What Are Spiral Scroll Saw Blades Used For?

Spiral scroll saw blades are unique in the way they are designed and they have a specific purpose. Unlike most scroll saw blades that have teeth on one side, spiral blades have teeth arranged in a spiral pattern. This pattern runs throughout the entire length of the blade. Why is this and what are they good for?

Spiral scroll saw blades are designed to cut in all directions. Rather than spinning your workpiece to cut a pattern line, you can simply push and pull your workpiece in any direction. This is perfect for large workpieces that can’t be spun easily or patterns with contoured lines in all directions.

Spiral scroll saw blade cutting through wood

These types of blades can be very helpful when cutting patterns that have lots of directional changes. Once you come to an area where a directional change is needed, you can simply push your workpiece into the new direction. This is faster and can be more accurate than having to reposition your workpiece in order to cut in a new direction.

So why wouldn’t you always use spiral scroll saw blades?

Spiral scroll saw blades are great when used in specific scenarios. They are best used when cutting detailed patterns such as portraits or fretwork. However, they have some downsides that you will want to consider before choosing to use them. Let’s look at when you’d want to use these blades and the pros and cons of using them.

When to Use Spiral Scroll Saw Blades

Spiral scroll saw blades are best used when cutting out patterns that have lots of multi-directional details. The following list includes cases in which spiral blades perform the best.


Fretwork is the perfect opportunity to use a spiral blade. These patterns have lots of areas that will have you turning your material constantly as you are cutting. There are lots of small details to contend with on a fretwork pattern. While you can use a standard blade, it would be much more work spinning your workpiece around to cut in different directions.

A spiral blade will make it much easier to deal with such areas and allow you to work faster and more accurately. When you come to an area that changes direction, you’d normally need to rotate your wood around so that the blade teeth are lined up. You won’t have to do this with a spiral blade as you will be able to simply push or pull your workpiece in the new direction without rotating it.


Portraits require lots of small areas to be cut out similar to fretwork. It isn’t always necessary to be exact in these areas which makes a spiral blade perfect. Similar to fretwork, you’ll be able to cut out intricate portraits without spinning your workpiece around constantly.

Large Items

Some projects require you to do your work on a larger workpiece. Consider a rectangular sign. If you were to spin a sign like this around, it would likely hit the scroll saw arm, not allowing it to spin in the direction you need it. A spiral blade may solve the problem since it takes the act of spinning the workpiece out of the equation.

You can position a large item in your scroll saw and then cut in all directions without ever rotating the workpiece to move in different directions.

Cons of Using Spiral Scroll Saw Blades

There are some good reasons to use them but they aren’t always the best choice. Even when they are, they still have some downsides.

Spiral Scroll Saw Blades Don’t Work Well on Straight Lines

Spiral scroll saw blades are great for complicated patterns that require intricate cutting, but they don’t work as well when it comes to straight cuts. This is because the blade is designed to cut in all directions rather than a single direction like a standard scroll saw blade would.

Scroll saw blade comparison on straight lines

The spiral design of the blade makes it difficult to make precise and consistent straight cuts and can lead to uneven edges or jagged lines along the cut.

This means that if you are making a project with predominantly straight lines, then a standard scroll saw blade is probably going to be more suitable for the job.

They Have a Learning Curve and Take Some Getting Used To

Using a spiral blade takes some getting used to because it doesn’t cut the way you would expect a traditional blade to cut. It tends to drift to one side or another and can be difficult to master. Usually, on a pattern that calls for this type of blade, exact results won’t matter as much as they might with other patterns that have straight lines and 90° angles.

It’s a different feeling when you first use a spiral blade because you will move the wood differently through the blade in order to cut. This can take some adjustment so you may end up with poor results in the beginning. It may take a little time of using it to get a feel for it and how it cuts through the material you are using.

They Leave a Rougher Edge Than Standard Blades

I love how a scroll saw leaves such clean edges. There isn’t usually much sanding to be done after cutting through wood. This is especially true if you are using reverse-tooth blades. However, if you are using a spiral blade, you will notice a finish that isn’t quite as smooth as you might expect.

Spiral scroll saw blades leave a jagged edge rather than a smooth edge like regular scroll saw blades do because of the nature of their design. A spiral blade has teeth that spiral all the way around, while regular scroll saw blades have teeth on one side and are designed to cut in one direction. The result is an uneven edge and a rougher finish than you would get with a regular scroll saw blade.

They Don’t Work Well in Thicker Materials

As good as spiral scroll saw blades are for patterns with lots of multi-directional lines and curves, they don’t work well in thicker materials. In my experience, the thicker the material, the harder they are to control.

Additionally, more breakages are more likely to occur when using thicker materials. If you are using anything over 1/2″ thick, you’ll need to move at a slower pace when using a spiral scroll saw blade. I have found that the small teeth usually present on a spiral blade don’t have the cutting power to cut through thick materials at a fast pace.

For these reasons, spiral scroll saw blades should be used primarily for thinner pieces of wood and other soft materials such as foam or plastic.

Spiral Blades Don’t Work Well in Sharp Corners

When it comes to scrolling, sharp corners can be difficult to navigate with a spiral scroll saw blade. This is because the spiraling teeth of the blade make it more challenging to cut straight lines and get tight corner edges.

The shape of the spiral blades also makes them drift slightly while cutting, meaning that you are less likely to get crisp and clean corners on your project. For these reasons, if you are looking for sharp corners in your scroll saw projects, a standard scroll saw blade may be better suited for the job.

They Produce a Larger Kerf

One of the biggest downsides of using these types of blades is that they leave a larger kerf than regular scroll saw blades. This is because the cutting width of spiral scroll saw blades is often larger due to their spiraling design. This means that more material needs to be removed in order for them to make a cut. As such, if you are looking for precise cuts with minimal waste then it might be better to use a standard scroll saw blade instead.

You’ll notice more waste and sawdust when using spiral blades, especially on thicker materials.

Spiral scroll saw blades on white background

Bottom Line

Overall, spiral scroll saw blades are useful and a good option to have in your workshop. If you cut out a lot of patterns that require a lot of directional changes and spinning of the workpiece, they will make the job easier. They do have a learning curve that can be difficult to get used and they have a different feel while using them as compared to standard blades.

Some people swear by spiral blades and others hate them. It all depends on your application and what you are trying to achieve. A combination of both traditional and spiral will usually work out best. Ultimately, you will need to decide which type of scroll saw blade is the best choice for your project. The only way to know for sure if they will work well for your needs is to test them out.