Scroll Saw Pros And Cons

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A scroll saw is a tool that can allow you to create some very intricate pieces from various types of materials including wood, metal, and plastic. Its small, thin blade allows you to make tight turns, small cuts and can be a lot of fun to use. It’s become one of my favorite tools in the shop because I create a lot of small crafty pieces and this saw is perfect for it.

It’s like a sewing machine for the workshop and I can sit at it for hours working on a complex piece of artwork that I wouldn’t be able to complete with any other saw. Although it is designed to cut small intricate pieces, it can be used for so much more than that.

Man using a scroll saw

I have used a scroll saw for many years and often create small pieces for display throughout the year. It’s easy to find or create patterns for nearly anything you can imagine for cutting on the scroll saw. Having become a fan of this saw since I was first introduced to it many years ago, I have mostly good things to say but there are a few downsides that might turn someone off to purchasing one.

If you are on the fence as to whether or not you need one, keep reading for some of the pros and cons of the scroll saw.


1. You Can Do Intricate, Detailed Work

The main advantage of a scroll saw over other types of saws is that you are able to work on pieces that are small and intricate. Pieces like this are often decorative and require a saw that can get in and out of small areas. Since the blade is so small on a scroll saw, you are able to make tight turns and get the blade into places where are you wouldn’t be able to with other types of saws.

You can easily remove the blade and thread it through tiny drilled holes and other areas to make it easier to cut out small center areas and other places that the blades on other saws would be too big for.

When compared to something like a Jigsaw, the scroll saw is more precise and allows you to make tighter turns. Making a 90-degree turn or more with a scroll saw is no big deal.

There are some very intricate scroll saw patterns available on the Internet and the creativity is unlimited with this saw. Whether you are doing fretwork, creating a decorative piece for your home, or building a toy that can serve as a lifelong heirloom for your child, the scroll saw provides you with a way to create even the smallest, most detailed piece that you can imagine.

It’s similar to what a laser cutter can do, only with human operation. The results will not be as clean as pretty as what you will get with a laser but you will have the character and uniqueness that human hands provided when creating the work.

2. It’s Fun!

The scroll saw is a machine that can really get your brain thinking. There are so many things that you can do with this saw, it may keep you up at night thinking of the types of projects that you can work on with it. Once the scroll saw bug has bitten you and you have finished some detailed pieces that you are proud of, you will be looking for more to do

It’s easy to get carried away and want to create all kinds of things. I find it fun to get into the zone and work with this saw while I am listening to music or an audiobook. Woodworking is a fun hobby as it is and scroll sawing just adds another layer of fun and another way that you can include more variety into your workshop.

3. It’s Quiet

If you have worked with saws before, you know that many of them are super loud and require hearing protection of some sort. There is no way to operate most saws in the middle of the night if you have neighbors and want to keep a peaceful neighborhood. However, I have spent many long nights and early mornings working with my scroll saw in my garage.

It’s a quiet machine that can operate all night long without disturbing anyone, assuming that you are in a workshop or garage or some location where others aren’t around. I enjoy working with mine because the only thing I can hear when it is running is the actual wood being cut with the blade. I typically use some noise-canceling headphones while I am scrolling so that I can listen to music or audiobooks. I can barely hear anything as I am working.

The sound is at its highest when the blade is at high speed. If you have a variable scroll saw, the scroll saw on a low setting will produce very low noise and it’s almost negligible if you are concerned with creating too much noise. A saw like this might even work if you live in an apartment. If you can figure out dust collection, the saw itself could allow you to work even without a garage or workshop. That’s how quiet it is!

Of course, this will depend on the size and type of scroll saw you have as well. Not all saws have the same sound output as some will be louder than others. When my DeWalt scroll saw is running on a medium setting which is generally where I work, it runs at approximately 58 decibels. When it is cutting through a piece of wood on this setting, the decibels are around 70. This was determined using a decibel meter app on my iPhone and was measured from the distance of where my ears usually are in relation to the saw.

4. It Leaves a Smooth Finish

Not only can you cut detailed patterns with this saw but the finished cuts are smoother than what most other saws can deliver. This is good because it often requires very little sanding after the cuts have all been made. A little hand sanding will usually be all that is needed. The teeth of a scroll saw blade are fine and will not produce the splintering that a larger saw with a course blade will.

