The scroll saw is used for freehand cutting intricate shapes in relatively thin wood. The scroll saw uses very thin blades that allow you to cut very small radius curves. Think of a scroll saw as being an upside down bayonet saw, but with a much finer blade, and you will not be too far from reality.
Because of its thin blade, the scroll saw is often the only solution when you need to make very delicate cuts, such as for inlays. For this reason the tool is often classed as more of a craft-oriented tool rather than part of the woodworking tool portfolio. However, the typical scroll saw can also accommodate thicker blades and can cut through larger stock.
This tool is of relatively low priority for the average woodworker. Unless you need the ability to make delicate cuts, you will not really miss the functionality of this tool too much. A bayonet saw, or a band saw can fulfill most of the tasks that a scroll saw would be used for.
When purchasing a scroll saw consider the following:
Because of the thin blade, using a scroll saw needs a delicate touch. If you push too hard, you will all too easily snap the blade. To cut a curved shape, feed the work with both hands, holding the wood flat against the saw's base while applying gentle forward pressure. The key is patience. Allow the work to feed through the saw blade slowly, without forcing it. If you begin to feel a greater level of resistance this will probably be due to a blunt blade.
A common mistake is to accidentally exert sidewards pressure while feeding the wood through. If this begins to happen, relax the pressure on the wood by lessening the fingertip pressure. However, do not let go of the wood, just relax the pressure.
Scroll saw blade sizes typically range from one to 12. Each blade size is designed to be used with different thicknesses of wood. The smaller the blade you can pick, the easier it is to cut delicate curves. The rough selection is as follows:
|Blade size||Hardwood thickness||Softwood Thickness|
|1 to 2||1/4"||1/4"|
|3 to 4||1/2"||3/4"|
|5 to 6||1/4" to 3/4"||1/4" to 1"|
|7 to 9||1/4" to 1"||1/4" to 2"|
|10 to 12||3/4" to 2"||3/4" to 2"|