What is a Scroll Saw Used For? 10 Awesome Examples

From the ornate designs adorning vintage furniture to the detailed toys passed down through generations, the scroll saw’s influence in the realm of woodworking is undeniable. This unique tool has evolved as a result of our pursuit of perfection in craft. Early craftsmen relied on rudimentary versions of the scroll saw to achieve detailed designs that other tools couldn’t accomplish.

Today, thanks to technological advancements, the modern scroll saw is an electric-powered wonder, showcasing a blend of precision and versatility.

Scroll saw after cutting an intricate spider web

At its core, the scroll saw is more than just another piece of machinery in a woodworker’s arsenal. It stands out, primarily because of its thin, fine blade, designed to maneuver tight curves and intricate cuts effortlessly. Unlike its bulkier counterparts, the scroll saw provides unparalleled control, making it the go-to machine of choice for projects that demand a delicate touch.

In this article, we’ll look at the capabilities of this tool. There are many ways in which scroll saws can be useful. Let’s explore 10 of the most popular uses.

1. Delicate and Intricate Cuts

When it comes to achieving finesse in woodworking, the scroll saw is an artisan’s dream come true. This specialty tool is designed specifically for delicate details, where every turn and twist of the blade can bring a design to life. The scroll saw’s primary strength lies in its ability to make intricate cuts that are beyond the capacity of many other tools. This proficiency is not just about the tool’s power but also its precision.

Cutting out an intricate pattern

The scroll saw’s blade, thin and fine, can seamlessly navigate tight curves and corners, allowing for the creation of complex patterns that would be challenging, if not impossible, for bulkier saws. Even other saws that can navigate curves and other tight spaces, such as the jig saw or band saw, can’t accomplish what the scroll saw can.

Whether one is attempting an elaborate floral pattern or the delicate wings of a butterfly, this tool ensures the minutiae of the design are preserved.

2. Crafting Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles

The art of creating wooden puzzles carries with it a demand for precision, intricacy, and patience, and the scroll saw stands as the most suitable tool for the job. With its unparalleled precision, it can intricately maneuver around the tightest of curves and corners, making it ideal for carving out complex jigsaw patterns from wood.

Wooden jigsaw puzzle pieces

The scroll saw’s fine blade produces clean cuts that reduce the need for excessive sanding, resulting in puzzle pieces that are smooth to the touch right off the saw. Furthermore, its ability to make clean starts and stops without splintering the wood ensures that each puzzle piece retains its intended shape.

The process begins with a well-drawn pattern on the wood, detailing every nook and cranny of each puzzle piece. With a steady hand, the scroll saw’s blade cuts cleanly through the wood, slicing through with precision, producing individual pieces that when assembled, fit perfectly together.

3. Creating Jewelry from Wood or Thin Metals

Wooden jewelry, with its rustic charm and natural elegance, requires a tool capable of respecting the material while carving intricate designs. The scroll saw, with its fine blade and precise control, is ideally suited for such tasks. It allows artisans to cut delicate patterns, achieving designs that range from abstract forms to representations of nature, like leaves or animals.

When it comes to thin metals, the challenges differ. Metal, even if thin, is harder and less forgiving than wood. However, with the right blade, a scroll saw can navigate through metals like silver, brass, or copper, creating intricate patterns and shapes.

Whether it’s crafting ornate metal earrings, delicate pendants, or even intertwined designs combining both wood and metal, the scroll saw’s ability to produce clean, smooth cuts is invaluable.

4. Intarsia and Marquetry

Intarsia, the art of crafting three-dimensional wooden mosaics, demands a tool capable of executing precise cuts to ensure each piece, no matter how small or uniquely shaped, fits perfectly into its designated space. The scroll saw allows craftsmen to carve out individual wood pieces that can be sanded and then seamlessly assembled into the final intarsia masterpiece.

Marquetry, on the other hand, involves veneers – thin slices of wood or even other materials like shell or ivory. These veneers are expertly cut and pieced together to form decorative patterns or images on flat surfaces, such as furniture or boxes.

Given the fragile nature of veneers, the precision and gentleness of the scroll saw are of paramount importance. Its fine blade ensures that the delicate veneers are cut without tearing or damaging them, preserving their integrity for the final artwork.

5. Fretwork and Latticework

Fretwork and latticework are two decorative techniques that require a lot of precision. The scroll saw makes easy, yet tedious work of these types of artistry.

Fretwork involves intricate and ornamental designs that are often cut out from wood to create patterns, usually geometric in nature. This can be likened to the detailed cuts of a lace pattern, where every curve, angle, and connection matters.

The scroll saw is perfectly suited for this with its fine blade that can nimbly navigate tight spaces and intricate curves. It provides craftsmen the ability to achieve the precision necessary for the ornate designs inherent to fretwork, ensuring every cut is clean and every detail is sharp.

Fretwork often employs the use of spiral blades which allows for easier direction changes.

Latticework, meanwhile, refers to a crisscrossed framework, either diagonal or orthogonal, often used as decorative screens, window panels, or even as part of garden structures like gazebos. Given that latticework is not just decorative but often functional, it’s vital that the cuts are not only precise but also consistent, ensuring stability.

The scroll saw’s controlled movement and steady tension ensure that each strip in the lattice is uniformly cut, adding both beauty and structural integrity to the work.

The nature of both fretwork and latticework means that any errors or inconsistencies are not easily hidden, given the openwork design. A scroll saw, with its ability to start and stop with pinpoint accuracy, ensures that cuts are deliberate and precise, minimizing the chances of errors.

6. Making Toy Parts or Miniature Furniture

Toys, whether they’re puzzles, figurines, or moving vehicles, often have delicate parts and intricate designs. A toy’s appeal lies in its details, be it the delicate spokes of a miniature wooden bicycle or the nuanced wings of a toy dragonfly. The scroll saw, with its thin blade and ability to make precision cuts, allows craftsmen to navigate these fine details with ease.

