scroll saw

Best Scroll Saw Reviews and Buying Guide 2019

Best Scroll Saw Reviews 2019

While circular saws, jigsaws, and even band saws are fine for semi-ornate work, there comes a point in every woodworker’s life where they simply need a more precise cut than most power saws can offer. This is where the best scroll saw takes center stage with a cutting action capable of making the most irregular and complex of cuts. Of course, something as precise as a scroll saw is difficult to judge, which is why we have a list of the 5 best scroll saw reviews as well as a thorough buyer’s guide. While we think that the DEWALT is the best option for the most people, there are some things it does not do the best.

Product Image
Best Seller
DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw - Yellow
Top Pick
Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw
Best Value
WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Flexible LED Light
Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw
18" Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand
Model
DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw - Yellow
Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw
WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Flexible LED Light
Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw
18" Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand
Customer Rating
491 Ratings
153 Ratings
797 Ratings
143 Ratings
78 Ratings
Prime
-
Best Seller
Product Image
DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw - Yellow
Model
DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw - Yellow
Customer Rating
491 Ratings
Prime
Top Pick
Product Image
Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw
Model
Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw
Customer Rating
153 Ratings
Prime
Best Value
Product Image
WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Flexible LED Light
Model
WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Flexible LED Light
Customer Rating
797 Ratings
Prime
Product Image
Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw
Model
Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw
Customer Rating
143 Ratings
Prime
Product Image
18" Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand
Model
18" Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand
Customer Rating
78 Ratings
Prime
-

DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw – Editor’s Best Scroll Saw

Sale
DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw - Yellow
491 Ratings
DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw - Yellow
  • 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 in
  • On-off switch, electronic variable speed, flexible dust blower, and blade-tensioning lever all located on front upper arm

DEWALT is one of the more well-respected brands on our list as they continue to rebuild their professional-grade standing after a slight dip decades ago. That said, the DEWALT is almost certainly the best all-around performing scroll saw on our list, and is likely the best commercial-grade scroll saw on the market today. This is due to a couple of things, but the combination of good cutting power with a solid design makes this a great scroll saw. In fact, with a little bit of tinkering out of the box, the DEWALT DW788 could be the last scroll saw you ever need to buy which is why we rated it our Editor’s Choice best scroll saw.

Incredibly Precise
Because of the nature of the kinds of cuts you need a scroll saw for, precision is the ultimate commodity of trade. While many power saws are judged as much on their cutting power as they are their precision, scroll saws are used to make cuts so intricate that getting them right is vastly more important than getting them done quickly. Granted, you would ideally like both, and the DEWALT does deliver, but the most impressive quality of this saw is the precision of its cuts. The main reason that the DEWALT DW788 is so precise has to do with the double parallel-link arm design which helps stabilize the cutting action much better than the less expensive scroll saw that use a single linking point. On top of that, the DEWALT also features a cast iron table that helps further stabilize the cutting the action.

Excellent Action
While precision is necessary, the ability to work quickly is also important, especially for professional or commercial woodworkers. Thankfully, the DEWALT has one of the best cutting powers that we saw due to a couple of reasons. The most obvious reason is that this scroll saw has the second most powerful motor at 1.3 amps. The motor has also been designed so that it produces less noise than some of its competitors. Though, you will need to regularly tighten fasteners as the vibrations tend to loosen them rather quickly. On top of that, the DEWALT DW788 is also great at cutting pretty much any kind of material with a variable speed control that ranges between 400 to 1750 spms–the widest range on our list.

DEWALT DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw - Yellow

Pros

  • Has a 1.3 amp motor
  • Quieter than some
  • Is easy to use
  • Has a double parallel-link arm design
  • Has a cast iron table
  • Has a variable speed of 400 to 1750 spms

Cons

  • The most expensive scroll saw reviewed
  • Requires more maintenance than some

Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw – Best Beginner Scroll Saw

Sale
Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw
153 Ratings
Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed 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

Shop Fox is actually one of a few brands owned by Woodstock International which specializes in power tools for woodworking and metalworking as well as woodworking hand tools. That said, this is actually a somewhat newer company which sells overseas imports, but this has its advantages as well. For instance, this is easily one of the least expensive scroll saws on our list and can still handle pretty much every job that the better performing scroll saws can too. While there are some limitations in terms of speed and technique, this is still an incredibly convenient scroll saw as well which is why we rated it our best beginner scroll saw.

