Are Scroll Saws Dangerous? 6 Safety Tips

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A scroll saw is one of my favorite tools in the shop. I have used it for many years to create decorative as well as functional items around my house. It is an awesome tool for those who like intricate, detailed work. Having owned numerous models of scroll saws over the years, I have learned just how dangerous they actually are.

A scroll saw is relatively safe and much safer than many other types of common saws. It’s less powerful and the blade moves slower. You aren’t likely to get your finger chopped off like you could on a miter or table saw. It is very precise and can be easy to control with a foot pedal.

Scroll sawing a piece of wood

That’s not to say that you can’t get injured using a scroll saw. You can get injured with any shop tool if you are negligent about it. Ignoring safety measures is a sure-fire way to get hurt using even the most primitive tool.

There are a few reasons that a scroll saw stands out as an overall safe tool in the workshop. When compared to other saws, you can clearly see that this saw has many benefits if you have a fear of using power tools with sharp blades.

4 Reasons a Scroll Saw is Relatively Safe

1. It’s Not as Powerful as Other Saws

Miter saw cutting through wood

A scroll saw is nowhere near as powerful as many other saws in your workshop. Unlike the miter saw or table saw, which is designed to make fast cuts on thick pieces of wood, the scroll saw is designed for smaller cuts of wood and serves an entirely different purpose.

You aren’t looking to make fast cuts with a scroll saw so it does not need to be as powerful. The amperage on a scroll saw is typically in the 1-2 AMP range simply because it doesn’t need as much power in order to function for what it was intended for.

Using a scroll saw is great for slow, detailed cuts in thin pieces of wood but it will struggle if you try to cut a larger piece of wood quickly. You can cut larger pieces of wood, typically up to about 2-inches thick, but you will need to go very slowly and let the saw do the work.

It will take some time to cut through it but a scroll saw is typically capable of cutting through thicker pieces of wood. Of course, brands and models vary so you will be limited to the capabilities of your specific saw.

I typically do not go over cutting a 2-inch (1 1/2 actual thickness) piece of wood with my saw. Anything thicker than this just gets difficult to work with.

Because the scroll saw is not as powerful as other saws that you may be used to using, you will likely not have the dangers involved in using more powerful saws.

2. The Blade Moves Slowly

Close up of scroll saw blade

A scroll saw moves slowly in an up-and-down motion as you are using it. You can control the speed of this up and down motion on most saws. The speed can be minimized to a low SPM which renders the blade less and less effective. The slower the blade goes, the longer it will take to cut through a piece of wood.

This is necessary when working on thin wooden pieces. Sometimes a fast-moving blade can get away from you if the wood is thin. Because the blade moves slowly, it is much safer than the high-speed movement of a jigsaw or a reciprocating saw.

Since the blade moves so slowly, it will not do nearly as much damage if you were to get a body part caught up in it. Although it certainly won’t do you any good, it won’t have near the damaging effect that a more powerful saw would have in which the blade is moving much faster.

Not only does the blade move slowly but the blade also has very tiny teeth on it that aren’t likely to do as much damage. I have accidentally bumped my finger into the blade on numerous occasions over the years due to negligence in safety procedures. This has only resulted in small cuts and left me in much better shape than I would’ve been had I gotten my finger caught up in a bandsaw, for example.

3. The Nature of What the Saw Is Used For

As mentioned earlier, a scroll saw is designed for more complex patterns than more powerful saws are designed for. Because of this, you will not generally find yourself using a scroll saw in a way that would make it dangerous. Instead, you’ll find yourself going slowly around sharp turns and taking your time.

4. It’s Not as Noisy as Other Saws

Most saws that you use produce a sound that requires ear protection if you want to protect your hearing. A table saw, miter saw, or circular saw, for example, are often so loud that they can be heard from a great distance away. This may be an annoyance to neighbors or others in the general area.

However, the scroll saw is likely one of the quietest saws that you will find. The scroll saw will not be much louder than a manual handsaw, especially on a slower setting. As you increase the speed of the saw, it will get louder but still bearable and definitely not an annoyance to anyone around.

While it’s still important that you wear hearing protection, the sound of the saw itself will likely not do any hearing damage over time. My DeWalt scroll saw typically runs around 60 decibels which is bearable even to the naked ear.

How To Stay Safe While Using a Scroll Saw

While the scroll saw is mostly safe, I have learned from experience over years of using mine that there are ways that you can ensure a safer experience when operating it.

