Scroll Saw

About a year after taking up pyrography I was frustrated by the lack of reasonably priced articles onto which I could practise my new found hobby. I could buy items like these trinket pots and decorate them, but it got a bit tedious after a bit.

I did some plaques, but I only have so much space on my walls, so I couldn't keep doing my pyrography on them. I also did some cheese boards and managed to do a few bowls before they became unavailable.

 Doing pyrography on boxes seemed a reasonable way to go, but they were either expensive or the wood was of a poor quality. In fact, some of the wood was of unknown species and, when I burnt it with my pyrography iron, it smelt like somebody had set fire to a shed load of of putrid cod fish.

 I really enjoyed doing the pyrography on boxes, so I decided to make my own and this was where the need for a scroll saw was born.

Why a scroll saw
That's a good question because a scroll saw isn't the obvious solution to box making. A band saw or a table saw would be much more useful in the box making stakes. However, band saws and table saws are not much use when it comes to cutting intricate designs especially fret work.

Below are a few examples of work that can be done with a scroll saw but not by the table saw or the band saw.
Above is the lid of a box that I made using my scroll saw. The internal cuts between the leaves can only be done with a scroll saw.
On a similar theme, the cuts around the damsel flies and those forming the reeds could only be done with a scroll saw. I think it is also apparent that scroll sawing goes very well with pyrography.

You don't have to practise pyrography to get enjoyment from a scroll saw and you can do other things other than boxes because it is so versatile.
A plaque of a deer cut from 4mm plywood.
A scotty dog

A segmented fish
A wooden vase for my wife's clay flowers see her flowers

 Finally, a set of draws I made to keep my bits and pieces for my rotary tools in.

Okay, if I've whetted your appetite for a scroll saw here are a few things to look out for when purchasing one.

Which saw should I buy?
I did a lot or research before parting with the cash for a scroll saw, not just because I'm as tight as a duck's bum, but because I wanted to get it right.

My research started by doing a matrix of all the attributes that I wanted from my scroll saw. I put these along the top of spreed sheet and down the side I listed all the manufacturers. The attributes I thought were important were things like.

Does it have a light?
Does it have a blower?
What type of blades does it use, plain or pinned?
Does it tilt?
Maximum cut size
How big is the motor?
Is it variable speed.
How heavy is it?
How much does it cost?

Surely, if I found the saw that ticked most of the boxes and was a decent price, I would have the perfect saw. My logic sounds right doesn't it, but I'm sorry to say it was flawed.

If you've looked at scroll saws already you will know that there are a whole load of them priced around the £100 mark. And, after studying a few, you could start to think that a lot of them are the same basic saw but painted different colours with slight variations. The truth is that a lot of them are the same saw and after further examination and checking out the reviews, one gets a feeling that the quality of these bottom end saws leaves a lot to be desired.

On paper they look as if they could do the job but if you are going to do a lot of sawing a better quality saw might be more cost effective and much less frustrating.

The dilemma
Okay, so you fancy having a go at scroll sawing but you are not quite sure if it is going to be the right hobby for you. You have every right to be concerned and that is why you are probably telling yourself that one of these cheap saws will do the job, and if the worst comes to the worst and you don't like it you haven't lost a load of dosh.

Nobody can fault your reasoning, but be aware that if you choose the wrong saw it could put you off scroll sawing for life or at the very least see you spending even more money to upgrade to a better saw.

It is up to you how much you spend on a scroll saw, but here are a few pointers to stop you wasting your money.

The one most important attribute of any scroll saw

It must use plain blades. Walk away from any saw that uses pinned blades only. The reason for this is that some internal cuts will be very small and pinned blades just won't go through the entry hole. This means that you will be limited by the scope of the saw.

The next important issue
The blade clamping system needs to be easy to use. If you look at the box with the leaves on higher up this post you will see that it has a lot of internal cuts. So every time a cut is finished I had to unattached one end of the blade, take it out of the work and then thread it back through another entry hole. This is very tedious even with quick release clamps, but if you are faffing about with some of the clamping systems that are fitted to the cheaper saws it is very frustrating.

Variable speed
When you first start scroll sawing, you may like me, think that variable speed isn't needed. However, after using my saw for a while I found that this is a very good feature depending on the hardness and the thickness of the wood being cut. Simply, cutting a piece of 2mm ply wood requires a different cutting speed than would be required for cutting a 1nch thick piece of oak.

It seems to me that the old adage, you get what you pay for, was written with the scroll saw purchaser in mind. If you are serious about buying a scroll saw I would go for one of these three makes but be warned that they are expensive.

Hegner multicut.
Hegner are considered to be the Rolls Royce of the scroll sawing world. A quality product and brand that most scroll sawers place at the top of their perfect saw list.
This saw comes from America and has had a few bad reviews in this country. However, I have owned one for almost three years and found it to be a great bit of kit. In fact, I have had no trouble with it at all. One of the great advantages the Excalibur has is that it tilts instead of the table which makes angled cuts so much easier.
Axminster AWFS18
I haven't used one of these saws but the reviews indicate that it is quality product and although it isn't cheap, it is less expensive that n the two scroll saws already mentioned.

The prices of the saws above are over £400 each and that is a lot of money by anybody's standards. Which takes you back to the original dilemma where a £100 saw looks vary attractive. If this is the case and you can't afford to buy one of the three saw above, my advice would be to go second hand.

To be continued.
If you have any questions, please ask.


  1. Hi!
    Thank you for this great website.
    I'm new to pyrography. I love this art, it is relaxing and it's great to able to make something with your own hands.
    I will appreciate some advice....
    I would like to create small signs with this technique but I think I don't have the right woodburner (it is a weller and it costed me $20).
    What woodburner will be right for this? The tips I have are too big for the lettering I want to do.

    Thanks a lot!
    Have a wonderful day!!!!

  2. Hi Taz
    I've just read back what I've written and realise it is full of spelling mistakes. Sorry about that I will have to slow down a bit. The other thing I noticed is that you are not from the UK, so I don't know if a Peters Childs machine will work where you are. Perhaps a razor tip would be better.

  3. Hi I've just bought a weller tool for pyrography and I can't even work out how to put the tips on its just the cheap one ref WHK 30UK can anyone help me please as I am really keen to get going
    Thanks issy

    1. Hi Izzy, I'm not sure about that model, but on that type of iron the tips usually screw in.

  4. Scroll saw is viewed as a power apparatus. It is utilized by skilled workers who are into outlining wood or different things in a nitty gritty way and is a free-hand saw that causes you cut quicker and resemble fretsaws however just less demanding to utilize and is more precise in delivering extremely point by point cuts. Scroll saw is utilized by individuals who are into artworks and handworks.