Scroll saws are an integral part of any tool collection, allowing you to make clean cuts and carve intricate details with extreme accuracy. The most important feature of a scroll saw it its ability to let you make very tight and accurate curved cuts.
If you don't mind the analogy, whereas a jigsaw is more like a hatchet, a scroll saw is like a scalpel. You need a scroll saw to make precise, accurate cuts across a variety of surfaces.
We'll start by sharing some things to keep in mind if you’re planning on buying a new scroll saw or upgrading your old one. We also provide our selections for the best scroll saw available.
Finding the best scroll saw for the money can be a challenging task. It's essential that you do your research to figure out what features you want. Here are the most important things to consider when selecting a top quality scroll saw.
Scroll saws come in a variety of sizes that are measured according to the distance from the blade of the saw to the rear frame, also known as the “throat.” The throat of a scroll saw determines how much space you have to work with, and by extension, the size of the materials that you can safely cut.
The size of a scroll saw is measured in terms of it's throat size. Throat size is the distance from the scroll saw blade to the back of the scroll saw. It is important because the maximum project size is twice the throat size of the scroll saw you are working with.
For example, a 16" scroll saw can cut a piece of wood that is 32" in length.
Most homeowners only need a scroll saw around 15” to 20” for DIY projects. You can find models up to 30” in size, but these are generally reserved for industrial settings. You really don't need anything larger than a 20" scroll saw for the vast majority of projects.
It's very important that you determine what size of projects you'll be working on prior to purchasing your scroll saw.
In order to saw different materials, you need a scroll saw that can operate at different speeds. While wood requires a fast cutting speed, you should saw plastics and metals at slower speeds to prevent the blade damage to the blade or the material.
While some old models only offer one or two settings to choose from, most modern ones have variable speed control so that you can fine-tune the speed at which you work.
Again - we think that the best scroll saw has to have variable speed, and you shouldn't buy a model that doesn't have this.
Scroll saws can accept either pinned or unpinned blades depending on the make and model. Pinned blades are thick and used to cut stronger materials, while unpinned (or pinless blades) can make finer cuts.
In order to tighten or loosen a blade, you need to be able to reach the tensioning system, which allows you to make quick changes as needed. The knobs or levers of the system should be easily accessible to reduce your risk of accidental injury or blade breakage.
The blade is easier to mount on some scroll saws than others. Certain models require tools to change a blade out, which can be a time consuming process.
Other models are tool-less, which means that you can change the blade with nothing other than your hands. Many hobbyists and professionals find tool-less blade scroll saws to be more convenient.
The best scroll saw makes it easy and simple to change blades. This might seem like a luxury as you're reading, but you'd be surprised how often you need to change blades while using a scroll saw.
For starters, the work table of a scroll saw needs to be large, strong, and durable. You want your work table to be reasonably heavy, able to smooth out the vibrations of the saw so you can easily work with cutting the wood.
You also want the work table to be smooth, to prevent resistance while you're working. You need the material that you're handling to be able to spin freely. Aluminum or cast iron work table's are both ideal materials, and wood should be avoided. You can wax a metal table to make it easier to slide the woodwork across the table.
Your scroll saw’s work table must also be large enough to handle whatever DIY projects you have in mind. The surface should be able to fully support the material you’re working with as it spins, both for ease of use and for safety reasons.
Many of the best scroll saws boast tilting tables, which makes it easier to cut clean angles. The surface on most saws tilts up to 45 degrees to the left, allowing you to create bevel cuts.
You can even find tables that tilt in both directions so that you can make cuts in the opposite orientation. We'll call those specifics out in the reviews below.
In addition to tilting work tables, you can find scroll saws that offer a tilting arm. A tilting arm makes bevel cuts easier and more accurate by allowing you to keep your materials flat as you work.
If you plan on doing fretwork, then you may want to consider looking into scroll saw models with a top lifting arm. A lifting arm makes it easier to make interior cuts in a piece and may include a locking mechanism for convenience and safety.
The best scroll saw will depend on your specific needs and budget. Below, we provide comprehensive reviews of the five best scroll saws on the market. We've included our votes for the best scroll saw for the money and the best scroll saw for beginners, along with the best rated scroll saw.
