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Buy The Best Scroll Saw?


excaliber scroll sawMaybe before we decide on what is the best scroll saw to buy it is important for some that are relatively new to the woodworkig arena to first understand what makes something a scroll saw.

So ... a scroll saw is a small powered tool that lets craftsman cut freehand patterns in a piece of wood. The saws are usually mounted on the corner of your work bench or independently on a three legged stand.

The blades are typically 5" long and at most, only 1/8" in width and stretch between two clamps, one on an arm that hangs over the table and one end secured in a clamp under the table.

A small motor drives the blade up and down in a vertical plane to cause a sawing action as wood is presented to its cutting edge.

What is a scroll saw used for?

Most owners will use a scroll saw to cut small thin pieces of wood into intricate shapes to create ornatmental clocks, boxes, and portraits. As with any craft, those that are truly the passionate ones are forever pushing the envelope to create new products and evolving techniques.

Scroll sawing is no different. Today if you ask what is a scroll saw used for, you might get answers like christmas tree decorations, chess men and even three dimensional puzzles.


Now as the second step in understanding what is the best scroll saw, you might want to know the three different technologies that are used in their construction.

The C-arm Scroll saw


C-scroll sawThe C-Arm Scroll saw is an old design that like its name is a "metal C" mounted on a pivot that swivels up and down dragging a scroll saw blade in an arc that is clamped between the "C's" open end.

This rotation causes the blade to move in a slight arc as it travels up and down and tends to undercut the wood in its travels. It is especially evident in thicker material, and rarely noticed if you tend to work with only thin plywood.

C-Arm scroll saws are known to be more aggressive in their action and DO cut faster but take more skill to operate with a high degree of accuracy. Both the Delta Q3 and the craftsman contractor are of the C arm design.

The Parallel Arm Scroll Saw

parallel arm scroll saw

On a Parallel arm saw, there are in fact two arms with a pivot point in the middle of each. The two arms travel up and down parallel to each other as the name suggests to create the sawing action needed to operate the scroll saw.

The two arms are linked at the back of the machine and your scroll saw blade joins the two arms at the front of the machine. The crankarm pulls the two arms in almost a perfect up and down motion, producing a near vertical cut line.

The parallel arm design is the most common configuration found in scroll saws today.

The Parallel Link Scroll Saw

parallel link scroll sawThe parallel link scroll saw is a modification of the pallalelgram design from above. In this case the crank arm moves both arms in a sideways motion, rather than the two arms rocking up and down as in the older design.

The arms move to the left and right and always stay in the same horizontal plane. A small triangular cam is added to the end of each arm and it is these that rotate up and down to create a sawing action for the blade.

The shorter up and down motion of the cams, rather than the entire arm, is what has made this successful. It creates less vibration and less noise. It is easier to control the sawing action but doesn't cut as qickly for those of you with years of experience.

In conclusion

We started this dicussion by asking 'what is a scroll saw used for?', and in that context it doesn't really matter what technology is used to move the blade, at the end of the day they all do the same thing. A small blade held between two clamps is driven up and down in a vertical plane. It cuts wood in strange freehand shapes to create small toys and intricate fretwork.

This leads to the 2nd article in this discussion that looks at the questions of bandsaw vs scroll saw. They BOTH essentially do the same thing but there is one key difference, read on..


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More Information

Learn more, read our other articles about scroll saw woodworking & craft and just about anything related to hobby woodworking.

Scroll Saw Reviews-Comparisons of various brands and comments on their good and bad features, as well as links to their parts manuals


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