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Scroll Saw Tips and Techniques

Updated on April 1, 2012

A scroll saw is a fantastic piece of woodworking equipment that is used to cut intricate curves and tight corners in easy to cut materials. Because a scroll saw has a blade similar to a coping saw, it can be removed and used inside woodworking materials to cut out openings in the stock. But a scroll saw can do so much more if you use a few techniques to help you work more efficiently. Use these tips and tricks for the scroll saw and you’ll be sure to get the most use out of your scroll saw projects.

  • Blade Motion - A scroll saw uses a foot pedal to set the blade in motion. As you press down harder on the floor pedal, the blade moves faster, just like a sewing machine. Be sure to always keep the blade in motion when working on a cut, otherwise the stock will slap up and down on the scroll saws worktable, potentially damaging your work.
  • Lighting - When using your scroll saw, it’s imperative that the right lighting is focused on the blade and project cutting area to ensure that you’re cutting against the line.
  • Circles - When turning your stock to create a circle, use a consistent motion and blade speed to ensure that the edge of the circle doesn’t get torn out from uneven blade motion.
  • Turns - When making a sharp turn cut, be certain that you grip the piece firmly and close to the blade. Keep your fingers close, but never closer than one inch from the blade.
  • Hand Position - Always be sure to hold the piece firmly in place, especially a thicker stock. But you don’t need a white knuckle grip on the material. A firm but light grip works best for cutting stock with a scroll saw. Keep your fingers about 1 ½” away from the sides of the blade and at least 4” away from the front of the blade to avoid injury.
  • Keep your Body Straight - Cutting with a scroll saw often involves plenty of turns with the stock. Keep both feet planted firmly in front of the machine. Turn your hands and wrists not your feet and legs.
  • Position the Piece Correctly - Right-handed scroll saw users should place the largest part of the material on the right side of the blade, while left-handers will feel more comfortable with the largest piece of the material on the left side of scroll saws table.
  • Patterns - If you’re using paper patterns on your stock, use a repositionable glue to adhere the pattern to the stock. Always be sure to spray the adhesive to the paper and not the wood for best results.
  • Multiple Pieces - When you need to cut multiple pieces with the same pattern, stack pieces of wood together. Hold them firmly in place using painters tape secured on the edges of the materials.
  • Blades - Buy a blade with double teeth to prevent rip-out in long grained stock. When installing a new blade in your scroll saw, be sure the teeth face down and point out towards the front of the saw.

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