Our star rating is 1-5, and is based on the following factors: saw power, precision, versatility, and features.
The Dremel MS20-01 is designed to be a multi-purpose DIY tool that not only functions as a stationary scroll saw but also detaches from its base to become a portable coping saw.
A tool-free mechanism allows for quick blade changes whenever you need to make a new cut, while a convenient auto-tensioning feature keeps the blade taut and ready to operate.
Variable speed control allows you to safely cut through a variety of materials without damaging your saw or its blade. The Ms20 is able to cut through wood, plastic, laminate, and a variety of metals.
This scroll saw is much more lightweight and portable than others in its class, allowing you to use it just about anywhere. A fast clamp base lets you attach the unit to tables, workbenches, and other surfaces. Setup is simple, though the included directions are somewhat unclear.
If you kick up dust as you work, a dust port adapter can help you to keep your workspace clean. You can prevent sawdust from building up in the air around you and getting into your eyes, nose, and throat.
The Dremel MS20-01 is one of the best value scroll saws on the market, costing under $100. It’s a good choice for homeowners working on a budget, offering much of the quality of more expensive models such as the Shop Fox W1713 at a fraction of the price.
The Ms20 has a very small throat size in comparison to the other scroll saws reviewed here. For the price, this is to be expected, and Dremel makes up for it with all of the accessories they add.
Despite its low price, the Ms20 includes several accessories in the box. In addition to the scroll saw itself, you get an MS50 side cutting blade, four MS51 wood & plastic blades, four MS52 fine wood blades, an MS53 metal blade, and a vacuum adapter.
This scroll saw tends to work best with thin materials. The blades have difficulty making clean cuts through thick surfaces or particularly tough metals and plastics.
If you’re looking for one of the best inexpensive scroll saws, the General Intl. BT8007 scroll saw is one of the best scroll saws for beginners and experts. It offers many of the same features as more high-end models without the price tag.
You can set any speed between 400 to 1600 strokes per minute depending on your material of choice by using a dial located towards the front of the machine. This dial is easy to access and doesn’t require you to reach around dangerous or moving parts.
The General International 16” scroll saw is compatible with both pinned and pinless blades, allowing you to work with a variety of materials. It can only cut sections under two inches thick, however, so it’s best saved for smaller jobs.
A dust collection port helps to keep this scroll saw and the area around it free of debris as you work. This not only saves you time cleaning up later on, but also helps to prevent irritation in the lungs. The port fits a standard 1¼ inch hose.
If you have a dark workspace, it can be dangerous to operate power tools such as a scroll saw.
The General International 16" model comes with a built-in flex-neck LED work light to allow you to work in dim lighting conditions safely.
The General Intl. Scroll Saw is heavier than other inexpensive scroll saws such as the Dremel Ms20, but it’s also sturdier. A robust cast-iron frame holds up against wear and tear throughout the saw’s lifetime, making this one of the best cheap scroll saws for long-term use
As one of the best budget scroll saws, the WEN 3920 Scroll Saw offers quality and durability at between just $100 and $200. Beginners tend to appreciate its user-friendly design, while advanced carpenters like the versatility of the frame.
This saw boasts a unique blade holder designed to hold both pinned and unpinned blades. You can also easily change the direction of your cut by turning pinned blades 90 degrees using a tool-free system.
A removable pinless blade holder keeps blades safely in place during operation of your scroll saw, but the locking mechanism is not the sturdiest. The blade tends to vibrate in place, and the removable unit wears out quickly.
The WEN 3920 can be set to a range of speeds, from 550 to 1600 strokes per minute. It’s easy to change the speed for different cuts using a convenient knob located on the front of the machine.
The bulk of WEN’s 16” scroll saw is fairly heavy-duty, including a stable base and a cast-iron table bevels up to 45 degrees to the left. These features make it easy to create clean, precise cuts every time.
While the WEN 3920 cuts thin materials well, it isn’t able to handle anything more than 2” thick. It’s best to stick to projects that involve softer woods, plastics, and laminates.
In addition to a strong base, a foot-lock clamp helps to prevent any unwanted shaking or sliding, which is really helpful.
You can ensure that your materials stay in place so that every angle you cut comes out completely accurate.
