What Are Scroll Saws Used For (Guide)?

A scroll saw is one of the most unique tools found in aisles of your hardware store, from its’ design, down to the cuts the blade makes.

So, what are scroll saws used for? Firstly, it’s important to know what a scroll saw is.

A scroll saw is a particular type of saw that is used to cut intricate shapes and curved lines into materials, and is a saw known for its’ finesse and accuracy more so than its’ power.

Due to this, it’s used in projects that require these particular designs, rather than the focus upon power in which many other saws are built on.

Don’t have too much time to read through the entire article? No problem, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s an overview of this article for you to read through:

  • Scroll saws are designed for intricate and complex cuts, which is something many saws cannot do
  • There are three defining basic features of a scroll saw, throat size, arm type and blade
  • Blades come in both pinless and pinned form, with up to eight configurations of blade available
  • Blades are usually defined under a semi-standard numbering system, ranking from under 0 to 12
  • Projects made from scroll saws include jigsaw puzzles, dovetail joints, curved cuts, wooden portraits and models

The Scroll Saw: A Look In Closer Detail

So now we can look into the scroll saw with a closer eye – there are some important notes to be aware of, such as the basic features of the scroll saw – and how these features help your projects.


Below, we’ll be looking into the features of the scroll saw – and what they are used for, so you have a better idea when deciding what to cut, where to cut, and what to use to cut.

Features Of A Scroll Saw

I’ve listed the key features of the scroll saw below, which you’ll undoubtedly come across when looking through at the many models available.

As well as the basic features, we’ll quickly look over the scroll saw additions that you can find included on certain models.

Arm Type

There are three distinct arm types of a scroll saw – a C Arm, Parallel Type, and Parallel-Linked arm. The latter is the latest in advancement of the scroll saw.

The arm is linked to the motor, and the different arm types can result in different types of cuts (when comparing output, power wise). This is essentially the most important aspect of the scroll saw.

Throat Size

If you’ve used other woodworking tools in the past, this is a term you’d be quite familiar with.

The throat size is the term given to the amount of space from the blade to the back of the table’s surface, which gives a guide of the sizes of material you’re able to work with.

Typically, you can find throat sizes on scroll saws marked at 16” and 20”, although there are models which fit outside this range.


I’ve already stated that the arm is the most important feature, yet without the blade – you won’t be able to make any cuts.

Blades are different on scroll saws than other saws you may be familiar with – being quite smaller and thinner, as well as mounted vertically to both the top and bottom of the saw.

Blades can be found that fit an array of cuts used – so it’s important to locate the perfect blade for your chosen application.

Materials That Can Be Cut Using A Scroll Saw

Whilst your first thought may be wood – there are more than just pieces of lumber that a scroll saw can cut.

As a scroll saw deals a finer cut, there is almost a limitless supply of materials which you can start cutting.

Let’s have a look into some of those materials below – and feel free to let me know in the comments of any additional materials you can cut, as well.

  • Wood
  • Metal/Aluminium
  • Ceramic Tiles
  • Fibreglass
  • Bone
  • Leather
  • Rubber

Of course, this is only a starting guide – there are many materials which can be cut using a scroll saw. The options are there – now it’s up to you to work your own magic!

Blades Used In A Scroll Saw

We briefly touched on the importance of the blade used in a scroll saw.

There are a number of blades which can be used, and they all fit certain materials and are made for differing types of cuts.


There are two types of blades, pinned and pinless blades. Yet, this is only the tip of the iceberg – there are more to blades than types, and we can have a look quickly into this below.

Here are two additional factors which come into play when looking at blades:

Blade Size

Blade size is an important aspect of the blade, as they determine the cuts and material that can be cut with.

There is a numbering system in place which oversees blade size, which runs from less than 0, up to 12.

The higher the number of a blade, the thicker the blade is – and the less TPI upon the blade.

However, this isn’t a universal numbering system, which is where things can sometimes get tricky.

That’s just a quick overview, though – there are many different sizes, and more often than not – it’s trial and error.

Tooth Configuration

The design of the blade also plays a large factor in the overall performance of your blade, as well as the TPI (Teeth Per Inch, if you weren’t familiar with this term previously).

There are at least eight different type of blades, which we have listed below:

  • Regular-tooth Blades
  • Skip-tooth Blades
  • Double-tooth blades
  • Reverse-tooth blades
  • Two-way cut blades
  • Crown-tooth blades
  • Spiral blades
  • Specialty cutting blades

Each blade have a different combination of TPI, thickness, and design which are made for different applications.

For a deeper look into the blades of a scroll saw, feel free to check out our guide, “What You Should Know About Scroll Saw Blades’, as this will give you a definitive guide across the scroll saw and blade universe.

What Would I Be Using A Scroll Saw For?

As you’re most likely aware by now – a scroll saw wouldn’t be used in demolition jobs, or to cut through incredibly thick pieces of wood.

Like other saws which fit different applications, a scroll saw has a specialised variety of cuts, designs and projects which can be made.

Standard Cuts & Designs Made With A Scroll Saw

Here are some examples of cuts and designs which can be made with a scroll saw:

  • Curved Cuts
  • Dovetail joint design
  • Angled cuts
  • Plunge Cuts
  • Thick cuts (¾” up to 2” pending on the blade)

These few cuts and designs listed make up the next section, the projects which you can work on, and effectively create using just a scroll saw.

Projects A Scroll Saw Can Help Create

There is almost an infinite amount of projects which scroll saws can assist in creating, so we’d be here for a very long time discussing them all.

To make it easier, I’ll list the most popular uses for a scroll saw, as well as some different ideas which may give you some inspiration in your next session.

Here’s a list of the projects you can use a scroll saw for:

  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Designing plaques
  • Letter and number carving
  • Wooden portraits
  • Models
  • Cutting boards

As you can see, a great deal of creativity and imagination can go into a scroll saw and its’ cuts, which is why some of the most complex and intricate designs can be made with a scroll saw.

These are only some examples, with a great number of projects able to be designed and finished with a scroll saw.

They can make perfect, customized gifts for a loved one, which would give both of you a great deal of joy.

Final Thoughts

So we’ve discussed the scroll saw in length, from the use it provides for projects and cuts, to what makes the blade and how there are many variables for the end result of your cut.

A scroll saw is perfect for those who are looking to make complex and fine cuts and designs on an array of materials, providing a different level of versatility and options when compared to other models of saws available.

If you’re not sure of which scroll saw is for you – it’s best to see what you’re needing it for, as well as what you can afford.

Thankfully, we have many guides available – which can help you in making your next step.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, however – what designs and projects have you made, or would like to make with a scroll saw?

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

Related Questions

What’s the difference between a scroll saw and a jigsaw?

Both can make curved and straight cuts, although it is the saw itself which differentiates both tools.

A jigsaw is similar to a sewing machine in its’ design, and can be held by hand.

A scroll saw is set upon a table, and provides a cut which is more accurate than jigsaw.

Both fit separate uses, and are great additions to your woodworking inventory.

Is it difficult to find the right tension for each scroll saw blade?

Depending on the model of scroll saw, it isn’t too difficult to adjust the tension of the blade.

Many scroll saws are not built with a blade tension knob/trigger, or have a keyed clamp which can be loosened and tightened for the correct tension.

As a rule of thumb, a scroll saw blade will made a noise with a slight pressure applied to it after tension.

If it’s high pitched, the blade’s tension has been adjusted too high.

If it’s low pitched, there isn’t enough tension on the blade.

You can also use many apps available throughout the internet – as well as guitar tuners, to find the correct pitch for your blade.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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