In a hurry and simply want a quick answer? DeWalt DW788 is the best scroll saw you can get. Keep reading to learn why.
Cutting curves or intricate patterns in wood can be difficult and time-consuming. Woodworkers have turned to the scroll saw for years to efficiently and quickly make these cuts.
This article presents a review of the best scroll saws, along with a useful buying guide to help you make an informed buying decision.
Top-Rated Scroll Saws Compared:
Why Buy A Scroll Saw?
Personally, a scroll saw saves me a lot of time in the shop. You will appreciate the consistency it provides over hand tools. You will also appreciate how easy it is to use.
Some hobbyists will tell you that a good jigsaw will work just fine. For rough work on thicker boards, they may be right. A jigsaw can not be used for intricate pattern work, however, as the blade is too big.
What to look for in a scroll saw?
Manufacturers offer a variety of power-tool features for you to select. While many are similar, small changes will alter the performance and capabilities a scroll saw provides.
How a saw’s arm moves
- Parallel arm
- C arm
Most of today’s scroll saw designs use either a C arm or a Parallel arm.
The C arm design extends in an arc above the table surface (a shape that gives the arm its name). It moves along a single pivot point, with the blade attaching to the end.
Myself, and others, observe that this type of scroll saw is more aggressive. When the blade snaps on this design, the arm continues to move.
A Parallel design uses two arms that travel together in a parallel fashion. There are pivot points for each, and they connect at the back. The blade attaches at the end of each, with the lower arm driving the motion.
Some woodworkers feel that this is the best scroll saw for beginners as the blade moves straighter in its up and down path. When the blade snaps, the upper arm immediately moves away from the table.
How far can the blade reach?
Many woodworkers feel that the best scroll saw for the money is the design with the most throat depth. Throat depth is the distance between the saw blade and the back of the arm that meets with the table surface.
The clearance provided is in inches, and it will give you an idea of how far the blade can reach into a project’s surface. Most products designed for the hobbyist have a throat clearance between 16 and 20-inches, but
there are larger scroll saws out there.
How fast does it go?
You usually have three options for adjusting the Strokes Per Minute on a scroll saw:
- Pulley adjustments
- Multi-speed settings
- Variable speed dial
Older designs, as well as some budget-friendly models, use an adjustable belt to change the rate of movement. You will have to move the belt between pulleys to make these adjustments.
Several models use controls that provide two or more preset speeds. That saves time over using pulleys, but it is not actual variable speed control.
A knob that provides a range instead of preset speed increments is called variable speed control. Novice woodworkers may not benefit as much from this as serious hobbyists looking for maximum cutting versatility with their blades.
Products ranging from 400 to 1,800 Strokes Per Minute are typical speeds, with slower speeds better for softwoods and the higher range needed for working through hardwoods.
How do you change the blades?
- Plain-end blades
- Pin-end blades
The plain-end blade design is a popular choice, and it is the method found on many of the products that are considered the best scroll saw for the money. It uses clamps to hold the blade in place. Tools are usually required to provide the needed clamp tension.
Pin-end blades are available on some scroll saws. Pins at each end hold it in place, with the tension coming from the arms. Many new hobbyists feel this is the best scroll saw for beginners since it does not require tools.
- Table tilt – This supports the wood as you cut bevels
- Tension adjustment – Used to keep the blade from twisting (loose) or snapping (tight)
- Hold-down foot – Aids in holding workpieces in place, but can block visibility
- Dust removal – Some products provide blowers, others extractor port to pick up loose debris
- Lights – Mounted on the housing or on a separate arm for greater range of illumination.
Does the manufacturer stand by you and your purchase? That is the final consideration you should be making when shopping for the best scroll saw. Well-built products often have extended warranties. Certified dealers and local service centers provide fast repairs that are covered. Finally, remote support online and over-the-phone can solve some issues quickly.
7 Best Scroll Saws: The Reviews
1. DeWalt DW788 – Best for the money
- Double parallel link arm design dramatically reduces vibration and noise for extremely accurate cuts
- Exclusive tool free blade clamps allow blade changes in seconds. Depth of Cut (inches): 2 inch
- On off switch, electronic variable speed, flexible dust blower, and blade tensioning lever all located on front upper arm
The reviews start with the DW788 by DeWalt, a product with a 20-inch throat clearance. That represents the widest gap for products targeting the hobbyist market, and it should be adequate for beginner and intermediate projects.
The DW788 measures 29.5 L x 19.5 W x 12.1-inches high. Its larger throat clearance makes it longer, but you should still be able to find room on your workbench. One thing you will notice with this scroll saw is its 56-pounds in weight, making it average in the weight category.