Fairly Convenient
Easily one of the better aspects of the Shop Fox W1713 are the numerous features included to make your tasks that much easier. This is not to suggest that these features actually improve the scroll saw’s cutting action, but they do make using the power saw that much more pleasant. One of the biggest features to do this is the superior dust extraction system which attacks the problem from multiple angles, literally. First, the Shop Fox features a bendable dust blower that, when properly positioned, is fairly effective. However, it is when you combine the dust blower with a vacuum port that you never have to worry about sawdust again. On top of that, the Shop Fox is also one of half the scroll saws we looked at which features a work light.

Average Construction
The statements regarding ‘Chinese Made’ products applies to the Shop Fox W1713 as much as it does most of the scroll saws on the market today. Basically, the fasteners are a legitimate issue that should likely be corrected before using the product. On top of that, while the Shop Fox has a cast iron table, it is not that heavy which reduces some of the vibration dampening. That combined with a narrower cutting speed range and a slightly weaker motor also leaves this scroll saw a bit underpowered compared to some of its competitors. That said, the various plastic components are not known for breaking, nor is the motor liable to give out any time soon.

Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Pros

  • Is a less expensive scroll saw
  • Has a gooseneck work light
  • Has superior dust extraction
  • Has a cast iron table
  • More portable than some
  • Is easy to use

Cons

  • Not the best cutting power
  • Requires more maintenance than most

WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Flexible LED Light – Best Budget Scroll Saw

WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Flexible LED Light
797 Ratings
WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Flexible LED Light
  • 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 ; Motor : 120Volts, 60 Hz, 1.2Amps
  • Spacious 16-by-11-inch table bevels up to 45 degrees to the left for angled cuts

WEN is an interesting company in that it has a fairly storied history stretching back to 1951, was founded in the USA, and initially specialized in hand tools. These days, WEN products are made in China and run the gamut from hand tools to power tools and all their requisite accessories. That said, this is less of an issue in the scroll saw market, where that is pretty much the industry standard than it is for other tools. This allows the business model used by WEN to really shine and provide the best bang for your buck. That is why we think that the WEN 3920 is the best budget scroll saw on our list.

Budget Constraints
When purchasing a budget-friendly power tool, especially a stationary one, it is important to understand the product’s limitations. For instance, the WEN 3920 is definitely not intended to be used as an everyday professional-grade scroll saw and will not be able to stand up to that kind of rigorous use. On top of that, the WEN is also one of the weakest scroll saws we used with a narrower speed range and a slightly weaker motor, though this does not technically limit the range of cuts this scroll saw can make–you simply need to feed the workpiece slower. That said, the WEN does still manage to surprise with a unique blade fastening design that allows the blade to be positioned straight ahead or at a 90-degree angle.

The Extras
While the WEN 3920 may not really wow in terms of its performance, it does have a number of different features which make using this scroll saw easier than some of the other, more powerful competitors. For one, the WEN features a gooseneck work light, which is slowly picking up but goes a little bit further by using a bright and energy efficient LED bulb. On top of that, the WEN scroll saw also has a better dust extraction system than some of the more powerful alternatives with both the standard flexible dust blower as well as a vacuum port. Finally, this is the lightest scroll saw on our list which, while not ideal for vibration dampening, makes it great for transporting.

