Scroll saws are handy in making intricate patterns, especially in wood and metal, work that cannot be as accurately done by the more common power jigsaws or coping saws.
There are many models and brands of scroll saws, and selecting the right one requires that you know the defining features.
For starters, there are a few basic things you must appreciate before you get to the nitty-gritty of it all.
Two basic features of a scroll saw are the power button and the speed control. As you plan to make your purchase, you must have a very clear idea where you want these important features located.
For the power button, you could consider having a saw whose power switch is located at an easily accessible place: in the case of an emergency, you want to quickly switch it off.
The Variable Speed Control feature is in appreciation of the fact that people scroll at different speeds.
There are those who scroll fast, and there are those who prefer a slower speed. Whatever your preference, you should be able to access the switch fast enough to vary the speed as needed.
Here is a breakdown of the most important features of a scroll saw!
The Work Table
You need a table that you can work comfortably from. Consider the size that is appropriate for your type of work.
It must also be smooth so that when working, there is no resistance. Then, of course, the material should be long-lasting, so you do not have the budget for a new one just after a short while.
Aluminum and cast iron tables are recommended.
Table/ Blade Tilt
Scroll saws or blades tilt, either to the right or to the left or both ways. This tilt needs to be at an accurate angle for you to make accurate cuts.
Determine the accuracy of the angles before you make your purchase. After the adjustment is made, you should be able to go back to the original setting.
Take note that in some cases, it is the blade that tilts while the table remains intact.
This refers to the space between the blade cutting edge and the mounting point. It determines the size of the workpiece that the saw can handle.
Generally, the throat handles a piece that is double its size. This specification should help you determine what size you need.
For amateurs, the recommended size is 16”.
Scroll blades come in two types: pinned (or pin-ended) and pin-less (or plain-ended). Pinned blades are meant for thick cuts of wood. They are thicker, wider, and are unsuitable for intricate, inside cutting since they cannot fit through a small-drilled hole.
Pin-less blades are considered the standard, are more widely available, and give more options when cutting. They allow for the finer details and better accuracy.
Scroll saws come with many amenities such as levers, knobs, cams, etc. These help in tightening and loosening of the blades.
Ensure that the location of these amenities is within reach because you will be tightening and loosening the saw often, and you do not want to be inconvenienced looking for the knobs and levers in hidden corners.
Dust Collection System
It goes without saying that the scroll saw will be producing a lot of dust. How this dust is collected is very important.
Most scroll saws have a dust disposal system made of blow tubes or compressors. Ensure that the disposal system is safely tucked away and does not leave you covered in dust.
Blade Mounting System
Scroll saws have different blade mounting systems. Tooled blade systems require many tools to change the blade. This can be quite exhausting, especially if you have many cuts to make.
Tool-less systems are preferable, mainly because they do not require any tools to change the blades.
However, you must be sure how exactly to do it, because once the blade slips, it has to be replaced, which can be quite expensive.
Blade Rocker Arm Type
The blade rocker arm gives the blade its up and down movement. The less expensive scroll saws have just one solid arm while the more expensive saws have more than one arm.
Both serve this purpose just fine, though more experts recommend the ones with more arms because they have less vibration.
Stand-Alone or Table-Mounted
Some scroll saws have to be mounted while others come with their own stands. Those that have to be mounted usually have more vibrations, while those with their own stands are built with a vibration dampening effect.
You should bear this in mind as you plan your purchase.
These are just some of the features common to scroll saws. There are other optional features such as work lights, magnifiers, blowers, etc., but these are not considered essential, and scroll saws do just well without them.
You are advised to never purchase a scroll saw until you see it run first. This is because a scroll saw is a highly specialized tool meant for specific jobs only. Be sure about which features you want before you make the purchase.