Scroll Saw Tips


Scroll saws are the tool of choice for creating intricate designs in woodworking projects. The small blade and simple operation make an excellent combination for producing eye-catching fretwork and seamless inlays. Unfortunately, many woodworkers have a hard time controlling the precision of their cuts. Here are a few helpful tips to improve your scrolling accuracy you won't find in the scroll saw owner's manual.

Applying Patterns to Wood

Some woodworkers may choose to cut designs freehand, but the preferred method is to use a pattern glued to the wood. Use a temporary spray adhesive to attach the pattern and then cover the cutting area with clear packing tape. The packing tape will act as a lubricant for the saw blade and prevent burn marks on the wood. After cutting, you can easily remove the tape and pattern for sanding. If you accidentally use too much spray adhesive and cannot remove the pattern, apply some mineral spirits, and it will come right off.

Cutting Straight Lines

The first thing every new scroller learns is that a scroll saw does not cut in a perfectly straight line. Generally, the saw blade will veer to the right when making straight cuts. The blade manufacturing process causes this problem due to a burr on the right side. To compensate for this, try standing slightly to the right of the saw and feed the wood straight into the blade from the new position. You should be able to achieve a much straighter cut from this angle.

Hand Positioning

Your hand position must allow you to move the wood around the blade freely. Place one hand on each side of the wood. Apply enough pressure to prevent the wood from bouncing but will allow the wood to rotate easily. Try to keep your dominant index finger close to the blade to improve cutting accuracy. Allow the wood to feed into the blade. Forcing the blade into the wood will cause it to break and potentially ruin the project.

Cutting Curves and Tight Corners

To accurately cut curves, pick an imaginary point about 1/16 inch in front of the blade path. Concentrate on keeping the kerf in line with the imaginary point. Cutting to the imaginary point helps to keep the blade on the proper path. Navigate tight corners by quickly spinning the wood until the front of the blade is in line with the new cutting direction. Since the sides and back of the blade do not cut, use this to your advantage by applying slight pressure to one of these areas to hold the wood in place as you spin it. The spin should be fast enough to avoid burning the wood.

About this Author

A 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Bobby Stocks began writing freelance travel articles in 2005. His articles have appeared in Absolute Florida magazine and online at and Stocks holds a Bachelor of Science in biblical studies from Liberty University.

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