The WEN 3920 Scroll Saw comes with a number of additional built-in features that aren’t offered by more bare-bones models such as the Dremel Ms20. This scroll saw includes a built-in flexible LED light to help you work in low light conditions as well as convenient onboard blade storage.
Like the WEN 3920, the Shop Fox W1713 Scroll Saw is another one of the best scroll saws under 200 that you can find on the market today. It includes variable speed control to let you cut seamlessly through different materials and accepts both pinned and pinless blades.
The machine’s pinless connector can be difficult to work with, unfortunately. The mechanism can be finicky, making it difficult to change out blades. It’s also not designed to hold up as well as the rest of the saw and is prone to breaking.
Fortunately, the rest of the machine is much sturdier. The arm is thick enough to withstand relatively heavy use, and the table is made of strong cast iron. Many connections that are weaker on other models are also made of heavy metal material. This is a great metal cutting scroll saw.
The Shop Fox's table is also adjustable, with a 45-degree tilt that allows you to get more precise cuts, especially when working on fine detail. You can safely position your workspace using a lock knob.
If you want to hold your material in place as you work, an adjustable holding shoe allows you to secure it in place without causing any surface damage.
The Shop Fox W1713 takes great care to keep your workspace clean as you cut using a two-way dust control system. A nozzle built into the machine blows sawdust away from the line or your cut, while a dust port connects to a shop vacuum to keep debris contained.
The Shop Fox W1713 Scroll Saw takes great care to keep your workspace clean as you cut using a two-way dust control system.
A nozzle built into the machine blows sawdust away from the line or your cut, while a dust port connects to a shop vacuum to keep debris contained.
A gooseneck work light is included with this scroll saw so that you aren’t limited to where you can use it. You can comfortably see what you’re doing at night, in the garage, or in other dim lighting.
The Dewalt DW788 Scroll Saw is one of the best-rated scroll saws available on the market. It’s a bit pricier than other options at over $200, but it also offers speed, silence, and accuracy.
The design of the Dewalt DW788 arm is the main reason for its impressive cutting capabilities. A double parallel-link arm design helps to reduce vibration and noise as you work, allowing you to create more accurate cuts.
The machine’s arm is also able to move for easier operation. The arm lifts so that blades can be easily threaded through materials, allowing you to make interior cuts. It also pivots from the back of the saw to the front, minimizing movement for smoother operation.
The front of the scroll saw's liftable arm is home to its dust blower, power switch, speed adjustment panel, and blade-tensioning lever. This allows you to make necessary adjustments without having to move the machine.
A tool-free blade clamp lets you change out blades quickly and easily. It takes just seconds to switch your tool in between cuts, helping you to work more efficiently. The mechanism is also stronger than in models such as the Shop Fox W1713.
Unlike scroll saws such as the General International Power Products 16" Scroll Saw or the Shop Fox W1713 16” Variable Speed Scroll Saw, the Dewalt DW788 has an oversized 20” cast iron table that’s big enough to support larger-scale projects.
This scroll saw’s table is also adjustable, beveling 45 degrees to both the left and right to make angled cuts easy from any direction.
While this isn't an essential feature, it adds a lot of convenience. You're less likely to have to go grab your Mitre Saw as you do your work.
Unfortunately, this table’s larger size also means that it takes up a significant portion of most standard garages. It’s also heavy as well, weighing over fifty pounds. The Dewalt DW788 Scroll Saw might not be the best choice of scroll saw for someone with limited floor space.
Choosing the best scroll saw to suit your needs can seem like an impossible task, but knowing what you’re looking for can help to make the process less painful. The best scroll saws are versatile, offering a range of features designed to help you produce top quality work.
If you can upgrade your budget, either the Shop Fox W1713 or the Dewalt DW788 make great options. However, the Dewalt is double the price of the Shop Fox, and so if you're being mindful of your budget, we'd go with the Shop Fox.
No doubt - in our testing, the Dewalt DW788 is by far the best scroll saw. You'll pay a pretty penny for it, but you'll get an amazing and versatile scroll saw.
Whichever scroll saw you decide on will probably depend on both your future woodworking projects and your total budget for a saw. Any of the saws mentioned above offer quality at a price that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a new scroll saw, now might be the time. We hope our expert advice can help to guide your search and lead you to the perfect saw to add to your garage.