A double-parallel link-arm design helps to keep the blade cutting straight up and down. DeWalt selected the arm structure to help reduce overall noise and vibration transfer. That, along with the table weight, appears to succeed in doing just that.
DeWalt includes a 1.3-amp electric motor on this scroll saw. It uses electronic variable speed controls to generate between 400 and 1,750 Strokes Per Minute. That control allows you to cut a variety of wood species without excessive markings or burns along the edge of the cut.
- Provides 20-inch throat clearance
- Solid cast-iron table
- Solid manufacturer coverage
- A bit heavy at 56-pounds
- The 20-inch throat clearane will cost you more
2. Delta Power Tools 40-694 20-Inch Scroll Saw
- Electronic variable speed can be adjusted from 400-1,750 SPM for a wide array of cutting applications
- Dual parallel link arm design reduces vibration reducing over and under cutting improving accuracy and quality
- Upper arm lifts and locks in the raised position during blade changes or while adjusting blade position for fret work
The 40-694 is another scroll saw with a 20-inch throat capacity. You will be able to reach scroll work nearly anywhere on most projects with that clearance.
It measures 30 L x 20 W x 13-inches in height. It weighs 60-pounds, making it somewhat harder to move around on the bench.
The scroll saw is constructed with a dual link-arm design. It does an adequate job of keeping the blade perpendicular and will reduce over or undercutting.
A variable speed lever controls the output of the 1.3-amp electric motor. Under no-load conditions, it creates 400 to 1,750 Strokes Per Minute. Its range will cover cutting into soft and hardwoods and allows adjustments to prevent burned or ragged edges.
You can adjust the blade tension easily with a single lever action, something that you will appreciate as you work. The blower works effectively and is adjustable.
Another stand out feature for this scroll saw is the five-year limited warranty that the manufacturer provides.
- Table tilts up to 45-degrees left or right
- Single lever blade tensioning
- Small footprint on your benchtop
- Design is top-heavy and must be secured
- Table tilt dial is hard to read from above the knob
3. JET 727200K 22-Inch Scroll Saw
- ARM TILTS 45° LEFT AND 45° RIGHT
- 22" THROAT
- VARIABLE-SPEED RANGE: 400 to 1,550 SPM
The 727200K from JET provides a wide 22-inch throat clearance. It represents the most depth on the list and will aid with large pieces of scrollwork.
At 39.4 L x 21.6 W x 28.3-inches high. That is a larger footprint than many of the other models reviewed. It weighs 89.7-pounds and includes a stand to mount it on.
The electric motor rates 1.3-amps, which is above average for hobby scroll saws. Variable speed controls allow you to adjust between 400 and 1,550 Strokes Per Minute. That is a bit slower at the top end than other saws on this list.
A spring-loaded arm provides the sawing motion. A stand out feature of this product is the foot pedal. It allows you to use your hands to hold and move the workpiece while controlling the saw with your foot.
The stand is easy to assemble, but it is thin material. A cast iron table does help to reduce vibrations as you work, which is something that you will notice over longer sawing sessions.
- Has 22-inches of throat clearance
- Uses a foot switch controller
- The scroll saw comes with a stand
- It has the largest price-tag on the list
- Weighs 89.7-pounds
4. WEN 3921 – Best Budget Scroll Saw
- Unique design accepts blades in two directions (standard and 90 degrees) to allow for infinite ripping capacity
- Variable speed goes from 400 to 1600 strokes per minute
- Spacious 16-by-11-inch table bevels up to 45 degrees to the left for angled cuts
The WEN 3921 is a more compact design than the previous model, offering 16-inches of throat clearance. That is shorter than the DeWalt but will suffice for most hobbyist projects.
It measures 26 3/8 L x 13 W x 14 3/4-inches tall. The scroll saw weighs 27.5-pounds, which makes it easy to move around your shop.
This C arm design includes both a blower as well as a flexible work light attachment. The blower should keep the cut line clear from debris buildup. You will find that the work light is flexible, but it does stay in place once you have adjusted it.
WEN has a 1.2-amp electric motor installed in the 3921 model. It generates 400 to 1,600 Strokes Per Minute through a variable speed knob located on the front panel. That is under no-load conditions, but the blade may move slower through hardwoods.
Novice woodworkers will appreciate the budget-friendly price that puts this cheap scroll saw in easy reach.