Wooden toy airplane with teddy bear

Its ability to cleanly cut tight curves and angles ensures that toy components fit together seamlessly, resulting in a finished product that’s both beautiful and functional.

Toy making is a favorite among scroll saw users and is both fun and rewarding. I personally enjoy creating puzzles and toy items that are not functional but are designed to be used as decorative items.

Miniature furniture, a beloved component of dollhouses and dioramas, is a craft where every millimeter counts. Whether it’s crafting a tiny chair with ornate backrest patterns or a miniature grandfather clock with detailed face designs, the scroll saw’s precision proves invaluable. It allows the artist to achieve scale and proportion without compromising on the decorative elements that give miniature furniture its charm.

7. Lettering and Signage

Whether it’s a family nameplate, a welcome sign on the door, an inspirational quote, or a business sign, the scroll saw proves to be an indispensable tool for crafting these typographical artworks. The scroll saw can maneuver through these delicate patterns with ease.

Signage, often larger and more robust, requires not just precision but consistency across the design. When cutting out large letters or symbols, the uniformity of depth, width, and style is crucial for the sign’s overall look and legibility.

It’s important to note that the scroll saw has limits on the thickness and size of items it can create. You are limited to the throat depth of the saw which usually ranges from 16 – 20 inches. If you try to use a larger piece than the throat depth allows for, you’ll bump up against the rear arm and not be able to rotate the piece you are working with.

The scroll saw also excels in creating negative space, which is often utilized in signage and lettering designs. By removing portions of the wood or material, artists can craft letters or designs that appear to float or stand out against their background, adding depth and three-dimensional quality to the signage.

8. Cutting Dovetail Joints

Dovetail joints, revered for their interlocking beauty and strength, are a hallmark of fine woodworking. Traditionally crafted using hand tools like chisels and saws, these joints symbolize a blend of functionality and artistry. While the scroll saw might not replace traditional methods of crafting dovetail joints for every woodworker, it certainly offers an innovative approach

The scroll saw can be used to cut the tails and pins of a dovetail joint. Its ability to make sharp, accurate turns as well as the ease of control and clean kerf make it a great option for this. When done properly, each interlocking piece of the joint will fit snugly, which is crucial for the joint’s structural integrity.

9. Making 3D Objects

At the heart of crafting 3D objects lies the need to layer, interlock, or stack components in such a manner that they create depth and dimension. The scroll saw, with its unparalleled ability to make tight, intricate cuts, is perfectly suited for this endeavor. By meticulously cutting out layers of a design, a craftsman can then assemble them to produce a 3D object that stands out, both literally and figuratively.

Creating objects in 3D is a great way to make standard one-dimensional items stand out like a piece of art. The Christmas Gnome of the Christmas snowman I have designed and created is a simplistic example of an ordinary pattern made to look 3D by using multiple layers.

10. Stencil Creation

Stencils are handy tools for artists, designers, and crafters alike, offering a method to reproduce designs repeatedly with precision and uniformity. Whether it’s for names, wall art, or other designs, stencils play an integral role in achieving consistent, replicable patterns. Given the need for accuracy and detail in stencil design, the scroll saw emerges as a great tool for creating stencils of all kinds

8 Reasons a Scroll Saw Stands Out Among Other Types of Saws

Precision Cuts

One of the foremost features of a scroll saw is its ability to make extremely precise cuts, perfect for intricate designs and delicate work. Try crafting a wooden puzzle with a jigsaw and then compare the ease of production with a scroll saw when crafting that same puzzle.

Internal Cuts

With the capability to start a cut from a drilled hole within the material (rather than from an edge), it’s perfect for designs that require internal cutouts without an external entry point.

Reduced Noise

Compared to many other power saws, scroll saws operate with relatively less noise, providing a quieter working environment. I tested mine and discovered that it produces about XX db on average.

Variable Speeds

Most scroll saws feature a variable speed knob that can help you gain more control while cutting. You can also add a foot pedal to some saws making the variable speed easier to control.

Less Dust Production

The scroll saw’s thin blades typically produce less sawdust compared to other saws, making the workspace cleaner and reducing respiratory concerns.


Due to its design and operation, a scroll saw is generally considered one of the safer power saws. Compared to a table saw, for example, it’s a much safer option. The blade’s reciprocating motion and slower blade speed reduce the risk of serious injury.

Minimal Tear-out

The fine blade and precise cutting action mean that materials often have a cleaner edge with minimal tear-out, reducing the need for excessive sanding or finishing.

Easy Blade Change

A scroll saw has a removable blade that has to be changed often. Most models feature tool-less blade changing mechanisms, making the process of switching blades swift and hassle-free. It’s also handy when needing to reposition the blade to achieve inside cuts.


As you can see, there are many uses for a scroll saw where any other type of saw just won’t cut it. You may have noticed a pattern amongst all of these uses:

Its small, thin blade offers unparalleled control, making it an ideal choice for projects where accuracy and detail are paramount.

From lattice work and toys to lettering and signage or musical instruments, the scroll saw can navigate complex patterns and tight corners with remarkable ease.

Band saws, jig saws, and other heavy-duty saws have their place in cutting large pieces, but scroll saws stand in a league of their own when it comes to fine details.

The scroll saw is not only an extremely useful tool but also a fun tool to use. It is one of the safest saws available and the low noise level and dust production make it a pleasure all around.

The scroll saw is much more than just a tool; it’s a medium for expressing creativity, bringing designs to life, and crafting pieces that are as beautiful as they are functional. Whether you’re a seasoned craftsman or a woodworking enthusiast, the scroll saw may be a great addition to your workshop.