WEN 3920 16-Inch Two-Direction Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Flexible LED Light

Pros

  • The least expensive scroll saw reviewed
  • More portable than some
  • Has a gooseneck LED work light
  • Has two blade positions
  • Has superior dust extraction
  • Has a cast iron table

Cons

  • Not the best cutting power
  • Not the most durable

Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw – Best Professional Scroll Saw

Sale
Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw
143 Ratings
Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed 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

For decades Delta Power Tools was held up not only as a professional and commercial-grade power tool manufacturer but one which could even be used for light industrial work. These days, that does not really apply as much due to recent offshoring practices, but this has led to a decrease in the brand’s prices which is great for professionals and consumers alike. The primary issue with the Delta 40-694 is that the various outlets often sell refurbished products as much as new models which can make choosing this particular model a bit riskier than with some of the others for which you at least know what you are getting.

Solid Cuts
If you do manage to ensure that you get a new Delta 40-694, you will not be disappointed with its performance and immediately understand why we rated this our best professional scroll saw. First, this scroll saw is tied on our list for the highest maximum cutting depth of 2 ⅛” which may not seem like much but is a boon when making incredibly precise cuts. This cutting capacity is even more impressive thanks to a maximum cutting depth 1 ⅝” at a 45-degree bevel. Thankfully, the Delta offers a solid cutting action with a 1.3 amp motor that can generate a list-leading cutting speed range of 400 to 1750 spms. All of this is then stabilized with a dual parallel-link arm design that helps further reduce vibration and ensure that the blade stays on track.

Great Build
Beyond the pure cutting action of the Delta 40-694, it is also one of the better-built scroll saws on our list, again assuming you get a new model. As is the industry standard, the Delta features a cast iron table to help reduce vibrations, but the Delta scroll saw actually features the largest table on our list. With a range of 16” x 24”, the Delta is 4” larger than the next closest competitor and 50-percent larger than most of the market. However, when you combine all of these top-ranked or second-best specs together, it should come as little surprise that the Delta 40-694 is also one of the more expensive scrolls saws we reviewed too.

Delta Power Tools 40-694 20 In. Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Pros

  • Has a maximum cutting depth of 2 ⅛”
  • Has a 1.3 amp motor
  • Has the largest table reviewed
  • Has excellent cutting power
  • Has a dual parallel-link arm design
  • Has a cast iron table

Cons

  • A more expensive scroll saw
  • Most are refurbished

PORTER-CABLE 18″ Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand – Most Powerful Scroll Saw

18' Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand
78 Ratings
18" Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand
  • Large aluminum 20" x 12 5/8" dual tilting table allows for bevel cutting up to 45 degrees
  • Patented table top bevel scale for accurate and convenient readings
  • Tool-less blade holder makes quick and easy 5" pin or plain end blade changes

If ever there was a company that represented the no-fluff, no-frills hardworking philosophy of ‘blue collar’, PORTER-CABLE is it. Though it was once considered professional-grade, recent advancements in ergonomics and ease of use have relegated PORTER-CABLE to the mid-tier–though they are starting to catch up. In fact, this product is a great example of this transition in process as it is not only the most powerful scroll saw that we found but also features some nice convenience qualities. If it were not for some of the uncommon limitations that come with this scroll saw, it might be the best professional scroll saw too.

Mostly Great Cuts
To be clear, there are not that many projects that the PORTER-CABLE cannot accomplish that other scroll saws can. However, this scroll saw has a narrower speed range than most of the other products, so much so that it might not be suitable for all materials. However, for the materials it can cut without issue, the PORTER-CABLE has more than enough cutting power for the job. This scroll saw pretty much blows the market away with a 1.6 amp motor that is able to generate more torque than most of its competitors. On top of that, the PORTER-CABLE also features the largest maximum cutting depth at 2 ⅛” which is important for woodworking projects. In terms of construction, the PORTER-CABLE has the standard cast iron table you expect but also features a durable die-cast aluminum frame.

