How Does A Scroll Saw Work

All woodworkers should know how a scroll saw works. In this way, they can fully understand the mechanism of this “specialty” power tool. Moreover, doing this could also maximize your performance in making intricate cuts and shapes on different work pieces.

Scroll saws are a popular tool for artisans and wood craftsmen. Remember that cool jigsaw puzzles you usually play when you are young? A scroll saw probably made that! Even the small sculptures you buy on craft stores today are a byproduct of this tool. However, this tool has other applications aside from these. A scroll saw can also be used to make beautiful curves on the edges by moving its table.

Because of this, it is quite easy for anyone to wonder how a mere saw can make sophisticated and precise cuts. Therefore, we will explore a little about the mechanism of a scroll saw. After this, you will realize how brilliant this tool is!

How Does A Scroll Saw Work

Mode of Operation

There are different modes of operation for a scroll saw. The most common one is the parallel arm. This design has its motor connected on the back of the arms of the saw. Meanwhile, the arms maintain a parallel position to each other.

The C-arm type of a scroll saw possesses a sturdy C-shaped arm. In this variant, the blade is attached in between the ends of the “C” arm.

Another type scroll saw uses the parallel link design. Modern power tool companies like DEWALT, Excalibur, and Hawk are using this technology. Specifically, a parallel link design has rods installed on the lower and upper arms. The motor pushed these rods to move the articulated arms that hold the blade. This system is quite popular because it can effectively reduce the vibration and noise while cutting work pieces.

There was another setup for a scroll saw called the “rigid arm.” It was popular in the previous decades, but its production ceased on the 1970s. This is because the tension of its blade changes every stroke of the blade. This action lessens the precision and accuracy of your cuts. Modern scroll saws are now using “constant tension” systems, which may include the blade tensioning components.

Now, let us go to some important aspects of a scroll saw.


A scroll saw cannot cut if doesn’t have the speed to deal with different work pieces. Most of the scroll saws today have a cutting speed of 400 to 1,800 strokes per minute. This speed range is already enough to cater a different variety of materials such as wood and metal.

Moreover, scroll saws are now using variable speed controls. This mechanism allows you to make in-between adjustments to the speed of the blade. In this way, you can give the proper speed, depending on the material that you are cutting. For example, you will need to have your blade run slower if you are dealing with veneers, soft plastics, and some materials. If you are cutting leather and paper, a high-speed cut is necessary.

Throat and Depth

For a scroll saw to be versatile, it should have the sufficient throat measurement. This is the distance from the blade to the back of the saw. If your saw has a large throat size, then it can accommodate large work pieces. Most of the home-type scroll saws today have a 16-inch throat. Meanwhile, professional grade scroll saws have a throat capacity that ranges from 12 inches to 30 inches.

On the other hand, the depth capacity refers to the length a blade can cut in a single strike. Usually, the depth size of modern scroll saws is between 1 3/4 inches and 2 1/4 inches.

Blade Control

The blade plays a significant role on any saws, not just scroll saws. However, it should have adjustment settings so that it can perform well on different tasks. The first one is the tension adjustment. With this, the saw will maintain it sturdiness even extensive uses.

The second control is the quick-release feature. The scroll saw can perform better if it can quickly change blades. After all, the performance of a saw is dependent on the blade you use. For this, you should for tool-less blade clamp controls. They are easy to use and requires minimal downtime.

Ideally, you can work on various projects if your blade system accepts pin-end and plain-end blades. With this, your saw scroll can cater different kinds of blades such as the standard, skip tooth, and double skip.


A scroll saw works because of its support, which can be either a frame or a table. Usually, the support is made from cast iron or cast aluminum for rigidity and stability. This component is essential because it is the one that fully absorbs the vibration of the entire saw. Of course, this will lead to cuts with extreme precision and accuracy.


There are several ways in which you can control a scroll saw. For example, some units have tables that can tilt up to 45 degrees. This feature is crucial for making bevel cuts. Moreover, the versatility of a scroll saw is also dependent on the adjustability of the arm. With this, you can keep your work piece flat at all time!

Cleaning System

Dust cleaners are now a part of modern scroll saws. With all the residues that wood crafting can produce, it is necessary for a scroll saw to have a dust disposal. Dust and debris can cause health problems. Moreover, they can be a hindrance to your work, as they can cloud your working area. Specifically, they lessen the visibility of your working area.

Most of the scroll saws today have flexible dust cleaners that are attached to the arm. This design makes the dust vacuum as accessible as possible.


This is the exact mechanisms and parts the contribute to the overall operation of a scroll saw. Each of them plays a vital role in the performance of the saw, especially on making intricate cuts and curves. Therefore, it is essential that you learned how does a scroll saw work. With these resources, you can be able to maximize the potential of this power tool. Moreover, this knowledge will aid in the proper maintenance of this cutting device.