- Arts and Design
Scroll Sawing for Fun and Profit
Scroll Sawing as a Hobby
Scroll Sawing is a hobby whose popularity has grown rapidly over the last few years. Both men and women as well as youngsters are discovering the thrill of using a scroll saws to produce remarkably delicate and detailed works of art.
Most people that start the hobby of scrolling find it to be not only enjoyable and relaxing but quiet additive as well. Some make scrolled items for themselves and for gifts while others have turned their hobby of scrolling into a small business, and still others just sell enough of their completed work to pay for the wood and supplies that they use.
Projects which can be made with a scroll saw include clocks, shelves, silhouettes and jigsaw puzzles along with countless other things. A scroll saw is also a valuable tool for intarsia and segmentaion projects as well as toy and model building. And of course it is a natural for producing desk plates, signs and other personalized items.
Nearly any type of wood or plywood can be use for scroll sawing as well as thin metals, acrylic and corian. Some people even use a scroll saw to cut intricate designs in leather and paper. With a little imagination and a scroll saw there is virtually no end to what can be created.
Until recently patterns for scrolling were hand drawn, but with the advent of the personal computer and the easy to use software which is now available, designing and drawing patterns on the computer is becoming fairly common. But for those that do not have the knack for designing their own patterns there are sites on the internet that offer free scroll saw patterns, as well as several sites that sell patterns.
Examples of Various Scroll Saw ProjectClick thumbnail to view full-size
What is the best scroll saw?
I have always preferred the Dewalt Scroll Saw -Model DW788, which is one of the most popular scroll saws made, but there are many different brands of scroll saws on the market and they range in price from as little as $100.00 up into the thousands of dollars. Of course, one would not want to pay thousands of dollars for a scroll saw unless it was being used industrially but a really good scroll saw, one that will last you for years, can be bought new for four to five hundred dollars. This is the approximate price range of the DeWalt. Delta also has a good saw in this price range.
But for the beginner that is still probably too much to pay for their first saw. Most people will buy one of the less expensive models first, then when they have been "bitten" by the scroll saw bug they will usually want to upgrade to a better model. Dremel has several models of lesser expensive saws and these are good saws that have been popular for many years. Even after upgrading, the first saw will still be useful as a backup saw if needed or for use by another member of the family, as scrolling is a family activity for many people.
Is Scroll Sawing Difficult?
No, it isn't difficult to learn to use the scroll saw but it does require some dedication and practice. And to become really good at scrolling it takes lots of practice. There are some good "How to" books that offer a lot of valuable information but the only way to actually learn to scroll is by doing it. At first you will create a lot of, what scrollers affectionately call, "Designer Firewood" but, just keep on practicing until you have developed the necessary techniques. It does take some perseverance because at first the saw doesn't behave exactly as you want it to and without a little patience one can become discouraged. But with a couple of weeks of practice you should be getting pretty good at using your saw. However, like anything else, the more you work with the saw, with different types of wood, different blades and so forth you will be gaining the experience that is needed to handle whatever patterns and request that may come your way.
Is scrolling an expensive hobby?
Scrolling is not a particularly expensive hobby to enjoy but wood is not cheap so a lot of scrollers are creative in sourcing the wood that they use by taking advantage of free scraps from builders and cabinet shops, recycling old wooden furniture and even using the wood salvaged from pallets and shipping crates. By acquiring wood in this manner and using free scroll saw patterns that only leaves the expense of the scroll saw blades, which are not very expensive when bought in bulk, and the finishing supplies. So all in all, some really nice work can be produce very inexpensively.
I know one local scroller that produce a huge dome clock all from wood that he admitted that he acquired by "dumpster diving". It turned out to be a real beauty of a clock and the only thing that he had to buy was the clock mechanism and blades. Of course, he had many hours invested in the project, but the finished clock would have sold for several hundred dollars had he desired to sell it.
What's this about scrolling for profit?
Scroll saw items are popular ware at Arts and Craft shows and Craft Malls. Personalized items sell well at flea markets, festivals, fairs or other functions that attractive large crowds. It is possible to set up a nice display of your ware without too large of investment. Of course there are some cost beyond the cost of the product such as your displays, possibly a canopy if you are doing outside shows and event fees but these type of expenses are common to any business that you may start.
I have spent years doing arts and craft shows, festivals and flea markets. It is hard work but something that I have really enjoyed. Some people do enjoy this type of environment and some do not and your personal preference should be taken into account when making your decision whether to attempt doing this type of retail.
The business is very unpredictable. Some shows produce extremely well while others are complete washouts. If you do not enjoy the business in the first place then you will easily become discouraged. But if the business is "in your blood" then it is easier to take those bad days along with the good ones.
You will never get rich in the arts and crafts business but you can make some decent profit if you will persevere.
Scroll sawing is a fun and rewarding hobby whether you sell your work, keep it, or give it away. If this sounds like a hobby/business that you may be interested in be sure to catch my other Hubs for further information and tips about the craft as well as additional ideas and suggestions from the business perspective.