Mostly Convenient
Much like with the cuts, the PORTER-CABLE has one odd quality regarding its convenience that is worse than its competition. Specifically, this scroll saw can only cut a 45-degree bevel in one direction and is limited to a 15-degree bevel in the other. This can make using the PORTER-CABLE a bit more complicated if you need to make a reverse bevel cut on the underside of the workpiece. That said, the controls are all easy to use and conveniently positioned while the gooseneck LED work light is a nice addition. Finally, the PORTER-CABLE is another scroll saw that enhances a solid dust blower with the option to connect a vacuum to the dust port.

18' Variable Speed Scroll Saw with Stand

Pros

  • Has a maximum cutting depth of 2 ⅛”
  • Has a 1.6 amp motor
  • Has a cast iron table
  • Has a die-cast aluminum frame
  • Has a gooseneck LED work light
  • Is easy to use

Cons

  • Has a smaller speed range
  • Has a smaller bevel range

Best Scroll Saw Buying Guide

Power

Though it is a bit uncommon in the power saw category, the absolute power generated by a scroll saw’s motor is rarely that important–so long as it meets certain industry standards. Of course, this is not to suggest that different scroll saws with the same motor amps are going to generate the same cutting power. That said, there is no getting around the fact that the cutting power, especially in regards to the torque, is heavily influenced by the power of the scroll saw’s motor.

Still, the motor power is not too terribly important considering that most manufacturers adhere to a fairly narrow range of amperages. To be fair, this largely ensures that the vibration generated by the motor and the cutting action does not make the cutting action any less precise than it needs to be. In this instance, there are a few companies which goose their motors a bit, but few of them actually get to 2 full amps without moving into the commercial or light industrial market. However, it is often more relevant that a motor with more amps generally does not have to work as hard as weaker motors which further extends the lifespan of the scroll saw.

SPM

In a sudden reverse of industry trends, the stroke per minute, or SPMs, that a scroll saw can cut at are vitally important–arguably more so than with the motor’s power. This is because while scroll saws are commonly used to make intricate cuts on wooden workpieces, they can, and are, often used to cut other materials as well. While plastic and metal are the most common materials outside of wood cut, there are a wide range of different materials cut. However, the important thing to consider is how hard and dense the materials that you are cutting is.

Basically, softer materials will generally need to be cut at a slower speed to prevent the saw blade from tearing the material–an especially egregious problem for high-precision work. Similarly, the hardest and densest materials need to be cut at a higher speed to slice through the material without sliding and burning the cut’s face. To this end, the widest range of SPMs is clearly the best, though it is important to consider what kind of adjustments can be made. If you have a wide range but only 4 stops, then you are going to be a bit more limited in terms of matching cut speed with the material than if you had an infinitely variable speed control.

Arm Design

Since the scroll saw is basically a base, motor, and arm, it only makes sense that this would be one of the most important qualities. While there are some basic industry standards, this is actually one of the more varied innovative parts of the scroll saw with little agreement between manufacturers about what is best. Though it should be noted in terms of the actual engineering there are just two competing models: the single arm and the dual parallel-link arm design. The single arm design is by far the most common and has worked well enough since the scroll saw’s invention, but the newer model is definitely an improvement.

Basically, engineers eventually realized that metal is incredibly brittle which makes it a great conductor for vibratory energy. While you can always add more weight and higher density materials as well as an internal suspension to reduce vibration, the point of contact with the blade is easily the most relevant place to address this issue. By altering the design to use two links rather than a single arm, the vibrations are able to be somewhat dispersed through the links. This allows scroll saws with dual parallel-link arms to cut significantly more precisely than single arm models, though they are also much more expensive too.

Table

Again, the table is a fairly important quality for power saws, but for scroll saws, it actually takes on an outsized influence due to its particular need for extreme precision. As such, most manufacturers attempt to help reduce the vibration to the workpiece through the base by making their tables of polished cast iron. Cast iron is an incredibly heavy and dense material which does a fairly good job of dampening vibrations on its own. In fact, the cast iron table is generally the most expensive part of a scroll saw and quite possibly responsible for more than half of its total weight.