- The bevel gauge is clearly marked
- Hold down foot has wide opening
- One of the lowest prices on this list
- The edge of the table has a rough texture
- Top speed is only 1,600 Strokes Per Minute
5. SKIL 3335-07 16-Inch Scroll Saw
- Integrated dust removal system keeps cutline free of debris
- Articulating LED worklight ensures that the work piece is clearly lit.1.5 inches Dust port keeps work area clear of dust
- Electronic variable speed control helps cut a variety of materials
SKIL has designed the 3335-07 with a 16-inch throat clearance. It is less-bulky but will handle many of the projects on your list.
The scroll saw measures 26 L x 13.5 W x 14.6-inches high. It weighs 34.6-pounds. That makes it lighter than many models, and the dimensions should fit either benchtops or a dedicated stand easily.
The C arm design uses both types of blades, giving you access to most tooth configurations available in five-inch blades. Its design is not the most efficient in reducing vibrations, though.
A 1.2-amp electric motor powers the 3335-07. It keeps the weight down but may reduce cutting efficiency on hardwoods. You can adjust for no-load speeds ranging from 500 to 1,700 Strokes Per Minute.
SKIL has included a blade storage compartment along the left side of the scroll saw and a three-year limited warranty on the scroll saw itself.
- Tilt gauge are directly under the table
- Shorter design is easier to fit on narrow tables
- Accepts plain-end and pin-end blades
- The scroll saw vibrates more than others
- Its hold down foot can block your view
6. Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Scroll Saw
- 1/8HP, 1.2-Amps, 110-Volt, 60Hz motor
- 16-Inch maximum cutting width
- Includes a gooseneck work light, dust blower and dust port
This scroll saw from Shop Fox offers you a 16-inch throat clearance. You might find the lower gap near the back of the neck on the W1713 tight compared to other scroll saws on this list, however.
The scroll saw measures 24.6 L x 12.8 W x 15.9-inches in height. It also weighs less than 40-pounds, which is lighter than some of the previous models reviewed here.
The 1.2-amp motor uses a variable speed adjustment knob. No-load speeds range from 550 to 1,650 Strokes Per Minute. These do not provide a wide range of speed, which might be an issue for more experienced users.
The design provides movement from a couple of bushing locations near the back of the scroll saw. Its tensioning knob is placed at the rear of the top arm, meaning that you will have to reach to make adjustments.
A clear plastic box covers the hold-down shoe. That provides extra protection, especially for younger users.
- Blade adaptor is easy to use
- Durable flexible light arm
- Clear blade-gaurd provides extra safety
- Table shape does not offer best support
- Lowest speed is 550 Strokes Per Minute
7. Excalibur EX-21 21-Inch Scroll Saw
- UNIQUE TILTING HEAD - Tilt the head 38° left or 45° right to keep the workpiece level, allowing for better control and more precise cuts.
- INTEGRATED BLADE GUARD - Upper and lower blade guard assembly helps prevent accidental hand contact with the blade. While, the switch protection device prevents unintentional start-up.
- ADJUSTABLE BLADE MOUNTING - Easily raise or lower the mounting position of the blade to make just the right cut.
The EX-21 by Excalibur is another scroll saw with a large throat capacity, measuring 21-inches. It is the compromise between DeWalt and JET products. The housing is 32 L x 15 W x 15-inches in height, and the overall weight comes in at 70-pounds.
What stands out on this scroll saw is the upper arm above the table. It tilts when you set the saw to make bevel cuts instead of the table. That allows you to keep your workpiece flat as you work.
The 1.3-amp motor creates between 400 and 1,550 Strokes Per Minute. The top-end speeds are a bit low, but the small increase in amperage will provide more drive through cuts.
The table is 13.5 x 23.5-inches. That provides adequate support for most projects. It is a bit thinner than some of the tables on other scroll saws, though.
Both the speed and tension knobs are large and turn without difficulty. The scale used to register head angle could be easier to read, but the knob used to hold the position is firm.
- Head tilts instead of table
- The tension lever is finger operated
- Hold-down shoe has a blade guard extension
- Better suited for experienced users
- It is noisy to operate
Which Saw Beats The Curve?
I feel that the best scroll saw for the money of the seven is the DeWalt DW788 20-Inch Scroll Saw. You get a lot for the extra money spent, including a 20-inch throat clearance.
It has a mid-sized body and weighs 56-pounds, which makes it easier to move than several models we looked at.
Its double-parallel arm design keeps the thin blades straight as you cut. The design, along with the cast iron table, help to reduce vibration transfer and noise.
True variable-speed between 400 and 1,750 Strokes Per Minute is covered by DeWalt’s three-year warranty.