Is a Scroll Saw Worth It? 4 Reasons You Might Need One

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A scroll saw is a unique tool that has a very specific purpose. Because of this, it’s often a saw that is excluded from the normal workshop since it doesn’t have a purpose in standard woodworking. It only comes in handy for those who create detailed woodworking pieces and need a saw that can make super tight turns and can get into areas where other saws would not be able to.

A scroll saw is worth it if you want to create crafts that require lots of precise detail. It won’t be your go-to saw for straight cuts or cutting thicker materials. However, it is perfect for making toys, puzzles, and other intricate crafts that would be difficult to cut with other types of saws.

Scroll sawing an ornamental pattern out of wood

Unlike the circular saw, table saw, jigsaw or band saw, which are common in woodworking shops, the scroll saw only finds its way into those shops that do specific work. It just doesn’t make sense to own one unless you intend to create items where the small, thin blade of a scroll saw is necessary.

What Is a Scroll Saw Good For?

A scroll saw can be used for many different things but there are a few purposes that stand out as to why someone might purchase one. The typical scroll saw owner might be involved in creating some of the following.

1. Fun Home Decor Items

A scroll saw is perfect for making fun decor items for display or use around your house. Whether it’s a small craft that can sit on a shelf or something that is useful such as a tool or another piece that solves a specific problem. Most frequently, I use my scroll saw to create crafts made from patterns that I either design myself or find on the Internet.

It can be fun creating things like this and the sky is the limit. If you have a creative mind, you can come up with your own crafts and cut them out on the scroll saw to create a custom product for your home. Not only that but you can also create handcrafted gifts for others such as surname signs, welcome signs, and other sit-around items.

2. Fretwork

Fretwork is highly detailed, ornamental artwork that is often found on furniture and buildings. This type of detailed work can be very challenging to work with and requires extreme precision in order to end up with a well-crafted product. There are lots of fretwork patterns on the Internet and these are common with scroll sawers.

Fretwork requires a saw that can handle this type of precision. The scroll saw shines in this type of work and allows you to easily cut out even the most intricate piece. All you need is a good scroll saw, a sharp blade, lots of time, and patience.

3. Toys

Ever wanted to make your own toys? With a scroll saw, there are many types of toys that you can make. Whether it is an actual toy that works or just one that looks like fun, you can create items that will be fun to play with, especially if you have children.

Wooden jigsaw puzzle with piece taken out

For the adults, you can create jigsaw puzzles that can be fun to put together.

4. Anything That Requires Precision Cuts In Thin Materials

No matter what the job, if it requires precision and the material is cuttable, a scroll saw may be the perfect option. I have used the scroll saw on many jobs outside the normal usage that you would expect. Even installing vinyl flooring, I was able to utilize my scroll saw to make detailed cuts around corners and railings.

It’s a great saw to have on-hand anytime you need to cut something that is just too challenging for another type of saw.

Scroll Saw Comparisons

The scroll saw is a unique tool in what it can do but there are some similarities with a few other tools that might be in your workshop. While these aren’t quite the same in what they can accomplish, they deserve to be compared since they are similar in many ways.

Fret Saw

A Fret Saw is the closest thing that you will find to a scroll saw. This tool is like a manual version of the scroll saw and has a similar purpose. The main difference between this saw and the scroll saw is that it does not use electricity and is only a handsaw. A scroll saw provides a steady base in which you have to twist and turn the wood in order to cut it. With a fret saw, you will move the saw around, in and out of turns.

This means that it’s a little more difficult to work with but can be perfect for small items that need precise cuts. Almost anything that you can do with a scroll saw can be done with a fret saw but will require some additional effort. You’ll need to use manpower to make it run rather than plugging it up and flipping a power switch.

A fret saw is often used by jewelers to make precise cuts. It uses a small, pinless blade similar to that of a scroll saw.

Coping Saw

Coping saw being used by a jeweler

A coping saw is similar to a fret saw but may have a little less ability for precision than a fret saw does. However, it can be used for heavier cutting than what a fret saw is used for. It still can cut curves and precise markings but the larger blade is less suitable for fretwork and other intricate types of designs.


A jigsaw provides you with a way to make detailed cuts but is way more powerful and is handheld. Rather than a stationary saw, a jigsaw is similar to the coping and fret saw mentioned above in that you have your hands on the saw and move the saw around as you cut. The jigsaw is different in that it has a thicker blade and can handle more powerful cutting needs.

You can cut out patterns and make curves and details but you can also use the jigsaw to perform straight cuts through thicker pieces of wood.

The jigsaw has different blades available for it and allows it to be used in different ways. You can purchase a scroll saw blade for a jigsaw. This blade is smaller and thinner and is designed to get in and out of tight spots more easily than a typical wood-cutting blade used on a jigsaw. Whether it’s metal or wood, a jigsaw is a good alternative to use for detailed cuts.

Another similarity that the jigsaw has with the scroll saw is that you can place it into center areas by drilling a hole and then inserting the jigsaw blade into that hole to continue a cut. This is one of the features that makes the scroll saw so handy for precision cutting. The ability to insert a blade into any location on a pattern is one of the most useful features of these types of saws.

Band Saw

The band saw is a little bit of a different beast than the other saws mentioned above. While it can be used in cuts that require some turns and details, it isn’t nearly as capable. Besides that, you can’t remove the blade and insert it into an inner section of the design you are working on.

With a scroll saw, you can easily remove the blade, drill a small hole in your workpiece and then thread the blade back through it. This isn’t possible with a band saw.

CNC Machine

A CNC (Computer numerical control) is a machine that can do all the work of a scroll saw and much more. However, it comes with some caveats. First of all, they are very expensive. The X-Carve is an example of a CNC machine. You can cut out patterns with extreme precision and it seems to make any other saw of this nature obsolete.

However, there is still a need for good old-fashioned sawing. The CNC machine is great but creates products that look like they came off an assembly line. Rather than the character that comes along with human touch, you get a perfectly cut, computer-controlled end-product. They also take up a lot of room. Not everyone is interested in having a large, expensive, computer-controlled machine in their woodshop.

Bottom Line

A scroll saw is a great tool to have on hand if you need to make precise cuts. However, only you know just how much you actually need for it. Is there really a need to spend the money on a saw that won’t see a lot of use?

If you need to cut out intricate areas occasionally, another type of saw such as a coping or fret saw might do the trick for you. Rather than spending the money on a scroll saw, a simpler and cheaper solution like this might be all that you need. You may even be able to get by with a jigsaw and a scroll saw blade.

In the end, a scroll saw is only worth it if you determine that it will get enough usage. They are often large and take up space in a woodshop so if you are not going to use it, it will just sit around and collect dust and be in the way.