Another element to consider when selecting a scroll saw is the size of the table as this will impact how large of a workpiece you can cut. Granted, it is not too terribly common that you find a project which requires the extreme interior cutting ranges that some of the top-tier scroll saws offer. Still, it is often better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, though this feature generally comes at a premium price which will make the decision a bit more difficult. It is worth noting that if you are a professional, having a larger table will often bring work to you by clients who cannot find someone with the tools necessary to tackle their project.

Maximum Cutting Depth

To be clear, there are exceedingly few scroll saws on the market with a significantly larger maximum cutting depth than their competitors until you move onto the light industrial market–and even then it is not too terribly common. This is because completely cut through decoration is rarely put on larger workpieces without using hand tools to ensure that you can maintain the necessary precision. As such, the maximum cutting depths of most scroll saws are fairly similar, but to a master craftsman, those minor differences can make a big impact on the final project.

When it comes to the right angle maximum cutting depth, anything 2” and above should be considered pretty good. While using a scroll saw’s bevel cut is far less common, this is arguably the more important maximum cutting depth, especially for experienced woodworkers. This is because manufacturers will generally short shrift the bevel maximum cutting depth since fewer people make that cut. However, when an experienced woodworker needs to make a bevel cut, they do not want to have to worry about the cutting depth not being suitable. In this instance, you should look for a cutting depth of 1 ½” or more.

Extra Features

Though scroll saws are ostensibly designed to be used by craftsman and professionals, there are still plenty of conveniences that manufacturers include to further entice buyers. However, these features do not actually affect how well the scroll saw performs and is instead meant to make using the scroll easier or more pleasant. These extra features can be genuinely functional to the point of improving your performance to the mildly useful though unnecessary.

Two of the more important extra features include the dust extraction system and any kind of lighting system. In regards to the dust extraction system, most manufacturers will include a flexible dust blower, but the quality can be iffy. Some manufacturers go the extra mile and also include a vacuum port to pull the dust from both angles. In terms of work lights, LED is a popular, though non-exclusive, choice and most work lights will be attached to a flexible gooseneck.

FAQ

My BRAND NEW scroll saw is making a loud knocking noise and customer service is a nightmare; What should I do?

Though it would be nice if we could rely on things to simply work as intended, that is not the world we live in. One of the most common complaints among the scroll saw community is that a brand new power tool will start making a loud knocking noise for apparently no reason. As it turns out, there are a couple of common problems that cause this problem and a couple of simple solutions to them as well. In regards to what the problem could be, there are two primary reasons, both of which involve either the quality or engineering of the fasteners. Because of this, identifying the problem is actually the most difficult part with the solution being fairly rudimentary once you do.

Basically, the loud knocking noise is generated by too much play between components because the fasteners are either made of softer metals or were not properly assembled in the first place. The real difficulty with this problem is that the specific issue, and the particular fastener or fasteners affected, are not always immediately obvious. That said, once you do find the culprit, solving the problem is as simple as either replacing or tightening the fasteners.

Granted, this does mean that you have to partially disassemble the scroll saw since the issue generally lies with the arm or the motor, but it is not as complicated as it might seem. In fact, it is likely a good idea that you take the list of components provided by the manufacturer and upgrade and tighten the fasteners before using the scroll saw anyway given the regularity of this issue.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the best scroll saw will mean different things to different people and heavily depend on what kind of jobs you need to do. While it is not terribly common, if you need a scroll saw that you can take with you on-site, then you likely do not want one of the heavier models, even if they provide a better performance. That said, for the most common uses with a scroll saw, we think the DEWALT is head and shoulders above pretty much everyone else with a combination of cutting power and durability that cannot be beaten.

Of course, not everyone wants or needs to pay top dollar as all of these scroll saws are generally able to perform most of the tasks of the others, though at different rates of speed. As such, there is not much lost to the patient woodworker in opting for a more budget-friendly option like the Wen or the Shop Fox. And if you want a professional-grade quality but would still like to save where you can, the Delta is a great option–so long as you remember to check and maybe upgrade the fasteners beforehand.