1. Always Wear Eye and Ear Protection

Man holding safety glasses with gloves on

Even though a scroll saw is relatively safe, there is no need to take a chance on using it without the standard protections that you would normally wear. It’s a good idea to always wear eye and ear protection while you are using it. Even though projectiles aren’t likely to be flying around and the noise level of the machine is minimal, the habit of wearing these items will always serve you well.

Whether projectiles are flying or not, there are still dust particles in the air and noise can get annoying over long periods of time. If you are going to sit down behind your saw for hours at a time, it just makes sense to make sure you are wearing all the proper safety gear.

I go one step further and always wear a respirator as I am using mine. While it may seem overboard, I walk away from my saw after I am finished with clear eyes, healthy ears, and clear lungs.

2. Make Sure It’s Bolted Down Securely

Scroll saw bolted down

Another important thing to consider is that your scroll saw is bolted down on a sturdy surface. Many people may operate this saw only occasionally and in so doing, do not have a permanent mount for it. Instead, it gets set up on their workbench or another table to be used intermittently. The vibrations of the saw can cause it to move around and if you are using it for an extended period of time, it may start to vibrate off the side of the table.

It’s best to always have a location where it can be bolted down into place and will not move around as you are using it. A dedicated cart for the saw is ideal but not everyone has this type of space in their workshop.

Instead, you may consider drilling holes in a workbench or table so that you can easily bolt your scroll saw to it when you are ready to use it. This will allow you to bolt and unbolt it quickly to use it and store it away when not in use.

3. Use the Blade Guard

Most scroll saws come with a blade guard that can be used to hold down the material as well as protect your fingers from reaching the blade. You must use this to ensure maximum safety while you are working. while it can sometimes be an annoyance, if you will get used to using it, you will find that it can be helpful rather than a hindrance to your work.

The scroll saw blade going up and down often makes wood jump around if you are not holding it tight enough. This blade guard will help to hold the wood down tightly as you are working. Besides this, it helps keep your fingers far away from the blade as they are cutting through the wood.

Don’t be tempted to remove this so that you can get in closer. It’s best to leave this on and learn to work with it and allow it to do its job of protecting you from getting cut on the blade.

4. Use a Bright Light

The importance of a bright light while using a scroll saw can’t be stated enough. Besides the obvious fact that it makes you see better, it can also help you not to get your finger caught in the blade. Working with power tools like this in dim lighting is a recipe for disaster!

Since it will make everything more difficult to see, you won’t be able to see where the blade is while it is in action. It’s easy enough to place a lamp or a bright workshop light over your work area as you are using the saw so that you do not run into this issue.

You can purchase a bright light specifically designed to use with scroll saws and many brands have their own available that attaches directly to the saw itself. This is a good idea to have your workspace set up so that you can see perfectly as you are using it.

5. Go Slowly

Slow and steady is the perfect way to use a scroll saw. No matter what you are cutting out, you never want to force the saw to cut through the material. Getting in a hurry and trying to do more than a saw can handle is a good way to break blades and could lead to an injury along the way.

Part of the fun of a scroll saw is the detailed work that you can do and the time spent in front of the saw can be therapeutic. It’s best to take your time let the saw do the work and not try to hurry through a piece.

6. Use a Foot Pedal

A foot pedal can give you more control over your saw as you are using it. If your saw was to get out of hand and you need to immediately shut it off, a foot pedal allows you to instantly release your foot and the saw is then turned off. This makes it a valuable piece of equipment if safety is a concern for you.

Not only is a foot pedal good for controlling precise movements but also good if you need to stop the saw immediately. Rather than having to move your hand up to the power button and turn the saw off manually, you can simply control this with your foot while keeping both hands on the piece that you are sawing.

Most scroll saws work with a foot pedal and one can be purchased and added for a minimal cost and easy setup. Many people who switch to using a foot pedal wonder why it took them so long to change. They couldn’t imagine going back to not using one. It simply makes the process easier and the saw more pleasant to work with. It allows you to more precisely control things and stop the saw when something goes awry.

Just remember to unplug the saw totally from power when changing blades. You wouldn’t want to accidentally activate the pedal while changing blades.


As with any type of power equipment, a scroll saw is as safe as you make it. While the saw itself does not pose as many safety concerns as a more powerful saw will, you still need to be careful and pay attention to what you are doing. It can still do some damage and cause injury if not taken seriously.

For best results, treat every power tool as a potentially dangerous item and prepare accordingly. If you are smart about it and take it seriously, the scroll saw can be a lot of fun work with, and mostly safe.