5. Patterns Galore!

Scroll saw patterns are plentiful and easy to find for just about anything you want to create. You can easily find any type of pattern that you want to find online and create anything your heart desires. Beyond that, it’s easy to draw up your own patterns if you have the skill and create custom work for your home.

I have been able to create lots of custom signage and sit-around items for our home using our scroll saw so it is particularly handy during holiday times as you can create lots of unique decorations.


1. Not As Versatile as Other Saws

A scroll saw is not as versatile as some other saws may be. Since a scroll saw is typically only used for fine detail work on intricate, crafty pieces, it won’t see much use if you are not working on these types of projects. It’s not like a bandsaw or a circular saw that may have many different uses and become one of the most used tools in your workshop.

The scroll saw is one that has a purpose and generally will only be used for that purpose. If you are the type that rarely does small projects that calls for a saw like this, it may be a waste of money. Although you can get usage out of it and use it for other things besides intricate detail work, you may find that other saws are better if you regularly work on projects that don’t involve such detailed precision.

In reality, the scroll saw can do much more than it generally gets used for. However, most workshops have a variety of saws and sometimes these other saws do a better job of straight cuts or cutting through thicker wood.

2. Blades Can Break Easily

Depending on the type of wood you are cutting, the blades on a scroll saw can be quite fragile. With practice, you’ll have less and less breakage but it’s just the nature of the beast with a saw like this. The blades are very small and thin so if you try to force things, you will find yourself breaking blades more often than you would like.

The quality of the saw and blades matter. I owned a cheap scroll saw for years and broke blades nearly every time I used it. However, with my DeWalt scroll saw, I rarely break a blade other than when the blade has just gotten too dull can’t keep up any longer or I get in a hurry and find myself forcing the wood through the saw too much.

It takes a lot of practice to develop a skill set that will allow you to cut lots of pieces without breaking so many blades.

3. A Scroll Saw Takes up Valuable Shop Room

Since the scroll saw is not as versatile as other saws, you may find it sitting in your shop taking up valuable room. Some of these saws are quite large and can be heavy. If you need to move them around from time to time, it may become a hassle. It’s best to mount your saw on a rolling stand so that you can easily move it from place to place when not in use.

Otherwise, if you don’t use it very often, it can become an item that you will eventually want to get rid of since it will always be in your way.

This is important for someone who has a small workshop. I am one of these people and my workshop consists of a corner of my garage in which we also park our cars. I have made sure to include only the tools that I use the most in my workshop. I do a lot of scroll sawing so you will find this tool in my workshop. However, it does take up a lot of space and if I didn’t use it often, I would want to get rid of it in exchange for a more versatile saw.

4. It Takes Practice to Master

Unlike many saws where you just cut a straight line or a small curve, the scroll saw requires some practice and dedication in order to achieve the best results. Without practice and lots of use, you’ll find yourself cutting outside the lines, turning corners too sharply, or not sharp enough. You’ll experience the wood jumping up and down or blades breaking as you try to force the situation.

In order to become proficient, you’ll need to learn a few skills with this saw. Once learned, they will become second nature and you’ll find yourself cutting out patterns that you wouldn’t have attempted when you were a beginner.


Although a scroll saw is mainly used for detailed woodworking projects, in my opinion, it’s a little more versatile than it gets credit for. Small intricate pieces are fun but you can also create larger items such as welcome signs, family names, and holiday messages that may hang on your front door.

The options are endless really and you’ll discover more and more things to do with it once you begin using one.

It can also work well with different thicknesses of wood. The DeWalt scroll saw that I use cuts up to a 2-inch piece of wood. Although I haven’t cut a 2-inch thick piece of wood, I have cut patterns out of 1 1/2-inch thick wood many times and it eats right through it with no problem.

The scroll saw can be a great addition to your workshop if you need to cut sharp corners and get into small areas where others saws can’t go. I started with a band saw years ago and realized I couldn’t do what I needed to do with it. Once I discovered the scroll saw and began using it, I got rid of the band saw and never looked back! It has allowed me to work on some awesome little projects and create unique items around our house.