ll still want to maintain speed control and avoid cutting hard metals to stay safe.